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MARCH 6, 2014
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3 THE JEWISH HOME
A LOC LY ON
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Mehadrin Greek 40¢ Mock Crab Yogurt All Flavors Salad
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Mehadrin ¢ Schnitzel 4 9 Chocolate Leben Ready Cutlets
12 for $12
Natural & Kosher $350 Beef Pepper 1.5lb Variety Pack Steak
Paskesz Noshkies REG $0.59ea
Glicks Pie Crusts REG $2.19ea
3 for $1 ALL FLAVORS
3 for $1 SAVE
$199 ea SAVE
2 for $5
Sterns Hamantashen REG $5.99ea
Sabra Hummus 10oz
$ 99 lb
Natural & Kosher $1 8oz Shredded Cheese
Beef Pot Roast
Paskesz Marshmallows REG $3.49ea
$ 99 ea
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Western $ Chocolate Kokosh 1
MARCH 6, 2014
Phone: PICO: (323) 933-8283 • FAIRFAX: (323) 655-8870 Email: PICO: pico@WESTERNKOSHER.COM fairfax: fairfax@WESTERNKOSHER.COM VISIT: Pico: 4817 West Pico Blvd. LA, CA 90016 Fairfax: 444 N. Fairfax Ave. LA, CA 90036
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HAVE A HAPPY PURIM!!!
Find us online at: westerkosher.com & facebook.com/westernkosher EXPIRES March 17, 2014 • Not responsible for typographic errors • Western Kosher Specials are for in-store shopping only and may be subject to limited quantities depending on available stock
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MARCH 6, 2014
What’s new in LA. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Community Happenings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6
Two Jews Who Financed the American Revolutionary War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
Purim: 7 New Jewels in Esther’s Crown . . . . . . . . . 18 Moshiach Matters. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Yedidim Ne’emonim Beshaareich Yerushalayim . . . 20 Op-Ed: HaMakom Gorem. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Purim: Baruch Hashem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Purim: PURIMmmmm. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
HUMOR & ENTERTAINMENT
The Real Thing in Movies. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Nuclear Fusion: A Source of Unlimited Energy. . . 32 Humor – Dressed for Success. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Centerfold. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Quotes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 Uncle Moishy’s Funpage. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
Health - Psychotherapy: Beyond the Myth . . . . . . 50 Health - Obamacare Changes Continue . . . . . . . . 50 Career Corner - Make Your Thank You Letter Work For You . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 Restaurant Review Two Dishes at Ta-eem Grill . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 Kosherology: The Real Thing: How Coca-Cola Became Kosher . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 Travel - Istanbul. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 JWI Cookbook – A Sampling. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
Old News. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Global News. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 National News. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 That’s Odd. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46
Israel’s Groom. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Israel News . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
Dear Readers, Thanks to last weekend taking us “by storm,” maybe we can actually appreciate the weather here for a change! Too bad for any Delta passengers who came hoping to soak up some sun. (But I guess at $54 for a business class seat, they didn’t lose out too much.) Appreciating the things we have always seems to come easier when we don’t have it anymore. Since last issue, another government has changed hands in the most peaceful revolution yet. One can’t help but marvel at the courage needed to stand up to an army which is willing to shoot and kill. The turning point seems to have come after a deal was already reached between the two sides, but which then lost support when one of the protesters got up and spoke to the hearts of the people saying that it would be like making a deal with the devil who had killed so many of their comrades in the previous days. Just like that the crowd cheered, the Prime Minister disappeared, and their history is now being written. Perhaps we can learn a lesson in our own lives to say the things we believe in even if it seems that the opposition or apathy is insurmountable. Whether about Israel, our community or even within our individual families, if we stick to what we believe, others will eventually come around to respect it. Locally, we can learn from the courage shown by Jewish students at UCLA who campaigned against a pro-divestment resolution which came up for a vote last week at the Undergraduate Students Association Council. They were faced with hateful speech, twisted tales, and fabricated stories, but they did not back down and continued to express the truth: Israel is a just country; it is the only real democracy in the Middle East, and it would love to live in peace if it were given the chance. After 12 hours of speakers for and against, the council voted against the resolution by a 7-5 vote. Kol Hakavod to all those who would not back down in the face of the intimidating tactics used against them. In this week’s issue, we invite the reader to enjoy some of the jewels Rabbi Einhorn has to offer, get an introduction to an unfortunately neglected subject, get a taste of what’s going on in Israel, learn a little about Purim, and enjoy the array of articles, news and opinion in the rest of these pages. Purim this year is unfortunately easier to connect with. The Iranian regime wants us dead. The atmosphere in the rest of that neighborhood isn’t much better. It seems that help isn’t coming from anywhere else on this planet anytime soon. This leaves us with the same solution as before. Yes, Esther needed to try to find favor in the king’s eyes, but she first asked the Jews to gather, fast and pray so that she would be successful. In fact, Esther fasted as well, entering the king’s chambers after a three-day fast! So while we wish Prime Minister Netanyahu much success in his visit to the USA, with all the explaining defending and requesting needed to be done, we know that his success and strength comes from on High. Just as the story of Purim happened in the spiritual worlds and was expressed in the physical, so too we are sure that our forefathers and mothers and the great Jewish leaders of yore are beseeching for us in heaven - that whatever the big plan is, it should all happen with “light, joy, gladness and honor.” And, most importantly, may it take place speedily -- perhaps even in this Adar. As we went to press, the Israel Defense Forces announced that they have intercepted and raided a ship which was marked as Panamanian, but which had set sail from Iran, en route to Gaza and was carrying rockets mounted with 175 kilograms of explosives and with the capability of reaching a distance more than two thirds the entire width of the State of Israel. There was also the successful bombing last Wednesday of a truck convoy transferring extremely sophisticated missiles between the Syrian and Lebanese border. This is in addition to the many acts of terror which are stopped on an almost daily basis. Let us continue thanking our Creator “for the miracles, for the redemption, for the mighty deeds, for the saving acts, and for the wonders which you have wrought for our ancestors in those days, at this time.” Wishing you a most joyous Shabbos and a Happy Purim!
T H E P R E M I E R J E W I S H N E W S PA P E R H I G H L I G H T I N G L A’ S O R T H O D OX C O M M U N I T Y The Jewish Home is an independent bi-weekly newspaper. Opinions expressed by writers are not necessarily the opinions of the publisher or editor. The Jewish Home is not responsible for typographical errors, or for the kashrus of any product or business advertised within. The Jewish Home contains words of Torah. Please treat accordingly. FOR DISCOUNTED HOME DELIVERY, OR TO HAVE THE LATEST ISSUE EMAILED TO YOU FREE OF CHARGE, SEND A MESSAGE TO EDITOR@JEWISHHOMELA.COM
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Can you believe this is the Pre-Purim What’s New? Didn’t we just start the school year? This article is packed with tons of new businesses, restaurants, kids’ activities and summer camps. Camp registration starts around now, and many are full right after Pesach. So, try to figure out what you want to do with the little ones this summer and meanwhile, and enjoy your Purim- blink and it will be Pesach. There’s two new healthy places to eat that I’m very excited about. First off there’s a new vegan restaurant in the La Brea area. Chickpeas is under Kehilla Kosher supervision and offers vegan cuisine. They are in PitaWay’s former location at 7275 Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. Second, inside Stan’s Produce there’s a new juice bar. Isn’t that clever? I love juicing, but I want it to be convenient, so while buying your produce you can slurp up healthy, pure smoothies, vegetable juices, and vitamin shots. Stan’s Produce is at 9307 W Pico Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90035, their phone number is 310-550-1454. Valley Torah High School Boy’s Division has a new general studies principal, Dr. Eliezer Jones. Dr. Jones was a Valley Torah alumnus in 1993 and is currently the Director of Educational Innovation for the Yeshiva University School Partnership. He has a PhD in Clinical Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology and is well known in the field of Jewish Educaiton. Congratulations and Hatzlacha!
For our younger valley folks, KidzCity is an excellent resource. It’s an indoor play place that has equipment for babies and children up to 14 years old. They also offer tutoring with credentialed teachers, enrichment classes, after school activities and birthday parties. Great place to bring your kids Chol Hamoed or air them out pre-Pesach. Check out www.kidzcity.us. They are located at 20841 Ventura Boulevard in Woodland Hills and their phone number is 818-887-7516. There’s a new camp in Valley Village for boys ages 10 through 16 that includes both serious learning and serious fun. Rabbi Shmuel Lalezarian is the director of Camp Lala Land and enrollment is open now. The camp is a very reasonable $200 per week and there is carpool from the La Brea and Pico neighborhoods for only $25 per week. Camp starts June 23rd and spaces are filling up fast. See www.camplalaland.com for more information. You can reach Rabbi Lalezarian at 805-4195252 or email him at fun@camplalaland. com. The ultra-creative teacher, photographer, and camp director Mrs. Chaya Tenenbaum has created a new camp for pre-teen girls entering 6th through 8th grades. I’ve been friends with Chaya for over twenty years, and I guarantee that this camp will be a blast. Camp Chayalot will be jam packed with trips, projects, and surprises. Space is very limited and filling up quickly, please call 323-718-1030 or email CampChayalotLA@gmail.com for more information. For frum high school aged girls there is a new traveling camp called Camp Nesiyah. They will be traveling through Cali-
fornia, Arizona, Nevada and Utah and hiking and touring through some of the most beautiful places on the west-coast including Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park, Mammoth Lakes, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The activities will include mountain biking, horseback riding, jet skiing, boating, hiking, Alcatraz Prison, ziplining, Disneyland and much more. The dates this year are from August 10-28 and the price is $3200. For more information please contact Deena Fireman at 818.391.8903 Start getting organized for your Pesach guests! Baby Chic LA Baby Gear Rentals solves a common Yom Tov issue: babies are coming to visit and they can’t spend the week without their favorite swing, crib, toy, etc . . . At Baby Chic you can rent what you need for your littlest guests. They have a massive selection of baby equipment and furniture for rent including cribs, organic mattresses, organic sheets, portable cribs, pack and plays, strollers, car seats, high chairs and toys. They also have a concierge service that provides diapers, wipes, bottles and formula along with customers’ rental. I think this is brilliant and frees you from calling around to borrow. Visit www.babychicla.com or call Alissa Moeseson-Kroll any time at 424-257-0181 or toll free 1888571-0800. I used a similar service in Las Vegas when one of my babies were addicted to the swing and it was a lifesaver.
the West San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles, or Beverly Hills. She specializes in customized lesson for very young children- your 3 year old could start lessons! She also works with students with special needs and ADD. Over 95% of her students learn to read and play a song within the first 3 hours. If you don’t have a piano, don’t worry- she can get you a wholesale price on a piano, or even rent a piano for $40 a month. Call or text Mrs. Rebeca at 818-277-8805 or see her Facebook page Study Piano.
As your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews gather together this chag, I know what you’re thinking: family band. Fulfill your dream of children playing the piano with Mrs. Rebeca. She teaches piano lessons in your home anywhere in
I hope this Purim and Pesach bring you and your families much joy.
It’s not just pre-Pesach season, it’s also tax season! Brothers Hillel and Eli Kamionski are the friendly duo behind Tax Bros. They have a combined 15 years of experience and will do your taxes quickly, honestly, and for a fair price. They also do accounting for small businesses and bookkeeping and are versed in international tax law. For more information call 323-9892829 or visit www.taxbros.com. Since the women in your life will be needing new clothes this Pesach, here’s a unique event that in my opinion is totally awesome. Carol Banayan, a La Brea area local, created “Carol’s Day of Styling” which will feature tznius, spring clothing at the Nordstrom’s in the Westside Pavilion mall. Isn’t that great? I’ll meet you there on Sunday, March 9th at 11 AM, on the second floor in studio 121.
MARCH 6, 2014
What’s new in LA?
THE JEWISH HOME
MARCH 6, 2014
Valley Torah Basketball Jamboree Generates Fun and Friendly Competition Past, present and potential future Valley Torah students and many of their parents came together for the third annual VTHS Basketball Jamboree, a fun-filled evening of basketball competition, live music, hot pizza and raffles hosted by Emek Hebrew Academy. The event began with an action packed game between 6-8 graders from various day schools. VTHS Wolfpack Varsity players coached the teams and all players received free VT Wolfpack T-shirts. That game was followed by a shoot-out competition between five students, the winner of which competed in a shoot-out against VTHS Dean, Rabbi Avrohom Stulberger. Untrue to form, the dean was bested by sophomore Alex Zinati who won a Coffee Bean gift card. The main event was an intense game between Wolfpack alumni, including Wolfpack CIFwinner, Arynton Hardy. During
half-time, Valley Torah DJ, Ben Kaufman, whose lively music enhanced the atmosphere of the entire evening, revved up the music to keep the crowd energized. Ohr HaChaim Academy eighth grader, Dan Pastor, won the raffle for Beats Tour InEar headphones and Toras Emes Academy eighth grader, Yehuda Shaliyehsabou, won a second raffle for a Wolfpack sports bag, which was one of many Wolfpack accessories that were also available for sale at the Jamboree. The Valley Torah Fresh-Soph and JV teams competed in the last game of the evening, an extremely close match that ended in a tie. It was a great way to end a perfect evening. “At Valley Torah, everyone is a winner,” quipped Rabbi Daniel Grama, who organized the event with VTHS Coaches Adam Levitt and Robert Icart.
Just Opened! Kesher Torah: Hancock Park’s Newest Shul By Jack Frid
Photo Credits Yosef Ober
Kesher Torah is not actually a new Shul, but a brand new name that is an acronym that highlights the Shul’s core values of Kehilla, Shirah, and Ruach, all with a connection to Torah. Kesher Torah is led by Rabbi Pinchos Gruman, Shlit’a, and is alight with energy on Shabbos and Yom Tov. One of the most respected Torah figures in Los Angeles, Rabbi Gruman received semicha from Harav Aaron Kotler (zt”l) and Harav Moshe Feinstein (zt”l) and has served the Los Angeles Torah community for over 40 years. Kesher Torah grew out of, and takes its inspiration from the Minyan at Aish Tamid, founded by Rabbi Avi Leibovic. To honor the new name, Kesher Torah held a sold out Melaveh Malka at Abba’s on La Brea. Community leaders joined to show their support, and attendees were treated to a spectacular evening. Jeff Astroff, a local frum television writer, led the festivities and moved the crowd to hysterical laughter. Mr. and Mrs. Aaron and Yael Manela,
renowned for their dedication to the entire community and to the Shul, were the evening’s honorees. The Manela’s are both dispatchers for Hatzolah and have four children at Toras Emes, in addition to running the Chevra Kadisha. Also honored were the Light’s Out Shalosh Seudos speakers that come each week. Kesher Torah is able to draw from so many of the talented speakers in Hancock Park to bring inspiration and divrei chizuk each week. The speakers have included Rabbi Moshe Abady, Fishel Cohen, Rabbi Dr. David Fox. Rabbi Aaron Dov Friedman. Rabbi Zevi Goldsweig, Rabbi Shlomo Goldberg, Rabbi Chanan (Antony) Gordon, Reb Paul Greenberg, Rabbi Yakov Jacknis, Rabbi Nachi Klein, Rabbi Eli Sheller, Rabbi Shimon Kraft, Rabbi Aaron Parry, Rabbi Moshe Yitzhak Schwartz, Rabbi Brad Yellen, and Rabbi Baruch Zheutlin. As the crowd enjoyed the delectable array of Abba’s delicacies, the famous Fantastic Fig stymied the crowd with his deft card trick maneuvers. Rabbi Gruman, Shlit’a, true to form, gave over a concise and inspiring message and R’ Berish Goldenberg, Shlit’a, Menahel of Toras Emes, followed with a strong and moving address. Kesher Torah is a Shabbos and Yom Tov minyan that is full of shira and ruach. Friday night is a Carlebach inspired Kaballas Shabbos and divrei torah and one of a kind stories by R’ Zalman Manela. Kesher Torah is a Shabbos and Yom Tov minyan that is full
of shira and ruach. Shabbos morning includes a Chofetz Chaim, Shmiras Halashon, shiur given by Seth Merewitz, followed by Shachris at 9 am. Shachris can be enjoyed by entire familiy - made possible by supervised children’s groups that are available for girls of all ages and for boys through 4th/5th
grade. This unique arrangement enables the entire family to be engaged, involved, and connected. Laining is handled by the Baal Korei Avi Hendeles who also makes the herring and sumptuous cholent. Following a spiritually charged Shachris is a full Kiddush that could be sponsored in honor of a loved one or special event. Torah, herring, and cholent are plentiful and is accompanied by song and thought provoking divrei machshava by esteemed Rabbi Pinchos Gruman, Shlit’a. Preceding Mincha is a Kitzur Shulchan Aruch shiur given by Yosef Berman. As the sky begins to darken and Shabbos begins ebbing away, our spirits are lifted by our famous “Lights Out Shalosh Seudos” which similar to what Chazal say about the Bais Hamikdash, “one who never saw Shalosh Seudos at Kesher Torah, never ex-
perienced a spiritual longing and connection in their life.” The traditional Shalosh Seudos tunes are sung followed by a bout of intense singing reaching a climax with a deeply felt, signature, Kesher Torah Niggun. As the sky begins to darken and Shabbos begins ebbing away, our spirits are lifted by our famous “Lights Out Shalosh Seudos” Rabbis from around the community relish the opportunity to share divrei Torah with a highly attentive audience, and there is a palpable resolve to utilize the inspiring messages and act on them to improve our spiritual wellbeing. Shabbos ends with a Carlebach Havdalah led by Eli Trainer. Guests have remarked on the sense of belonging, warmth, and connection upon walking through the doors of Kesher Torah. Come join us for Shabbos or Yom Tov! The Shul is located on the second floor of the Aish Tamid Building, 5909 West 3rd Street, but is operated separately from the successful and important teen program. The Shul is prepared to provide Shabbos hospitality and meals to any visitors to the Hancock Park community. Kesher Torah subsists solely on pledges and donations of its members and visitors. Please consider making a tax deductible donation to: Kesher Torah, P.O. Box 361466, Los Angeles, CA 90036. Jack Frid is a member of Kesher Torah. He is a partner at RevMo Media, an online advertising group and is a fashion enthusiast and consultant on the side. Jack welcomes any comments or questions and can be reached at: email@example.com
munity have become regular participants. “This is a great way to enhance our Shabbos”, one local father said, “We go straight from shul to learn together. My boys love the special time, and the raffles and treats add to the excitement.” The melavah malka was attended by
over 60 people, all regular participants each week. They enjoyed a delicious barbeque dinner of hamburgers and hot dogs and a grand raffle of many great prizes. The boys and their fathers are treated to a celebration twice each year in recognition of their commitment to learning each
week. This program runs weekly at 10:45am at Emek’s Chandler campus and all fathers and sons are welcome. Each week includes learning, a story, raffles and a treat. For more information contact Rabbi Tropper at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Delta Deal and Other Bargain Boons by Dovber Chaiton
The Delta Dansdeals delirium has hardly been subtle in the manner with which it has brought droves of lucky sun seekers to the Los Angeles Jewish community. It is the focal point of many an animated shabbos table discussion and a cause of many an unexpected, yet oh so very welcome simcha guest. Who got business class? Who booked for the entire family? and who is going to Hawaii for the price of a bagel…..without the cream cheese? All part of the happy tale that is the Delta price glitch or the Delta Deal as it is more commonly known. If the Delta deal was a menu, Los Angeles is definitely the chef’s signature dish, as many Delta travelers grace the welcoming LA Jewish community, in what feels like a yom tov influx every shabbos. It is truly a joyous feeling to see many of the snow stricken guests enjoying all the best Jewish LA has to offer, from shuls to restaurants, it is truly an ingathering of East Coast winter battered exiles. While the Delta Deal will surely go down in the annals of Jewish bargain history as one of the best of all time, it may also be the highest volume of laughably low airfare tickets in a single glitch ever sold. Delta is loathe to divulge exactly how many “errant” tickets were sold, one can only assume the numbers to be staggering and by no means a benevolent marketing ploy from the California Tourism Department. A jogged memory will surely remember the El-Al price fair festival. The rabbi’s pondered the scope of “mikach tous” and its ramifications. Perhaps the sale was null and void, the Rabbis mulled as it was clear that this was a mistake. If for this alone it
had occurred, the El-Al deal would have been a worthwhile reminder as to how relevant Torah laws are, well into the 21st century. The ingenious parameters of the Shulchan Aruch, were coming to pass governance on the “new kid on the block”, the Internet, a reminder of its eternal relevance. El-Al agreed to honor the tickets in an effort to avoid what could have been a price fare fiasco. When all was debated and duly done , yidden from across the United States licked their cholov yisroel
that binds these “poor” airlines to honor their pricing misfortunes. The legal binding aside, the PR pandemonium and social media suicide that would inevitably arise from the airline not honoring such tickets is probably a matter worth the airline’s avoidance. Other industries however don’t have the same legal or marketing pressure to honor their mistakes. Like Sears, in July of 2011, they accidentally priced an iPad 2 at a bargain hunters dream price of $69. And a dream is what it remained as Sears cancelled all
Magnums after arriving at Ben Gurion airport for an obscenely low airfare. Conspiracy theorists, or perhaps the logical thinkers put the El-Al price plummet down to a contrived plan by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, true or not will not detract from what was a price fare failure bargain. The Delta Deal and the El-Al ticketing tumult are two prominent bargains within the Jewish community, there have been others though. Like in 2013, when a blessed frisky fingered United employee, erroneously provided a zero dollar value in some of the price fields, barring some minimal tax fees, some lucky passengers received airplane tickets on what must have been an irate United house. There is an element of legal binding
orders placed at the miraculous price. The social media backlash was immense from annoyed Sears customers, who bemoaned Sears’ statement which palmed the blame off on third-party suppliers who input the price information. Yet another famous price glitch was that of Zappos famous sister site 6pm. com, for a six hour period in late 2010, a price error placed all apparel and shoes sitewide at the fixed price of $49.99. The price error reportedly cost Zappos a whopping $1.6 million dollars, along with probably a few jobs. Zappo’s management were however more magnanimous in honouring the pricing error and even used it as an opportunity to prove the Zappos commitment to unwavering customer service. Zappos CEO,
Tony Hsieh, even candidly tweeted “I guess that means no ice-cream for me tonight”, as Zappos honored every purchase. As we sail the seas of E-Commerce in an age of rapid technological advancement, errors such as these are not totally uncommon, there is one other place removed from the world wide web where Americans have come across bargains presented by price glitches, and this is at the gas pump. For reasons only known to conscience, moral value and perhaps halocha, taking advantage of a blatant erroneous bargain at the pump is a bridge too far for many to cross. Most recently, in February of this year, a gas station in Woodstock Illinois was the unlucky pumping station where lucky motorists filled up their cars for a penny a gallon. The fuel feeding frenzy drew the attention of many motorists and the cops duly arrived, putting an end to the penny per gallon gas guzzlers. Moral lines may become blurry, as conscience and gluttony inevitably have a head on a collision but the fact still remains we all love a great bargain. And as long as I live I will be able to say, I remember when air tickets to Los Angeles from New York were 25 dollars, in business class, and the year was 2014. Now there’s a story for the grandchildren. Dovber Chaiton, is a Jewish native south-African, lured to Los Angeles by low tax rates and even lower housing costs. On a more truthful note, he lives in Los Angeles with his wife and son, where he enjoys the odd adjective with a splash of assonance and alliteration.
MARCH 6, 2014
The Valley Village community celebrated six months of father/son learning with a melavah malka and grand raffle on motzei Shabbos February 22nd. 5 years ago Emek reestablished father/son learning each Shabbos at their Chandler Blvd. campus and many families from the com-
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Emek holds Melavah Malka & Grand Raffle
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MARCH 6, 2014
HaRav Yitzchok Scheiner Shlit”a Visits Ohr Eliyahu Yeshiva Aharon Yaakov Ohr Eliyahu had the unique privilege to have HaGaon HaRav Yitzchok Scheiner Shlit”a, Rosh Yeshivas Kaminetz - Yerushalayim daven Tuesday morning in Yeshiva with the Junior High School. Yeshivas Kaminetz (Knesses Beis Yitzchok) was founded by Rav Scheiner’s grandfather-in-law, Rav Baruch Ber Leibowitz zt”l (the author of the Birkas Shmuel) in 1926. After World War II, the yeshiva moved to Eretz Yisroel and is now headed by Rav Scheiner Shlit”a. The Yeshiva ranges from their early childhood program through post high school -Beis
Medrash and Kollel. It is a home for hundreds of talmidim in Yerushalayim. After davening, the students were privileged to hear divrei torah and bracha from the Rosh Yeshiva Shlit”a. The Rosh Yeshiva started by saying how comfortable he felt davening shachris with the boys. He said the tefila mirrored the tefila of the Kaminetz cheder boys in Yerushalayim. He said that it was a zechus to daven with the yeshiva. The Rosh Yeshiva then explained that there are two parts of having kavana during davening. One is to remember that you are speaking to Hashem directly, as we
say “Baruch atah Hashem”. The second is to understand to a level what you are saying. The Rosh Yeshiva said that he could sense how the students davened with such a special kavana. The Rosh Yeshiva Shlit”a then gave a bracha to the Students, Hanhala and Rebbeim of the Yeshiva. The students then lined up to say “Shalom Aleichem” to the Rosh Yeshiva and thanked him for his visit.
The Thousand-Page Challenge In the digital age, surrounded by laptops, Kindles, and i-pods, the allure of a good old-fashioned hardcover book is often lost on young students. To combat the decline in reading for pleasure, one of YULA Boy High School’s English teachers, Ms. Pam Felcher, decided to create a challenge that would allow the boys to read whatever inspires them, purely for enjoyment. Thus, the Thousand Page Challenge was born. Over the course of the month of January, students were challenged to visit their local library, peruse a range of books, and choose ones of their liking to read and enjoy. Students are asked to present a few quick facts and recommendations about the books they read, but are in no way being graded or tested on the material. As Ms. Felcher told the boys, “This challenge is designed for you to develop a life-long habit of reading and to have more fun than you think you might in the process!”
Think today’s youth can’t pull themselves away from a screen long enough to sit through a novel? Think again. Out of 34 ninth and tenth grade students, 28 took on the challenge, and most of them completed it. Some boys proudly reported that their moms would stop short when asking them to do a chore the minute they saw them reading. Other students had never read this many pages in their entire lives. Some of the books undertaken by students include Outliers (Malcolm Gladwell), Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card), and The Life of Pi (Yann Martel) and Start-Up Nation (Dan Senor and Saul Singer).
YULA Alumnus Addresses Future Business Leaders of America Club By Asher Naghi
The next big CEO of tomorrow could be sitting in the YULA classroom today. Students with an eye towards business gather together each week to share their passion and learn from the best in the business. As part of YULA High School’s Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) club, over 30 students gather together each week, hoping to tap into their entrepreneurial spirit and build their business skills in their teenage years. On Wednesday February 19th, YULA students gathered to hear from the club’s most recent speaker, YULA Boys School alumnus Samuel Small (Class of 2007). Mr. Small is a New York University economics graduate and decided to share his knowledge with current YULA students. The returning YULA alumnus regaled the students with a fascinating discussion on
economics, a subject not typically offered in a high school classroom setting. Over thirty YULA boys and girls learned about such concepts as opportunity cost and inflation. YULA senior Yair Fax, a new member of FBLA, said, “I particularly appreciate this course because it allows me to understand everyday concepts and terminology that I’m not usually exposed to in the classroom.” Mr. Small’s lecture was part of a three part series on the subject of economics that aims to give members a foundation in why decisions are made on both a micro and macro level. According to Mr. Joey Small, YULA’s Director of Institutional Advancement and FBLA Faculty Advisor (and brother to Samuel Small), “Our vision for FBLA is that it will connect current students with alumni in the field,
and through those bridges, the club will provide students with opportunities for the future.” The club plans to continue its Consultancy Project, which educates stu-
dents on company culture, in a few weeks. It also plans to expand into new areas such as marketing.
By Chaim Gold already attracted a devoted following. In Strasbourg, France, too, a new shiur delivered by Rav Michael Szmerla at the Adas Israel Congregation every weeknight after Mincha and Maariv, has been established. Numerous shiurim have been added to the roster in England and by now, virtually every neighborhood in England with an Orthodox Jewish presence, boasts a Daf HaYomi B’Halacha shiur. Perhaps one of the most interesting new shiurim to begin with Chelek Vav is one established by a Brooklyn marketing firm. Every day before the onset of work the employees gather together for a Daf HaYomi B’Halacha shiur whose members enthusiastically declare how it has immea-
ever they may be! The Impetus: The Call of the Gedolim Rabbi Aharon Gobioff, Director of Dirshu’s American operations, explains, “Without a doubt the tremendous siyata d’Shmaya that Dirshu has experienced and the massive increased enrollment is due to the call of numerous Gedolei Yisrael in the aftermath of the recent Dirshu Convention in Somerset, New Jersey. Prominent Gedolim, including HaGaon HaRav Shmuel Yaakov Borenstein, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Kiryas Melech, and others, called on all of Klal Yisrael to incorporate the learning of halacha l’maaseh, practical halacha, into their daily limudim”.
surably enriched their day. In Eretz Yisrael, several yeshiva ketanos have established shiurim and special testing sites have been designated in order to accommodate those yeshivos whose schedules do not allow their bochurim to take the monthly tests at the regular scheduled sites. Aside from the live Daf HaYomi B’Halacha shiurim the world over, Dirshu has made available numerous opportunities to hear shiurim for those unable to personally attend along with many other aids to learning Daf HaYomi B’Halacha. Listeners to the many Daf HaYomi B’Halacha shiurim on Kol Halashon have increased significantly and in the New York Metro Area, a radio segment of Daf HaYomi B’Halacha is broadcast 3 times each day. Other highly useful tools are the daily newsletter available via e-mail as well as the monthly Daf HaYomi glossy bulletin with all kinds of interesting shailos and insights to enrich one’s learning and knowledge. In this way, Dirshu has empowered Jews, who are interested in learning Daf HaYomi B’Halacha, to participate wher-
HaGaon HaRav Aharon Leib Shteinman, shlita; HaGaon HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, shlita; HaGaon HaRav Gershon Edelstein, shlita and HaGaon HaRav Nissim Karelitz, shlita issued a Kol Korei addressed to “Acheinu Bnei Yisrael wherever they may be,” proclaiming: It is therefore proper that every single person set aside time everyday to learn halacha, and especially halachos that are of practical relevance, every day and every Shabbos. This daily learning of practical halacha should not be less than a half hour….” The Gerer Rebbe and the Sanz-Klausenberger Rebbe, also issued a call, with the Sanz-Klausenberger Rebbe writing: “Especially at this time when it is an eis tzarah l’Yaakov, and specifically in Eretz Hakodesh, where there are attempts to trample on the kavod haTorah and those who learn Torah…” A New Look at Age-Old Laws One of the new participants who began learning Daf HaYomi B’Halacha with Chelek Vav and the laws of Chol Hamoed, said, “I can’t even describe how much I
have gained from learning Daf HaYomi B’Halacha. Certainly, I always knew that Chol Hamoed was special, but I had no idea how intricate and detailed the halachos were! My observance of Chol Hamoed together with my whole attitude towards Chol Hamoed will change through my learning the halachos properly in the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha. Would I have ever imagined that there might be a halachic issue with hiring and paying a babysitter on Chol Hamoed? What about making a bank transaction? These and so many other things have enlightened me about what is permitted and prohibited on Chol Hamoed and has given me additional appreciation for the Yom Tov of Chol Hamoed.” He is so effusive he simply cannot stop. “What about laundry? What laundry can and can’t you do on Chol Hamoed? What about polishing your shoes?...” All of these issues are discussed in the Mishna Berurah and in the Dirshu Biurim and Musafim that bring the piskei halacha of the gedolei haposkim on a panoply of modern day shailos that have arisen since the publication of the Mishna Berurah more than 100 years ago.” Making Every minute of Every Day Count Spiritually – Every Jew’s Obligation! Perhaps the words of HaGaon HaRav Dovid Cohen, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of the Chevron Yeshiva, in a letter issued before the commencement of Chelek Vav encapsulate it best: “Learning halacha, learning Mishna Berurah always needs strengthening. It is an absolute obligation for every Jew and particularly for a ben Torah. It is impossible to even describe the greatness and the zechus inherent when thousands strengthen themselves by learning Mishna Berurah every day and then take tests on what they have learned to ensure that they remember… In this zechus may we soon merit the geulah sheleimah.” So if you really want to make every minute of your day, your Shabbos, your Yom Tov, one in which you meet Hashem and think about Him and His commandments, now is the time to join Daf HaYomi B’Halacha. If you have not done so yet, NOW is the time to change your life and transform your day - every single day - from the mundane into the holy by incorporating the daily learning of halacha into your life. To join Daf HaYomi B’Halacha, please call 1-888-5-Dirshu or e-mail email@example.com.
MARCH 6, 2014
“Eretz Yisrael, America and Europe are on fire with Daf HaYomi B’Halacha!” was the passionate description of Rabbi Avigdor Berenstein, senior member of Dirshu’s hanhala. “At the recent Dirshu test – the first test on Chelek Vav – there were more than 3,500 new test takers,” Rabbi Berenstein exclaimed. The milestone of Daf HaYomi B’Halacha beginning Mishna Berurah Chelek Vav has made waves in the wider Jewish world. Certainly, the fact that Daf HaYomi B’Halacha has embarked on its final march to what will be a historic first siyum on the entire Mishna Berurah has had a significant impact. Many new learners want to get in on the ground floor of this historic undertaking of bringing daily halacha learning into their lives. An Auspicious Time to Begin In addition, Chelek Vav which is primarily devoted to the halachos of the Yomim Tovim is an ideal starting point as many people desire to attain a more meaningful Yom Tov permeated by halachic knowledge. In fact, it is said in the name of the Chazon Ish that the best way to truly connect with any aspect of avodas Hashem is through properly and comprehensively learning the specific, relevant particular halachos. Not only does learning the halachos of the Yomim Tovim open new vistas in shemiras halacha that one never previously understood, it also opens the wellsprings of the pnimiyus, the inner essence of Yom Tov, enhancing it with a unique taam, a delightful spiritual insight. Triple Increase: Increase in Test Takers; Increase in Participants; and Increase in Shiurim In addition to the 3,500 new test takers who are bringing true accountability to their learning, thousands more have joined the daily Daf HaYomi B’Halacha without taking tests. To augment the increase in participants, Rabbi Shlomo Rozenstein, Dirshu’s Director of Public Affairs, has reported a significant number of new shiurim in Daf HaYomi B’Halacha throughout the world. In Eretz Yisrael alone more than 15 new shiurim have commenced in the main Torah centers as well as some smaller communities. In Europe, a new shiur has begun at the Bais Medrash Eitz Chaim in Amsterdam, Holland. Eitz Chaim is the home of the Kollel of Amsterdam led by Rav Padwa. The shiur given by Rav Yisrael Sigal has
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Explosive Growth in Worldwide Daf HaYomi B’Halacha Enrollment
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MARCH 6, 2014
Emek’s Trustee Dinner Raises over $400,000! The proverbial “It takes a village” aptly describes the efforts that were invested into our magnificent 53rd Annual Trustee Dinner. First and foremost, the dedication of our Head of School, Rabbi Mordechai Shifman, must be commended, without his direction the event could not have been as successful. Next, the creativity and vision of our Events Coordinator, Mrs. Sandra R’bibo cannot be underscored. Working together with our co-PTA chairperson Mrs. Vardit Aharonoff and our trustee dinner committee, the Emek gym was transformed into a regal ballroom. Comments such as “I have never been so proud to be a teacher and parent at Emek” and “I have attended community banquets and dinners for the last 30 years, but I have never seen such an opulent décor”, were being made the entire evening. Our own parent and board member Nir Weinblut presented a gastronomical masterpiece with impeccable presentation complemented by the flower arrangements exquisitely designed
by Mrs. Gali Studnik. Our 3rd grade girls sang beautifully, accompanied by our musical maestro
Consul General of Israel, David Siegel
Mrs. Rachel Seidel who also prepared Joseph Seidel and Mitch Goulson, Emek students, for their dramatic renditions of the Israeli and American anthems. The evening was an emotional roller coaster. It was filled with inspiring and amusing moments, highlighted by addresses from the
Los Angeles Israeli Consul General Mr. David Sigel, our Chairman of the Board Sol Teichman, President of the Board Daniel Aharonoff and former President of the Board and honoree Gary Finder. The speeches were perfectly contrasted by nostalgic and heart-wrenching video of our memorialized honorees Arlette Penn, Sonia Loffman and Milt Glaser. The footage was filmed, edited and directed by the creative and innovative Abe Raphael. Our building was in immaculate shape thanks to Sergio Blanco, our Plant Manager and his tireless crew. The evening was capped off with a toast and cigar rolling in our newly dedicated Finder Family Foyer. This was truly a night to remember as board member Steve Rodin expressed “we were not bored for even one moment”. Most importantly, the purpose of the night which was to raise funds to allow Jewish children the opportunity to receive an excellent Emek education was realized. We raised over $420,000 for scholarships (over
$100,000 more than last year), and due to the beneficence and benevolence of the Teichman Family an additional $100,000 matching grant was created to assist in upgrading our Early Childhood playground and for new family scholarships. Let’s continue to build on the positive energy that has been created. Mishenichnas Adar Marbim Besimcha.
The dessert, a molten chocolate lava cake with a raspberry coulis topping in a heart shape, was a classic Got Kosher finishing touch. It was rich and the raspberry added a sweet touch to baked treat.
Though Harissa Night was a special occasion, Got Kosher is open Sunday through Thursday for lunch and dinner (call for Friday hours). The other popular menu items include the schnitzel on a pretzel, the chakchouka with merguez, an egg, and pita bread, and the incredible soups, which change daily. You can also stop by for Shabbat catering and pick from a wide range of sensational menu items that are always changing. High quality food is a given at Got Kosher. Whether you’re stopping by for a quick lunch, or you’re dining out with your significant other, you’ll find something to love on the menu every day of the year. Got Kosher is located at 8914 West Pico Boulevard, and the phone number is (310) 858-1920. Visit and view the menu online at www.gotkosherla.com.
Rabbi Mordechai Shifman, Emek Head of School with Sol and Ruth Teichman
Got Kosher Hosts Harissa Night By Danny Lobell
It’s the night of Thursday, Feb. 13. West Pico Boulevard is full of life. There are yeshiva boys eating at the outside cafes, mothers preparing for Shabbat, and cars whizzing by. Though a lot of Jews don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day, which occurred on Friday, Feb. 14 this year, those who did, and those who just wanted a special romantic evening out, stopped by Got Kosher for Harissa Night. The restaurant, which is known for its pretzel challahs and distinctive blend of French and Tunisian inspired cuisine, created a special menu for the holiday. Customers sat either inside the warm and cozy restaurant or at the outside tables underneath the fiery lamps. They dined on the four-course prix-fixe, candle-lit dinners, which were $45 per person. The appetizer was a strawberry salad,
made with greens and a champagne vinaigrette. It was light, fresh, and got my taste buds jumping and full of excitement for what was to come. The next course consisted of Got Kosher’s signature krab cakes, which were sliders accompanied by chipotle mayo and harissa aioli. The flavors from the cakes melt in your mouth. I was tempted to order another round, but I had to save room for Harissa Night’s main contender. A rib-eye steak layered with a thick topping of fresh, mildly spicy Got Kosher harissa was the main course. The spicy layer was an ideal complement to the meat. On the side were creamy mashed potatoes and perfectly cooked carrots. The harissa-topped, spinach stuffed salmon I also tried was flaky, tender, and delicious, and came with lemon saffron couscous.
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Los Angeles Yeshivas HaChaim holds Annual Breakfast On Sunday Morning February 23rd, 2014 the Yeshivas HaChaim of Los Angeles held its Annual Breakfast. Rabbi Dovid Grossman, the Rosh Hayeshiva and renown Daf Yomi Magid shiur, welcomed the olam to this special breakfast. Rabbi Grossman described the warm acceptance by the Community of the Yeshivas HaChaim of Los Angeles, which fills a need not offered by other yeshivos in the city. “We are living during a period in Jewish history when our numbers are growing and the need for more yeshivas is a constant,” said Rabbi Grossman. “Most of the yeshivas today pretty much follow the established norm and are similar in what is taught, where the rabbaim and teachers were educated, who is accepted and what are the yeshivas goals.” “There are always those who do not fit in neatly to the mold. Some are older, some are working and can only learn at night, some need more assistance with their learning and some are just not comfortable in the existing yeshivas.”
And that is why Rav Dovid Grossman, an educator for decades, a compassionate and understanding Rebbe, has taken on the challenge to continue the education of these students and has been amazingly successful. The Yeshiva, which has existed for only a few years, has experienced continued growth. Under the guidance of the Rosh Hayeshiva and ably assisted by the Magid Shiur, Reb Yitzchok Hertz, students who have finished High School, but want to continue learning while married and working or studying a profession, have found Yeshivas HaChaim a perfect home. With its flexible hours of learning during the day and evening, students of Yeshivas HaChaim can continue learning. A talmid of the yeshiva, Ariel Shadrooz addressed the audience and related his experiences with the yeshiva. “Yeshivas Hachaim is a place where you can come in at any time and learn. Rabbi Grossman is the finest Rebbie that you can find. He is always there to assist you and inspire you. There are even baalei batim, those whose
days in a Yeshiva ended many years ago, that come to learn with us daily.” Reb Yitzchok Hertz, who has been with the Yeshiva for over a year, has found the involvement spending time with bochurim in learning, a most exhilarating and personally productive Rabbi Dovid Grossman speaking to Talmidim and supporters of Yeshivas HaChaim experience. In asking about the lated halachos, so that the students know Yeshiva, Rav Grossman told me, “This is a what to do in their everyday experiences. unique yeshiva that any younger man can Many students stay on and continue learncome to learn. We learn gemara, halacha , ing even after they get married. I will have bekius (learning to have great breadth of to start a Kollel for them!” knowledge) and b’iyun (deep and detailed May the yeshiva continue to grow learning of every topic) . We stress learn- and provide the spiritual sustenance that ing, “halacha l’ma’asa,” to gain knowl- adds so much to the lives of the talmidei edge and understanding of the practical Hayeshiva and all that join them in learnapplication of the Laws. After ever sugya ing. (topic) that we learn, we discuss the re-
photo credits: Arye D. Gordon
By Rabbi Arye D. Gordon
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks spends Shabbos in Los Angeles By Rabbi Arye D. Gordon
Arriving in Los Angeles on Thursday February 20th, 2014, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, the former Chief Rabbi of England, began a long and intensive weekend with the Beverly Hills – Los Angeles Community. Hosted by the Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy and Beth Jacob Congregation of Beverly Hills, Rav Sacks attended a reception at the Young Israel of North Beverly Hills on Thursday evening.
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
Rabbi Sacks was the 10th Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth. A world-renowned scholar, philosopher, religious leader and author of more than 25 books, Rabbi Sacks served as Chief Rabbi for 22 years from 1991 until 2013. Rabbi Sacks presently holds a professorship at New York University (Ingeborg and Ira Rennert Global Distinguished Professor of Judaic Thought) and Yeshiva University (Kressel and Ephrat Family University Professor of Jewish Thought). In regard to these appointments, Rabbi
Sacks was quoted as saying, “I am excited at the opportunity to teach at Yeshiva University, one of the world’s great institutions of higher Jewish learning and at NYU, a university of global reach and distinction. This dual intellectual challenge is the perfect context to take forward the project of a Judaism engaged with the world in conversation with students in one of the major centers of Jewish life.” The former chief rabbi davened Kabalat Shabbat at Bnai David Judea and then attended a private dinner and Oneg Shabbat. The Shabbat morning davening was followed by lunch at the Beth Jacob Congregation of Beverly Hills. After Shabbat Mincha at the Young Israel of Century City, Rabbi Sacks gave a lecture. On Motzei Shabbat the community was invited to an evening of song with Rabbi Sacks and the Shabbaton Choir at the Mogen David Congregation. On Sunday morning February 23rd, 2014, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, crossed the Beverly Hills border into Los Angeles and began his day davening at the minyan of Yeshivat Yavneh of Hancock Park. After speaking with parents of Yeshivat Yavneh, Rabbi Sacks returned to the Bais Medrash and addressed the large minyan of Yavneh students who had just completed davening. “Learn in this school what it is to be a Jew and then go out into the world and rejoice in your Judaism.
photo credits: Arye D. Gordon
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Go out and be proud of your Jewishness and the world will respect you for it”. The children then gathered around Rabbi Sacks to shake his hand and receive a bracha from him. Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks concluded his visit to Los Angeles by attending the Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy 65th Scholarship Banquet at the Universal Hilton Hotel. Shalom, Shalom, Lord Rabbi, until we meet again.
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks visits with students of Los Angeles Yeshivat Yavneh
Rabbi Sacks addressing parents of Yeshivat Yavneh
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s was y, עמו“ש t s i a n l c u our Comm ina, n s i e B l r i e o e g i h n n c Los A r y Se , Dar e h e v a h l e t a three l f t h o a c i h s e t t h M n t e w o Par oice ase in h to kn c c Dear u e R o h y E was t y of H anted r s w a a ( n i e s m ns W lked u he Se arfma t a h w o S t ) ted eches ko v & n a a rious admit a h a ! c ) Y v e s e s e M i h s r Ba s to t g clas Grade u n i with h t g t a Meoh n g 2 i u n c 1 i d u y a r d r d u us g s, stu o is o : Intro e h s n s i w l ( e d previo c g and a s o n e e i r l d n p e e h d t s i n ena s, lis ions a t of th w t c e g the a i e Our M c n v p i i r l s k e p a t a p n a every our i s in m h the u t h i n g g w o u n i o s t s u thr assis in g u lping y d e n n h a a , p s fears accom option s , u s o i t r s a r te our v o t us fo n gai hter? a g u g a n . d i listen OUR cision e Y d r o E f AT nt this a w ULTIM u hool ’t yo c n , S d e l v h u ig Lo Wo rah H o v e no s D B 14 rs 20 o i n e S
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א ג ר ת ה פ ורים
Photo credits: Arye D. Gordon
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MARCH 6, 2014
A Wedding That Los Angeles Will Long Remember By Rabbi Arye D. Gordon
The evening of Feb 19th, 2014, was to be a special one, not just for the young couple about to be married Yali Rechnitz and Shmuel Kornfeld, their parents, extended relatives and friends. It was to be a night remembered by a cross section of Los Angeles Jewry. The simcha was enhanced by the musical participation of Simcha Leiner, Mordechai Ben David, Motty Stienmetz, the Shira choir and the amazing orchestra under the direction of Yisroel Lamm. Over 1300 people were invited to attend a most historic wedding event for Los Angeles. I do not recall any wedding in the United States that so many Roshei Hayeshiva, Rabbanim, Askanim, prominent community leaders from America, Europe and Israel all came together to participate in a wedding. Among the many gedolim were : R’ Yisroel Belsky, Zaideh of kallahTorah Vodaas; Misader Kedushin, R’ Shimon Alster- Yeshiva of Cliffwood NJ; R’ Avrohom Chaim Levine- Telz/ Chicago; R’ Yitzchok Scheiner-Kamenitz Yerushalayim; R’ Dovid Feinstein-Mesivta Tiferes Yerushalayim; R’ Aharon ShechterChaim Berlin; R’ Aharon Chodosh- Mir Yerushalayim; R’ Moshe Chodosh-Ohr Elchonon; R’ Yitzchok Ezrachi-Mir; R’ Boruch Ezrachi- Ateres Yisroel; R’ Elya Ber Wachtfogel- Yeshiva of South Fallsburg;R’ Eliezer Yehuda Finkel-Mir Yerushalayim; R’ Nachman Levovitz- Mir; R’ Yosef Chevroni- Chevron Yeshiva; R’ Malkiel Kotler- Lakewood; R’ Yerucham Olshin- Lakewood; R’ Yisroel Tzvi Neuman- Lakewood; R’ Dovid ShustalLakewood; R’ Elya Kanarek- Peekskill; R’ Yitzchok Sorotzkin-Lakewood; R’ Avremel Ausband- Telz/Riverdale; Rav Uren Reich Woodlake – Lakewood; R’ Yaakov Bender- Darchei; R’ Shmuel Zev Dicker-Belle Harbor; R’ Yehuda Krinsky-
Chabad, R’ Shlomo Cunin – Chabad Los Angeles; R’ Berish Goldenberg- Toras Emes LA; R’ Chaim Fasman- Kollel LA; R’ Yoel Burzstyn- Bais Yaakov-LA; R’ Yaakov Krause- Toras EmesLA; R’ Nechemia Langer- Mesivta Los Angeles; R’ Pinchus Gruman, R’ Boruch GradonMerkaz Kollel LA. And then there were the rest of us. Jews of many stripes and colors. Jews who shared a common bond. Jews who were touched by the caring, sensitivity, tzedakah and assistance of a Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz and his wife Tamar, parents of the bride. Of a brother Yisroel Zev yb”lct, and his wife Avigail a”h, who spent much of their days and nights assisting a multitude of people needing help with an assortment of problem. Of their parents, Rav Yaakov and Debbie Rechnitz, who raised such children that understood why they were put on this earth with the resources they had. And the many individuals who were employed by the Rechnitz family and always made sure that what had to be done to fulfill the requests for help, was done. So we danced and sang and kvelled as we participated in their simcha. In these joyous and spiritual moments, it was our simcha as well. We all came to wish Mazel Tov and to express our hakaros hatov to Reb Shlomo Yehuda, his family, friends and associates who have assisted him in his role as a major supporter of Torah Institutions, Medical Institutions and Yeshivos all over the world. May the Rechnitz, Kornfeld, Belsky and extended families be blessed with much nachas from the chosson and kallah, Yali and Shmuel.
tunity to help the family process and deal with the traumatic and stressful experiences that come along with illness. Additionally, our program has nursing services along with respite care to support the family in the caring of their child.
Partners for Children addresses the a familyâ€™s unique psychological, social, emotional and spiritual needs while enhancing quality of life, minimizing pain and symptoms and decreasing hospitalization. If you are interested in this ground-
breaking program, please contact Partners for Children at Alternative Home Care by calling Sima Semmel, MSW at 818-902-5000. You can also like us on Facebook where you can obtain all referral documents, ask questions, and get resources.
A Pediatric Home Care program for Children with Life-Threatening Conditions Provided by Alternative Home Care Expert in home care for over 30 years!!
What does the Partners for Children program offer for your family?
Case Management Art, Music, Massage and Play Therapy Respite services Family Training & Counseling ... For your child, his siblings, parents, and any other family or friends that would benefit!
Partners for Children (PFC) is a free program for children with special health care needs funded through Medi-CAL.
Call Sima Semmel, MSW at 818-902-5000 Contact PFC and like us on facebook
MARCH 6, 2014
Partners for Children, a groundbreaking pediatric palliative home care program is now available in Los Angeles through Alternative Home Care, a leading home care agency. Partners for Children is a state-funded California Children Services (CCS) program for children with chronic, long-term or life-limiting illnesses with full scope Medi-Cal. The goal of the program is to relieve symptoms, minimize hospitalization, and enhance quality of life for the child and their family. The program accomplishes this by offering a wide array of services including, case management, music therapy, art therapy, massage therapy, play therapy, respite care, family training and counseling. All of the services, including the expressive therapies, are not only offered to the child, but also to the family. Moriah Manning, Clinical Art Therapist, says the program is life changing for all the families involved. The expressive therapies offered, coupled with indepth case management and nursing services, offer the family a comprehensive approach to relieving symptoms, while also enhancing quality of life. Case management, the backbone of the program, is provided by a social worker chosen to work with the family to create and achieve family-based care goals. The case manager ensures that complete and comprehensive services are provided to the families. Partners for Childrenâ€™s expressive therapies are especially unique and give the child and family the opportunity to help externalize feelings through different creative mediums. Paint, glue, drums, dolls, and toy cars, all become tools to help the child and their family express their feelings and create positive experiences. Additionally, expressive therapies work to improve communication, motor skills, circulation, and sensory integration. The program also provides counseling services to the children and their families. Counseling provides an oppor-
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Partners for Children
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MARCH 6, 2014
Mogen David Welcomes New Rabbi By Alisa Roberts On Tuesday, Feb 25, Congregation Mogen David, one of the oldest shuls in Los Angeles, welcomed a new rabbi this past month. Rabbi Daniel Grama joined the shul in February as the rabbi of the Ashkenazi minyan. Mogen David is home to both an Ashkenazi and a Sephardi minyan, the latter of which began about 10 years ago under the leadership of Rabbi Yehudah Moses. Over the past decade, they have experienced substantial growth and success. While the Sephardi minyan has been thriving, the Ashkenazi minyan has recently begun its own revival, leading to the hiring of Rabbi Grama. Rabbi Grama, originally from Englewood, New Jersey, has been in LA for almost 20 years. After several years studying in Israel and the US, he was ordained by the Israeli Rabbinate. He and his wife then moved to Panama, where he was part of a kollel group from 1994 to 1996 before moving to Los Angeles. He has a Master’s in Educational Leadership, and has spent his years in LA teaching at YULA and involved with NCSY and Aish HaTorah. While he has only been with Mogen David for a month, Rabbi Grama already has strong feelings about the community. “The shul is really an amazing place, with a tremendous amount of energy,” he says. That energy has been vital to keeping the community alive for the past century. While the shul has had its ups and downs, there has always been a strong core to the community, including Rabbi Gabe Elias. Rabbi Elias serves today as the senior Rabbi and Executive Director, and has been with the community almost 30 years. In addition to this core group led by Rabbi Elias, there has recently been an influx of young people into the congregation. “They have infused the community with a lot of energy and a lot of life,” explains Rabbi
Grama. The community is made up of congregants of all ages, and the energy of this young group seems contagious. “What I enjoy seeing is that the people are very happy to be in shul. It’s the type of shul where people want to daven there – that’s a very special concept.” What makes people so excited to be there? “Well first of all, I think the people who make up the community have a certain joy of life. They’re nice, happy people. Then the davening is a very exciting, energetic davening. We have a wonderful chazzan who has an amazing ability to get people into the spirit of the davening. But I also think that everyone takes pride in the fact that they are building a strong community. They have a vision and a focus of creating an atmosphere that is made for people of all ages, one that is very non-judgmental, very open and accepting of anyone who wants to come in.” It helps that congregants are from a broad spectrum of backgrounds. “It’s got every kind of flavor and everyone joins together in a very warm, loving way.” While Rabbi Grama is happy with the community today, he has several goals in mind for the future. “My personal goal is to enhance and expand this sense of community. I believe that the best way to get people involved is if you can get them to feel the sense of community and belonging to the shul as their place. Then by nature they’re going to want to come.” One of the ways he wants to build this sense of belonging is very basic – simply connecting to his congregants. “Every adult and every child knows me and I know them. That’s the long term goal. To me growth is about the quality of the relationship, rather than the quantity [of members].We want to build membership, without a question, but we want to do it at a pace where it flows together.” And he isn’t encouraging this connection just with himself as the rabbi;
he wants everyone to know the names of their fellow congregants. In fact, that was part of his first drasha as rabbi. “You don’t
have to be everyone’s best friend or socialize with every person, but you shouldn’t have a shul where everyone does not know each other’s names. Your name defines and personalizes you, and I want everyone to know each other. That’s my goal.” While it seems simple, it makes an impact. In his first weeks, Rabbi Grama made a point of learning names and greeting people by them. After wishing one congregant a good Shabbos by his first name, the man came up to thank him for remembering. “That is what I want people in the shul to feel. That we’re really out to know each other and work together.” Another goal is to make Torah learning a joy rather than an obligation. But he doesn’t seem to be facing much of a challenge on that front. “When I initially took the position, my first thought was not to introduce any Torah classes right away, because these things take time. Within the first week, I was asked by so many people, ‘When are you starting classes?’ I was very excited about that.” He is starting his first class, a Mishna class before Shachris of
Shabbat, this week. “I’m very happy that these are things people want. I think that part of the charm is that it’s a group of people who want to grow, who are looking to be inspired, looking for inspiration, looking to become the best that they can be. And you feel it in everything they do.” As an example he describes kiddush after davening, where rather than milling and chatting, congregants sit down together to eat, sing, and listen to inspirational thoughts. “People love it. People who walk in and see it say, ‘Wow, this is unique.’ That’s what we’re trying to create.” Rabbi Grama will also be focusing, along with Rabbi Moses, on creating a strong unity between the Ashkenazi and Sephardi communities. Many of the congregants in each minyan are friendly with each other already, and the rabbis are hoping to strengthen and expand on these bonds. “We are planning and will be planning many joint programs and events together with the goal of appreciating each community while building a unified Mogen David. We all serve the same mission and the same goal.” Plans in the works include joint Shabbat meals and a communal Purim night event following each minyan’s megillah reading. “We’re doing things that will allow us to keep our independent personalities and customs, but as people and as a community interact in a warm and unified way.” In Rabbi Grama’s perspective, these goals come together to form something more. “I call it a mission. We’re on a mission to create a shul that is truly welcoming and energetic, where people are happy to be there. I think that in a strong sense we are not just a shul where people come to daven, but a community and a family. That’s really what we want. The people here have a great camaraderie and respect for each other. There’s a great sense of belonging to a community. That’s very powerful.” Even in this short time, that mission is progressing well. “I come back from shul energized and excited, looking forward to the next opportunity,” says Rabbi Grama. “I’m really blessed. Rabbi Elias is a wonderful person who has done a tremendous amount for our community over the years, and for the larger Los Angeles community. He’s very committed to the shul. I’m blessed to be working with Rabbi Moses, who’s a wonderful scholar. And I’m very blessed to have a group of congregants who are very supportive of this mission and goal, and who try to create a place where their family belongs as a family.” And his community is behind him. “We have a very responsive group of people who want to build something. They aren’t interested in just going along for the ride; we all want to build something.”
By Alisa Roberts to mobilize the community – not just the Jewish community, but the greater UCLA community – to come out and learn a little more about the resolution and to speak up against it.” Stand With Us, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting Israel, offered to help. “We were very happy to supply them with letters, videos, and materials for their speeches, as well as any handouts and training that went into helping them prepare for this over the past few weeks,” says Brett Cohen, Stand With Us National Campus Program Director. “I’m ecstatic with how hard they worked, and I think it really paid off.” Not that it was easy. The USAC meeting, which had actually been moved to a larger hall in anticipation of the turnout, drew hundreds of people. The meeting included open public comments, each speech limited to two minutes, and then presentations from either side. The public comments alone went on for over nine hours, with hundreds of individual speakers. The event itself lasted just under twelve hours, and the vote did not come in until 6:30 the following
students on campus. “Personally, I don’t see this as a great victory,” says Bakhshi. “Yes, we did defeat Divestment, and I am happy and proud of our councilmembers who voted against the resolution. But it was such a divisive issue on our campus. There are so many people who are so passionate about this issue, and it was heartbreaking to see half of them leaving the room terrified, including me. I couldn’t handle it. At the same time, you have to be strong to make sure these sentiments aren’t spread further.” Eshaghian suffered too. “That was very emotional, to see how our university was allowing this to go on,” she says. “First of all, I don’t think this should have come before council at all. We’ve already had discussions about the conflict. But I think that the public comment forum was completely wrong. People were very disrespectful while others were talking. This was not the forum to have a discussion about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It wasn’t even a debate. It was just people making accusations. It was an attack.” While feelings about the public forum were decidedly painful, feelings about
morning. “I was there the entire time. I didn’t sleep for two days prior,” says Eshaghian. “But it was so important that our community came out. The resolution was emotional for so many people. Prospective students, alumni, and even people not affiliated with the Bruins community – people were watching from everywhere. ” What they saw was not pretty. “It opened hours of anti-Israel discussion, slander, racism and anti-Semitism,” says Bakhshi. “So many blatant lies were said that night.” Avinoam Baral, a third year human biology and society student and the current chief of staff to the Undergraduate Student Association Internal Vice President, puts it even more strongly: “My homeland Israel was put on trial last night. False allegations of “ethnic cleansing,” “apartheid,” and “sterilization of Ethiopian women,” were put forth to justify this divestment resolution, an extension of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement,” he says. “There were a lot of hateful things said,” Eshaghian adds. “There were a lot of anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, and anti-American comments made. There were lies being said about Israel, unsourced – I call them empty claims. It was really hurtful being in that room. And even to come out of it afterwards.” Others agree with her. While the battle was won, it was at a high cost to the
the council were slightly more mixed. “I would say that the councilmembers were not paying attention when both sides were speaking, and I thought that was offensive,” says Eshaghian. “Here were people standing, waiting in line to speak, and the councilmembers who were supposed to be representing us were not listening.” Bakhshi saw it from a different angle: “I would have preferred that it not have been brought to council. As it was, and considering the circumstances, I think the majority of the councilmembers tried to represent it the best way possible.” But they do agree on one point, as Eshaghian makes clear: “This resolution should never have been proposed.” The difficulties of the vote were not limited to the 12-hour ordeal of the forum. The aftermath is just beginning. “Just being in that room you could see the division it caused on this campus,” says Eshaghian. “I’ve never felt so unwelcome in the UCLA community as I did that night. I’ve never been ashamed to be a Bruin.” Bakhshi also feels the difference. “I’m pretty open about my pro-Israel opinions. Usually it’s fine, but ever since divestment it’s been a lot harder. This has opened my eyes to anti-Israel sentiment on campus. I’m just distressed.” Nor has the end of the vote brought an end to the hostility. Councilmembers have been facing cyber bullying, and there is a
significant amount of hateful speech being thrown around online. “This is an extremely emotional topic,” says Cohen. “These ideas have been around for well over a decade in the form of the Israel Apartheid Week. The difference between IAW and these Divestment hearings is that with something like IAW it’s very easy to shrug it off as extremism. They’re saying hateful things, outright lies; we’re not going to sink to their level. But with Divestment you have the same hateful rhetoric delivered in a much more sophisticated way. So when it morphs from street theater into a sophisticated demonization campaign within the student government, I think that’s when students begin waking up to it. They have been taking it so much more seriously because this is no longer some looney shouting on a street corner.” But he sees this vote as a victory. “They really fought a valiant effort over an eleven-hour battle, which is not something anyone can take lightly. I was personally impressed with how well they prepared. We’re extremely proud of our students.” The students are proud too – of their councilmembers, of their speakers, of their community, and of the outcome. But they are having a harder time seeing it as a victory. “Although it has been said that we “won,” I feel that everyone in that room lost that night,” says Baral. “The campus was absolutely torn apart by this issue.” While unity on campus may take a long time to repair, there are other valuable things to come out of this vote. “It definitely feels like a mess right now, but I know that if the Jewish community had not come together, I don’t even want to think about what would have happened,” says Bakhshi. Cohen agrees with her. “I think that people shouldn’t take Divestment and the BDS movement for granted,” he says. “What the students at UCLA showed is that it takes a tremendous amount of hard work and determination to fight this battle. And the vote was still close. Even though they were victorious, it could easily have gone the other way. This victory was because of their determination, how unafraid they were to face the intimidation, the lies, and all of the nasty propaganda that was targeting not just Israel but also Zionists on campus. Their determination to stand up to this, and how they prepared extremely well for it – that’s the lesson here. We can’t just shrug it off; we need to take it seriously.” And the pro-Israel community at UCLA is ready to continue doing just that. “This really united the Jewish and pro-Israel community,” says Eshaghian. “If you want to view it in a positive light, we are stronger than ever, we are more passionate than ever. It’s a very unfortunate thing to see happen on campus, but I would say this will only make us stronger as a community.”
MARCH 6, 2014
This past Tuesday the Undergraduate Students Association Council voted down a resolution asking the University of California to divest from companies including Caterpillar, General Electric, and Hewlett-Packard for their involvement in Israeli construction projects. Divestment, a form of economic boycott, has become a hot topic on campus recently, with similar votes occurring on several other UC campuses this year. The USAC voted down the Divestment Resolution 7 to 5 with no abstentions. But that vote was a long time coming, and has had far-reaching effects. Earlier this month, a pro-Palestinian student group at UCLA, Students for Justice in Palestine, began working on a Divestment resolution to bring to the council. This wasn’t the first attempt to bring these issues up in public forums. “They’ve had an ongoing campaign trying to bring BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) to campus for over two years now,” says Miriam Eshaghian, a fourthyear psychobiology student and president of Bruins for Israel. Bruins for Israel is a proIsrael student group on campus designed to bring together all kinds of Israel supporters. “Bruins for Israel was the first club I signed up for as a freshman,” says Nathalie Bakhshi, a third year developmental biology student and treasurer of Bruins for Israel. “I really love Bruins for Israel, because it doesn’t represent just one view on Israel or the conflict. For our general weekly meetings, attendance can range anywhere from 20 to 100 members, and there are a multitude of opinions under one umbrella. Our mission is to spread education and resources so people can learn the truth about Israel,” she says. Eshaghian agrees: “Our goal is to represent Israel holistically – to discuss Israel’s history, culture, and politics,” she explains. “We put on social events. We cover the spectrum. We don’t take an official stance on the conflict, but we do stand firmly against BDS. My goal as a board member is to bring the Israel experience that each student wants to campus. I did not join to focus on BDS. I did not join to be on the defensive.” But the defensive became necessary this past month with the introduction of this Resolution. “They claimed that this bill was just Divestment, and not specifically BDS, although we still see it as BDS,” says Eshaghian. “They’ve held teach-ins and they’ve met with different student groups, giving their perspective and asking them to endorse their divestment bill.” Bruins for Israel responded in strength. “Different members of the community all came together,” says Eshaghian. “We created a Bruins Against BDS group and we started a social media campaign to reveal the truth behind the resolution – that it is BDS. They took it to council, and we launched our social media campaign and released our press release. We tried
THE JEWISH HOME
UCLA Student Government Defeats Divestment Vote
Seven New Jewels in Esther’s Crown Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn
THE JEWISH HOME
MARCH 6, 2014
For this deed of the Queen will come abroad unto all women, to make their husbands contemptible in their eyes, when it will be said: King Achashveirosh commanded Vashti the Queen to be brought in before him, but she did not come. (Megilat Esther 1:17) The fear was that if we allow one woman to be too strong willed then it will create an epidemic in the homes as all women will rebel against their husbands. While Achashveirosh and his government may be afraid of such an outcome, Judaism is not. The Torah sees no problem with portraying women of exceptional strength and audacity. Esther herself represents the Torah’s appreciation of the woman who can stand up for what she believes is right. Esther’s story is just one of many among the rich history of the Bible and the Jewish people. There is no end to the end to the strength of a Yael, Devorah, Sarah, Ruth, Rivkah and many others. “And Memucan answered before the King and the princes: ‘Vashti the Queen hath not done wrong to the King only, but also to all the princes, and to all the peoples, that are in all the provinces of the King Achashveirosh.” (Megillat Esther 2:16) The one who spoke up at this point is Memuchan. The Talmud teaches us that Memuchan is actually Haman. What is the meaning of the name “Memuchan”? The root of this name is " – "מוכןprepared – as in “prepared for disaster.” It is this preparedness of Haman that made him so dangerous. There was a systematic plan to all of his havoc. Systematic evil presents a sophisticated challenge of the greatest proportions. As much as evil may or may not prepare itself, premeditated terror or spontaneous tragedies, we as human beings stay forever vulnerable. It is with this vulnerability that Esther stormed, with nothing left to lose, into the court of Achashveirosh and pleaded for her people. It’s hard to be ready for disaster, but we can try to be like Esther and respond. Respond with charity, respond with prayer, respond with advocacy, respond with aid….or just respond. “For if you altogether hold your
peace at this time, then will relief and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place” (Megillat Esther 4:14) Mordechai delivers a chilling message to Esther. “If you stay silent now, G-d will silence you later.” The Novordak Mashgiach Rav Chaim Zaichik eloquently expands upon this pasuk. There are those who refrain from expressing their true purpose. G-d sets us up with the right time, place, and opportunity and all too often we squander that moment. It’s not about a lack of clarity and it’s not about our own inability. We rationalize and explain away these moments so that we don’t have to make tough decisions. G-d yells to us from on High – “seize the day” – and we stay silent. This is precisely what Mordechai was telling Esther. Right now, “at this time”, you Esther need to emerge and play your card. We all stand at the proverbial crossroads. When will we stop being afraid and begin to choose the road that G-d illuminates in front of ourselves? The time, says the Megilah, is right now. “Go gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan” (Megillat Esther 4:16) Our tradition appreciates the value of formalized prayer. If prayer is left entirely subjective and random – with time, the average person would allow their davening experience to lie fallow. Hence, Judaism has a standard system of prayer that possesses a basic recurring text that expresses itself in three prayer times: Shacharis (morning), Mincha (midday), and Maariv (evening). However, in a fascinating exchange between Mordechai and Esther we reveal an alternative form of prayer that we are not used to employing. In chapter 4, Mordechai tells Esther that she needs to go to King Achashveirosh immediately to rescind the evil decree upon the Jews. Esther responds that entry into the King without a prior invite is punishable with death. She needs to wait, however long it may be, for a personal invite from the King. Mordechai disagrees with her approach and essentially tells her that waiting would be an utter mistake. 16th century scholar and commentary on the Megilah, Rav Eliezer Ashkenazi in his Lekach Yosef makes an inspirational point. Mordechai was suggesting that Esther burst into Achashveirosh’s office without an appointment not only out of a fear that waiting would perhaps be too late but rather out of an intrinsic value. If Esther is called to meet with him then her complaint is just another item or agenda on the list of somebody visiting the King. But breaking the rules and standing boldly
before Achashveirosh, lets him know that this is an issue of urgency. That desperation could not be experienced by Achashveirosh if Esther waits patiently. Mordechai’s suggestion could be applied to our prayer experience. Sometimes the right thing to arrange our needs in the patient and trusted pattern of Shacharis, Mincha, and Maariv. But there are unique times when we need to convey to G-d the urgency of our needs or the needs of others and when that time comes we should not wait but rather we should burst into the court of the King of all Kings and speak our need. Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordechai the Jew sitting at the King’s gate.’ (Megilat Esther 5:13) How could it be that Haman would notice the lack of his honor amidst the overwhelming flood of glory that he was in? How could someone who has so much devalue it for the sake of one iota of honor lost? R. Chaim Shmuelevitz explains that there is a difference between the desire for honor as opposed to physical desires. Someone who craves any of the physical pleasures desires something that is real and exists. Therefore, when he has enjoyed it, his hunger and desire are satiated. Even if he obtains only a fraction of that which he craves, his desires will be proportionately lessened. No so the person who hungers for honor. Honor itself is non-existent; it is only a figment of the imagination. Its essence lies in the fact that by being accorded it, one’s fantasies and desires have been fulfilled. Therefore, if anything is lacking in the fulfillment of one’s dreams, then one’s hunger for honor is not satisfied at all. With this explanation we can understand the statement of Mishnah in Pirkei Avos (4:28) – "הקנאה והתאוה והכבוד מוציאין " – את האדם מן העולםhonor can take one out of this world. Honor can take one out of this world because it becomes about chasing something that doesn’t really exist. “And let the apparel and the horse be delivered to the hand of one of the King’s most noble princes, that they may array the man therewith whom the King chooses to honor, and cause him to ride on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaim before him: Thus shall it be done to the man whom the King chooses to honor.” (Megilat Esther 6:9) Take note that this verse refers to Mordechai as " "אישthe “man” three times. Why does the verse keep emphasizing " ?"אישIn Shemos the Torah writes "וילך "“ – איש מבית לויand there went a man from the house of Levi.” This is the beginning of the emergence of Moshe. R. Samson Raphael Hirsch comments that the point of stressing " "אישis before the reader be-
comes too infatuated with Moshe, remember that he is merely a human being. Nothing and nobody can replace G-d. Perhaps the message here is the same. Mordechai is now going to be propped up and viewed in the most heroic of lights as he rides through town. It is specifically at this point that the Megilah wants to remind us that he is simply a " – "אישa human being of flesh and blood. He is not to be worshipped or idolized. The Torah is sensitive to the fact that we tend to put those we look up to on pedestals. Our sages warn us about being very careful not to exaggerate the greatness of those we look up to. “And Haman recounted unto Zeresh his wife and all his friends every thing that had befallen him. Then said his wise men and Zeresh his wife unto him: ‘If Mordechai, before whom thou hast begun to fall, be of the seed of the Jews, thou shalt not prevail against him, but shalt surely fall before him.” (Megilat Esther 6:13) What a powerful message given to Haman by his wife and his advisors. If Mordechai turns out to be of Jewish descent then you are in trouble. According to Bereishis (12:3) G-d has promised that he will curse those that curse the Jews. Many have argued that this is evident throughout history. Nations that have befriended the Jews have experienced tremendous success while those that antagonized the Jews have found misfortune. One example that comes to mind is Spain. They were one of the world’s mightiest powers and most developed cultures in the 15th century. In 1492 it reached its zenith when it sent Christopher Columbus on a voyage that changed history. But the same year, it also expelled all its Jews and intensified the Spanish Inquisition against the many forced Jewish converts to Catholicism. What then became of Spain for the next 500 years? Irrelevance and poverty. One only needs to think how fortunate the Arab world would be if they were to accept the existence of the State of Israel. So much blood, money and time has been lost over their hatred of the Jews. It is the United States that has, since its inception, most blessed the Jews. Even to this day, it is unparalleled in its support of the Jewish state against those who wish to exterminate it. By almost any yardstick, America has been, and remains, the most blessed of countries. Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn is the Rav & Dean of Yeshivat Yavneh in Los Angeles. He is the creator of WINGS; a synagogue consulting group for the Orhodox Union. He is also the author of 3 sefarim. For any comments, thoughts, or observations email the Rabbi at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Rabbi Sholom Kesselman Perhaps the biggest factor of all is the fact that historically we find ourselves in a time of never before enjoyed freedom and prosperity. For centuries, since the destruction of the bet hamikdash we have been a persecuted and tortured people. We often did not have the freedom to practice our religion and we suffered great physical and financial hardship. Amongst all of that it was easy to think about Moshiach. It was the hope and inspiration that gave us the will to keep on fighting and it was the light that burned brightly at the end of the deep and dark tunnel of exile. We hear the stories of the holy martyrs who marched to the gas chambers with the words of Ani Mamin b’viat hamashiach (I believe in the coming of Moshiach) on their lips and it brings tears to our eyes. For our predecessors belief in Moshiach was life itself; it was an integral part of their Judaism and something they lived with daily. Nowadays thank G-d; we are enjoying an era of unparalleled physical and spiritual abundance. Never before have Jews been so comfortable and free and there is definitely no shortage of Jewish institutions that promote Torah and goodness. It is under these circumstances that talk of Moshiach seems to be dissipating. We have become so content with life that we have forgotten we are in exile. Life has become so good that we no longer yearn to be redeemed. This is the real sorry state of our
exile; we are so deeply into it that we stopped even caring. Whatever the reasons may be, the neglect of this topic is very alarming. The idea of the Moshiach has always been an integral part of Judaism and without it a cornerstone of our religion is lacking. The truth is that no matter how good our lives have become, we are still in exile. Things are not the way they are supposed to be and we should not be at peace with being in Galut. The Talmud in tractate Megillah has a discussion as to why we don’t recite the Hallel on Purim. One of the explanations offered there is: “we are still slaves of Achashversoh.” The meaning being: despite the great salvation that had just occurred and the fact that the Jews from that point on were in a very strong political position, the victory and celebration was still not a complete one. We were still in exile and subjects of Achashverosh and as such we cannot say Hallel. Equally disturbing as well is how uneducated and misinformed we have become on this subject. Moshiach is a topic that is dealt with extensively throughout the Torah: in Tanach, Talmud, Midrash, Halacha and in the works of many Gedolim and Rabonim. Yet so many of us lack a basic understanding of what Moshiach is all about and an awareness of the
essential place it has within Judaism. It is the goal of this series to address these concerns and to help us all become more informed on this subject. Many myths have emerged over the years and there is a need to clarify what the real facts are and what is simply fiction. The columns will be written in a question and answer format, with one question being addressed in every issue. The first question to be discussed in the next issue is: Can I be a good religious Jew without Moshiach playing a major role in my life? If there are any particular questions that you would like to see addressed in this column, please email them to email@example.com and an effort will be made to have them responded to. Rabbi Sholom Kesselman, lives with his wife and two children in Los Angeles CA. He teaches Chassidic thought at the Yeshiva Ohr Elchonon Chabad and advanced Talmud and Halacha at the Cheder Menachem junior high. He is a columnist for chabad.org and publishes essays on his own blog (rayanot.blogspot. com) as well. He is invited often to lecture on all matters of Torah and Jewish thought and appears as a guest lecturer on theyeshiva.net.
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MARCH 6, 2014
Moshiach (redemption from exile) has becomes less of a priority in our lives with some of us giving it little to no thought at all. It has fallen somewhat to the wayside and become less relevant to the practice of Judaism in the modern era. The reasons for this may vary, depending on the person or community. For some of us it’s that we just don’t consider it significant enough to warrant much attention. Sure we believe it will come some day but until then what point is there in thinking or talking about it. We live life in the present and don’t think much about the future. For others, the concept of Moshiach seems too farfetched and distant from reality. As grounded and intelligent people it’s hard to believe that the world will suddenly change drastically. It doesn’t seem plausible that at any moment we will be magically transported back to Israel, together with the entire Jewish population and rebuild the third temple? It works as a fairy tale, something to tell our children as a bedtime story but not as a fact and matter of absolute reality. And then there are those for whom talk of Moshiach has become associated with extremism. Fanatics have hijacked the project and claimed it as their own, thereby alienating a lot of us levelheaded and even-tempered people. We are afraid to talk about it from fear of being labeled “crazy”.
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MARCH 6, 2014
Yedidim Ne’emonim Beshaareich Yerushalayim
The wondrous account of Megillas Esther annually reinforces the closeness Jews feel with the world’s Creator. Unlike many of the famed miraculous redemptions that occurred in the Holy Land, or at a time when the Bnei Yisroel conducted themselves with piety, the Purim story transpired when the Jews were exiled and forlorn, uncertain about their role, despondent about their condition, and fearing for their future. The Rambam, in Sefer Hamitzvos, writes that the lesson of the Megillah is that it is true, emes hu, that there is no one as close to us as Hashem Elokeinu, who responds to us whenever we turn to Him, just as a loving father, even when separated from his children, never loses touch with them. Even when they are apart, the father hovers somewhere in the background, watching and waiting for progress. Similarly, Hashem showed His enduring love for us in Shushan, even when the mechitzah of golus separated us. And so, even in the increasingly frightening world of 2014, the sounds of Megillas Esther will once again fill our shuls and homes with happiness and optimism. They will tell us to remain together and hopeful, for nothing really is what it appears to be. There is always a story behind the story and things taking place that no one would fathom. There are plots and sub-plots. Despite all the headlines and sub-heads, quick glances and deep analysis of current events, nothing even scratches the surface in explaining what is really going on. Like in Shushan, where a foolish, selfish king ruled by whim and political con-
venience, we are faced with a similar situation now in Eretz Yisroel. Achashveirosh, says the Medrash, was a superficial chonef, who sought to ingratiate himself with those around him. He killed his wife because his friend told him to and then killed his friend to satisfy his wife, the Medrash remarks, referring to the king’s easy acquiescence to Haman’s suggestion that he kill Vashti and his equal willingness to kill that same Haman for Esther’s sake. There was no loyalty, only convenience and political expediency. He had no core beliefs. There was nothing he really believed in or cared about besides his burning desire to remain in power, surrounded by “yes men.” Initially, he favored his Jewish subjects. Then he rejected them, because he craved money and power and his advisor convinced him that he would have more of both if he rid himself of the Jews. Then he began favoring the Jews and helping them in every way possible, because his calculations changed. He was fickle and capricious, much as the people currently in charge of leading countries. Russia is an increasing obstacle to American interests and acts as an enemy would. The US warned Vladimir Putin that there would be a price to pay for his intervention in Ukraine, but he calculated that the rewards of retaking Crimea outweighed President Barack Obama’s threats. At a time when tyrants feel free to undermine other countries and spurn the wishes of the civilized world, nobody knows where such designs can lead. They certainly portend poorly for future stability. It is obvious that America will not engage in a show of force over Russia’s latest moves and that it possesses little leverage over Russia. The West is left impotent as Putin carries out his ambitious land grabs with impunity. This follows a pattern in which the leaders of countries such as Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria thumb their noses at America and forces of liberty and justice, with little risk. And once again, the world doesn’t take Obama seriously. He warned Putin not to make the move, and the next day Putin simply ignored him and acted in direct contravention to the warnings. Putin wins every time he has a showdown with Obama, because he is clear in
his goals and what he wants to accomplish. He is ruthless and shrewd and up against a weak, misguided leader, who acts as a child coloring in school, drawing lines and erasing them, as he tries desperately to ingratiate himself with his teacher. President Obama threatens Iran that all options are on the table, meaning that he will bomb them if they don’t behave, yet he even backed down from attacking Syria, a country much weaker than the one led by Ayatollah Khamenei, when they crossed his strongly pronounced red lines. There are violations of human rights and abrogation of freedoms in countries around the globe, yet this White House focuses its efforts on pressuring the smallest of its allies, the only democracy in a wild neighborhood, to capitulate to a terroristic group of a people with a fictitious past. Israel’s leader faces increasing domestic and international pressures. Originally empowered as prime minster thanks to the support of the chareidi political parties, he was always viewed as a friend who shared our concerns. Chairing the party of Menachem Begin, he followed his heritage to electoral victory and then to forming a governing coalition. But when peirud caused Shas to lose three seats to splinter parties and initial fumbling in dealing with his wife’s nemesis, Naftoli Bennett, pushed the National Religious leader into the arms of the rabidly anti-religious demagogue Yair Lapid, Netanyahu changed his spots. “Vayokom melech chodosh asher lo yoda es Yosef.” He spurned his former allies and friends who enabled his entire career and signed on to the Lapid agenda. Netanyahu empowered the bitterest enemies of the Torah camp to battle us in every conceivable manner, from “simple” things like enabling Kosel prayer for tallis-and-tefillin-clad anti-Torah women, to changes in laws relating to religion and rabbis, to engaging in actions blatantly targeting young chareidi children and their families, culminating in support for the law that calls for jailing yeshiva bochurim who choose Torah study over army service. This week, we study Parshas Vayikra, which consists of the laws of korbanos. The parsha details the process of one who is makriv himself, his very essence, through a korban. In fact, the word kiruv, meaning
to come closer, lies at the root of the word korban, sacrifice, for it brings people closer to Hashem. The Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh (1:2) expounds on the posuk at the beginning of the parsha which states, “Adam ki yakriv mikem (korban).” He explains that the desire to become close to Hashem has to come from within the Bnei Yisroel. Sinning creates distance between Hashem and us, as a sinner becomes separated from the Shechinah. Since Hashem desires for us to remain close to Him, he commands, “Hochei’ach tochiach es amisecha. He wishes for us to seek to draw closer those who have drifted away. This is the reason that Chazal say (Avos 5:18), “Kol hamezakeh es horabim ein cheit ba al yado.” Because Hashem wishes to be reunited with his lost children, he heaps rewards upon people who enable that relationship to crystallize. The Bais Hamikdosh was a place of kirva, representing the ultimate closeness attainable in our world between man and his Creator. Referred to as a place of yedidus, the highest level of interpersonal friendship, it was built in the biblical portion of Binyomin, who is referred to in the Torah as “yedid Hashem, the friend of Hashem,” to underscore the closeness of the relationship. Rav Moshe Shapiro explains the reason that the word yedid means friendship. In every relationship, there are ups and downs, times of closeness and times of distance. In every relationship, there is a time to stand apart. There are times defined as yemin mekarev, when the right hand draws close, and periods of s’mol docheh, when the left hand pushes away. Even bein odom laMakom, between man and Hashem, there is a precedent for this type of distance. When Yaakov bowed to Eisov, he was expressing an admission of the fact that in this world, there is an order. The will of Hashem was, at that time, for Yaakov to subjugate himself to Eisov’s dominion. Rav Shapiro says that Binyomin was not present at that encounter between Yaakov and Eisov. He thus didn’t accept that there are times when right and justice submit to might. As such, Binyomin was defined as a yedid, which in Hebrew is written as a compound of the word yad twice, yud
Throughout all the generations, our great leaders have not been those who dwelled in ivory towers peering down at the masses below. Rather, our leaders were men such as Mordechai, who befriended
nance. We can assist organizations such as Lev L’Achim and Shuvu, which are scrambling to make ends meet in crushing times. And we can feel their pain, as yedidim ne’emonim. My son was at a hafgonah held a few years ago to protest a government blood libel against the residents of Emmanuel. It was a hot summer day and the sun was beating down on the people gathering on a sloping street that faces Rechov Yirmiyohu. People were fainting from the heat when he noticed, standing next to him, the elderly Yerushalmi tzaddik and talmid chochom, Rav Zundel Kroizer. Water was offered to people standing on the melting asphalt. Rav Zundel refused the drink. He was offered to sit in an air-conditioned car parked alongside the group, but he refused. “Ober rebbe, es iz azoi heis,” people said to him. “The heat is unbearable. Why not drink some water or sit in comfort? You can participate in the protest from the car as well. And what would be so bad if you took a sip of water to replenish yourself?” With simple humility and greatness, Rav Zundel responded, “Der ikker iz tzu fillin mit. The main reason for standing here is to show the people who were wronged that we feel their pain. How can I say that if I take a drink or sit in a comfortable, cool, car? Ich shtei doh. I am standing right here.” The Megillah (4:6) relates that Mordechai told Esther’s messenger, “Kol asher korahu ve’es parashas hakesef.” He shared everything that happened to him. My friend, Shalom Mordechai Rubashkin, asked why the posuk states that Mordechai told him of his own personal experiences. The entire Jewish nation was in serious peril, as Haman plotted to kill every one of them. It seems to be a very selfish act for Mordechai to tell Esther’s messenger what had happened to him personally. He answered that Mordechai was personally affected by what happened to every Jew. Every Jew’s pain was Mordechai’s very own personal pain. He told the messenger to report to Esther what was going on outside of the palace and how so many people were suffering. He felt their pain as if it was his own. We must feel the pain of the people who are bearing the brunt of governmental decrees intended to weaken them into submission. We have to feel “asher korahu,” that we are experiencing the same pain they are. We have to imagine that our children our going to bed hungry, that we don’t have enough money for basic foodstuffs and clothing, and that the entire government is seemingly aligned to steer us away from our way of life. We have to think as yedidim do, with love and care, so that we merit to be spared from evil decrees and become worthy of redemption and the binyan Bais Hamikdosh. In the Selichos of Taanis Esther, we say, “Be’asoscha noraos ke’osan hayomim - As You do wonders as in those days, itanu haflei l’teshuas olamim - perform miracles with us, Your devoted nation, for eternal deliverance.” May we rejoice in the nahafoch hu, the great reversal, together, in serenity and yedidus.
MARCH 6, 2014
each Jew. We see until our very day how the genuine giants are the humblest and gentlest of men, accessible and available to every person who needs help, guidance or a warm smile. The closeness of good people with the Ribbono Shel Olam allows them to see the Divine light in every Jew as they seek to be mekarev them with love and devotion, as true yedidim. Their friendship echoes the great, overriding friendship that gave us the neis of Purim, the yedidus of Binyomin, and the deveikus of Mordechai to Hashem and every Jew. We all have our problems and tribulations, and are all sick of the snow, the economic malaise, and the various problems that plague our communities. We have tuitions to pay, mortgages to worry about, and a pile of bills, but there has to be room in our hearts and checkbooks to feel the pain of others who are suffering and seek to befriend and help them. One would have to be numb not to be moved by the fact that we experienced this week one the greatest modern-day examples of “leich kenos ess kol haYehudim.” Hundreds of thousands of Jews of all types from across Israel gathered as yedidim to cry out, as in days of old, “Keili, Keili, lomah azavtoni.” Once again, Jews find themselves at the mercy of a ruler who is a chonef, pulled this way and that way by whims and a need for power. Apparently, he doesn’t realize that the more his government targets the olam hayeshivos, the stronger the difficulties that come at him from elsewhere will be. As the Yehudim were gathering in Yerushalayim on Sunday, the prime minister was flying to Washington for a tongue lashing by President Obama over the stalled talks to establish yet another neighboring Arab state. He has so far failed to realize that the more he aggravates Mir and Ponovezh, Belz and Toldos Aharon, the more pressure he faces from the likes of John Kerry. The self-proclaimed student of Tanach
fails to see the message, the proverbial writing on the wall. “Ka’asher ya’anu oso,” the more pain he causes to the Torah community, “kein yirbeh vechein yifrotz,” the more his problems swell. Some question the purpose of a mass gathering for tefillah such as the one that took place at the entrance to Yerushalayim on Sunday. What does it accomplish? It won’t change the minds of Bennett and Lapid. It won’t wash away the impact of their brilliantly evil “shivyon banetel” campaign. Firstly, there is the inestimable power of tefillah, which alone has the ability to overturn terrible gezeiros. The Nesivos in his sefer Megillas Storim (Esther 4:1-4) explains why Mordechai tore his clothes and wore sackcloth as he went to the streets to cry out against Haman’s decree, spurning Esther’s offer of clean clothing. She sent him the clothing, because she believed it was incumbent upon Mordechai to perform hishtadlus among the government leaders and ministers to cancel their decree. One dressed the way he was could not approach people in power. Besides, it was forbidden to approach the king’s palace dressed in rags - “ein lavo el hamelech belevush sok.” She wanted him to engage through teva to try to break the decree. But Mordechai refused. “UMordechai yoda es kol asher na’asah… Velo kibeil.” Mordechai was blessed with ruach hakodesh and knew that Hakadosh Boruch Hu approved the gezeirah against the Jewish people. He knew that his hishtadlus al pi teva with the political leaders would bear no fruit. Therefore, he rejected the clothing offered to him. However, as Chazal say (Brachos 10a), man should never give up. Even if a sharp knife is at his throat, a person should still hold out hope that Hashem will have mercy and save him. Even though Mordechai knew that Hashem had sanctioned the destruction of the Jewish people and that his intervention with powerful people would not be able to accomplish anything, he believed that through the power of prayer, the edict could be overturned. Thus, although he tore kriah for the gezeirah, he went to the public and was zo’eik ze’akah gedolah. He engaged Klal Yisroel in mass tefillah and tachanunim. Even when the gates to Hashem are sealed shut and the die has been cast, tefillah has the power the break through all mechitzos and avert tragedy. In our day, as populist demagoguery has clouded the complex issues and political negotiations seeking to forestall the criminalization of Torah study have failed, we gather in unity and pour out our hearts in tefillah and tachanunim for rachamim. Secondly, when hundreds of thousands of Jews gather to pray for themselves and for each other, they demonstrate that they are yedidim who care for their spiritual future and for their fellow’s wellbeing. They show that they care, that they aren’t apathetic, that they haven’t given up. They demonstrate that they refuse to be intimidated by might and power. What can we do from afar? We can help ease their suffering. We can let them know in substantial ways that we care about them. We can get involved with Adopt-AKollel and with yeshivos that are suffering. We can help families who lack basic suste-
THE JEWISH HOME
dalet, yud dalet. Rav Shapiro explains that a yedid possesses only a yemin mekarev, perpetual closeness. He experiences yemin mekarev and, then again, yemin mekarev. Generations later, Mordechai Hatzaddik maintained this yedidus, refusing to bow. Others insisted that it was necessary, even pikuach nefesh, to conform to the dictates of Haman. Mordechai refused to bow. In so doing, Mordechai became the champion of every indomitable neshomah that would ever face any of the multiple Hamans our people have encountered throughout the generations. The Megillah states that Mordechai was “lo kom velo za” (Esther 5:9). Not only did Mordechai refuse to rise before Haman, but he seemed to be unaware of his existence. He didn’t even twitch when Haman passed him. Mordechai was demonstrating for his people, and imbuing those who would follow until this very day, that they possess the strength necessary to confront evil without shuddering. He taught not to succumb to the urge to subjugate to the prevailing temporal power. Mordechai was a yedid of Hashem, possessing a closeness that didn’t leave room for disloyalty. He was an unfailing yedid of the Jewish people, admonishing them not to drop their guard and compromise on principle, because he loved each of them and wanted to ensure that they would remain yedidim with Hashem veSoraso. Therefore, Mordechai wore “sak v’eifer.” “Vayitzak ze’akah gedolah umarah.” Mordechai reproached the Jewish people and Esther Hamalkah, gathering together all the Jews of Shushan for three days and nights of tefillah, teshuvah and fasting. Due to his efforts, they merited being saved from the evil plans plotted against them and returning once again to be close to Hashem, so much so that they embraced Torah Shebaal Peh as their forefathers had accepted Torah Shebiksav at Har Sinai. Their acts of return and devotion were so great that they led to the rebuilding of the Bais Hamikdosh. Mordechai Hatzaddik, a descendant of Binyomin, was a yedid of Hashem and a cherished friend of every single Jew. He fulfilled the mitzvah of hochei’ach tochiach in its most ideal form. When the people ignored him regarding his p’sak not to attend the seudah of Achashveirosh, he bore the burden of their collective suffering after the gezeirah was passed. Like a loving father, he reassured, comforted and led, establishing the mass fast and gathering in Shushan. Though they had sinned, Mordechai’s love of them and Hashem enabled a salvation to be brought about. Through his mesirus nefesh and yedidus, the Jews merited the neis of Purim. Despite the sad fact that, as Chazal say, “Akati avdei Achashveirosh anan,” we are still exiled among foreign leaders, we nevertheless have within us the potential for yedidus and mesirus nefesh embodied by Mordechai. Our enemies have tried, ever since the days of the Shushan miracle, to entrap and ensnare us. But if we care for each other and seek to bring about kiruv and yedidus, we can overcome all that is put in our path and merit a return of the Bais Hamikdosh in our day.
THE JEWISH HOME
MARCH 6, 2014
HaMakom Gorem—The Influence of Place By Rabbi Harold Rabinowitz.
I didn’t major in urban planning in college, but it seems obvious to me that the place people live in has an effect on the way the people who live there think and act—on their attitudes, their outlook, their values, their lives. Not everybody is affected the same way or to the same extent, but the physical qualities of a locale—its topography, its soil, its climate, its location—all have an impact on the people who live there. I remember reading once that the clear air of Greece had something to do with the development of philosophy among the ancient Greeks, and that the London rainy weather was responsible for the gloomy philosophy of the British. Then I once had a chavrusa (a Talmud study partner) who told me that he spent some time in a yeshiva in southern California, and the weather was perfect every single day—and then he said, to my surprise, that it drove him crazy. I write this during a period when the weather here in LA is quite nice, and I Skype with my children and friends back in New York, where the weather is terrible—cold and stormy. When my friend back in the Bronx pointed his iPad out the window to show me a plow and a truck stuck in the snow, I have to admit that for a moment, I envied him. I always hated the tough Eastern winters—they were bad enough in New York, but in Boston, they became really intolerable. I always came down with colds and had trouble negotiating the snow and the ice, walking or driving. I often find myself marveling at how nice the weather is here—and I quickly add b’li ayin harah (“without giving myself an ‘evil eye’ “). But there was something to be said for being stuck in the house, with nowhere to go and nothing to do but read, study, write, and think. Once in a while I have (not without some embarrassment) said, after a long stretch of perfect weather, “What this place needs is a good snow storm.” And then I’d hope that the Powers on High weren’t paying any attention to me. Happily, I didn’t come up with this myself—it’s a rabbinic judgment. The Rabbis tells us, HaMakom Gorem—“the place is the cause” all by itself. When Avraham had passed the test of the Akeidah and showed himself willing to obey G-d and offer his son, Yitzchak, the Torah tells us (22:14) “And Avraham called that place (“hamakom hahu”) ‘Hashem Yir’eh’ (“The Almighty is Revealed”)…” That word “hahu” seems superfluous—the verse could have done without it and we would have read it, “And Avraham called the place…” But with “hahu” the verse is better translated as: “And Avraham called that very place…” The very place itself had a quality of its own. As a child, I remember the story told to me (a Midrash, it turns out) of the two brothers, one married with children and the other single, who worked a farm in partnership. One stored half the produce in his barn and the other stored half in his barn. But then the
single brother thought that his married brother needed more than half—he had a wife and little mouths to feed. So he snuck out in the middle of the night and moved some produce from his barn to his brother’s. But then the married brother thought that the single brother needed more than half, because he had no children to look after him in his old age. So he snuck out in the middle of the night and moved some produce from his barn to his brother’s. The next morning, they were both puzzled to find that the barns were as full as they had been the day before. So that night they did the same—with the same result: no change. This went on until, one night, the brothers moved the produce at the same hour of the night—and bumped into each other. Realizing what had been going on, they hugged each other and basked in the love they had for one another. It was at the very spot, the Midrash tells us, where the brothers met that night that Avraham built the altar of the Akeidah, and where the Holy of Holies in the Beit HaMikdash—where the Shechinah (the Divine Presence) resided in the Holy Temple—were all located. Thus, the Sanhedrin, the High Court of Am Yisroel sat in close proximity to the Holy of Holies and could judge the most important cases, from capital cases to ones involving entire cities and national security, only when sitting there. The Torah (Deut. 17:10) uses that same phrasing—BaMakom Hahu (“in that very place”)—to describe precisely where the seat of justice was to be located. ### All right, then—what about us? What is it about the place where we happen to be living that affects us—that affects how we think and act, how we live? Again, I haven’t seen much on the subject from a scholarly or scientific point of view. Every now and then I’ll come across a piece about “Seasonal Affective Disorders”—how gloomy weather (or even dark office spaces) makes some people depressed and gloomy. It seems to me, however, that there definitely are aspects of Los Angeles—geographical. topological and climactic aspects—that play a role in behavior and attitudes. Allow me to point out three of them. (Here goes— wish me luck): • Everyone and everything is so spread out. It sometimes seems to me that someone took a conventional city and applied a giant butter knife to it and spread it out over a “slice” of land four or five times the size of a normal city. I often drive on boulevards that seem to go on forever. Is there another city (I ask you) on this earth where six digits are necessary for street addresses? “Close by” seems to mean to most LA residents, “a halfhour or less drive away.” I have often found myself at someone’s home for Shabbat and told that a Synagogue was “very close,” only to find that: (a) it was two miles away; and (b) it was considered close because one had
to cross only two streets to get to it. All right, so Los Angeles is big—what of it? Well, it seems to me the great distances between people has an effect on personality and attitudes. A sense of isolation is created that promotes, it seems, a kind of insularity. If someone makes a friend because of common interests or like concerns—or they simply “hit it off” because “their chemistry is good”—they are likely to be a great distance away—because there are not that many people living close to anyone. I know people who live near me (in the Valley), who get together with their friends periodically half-way between them—and that means they meet in Long Beach! (In another such instance, a couple in Sherman Oaks has to drive to Oxnard to meet their friends “half-way.”) Of course, much of this has to do with the fact that living in area subject to earthquakes places severe limitations on the height of buildings. (I live in a place called “Towers” because it’s three stories high, instead of the two stories of most other apartment buildings in the neighborhood.) The great distances between people— and, generally, the “thin-ness” of the population in a great many areas—creates a sense of isolation. We don’t feel connected to many people in our immediate vicinity because there aren’t that many people in our immediate vicinity with whom one can expect to share what is important to us. The sense of isolation that the spread-out population creates allows us to forget each other—to forget people in need, people isolated by illness, people alone in life (sometimes for the first time in a long time), and people who simply need human contact in order to survive psychically, emotionally. When people noticed this was true of the very desperate cases of people hospitalized, they created Bikur Cholim, an organization that performs (without exaggeration) Nobel-level support and service to the sick and hospitalized in the LA area. But it’s not enough—especially with the recent closings of so many community centers in the area. Many people are left to their own devices and bereft of… company. Plain, simple company. • The fact that the daily temperature— especially in the Valley, but in all areas of Southern California to one degree or another—often varies by some 30 degrees in a single day, every day (meaning, if it’s 85o during the day, it will dip to the mid-50s at night; a day in the 90s will be followed by a night in the 60s)—has an effect, I submit, on the human psyche. I think it creates a sense of needing creaturely defending; the body has to adjust too often and too quickly to temperature swings, and I believe this has an unsettling effect on our emotional well-being. If it’s always hot, or always cold, for long stretches, we can adjust and take the necessary measures to be comfortable; when it’s hot one hour and much colder a few hours
later, even when we make the necessary adjustments environmentally, we still have a sense of being under attack, being unnerved and displaced. The antidote to this, it seems to me, is a great deal more opportunities to gather communally. Being with other people can create a sense of security and solidarity—knowing that this is being faced together makes it easier to face in the first place. • The desert climate and soil-make-up also gives the area an aura of not having deep roots: not the vegetation, not the buildings, and, it seems to me, not the people—no roots seem to run deep around here. This is often described as the quality California has of being where people are “continuing to re-invent themselves.” Well, the streets and houses no less than the people also radiate an aura of impermanence—one fully expects just about every area of the city to look very different a few years later. This quality has often been cited as one reason there is so much creativity exhibited in Southern California. It’s certainly something to be proud of, to cherish and inculcate. But it also creates a sense of not-belonging, of personal “rootlessness” that I believe is uncomfortable and disorienting. In Jewish life, this can be devastating and a cause for concern. Young people, teens, young men and women, people in early or late middle-age, and (especially) seniors—all have too few situations where they can congregate with contemporaries socially to share common concerns, interests and experiences—spiritual, religious or intellectual. I know there will readers who will bristle at this and say, there are such programs—if you only go out and look for them. Perhaps, but I’m simply pointing out that, given the challenges posed by the Makom—the qualities of the locale—there are simply not enough. These assaults, if you will, to personal and emotional well-being by the “place” in which we find ourselves create challenges and opportunities. The Makom—the place and its influences on human existence and the human spirit—can, one can hope, inspire a greater effort in community at the local level: more programs of gathering and community; more outreach by volunteers to make certain people in need of company are visited; and a greater use of that much-vaunted creativity to make a better life—for the Jews of Los Angeles and for everyone. Like I said, that’s one man’s opinion—and I didn’t major in this in college. Rabbi Rabinowitz teaches both Jewish and secular subjects at Touro College-Los Angeles. You may e-mail him at hir555@ gmail.com.
By Rabbi Avi Stewart as “the Aruch,” wrote an explanatory dictionary on the Talmud. He understands the word לבסומיdifferently than Rashi, and consequently, has a completely different understanding of the Talmud’s dictum. He explains that םוסיבis an expression of pleasure. Therefore the Talmud is teaching that Purim is a time for great pleasure and happiness. R’ Simcha explained that “Cursed is Haman” is a reference to G-d’s using the rod to prod us into better behavior; cursed is the prod. “Blessed is Mordechai” is G-d’s responding to our prayers and exhibiting His Divine Providence. Blessed is the cane. How is it that these two methods can be confused? The answer is that they share the same objective. Both the rod and the staff, both good times and bad, both Mordechai and Haman, are meant to bring us closer to G-d. Ad diLo Yadah means that once we are in euphoric spirits and feel closer to G-d, we recognize that there is no difference between the two approaches. Each modality is what we needed at that particular time, to help us. Both are intended out of G-d’s love for us. In wrapping up I think we can say that the ultimate message of the Megillah is that, although it seems that Achashverosh was correct that Hashem had rejected His people, the truth is that He was just waiting for us to return; to call out to Him. It seems that whether we are at the brink of either assimilation or annihilation, if we turn to Hashem, He will help us one way or another. We pray that He send us leaders and Mordechais so that we can say “Baruch Mordechai” and “Baruch Hashem,” but one way or another, He will bring about salvation. May we merit saying Baruch Hashem soon!
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MARCH 6, 2014
ations. Pound them into the ground. Degrade them. Bury them six feet under the earth! Annihilate them!” Haman’s suggested throwing the Jews into the ditch. Rabbi Dr. David Fox shared an insight from his Rebbe, Rav Simcha Wasserman zt”l, explaining a well-known verse that we sing at Shalosh Seudos: שבטך ומשענתך המה ינחמוני-- Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me [Psalms 23:4]. The verse is contradictory. What is it that comforts us? Is it G-d’s rod or is it His staff? What is the difference between a rod and a staff? R’ Simcha explained that a rod (shevet) is generally used as a prod. A mishenes is a staff of support, a cane, upon which one leans in order to propel oneself forward. There are times in our lives when we are reminded by G-d to wake up and walk in His path, but the reminder is rough and difficult. We are struck by His rod as it were. At times G-d uses His rod to smite us into compliance. But there are other times when we come close to G-d and we are propelled forward by leaning on Him. We experience His love and grace and we are reminded of how much He loves us. He lifts us up by giving us good leaders and better times to lean on so that we feel impelled, out of love and good feelings, to comply. We prefer the latter to the former. But the objective is the same. There is a puzzling teaching in the Talmud: חייב איניש לבסומי בפוריא עד דלא ידע בין “”ברוך מרדכי וארור המן. Rashi’s classic translation is: “A person should drink so much that he becomes unaware of the difference between “Blessed is Mordechai” and “Cursed is Haman.” The question is obvious. No matter how much we drink we would most likely not get confused between black and white. Even inebriated most people can differentiate between good and bad. What is the Talmud really teaching? One of the early commentators, known
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The purpose of this essay is to explore the rationales used by Achashverosh and Haman, in Megilat Esther, for destroying the Jewish people. I would like to understand their thought processes as well as that of the Jewish response as represented by Mordechai. This will bring us to an understanding of the Talmud’s teaching that Haman’s and Mordechai’s qualities can be confused and perhaps even exchanged one for the other. Achashverosh and Haman were believers in G-d. They operated within a framework of a G-d-run world. While it was their intention to destroy the Jewish people, they appreciated the fact that G-d would probably protect the Jews. In order to ensure that He would remain turned away from them, they made it their mission to make the Jewish people reject G-d. There was precedent for this approach. The Torah itself had provided them with a model for this strategy. The Egyptians had caused the people to become sinful in order to be able to afflict us. They too understood that G-d would not allow anything to happen to us as a people unless we were sinners. He would not “reject” us if we did not reject Him. Achashverosh was a wily character. As a believer in Hashem and in nevuah, he knew that the Jews were destined to be in exile for 70 years. Babylonian rule followed by the Persian monarchy controlled the Jews and Jewish interests. World history dictated that there be only one world power at a time. Achashverosh wanted Persia and Media to be the empire that ruled the world. He knew that the Jews’ return to Israel would eliminate this as a possibility. He recalled the days of Dovid and Shlomo when the Jews were the dominant world power. He wanted to remain in power and in control. Thus Achashverosh ‘s strategy was to ensure that the people would continue to sin so that G-d would continue to reject them. G-d remains hidden when we turn away from Him. The Meshach Chachmah
(Rabbi Meir Simcha of Dvinsk) posits that this is only true to a certain extent. It only seems that G-d has turned away from us, but the truth is that He is going to manipulate things so that we turn back to Him. The Chasam Sofer shares a powerful idea that brings this idea to life. The Gemara [Megilah 14a] quotes Rebbe Abba as teaching that Achashverosh and Haman were a good shidduch. They were thrilled to work together. The Gemarah offers a metaphor comparing Achashverosh and Haman to two farmers, each of whom had a problem in his field. A field must be level in order to properly plow and plant. One of the farmers had a tel [a mound]; and the other had a charitz [a ditch]. The fellow with the mound was hoping to sell his surplus dirt so that his field would be level. The fellow with the ditch was hoping he could buy some dirt so his field would be the same. Eventually, a shadchan paired them up and the fellow with the mound said, “Please take the dirt; you are doing me a favor.” Generally, this metaphor is understood as a classic win-win. Achashverosh had the oldest problem in the world. The Jew problem. He was not sure how to get rid of them. Haman had the solution. He had the will and the lack of risk that enabled him to act as Achashverosh’s henchman without conscience or concern about political fallout. The Chasam Sofer offers a novel understanding of Rebbe Abba’s teaching, suggesting that he used these examples of the mound and the ditch as specific metaphors rather than as a matter of convenient or illustrative examples. Conceptually and historically there are two methods of destroying the Jews – and by destroying the Jews I mean destroying Judaism: assimilation and destruction; eliminating the values of the people or eradicating the physical presence of its people. History has shown that, given the opportunity, the Jews will assimilate and acculturate [Greece, Spain, Germany, and the USA]. At other times, the Jews were physically destroyed [pogroms, Crusades, etc.]. Often the former has led to the latter. The mound represents Achashverosh’s initial approach. He tried to elevate the Jews by raising their social standing. He befriended them and invited them to his party. He was trying to assimilate them into his culture. He made a party, brought harlots, and commanded them to “eat, drink and make merry.” He knew that if they accepted his offers, G-d would reject them and they would be assimilated into Persian culture. Result: Threat eliminated, monarchy maintained. Haman said to Achashverosh, “Why are you wasting your time? Do not lift them up and try to make them assimilate. Assimilation will take three to four gener-
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PURIMmmmm...... By Esther Reitzes With an extra Adar this year, I thought there would be plenty of time to prepare for Purim. Somehow though, my preparations have remained right there- in thought, as the days go by filled with attending to yesterday’s urgencies which became today’s emergencies. Although I would never exchange my beautiful family for Achashveirosh’s offer of half the Persian Empire, I sometimes wonder how nice it would be to have seven maids, like Queen Esther. Then again, it would probably be maddening to have to explain everything all over again to a different maid each day. Did Esther have to talk to them in seven different languages? Did she have to buy six different types of furniture polish because the six weekday maids each had their favorite? Just imagine a typical week- Monday’s maid can’t find the duster because Sunday’s maid put it away somewhere; Wednesday’s maid washes the linens that Tuesday’s maid had just put on the bed the day before, and Friday’s maid throws out the yogurt that Thursday’s maid had start-
ed, thinking that it was sour milk. Then the Shabbos maid has the nerve to demand double pay for coming on the weekend, even though she didn’t actually have to do any work! Maybe I am better off than the Queen after all, managing without royal servants as I have done until now. I just need to gear myself up for a Purim marathon- it will be good practice for the bigger challenge that comes soon after- (may I mention that loaded word?) The Grand Pesach Marathon! Mmmm, marathon is one of those M words that I associate with Purim, after all, doesn’t it say in the Megilla that they sent the messengers on a rushed marathon to deliver the latest decree? In any case, just think of how many words connected with Purim start with M, or at least have an ‘m’ in them somewhere. The main mitzvot of Purim all start with ‘m’: mikra megilla, matanot l’evyonim, mishloach manot, and mishteh. The adage mishenichnas Adar...“when Adar comes around we increase in joy” begins with ‘m’. Even the
word Purim, itself, although it doesn’t start with ‘m’, ends with one, and don’t we read Hebrew from left to right? Mordechai is the hero of the day, Haman descends from Amalek, and Esther the ‘Malka’ has the starring role. The word Melech in the Megilla which obviously refers to Achashveirosh is also esoterically interpreted as referring to the King of Kings, G-d Himself . What other ‘m’ words come to mind in connection with Purim? How about masks, masquerade, merry-making, mess, mayhem, money, miracles, mohn-tashen, meat dumplings, meshuga, miraculous, and mothers? Mothers?! What does Purim have to do with mothers? What doesn’t Purim have to do with mothers? Who is the one who: allows her teen-agers to make masks and bake mohn-tashen with the neighbours’ children because they want to raise money for matanot l’evyonim, well
knowing the mess and mayhem it would involve? Who is the one who: struggles to listen to the megilla while trying to keep her eyes open, because she stayed up late to make magnificent melech and malka crowns and costumes, for the masquerade party at the moshav z’keinim (old age home) where they will give out mishloach monot? And who is the one who: must be meshuga for making meat dumplings which no one will eat, at a mishteh where no one will sit down, because all of the household members are still making merry? And although by the end of the day, her home is far from immaculate, and mischief-makers are making meetings instead of going to sleep, who is the one who is still humming ‘mi-mi-mishenichnas adar....’ ? It must be a Purim miracle-mom.
By Ruth Judah
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The Real Thing in Movies
MARCH 6, 2014
film directors and Burshtein understands that she has broken the mold by presenting a movie that is commercial and yet provides a window into ultra-religious life. “Everywhere I go, when people meet me, they’re expecting to meet someone who is more stupid than I am, more primitive than
and partner compatibility are presented. The life decisions to which the characters commit are in synch with the issues that face new brides and grooms of all levels of religiosity. While the story is remarkable in its depiction of ultra orthodox lives, it’s also a
Director Rama and her husband Aharon on the red carpet during a screening for the movie at the 69th Venice Film Festival September 2, 2012. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
If you want the real thing in movies, you should watch Fill the Void (2012), now downloadable at netflix.com. There are many worse ways to spend 90 minutes. The movie was nominated by Israel for the 2013 Oscars in the best foreign language film. While it failed to garner the nomination, the movie won plenty of other awards with clips shown at the prestigious Venice Film Festival in 2013 and nomination for a Spirit Award. Rama Burshtein is the endearing and
forthright director who knows her raison d’être, “I’m a storyteller and I tell personal mental stories.” Fame was not her motive for investing years in the making of Fill the Void. Born in New York and now a mother of 4, Burshtein grew up in Israel and moved into the Haredim community of Tel Aviv at 27. For the last twenty years she has produced movies with other women from her community that are designed for the Haredim audience. There are no other orthodox female
I am” she said. But this is not the reality and she lets down such preconceived convictions by presenting this movie. There is nothing primitive about Fill the Void; it is first class kosher entertainment. The story centers on the issues of matrimony and specifically on a young woman who is pressured into marrying the husband of her sister, who is a widower since his wife, the young woman’s sister, died while giving birth. Fill the Void is magnificently authentic in its depiction of family dynamics. The story realistically presents the orthodox life of Tel Aviv and the relationship issues that face young women today. This is a powerful piece because genuine issues that face marriage, romance
story from the heart that goes to the heart. Mrs. Burshtein did well. She may be ultra orthodox but she is ultra brilliant at delving into the creative world of movie making to produce entertainment that is timeless. She is also the first Shomer Shabbat director to create a feature film that has been distributed worldwide and has grossed nearly$3million. This is twice the earnings of the memorable Ushpizin (2004). As winter draws to a close the time is ripe for a movie night and Fill the Void is designed for that experience. Burshtein explained the purpose of creating this movie experience, “It’s about making fun, with the right amount of crying and laughter”.
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The Miraculous Story of IDF Commander Aharon Karov’s Brush with Death and Journey to Recovery by Tzvi Dear
Aharon and his father, Rav Zeev Karov
When you meet with Aharon Karov you get the sense that you are in the presence of a young man whose life experience is unparalleled. His physical scars bear witness to the severe trauma that he has been through. Yet, when he talks about his experience, he focuses on the positive and on pushing forward. He exhibits a contagious excitement for Israel, Judaism and faith in Hashem. I was fortunate to speak with him personally on his recent trip to America. This is his inspirational story.
n December 2009, the dark clouds of war once again hovered over Israel. Ever since its withdrawal from Gaza, the now-Hamas controlled territory had become an oasis for terrorists, who freely lobbed katyusha rockets into Israeli cities, bringing everyday life to a grounding halt. Israel could no longer withstand the constant barrage, and it was decided that military action was the only option. Yet, unlike many previous wars which Israel had fought, this war would be different. It would be a guerilla war, fought from house to house, courtyard to courtyard. Israel quickly learned after its previous incursion into Lebanon that when it comes to guerilla warfare, even if you win, it comes at a deadly cost. But the Jewish State had no choice. The plan for the operation, called “Operation Cast Lead,” was that in the first stage of the mission, special forces would go into Gaza and penetrate house to house, clearing booby traps and ap-
prehending terrorists. Aharon Karov was going to be one of the first soldiers in. At the young age of 23, he was a commander in the elite paratroopers force Division 890, known as the Tzanchanim. He had excelled in the army and was prepared to lead his unit of 30 soldiers into Gaza. Aharon was not only equipped with the best training, but he also had a tool that Jewish soldiers have relied on for thousands of years: a deep faith in Hashem. Aharon’s father, Rav Ze’ev Karov, engrained in his son a love for Israel and a deep sense of emunah ever since he was a young child. As the Rosh Yeshiva of Keren Shomron, Aharon’s father penned a highly acclaimed sefer on emunah. With his army training and faith in Hashem, Aharon felt that he was prepared for the battle. For several days, Aharon and his unit were encamped outside of Gaza waiting for the orders to enter enemy territory. On Thursday morning, January 1st, they were still waiting for the invasion, which they knew would be imminent. But Aharon had something very important to attend that evening. At 8AM, his superior told him to take the rest of the day off to prepare for that event: a wedding…his wedding. Aharon and Tzivia were married on Thursday evening. The joyous celebration ended after 1AM. The next morning at 7AM, the newlywed received a phone call from his company commander, “Aharon, we are going into Gaza now. You don’t have to come, but I just need to know: are you coming or not?” Although Aharon was entitled to 10 days off in celebration of his wedding, he couldn’t fathom not leading his troops when they needed him most.
“As a commander, you live with the constant sense that your soldiers are in your hands and you want to be there for them,” Aharon told me. His new wife, who was guided by a parallel love and commitment to Israel, agreed and encouraged him to go back to his unit. Aharon notes how at his wedding under the chuppah, the words “Im eshkochech Yerushalayim” were sung. Although the timing was difficult, the mission of protecting Israel is so important, as evidenced by the fact that at Jewish weddings—which are seemingly unrelated to protecting Israel—we declare our commitment to that mission. By 9AM the new groom was with his unit in Gaza. The dangerous mission had begun. Aharon’s story made national headlines. The entire country was mesmerized and inspired at the level of commitment of this soldier to go fight mere hours after his wedding. The fact that Aharon was religious made this story
of the building up an outdoor staircase. Two of Aharon’s men were in formation a few feet behind him. As Aharon smashed the door open, he was flung into the air from the ensuing explosion. The door was booby-trapped and the home collapsed on top of Aharon. He lost consciousness in the blast. Thankfully, Aharon’s soldiers were able to extract him from the rubble. But the situation was dim. His head took the brunt of the explosion and his skull was shattered. He had lost a lot of blood and was not breathing. A paramedic on the scene proclaimed him dead. But then, he felt a faint pulse. The paramedic made a split second decision to cut a hole in Aharon’s throat and insert a tube for Aharon to breathe. A medivac arrived within minutes, and Aharon was transported to Beilinson Hospital in Petach Tikvah. Upon Aharon’s arrival at the hospital, the doctors quickly determined that the situation was hopeless. He would
Despite the different ways Jews dress, talk and live, at the end of the day we are one nation that cares deeply for one another. even more of a kiddush Hashem. What happened next, though, made even bigger headlines. On the tenth day of the incursion, Aharon was given a command to secure an area that included six houses. Aharon and his troops went towards the first house and secured the area around it. They surveyed the home and noticed there was no live fire coming from it. The plan was for Aharon to bust open the door, which was on the second story
not make it through the night, they thought. They informed Aharon’s new wife and his family that he would not survive and that they should come to say their goodbyes. But then, the first in a series of miracles took place. Dr. Steve Jackson, who is a renowned neurosurgeon, overheard two nurses talking about the groom who was just brought in from Gaza and who was going to die. “It’s the groom; it’s the groom,” they said, referring to the
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Finally out of the coma, but months away from a full recovery
inspirational story they heard of a soldier so committed to his country that he went to fight just hours after celebrating his marriage. The nurses were saying that surgery was about to be performed on Aharon even though it would not save him, but would be good training for the new doctor who would be performing it. Dr. Jackson realized that the soldier they were discussing was the man who made headlines several days earlier for going to war just hours after his wedding, and he felt compelled to
For 15 days Aharon’s life hung in the balance with his family and new wife keeping vigil at his bedside. Then the ultimate flicker of hope took place: Aharon blinked an eye. Word spread through the hospital and beyond that Aharon showed a sign of life. Those who were praying for him took it as a sign that they should pray even more fervently. And the tefillot worked, even though Aharon was far from out of the woods. Within a few days, he slowly regained consciousness. Aharon recalls that at the beginning he had no recollection of any events and was not even able to recognize members of his family. But slowly his memory came back. The story of Aharon’s survival captured the hearts of the entire country and figures such as Defense Minister Ehud Barak and then-opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu visited him in the hospital. Despite regaining consciousness, all of Aharon’s teeth had been knocked out, his nose was dislodged, his left eye
“I had to look at the glass as half full and focus on the fact that I am alive.” do the surgery himself, despite the odds being stacked against success. As Aharon’s family gathered around their wounded husband and son, Dr. Jackson gravely informed them that the surgery would not save Aharon but that he was doing the surgery to give Aharon’s family “a few more hours with him.” He told Tzivia, Aharon’s new wife, “For somebody so dedicated to his country as your husband, I have to give 150%.” The surgery lasted 18 hours and Aharon miraculously made it through. The doctors then told Aharon’s fam-
was dismembered, and his stomach and upper left side of his body were completely crushed. He awoke to the devastating realization that for the rest of his life he would have to live in a hospital bed. But Aharon says that he was able to make it through those dark days because he felt the unity of klal Yisroel, as Jews of all types from all over the world davened for him. He received letters of support from ultra-Orthodox Jews, modern Jews, secular Jews—all Jews felt the urge to reach out to their brother in pain. Aharon also realized that instead of focusing on his injuries, he had to focus on the positive. “I had to look at the glass as half full and focus on the fact that I am alive,” he told me. “When I looked at the positive, I was able to push forward and begin my recovery.” Aharon says, “Everyone can look at things in their life and say, ‘This is no good, that Aharon ran the NYC Marathon last year is no good, etc.’ but if ily that there was a 95% chance that you look at the good things in your life he would die and a 5% chance that he then you are always moving forward would live in a vegetative state for the and growing.” rest of his life. Aharon’s recovery was long and Despite the apparent hopelessness painstaking. After 45 days he was fiof the situation, Jews all over Israel and nally able to eat baby food. But he still the world prayed for his recovery. was unable to move or talk. Eventually,
he took one step and then fainted from the effort. The next day he took several steps and fainted once again. The next day, he took 10 steps and fainted again. Eventually, he began walking, albeit in intense pain. When Aharon finally left the hospital, Dr. Jackson was so moved by Aharon’s recovery that he asked that some day when Aharon has a baby boy, he would like to be the mohel at his son’s bris.
recalls an incident that happened during his recovery. Eight months after the explosion, Aharon flew to Tuscon, Arizona, to a top skin graft doctor to undergo surgery to reconstruct his nose. When he awoke from the surgery, his father was sitting on the side of his bed and asked him how he felt. He told his father, “I feel pain on my forehead, my back,
oday, Aharon is in university and works for Panim el Panim, an organization which brings Jewish awareness to secular Israelis. Due to Aharon’s veteran status and his story, he is able to develop a strong rapport with other commanders. As such, he focuses on communicating with commanders and setting up Panim el Panim programs and Shabbtonim for their troops. Aharon says that there is a thirst among the troops for spirituality, even amongst those who are not interested in religion per se. Aharon recalls one incident recently in which he set up a Shabbaton on an army base. As part of the Shabbaton, a well-respected rabbi was the featured speaker. On Friday night, the commanding officer saw the rabbi and said, “Rabbi, no offense, but I am a kibbutznik. I don’t believe in the Torah, but if you want to give your class, go ahead.” The rabbi smiled and asked him to stay for just a few minutes. Sure enough, the commanding officer stayed for the whole class. Afterwards, the emotional commanding officer said to the rabbi, “Rabbi, I am ashamed to say, I really enjoyed that class…I never learned Torah before and I found your class to be so moving.” On Shabbos day—which is an off day for soldiers— the commanding officer made it mandatory for all of his troops to attend the rabbi’s class. After the weekend, the commanding officer called Aharon and asked him to arrange additional Shabbat programs for his unit. Aharon says that in working with the troops he sees how much they are yearning for an identity. Panim el Panim gives the troops an identity by bringing them meaningful information about Judaism. The rabbis that Aharon introduce to the soldiers have themselves all served in the army, which makes it easier for the soldiers to relate to them. Aharon says that one of the messages that resonates very much with soldiers is “achdut Yisrael”— Jewish unity. He points out how all types of Jews prayed for him and how despite the different ways Jews dress, talk and live, at the end of the day we are one nation who cares deeply for one another. To make his point about unity, Aharon
With his wife and baby daughter
my stomach, both arms and both legs. I came here for this doctor to give me a new nose, not to give me all of this pain.” His father responded, “Aharon, you have pain in all of those areas because it’s from all those areas that the doctor took skin to graft a new nose for you.” Aharon smiles and relates, “That incident taught me a lesson about unity: you take parts that are unrelated—from different areas and of a different make up—and bring them together to create something which is whole.” Aharon saw what Jewish unity did for him and he is committed to spreading that message of unity. After almost five years of intense rehabilitation, Aharon accomplished what is considered by many to be the ultimate physical feat: he ran the 2013 New York City marathon. (He completed the race in 4:14:31.) Although Aharon is proud of this accomplishment, he is most proud—and thankful—that today he and Tzivia have a beautiful family with a 3-year-old daughter and a son born in 2011, whose bris was performed by Dr. Jackson. Although it can be said that Aharon has come full circle, he still undergoes physical hardships because of his injuries. Yet, he is not bitter. In fact, he is optimistic and thankful that his experience has enabled him to see the beauty of Jewish unity and to give that over through his work with Panim el Panim. With the bright smile of a happy young man and with the confidence of an Israeli army commander, he sums up his attitude in two words: “Yallah, kadima!”
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Nuclear Fusion: A Source of Unlimited Energy By Aron Feigenbaum
Nuclear fusion has been sought after by scientists for decades as a source of unlimited, clean energy that can meet the growing needs of the world’s population. In contrast to the conventional nuclear fission technique used in nuclear reactors in which atomic nuclei are split apart into smaller particles, the nuclear fusion process collides two or more nuclei at extremely high speeds to form a new, heavier nucleus. Normally, the nuclei would repel each other due to what’s known as the electrostatic force (opposites attract and likes repel), but if they’re forced close enough to each other via extreme heat and pressure then this force can be overcome and the nuclei can fuse. In fact, this is how our Sun and other stars are fueled. At the center of the Sun, hydrogen atoms are continuously combining to form helium which releases a massive amount of energy, more than what is put in to start the reaction. At a whopping 27,000,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the Sun’s core fuses 620,000,000 metric tons of hydrogen each second. The secret behind this incredible process lies in Einstein’s famous equation E=mc squared. It only takes a tiny bit of mass to create a massive amount of energy. Thus, it’s no wonder that the world’s top scientific minds are still wrestling to this day with the problem of how to recreate this extraordinary phenomenon on Earth and harness it for commercial energy production. However, there have been some significant advances that are bringing us ever closer to the goal of unlimited energy. To take the most famous example: the first fully developed, man-made fusion device, the atomic bomb code-named ‘Ivy Mike’ was detonated in 1952 on the Enewetak atoll in the Pacific Ocean. It relied on a fission trigger and produced a 10.4 megaton explosion (around 700 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima) annihilating the tiny island of Elugelab, as well as creating two previously undiscovered elements. While impressive, this was only a fraction of the power of the Sun and only lasted a few seconds. After Ivy Mike and the first nuclear fission power plants, nuclear fusion research was taken over civilian labs. Ever since, scientists have been eager to find a way to generate, control, and exploit the immense power of nuclear fusion for the benefit of mankind. A number of methods have been proposed, some more practical than others. The two most viable options are thermonuclear fusion and inertial confinement fusion. Both of these involve capturing plasma, the 4th state of matter
(arises when a gas is superheated, e.g. lightning). The atoms must be in this plasma form as this is when they are the closest to each other. The difference between these two techniques is that the thermonuclear variety magnetically captures the plasma in a circular configuration called a tokamak, whereas inertial confinement uses an extremely rapid laser pulse to heat and compress a pellet of fusion fuel, about the size of a pin head, to the point where it implodes and releases energy. Of the two, thermonuclear is the most well developed and well funded. Attesting to this fact is the ongoing International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor project (ITER) being built in France at a cost of over $20 billion by the US, EU, Russia, and others. Expected to be fully operational in 2027, ITER will be the largest, most powerful tokamak ever built and is expected to generate 500 megawatts of power (about as much as a small fission
power plant). Other thermonuclear efforts include the EAST tokamak in China which achieved a record plasma confinement time last year of 30 seconds. Inertial confinement too has undergone significant advances in recent years.
Many of these advances have happened at the National Ignition Facility in Livermore, California where scientists announced last year, and confirmed this year, that they had indeed created more energy than was put into the system, even if it only lasted for a fraction of a second. The experiment used 192 lasers to crush a tiny pellet to the point where it became hotter than the sun and emitted at best 17 kilojoules of energy or, according to nuclear physicist Blair Bromley, about enough to power a hundred 100-watt bulbs for one second. While this is nowhere near the ultimate goal of self-sustaining, large-scale, constant fusion capable of providing for all our energy needs, it is undoubtedly a milestone in fusion research as well as for all humanity. Were nuclear fusion to become a reality, it would have substantial advantages over existing fission technology. In contrast to fission reactions which leave
highly radioactive and politically controversial (see Yucca mountain controversy) waste products, fusion’s waste products are much less radioactive and have much shorter half-lives. Additionally, fusion reactors would be much safer than their
fission counterparts and there would be absolutely no possibility of a Chernobyl or Fukushima-type meltdown occurring. Were the fusion reactor to fail or the fuel line to be cut, the reactor would simply shut down. As for the proliferation issue, a fusion weapon would take longer, require much more resources, and would be more easily detectable than a conventional fission nuke. Thus, the risk of terrorists or rogue states acquiring such weapons is very low. The most important benefit of fusion technology though is that it could provide sustainable energy for literally millions of years. While more practical alternative energy technologies such as solar power and biofuels have reduced our carbon footprint and made our energy future a bit more secure, numerous top scientists argue that fusion is the best shot we have at ending the world’s perpetual energy crisis. Though the financial and, especially, scientific challenges are extremely difficult, fusion power offers too many benefits and there’s been too much progress to simply throw in the towel and look to more “practical” solutions. G-d willing, fusion power will be a reality within the next few decades. Definition: Nuclear fusion is a process whereby two atoms combine to form a heavier single atom. This is how stars are fueled. Use: Hydrogen bombs have made use of nuclear fusion and scientists are currently working to develop civilian grade fusion reactors to generate electricity. Interesting stat: Depending on the method used, fusion on Earth either requires gas to be heated to plasma at a temperature of at least 180,000,000 degrees Fahrenheit or, alternatively, 150 billion times the pressure of Earth’s atmosphere at sea level. Potential: If fully developed, fusion power can provide us with safer, cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable energy than almost any other alternative energy source out there today. Challenges faced: Sustaining a fusion reaction that gives a net profit of energy. Safely containing superheated plasma in a reactor. Fusion projects have typically been under-funded and have encountered cost overruns. For more info check out the websites of: Howstuffworks, National Ignition Facility, ITER, Culham Centre for Fusion Energy
er. It’s just a question of convincing your kids that this is what they really want to be. We’d suggest adding an M-A-N to its name in your argument: “Don’t you want to be a bakers-man?” Bakers are a popular option with mothers who put their own costumes together, because they’re pretty easy to do. You just make a hat out of cardboard, put on a huge apron, and maybe draw a curly moustache on the kid’s face, because apparently, most bakers have a huge curly moustache, so they have something to scratch their noses when they have both hands in the dough. Another popular option with mothers is to dress their daughter as an old lady. It’s the same as regular lady, but with a cane. (Like all old people use canes). Also, they put a kerchief on their heads instead of a snood. Yes, snoods have been around for like 20 years, but if you’re a little old lady, there’s no way you bought a new head covering since the 80’s, right? And you’re still wearing the same enormous glasses you got as a little girl. Also, a lot of mothers like to dress their kids up as clowns, even though research has shown that over 100% of children don’t like clowns. Clowns act weird; they have big, floppy feet; they squirt water at you; their hair looks like they slept in it; and they try to fit too many of their kind in a car. They’re like teenagers, but smiling. Is that what you want your kid to be? Never mind trying to put a full face’ worth of makeup on an excited child. Another popular option with mothers is to get a cardboard box out of the recycling, and do something with that. If your kid is willing to wear a cardboard box, he can be a pushka, a box of cereal, a computer, a sukkah, a gift, a pair of shoes, a robot, a jack in the box, a garbage can, a coffin, a stove, a running refrigerator, and a cardboard box from the recycling. Whereas if you’re buying the costumes, it really depends on what sort of costumes were on sale after Halloween. Because there’s no reason to pay full price for an outfit that the kids are going to wear for one day. Not even one day. They’ll wear it for a couple of hours in the morning, and by the time you’re back from delivering mishloach manos, the mask will gone forever. The mask is the first thing to come off, because mask-designers have no idea how far apart a kid’s eyes are, so after a few times of blindly stumbling out of the car and tripping over the sidewalk, the kid just decides, “Forget it,” and the mask disappears into somebody’s rebbi’s house. And if there’s no mask, the beard is the first thing to come off. (Fake beards
are incredibly itchy. That’s why so few rabbonim have fake beards.) Then a short while later, the gloves will come off, then the jacket, and by the time you get to the seudah, you aren’t even able to tell what the kid is supposed to be. “What are you?” “I’m Haman! Can’t you see the moustache?” But when it comes to adults, there are basically two schools of thought. There is the school of men whose costume consists of a tie with a palm tree on it, or else they wear their wife’s old sheitel. “You spent four figures on this. Someone should get some more use out of it.” And then there are the men who ascribe to the “There’s no rule against grown men dressing up” theory. Because there isn’t. But they should bear in mind that while it’s cute to see a kid dressed up,
I think the media doesn’t publicize Purim as much as they could. This is something one of my friends, who lives in Manhattan, realized on Purim as he, dressed as a hobo, got onto the subway with little shopping cart piled with some nicely wrapped food baskets featuring wine. No one wanted to sit next to him. And do you have any idea how hard it is to drive in an inflatable costume? Women, for the most part, don’t dress up; their job is to stand around looking embarrassed for their husbands, or carry around the mishloach manos that their husbands can’t hold because they need their hands free for their costumes: “I can’t hold the cane and all the manos!” The interesting thing, though, is that the boys are all dying to be men, and the men are trying really hard to be boys. Purim sure is backwards. B"SD
Friday Shabbos Eve. To the order of "And now, please forgive my sin just one time more, entreat Hashem." 2nd day of Shvat 5774.
To whom this issue is relevant:
ith peace and blessings for a good life to follow you, all the time forever. It is clear in the laws of Yom Kipper that sins between men are not forgiven till you appease him. As we know the kingdom of Earth is similar to the kingdom of Heaven. In the coming days judges of the Earth will judge me and they will take a second look into my case. We all know the final judgment is in Heaven. As it says, "The hearts from the kings and the masters is in the hands of Hashem". Who does not get scared facing this? Many times a man can harm his friend not knowing that he had done so. Sometimes those who were hurt may keep in their heart the hate forever against this man. Therefore, I decided to publicize the following. With this I announce my plea to you if I may have angered or hurt you from the past until now. In any matter whatsoever whether against your body, your property, or your honor; whether I did so accidentally, willfully, carelessly, or purposely; whether through speech, or deed. Please forgive me. If you forgive me please say it clear with your mouth that you forgive Mordechai Yitzchuk
ben Feige Ye'idis. Please let me know and I will appease you with Hashem's help. If you have a monetary claim please contact me so that I can settle this as soon as possible. With this opportunity I am asking from deep within my heart to all the children of Israel. I beg of you to pray on behalf of me that any master or judge or anyone who will look into my case that they shall judge me favorably and set me free. They shall give me favor, kindness, and mercy in their eyes. I shall be free from jail and be acquitted from any judgment. For good life, and for peace, speedily, Umein. With this I undersign my name to find favor in the eyes of G-D and man, here at FCI Otisville. I wait, look, and hope all day and all night for the salvation from Hashem. Mordechai Yitzchuk Samet P.S. Please publicize this notice all over. Who knows where this may be relevant or a concern to someone. You can contact me at the following:
Mordechai Samet #83253-054 FCI Otisville P.O. Box 1000 Otisville, NY 10963 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Purim is here, and it’s about time you gave some serious thought to the subject of costumes. But not too serious a thought. I have a friend who takes pictures of his kids in costume sometime before Purim, develops the pictures, makes several copies, and attaches them to his mishloach manos, which is also themed to match the kids’ costumes. Whereas I’m not quite organized enough to remember to take pictures of the kids in their costumes on Purim. Sometimes I have to do it after Purim; “Alright everyone, back in your costumes! We forgot to take a picture!” “But I’m missing half my outfit!” “Stand behind the others; you’ll be okay.” But what kind of costumes do you need? I guess it depends on your kids. Little boys generally want to be something that ends in the letters M-A-N, such as a policeman, fireman, mailman, Superman, Haman, etc. In fact, boys will decide what they want to be, and if it doesn’t have an M-A-N, they will add one. One year when I was a kid, I told my mother I wanted to be a magic man. Also, a lot of kids say they want to be a workerman, like everyone else doesn’t work. The only guys who work are the ones you see at the side of the road, taking 4 months to patch up a tiny piece of highway, and every time you drive by, they’re taking a break. Those guys are workermen. Another thing little boys want is to be able to carry a gun. For most of us, our daily lives require very little use of a gun, except maybe to open the front door when we forget our keys. So if the kid can be, say, an armyman (for some reason the word “soldier” escapes him,) that’s a double bonus. Little girls, meanwhile, want to be Queen Esther. Their class has a Purim party a few days before Purim, and there are like 24 Queen Esthers. It looks like a mini Queen Esther convention. If they’re not Queen Esther, then they want to be a kallah. I can’t help but notice, though, that there are so many little kallahs on Purim, and so few chassanim. It’s like a mini shidduch crisis. I think it’s because when little girls go to a wedding, what impresses them most is the kallah. When little boys go to a wedding, what impresses them most is the guy in the middle of the dancing circle with his hat on fire. But generally, what really determines what your kid is going to be is whether you’re buying the costumes or making them yourself. Because there are certain costumes that are just easier to put togeth-
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A Soviet has saved up his money to buy a car. He goes down to the dealership and says to the salesman “I want that one!” “The car will arrive in seven years,” the salesman replies. “Will it come in the morning or the afternoon?” the man asks. “What difference does it make?” asks the salesman. The Soviet answers, “The plumber is coming in the morning.”
After a long night of drinking, Vlad put his last two rubles into an empty vodka bottle and then plugged up the bottle with its cork. But now he needs the money to get home. Comm Let the ission How could he remove er dec the coins without taking ide Send your s tuff to out the cork or breaking the bottle? five centerfol
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* * * Stalin’s ghost appears to Putin in a dream, and Putin asks for his help running the country. Stalin says, “Round up and shoot all those that are not Communists, and then paint the inside of the Kremlin blue.” “Why blue?” Putin asks. “Ha!” says Stalin. “I knew you wouldn’t ask me about the first part.”
d townsje wishho@ me.com
Differences between America and “Soviet Russia” (Because “modern Russia” is much better…yeah right). To be read with Russian accent. • In America, you break the law; in Soviet Russia, the law breaks you! • In America, your work determines your marks; in Soviet Russia, Marx determines your work! • In Soviet Russia, there is freedom of speech; in America, there is also freedom after speech. • In Soviet Russia, the future is known. It’s the past that’s everchanging. •
In America, you hate government; in the Soviet Union, the government hate you! • In America, you put “In G-d We Trust” on your money; in Russia, we have no money! • In America, you finish a sentence; in Soviet Russia, sentence finishes you! • In America, you rob the bank; in Soviet Russia, the bank robs you.
Answer to riddle: Push the cork into the bottle and shake the coins out.
4. Russia does not share a border with which of the following countries. a. China b. South Korea c. Mongolia d. Poland
HATING ON RUSSIA QUOTES
5. Who was in charge of the Soviet Union during the Cuban Missile Crisis? a. Khrushchev b. Gorbachev
7. What did Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev do at the 1960 U.N. Assembly meeting? a. He refused to shake President Eisenhower’s hand b. He took out a bottle of vodka and made a toast c. He took off his shoe during his speech and started banging it on the lectern 8. He brought his daughter up to the lectern and had her stand by his side during his speech a. What was Sputnik 1? b. The name of the Russian warship that came within 15 miles of Florida during the Cuban Missile Crisis. c. The world’s first artificial satellite launched by the USSR in 1957, resulting in the U.S. vs. U.S.S.R. space race. d. The name of a jail created by Stalin. e. The title of the USSR Constitution.
• Many people are surprised to hear that we have comedians in Russia, but they are there. They are dead, but they are there. ~ Yakov Smirnoff • The workers love Khrushchev very much. He hasn’t got an enemy in the entire country. Quite a few under it. ~ Bob Hope • In Moscow they do not pay much attention to the living but keep their cemeteries in a splendid state. ~ George Mikes • [The USSR is] the most realistic regime in the world, they have no ideals. ~ Golda Meir • My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you I just signed legislation which outlaws Russia forever. The
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.
ANSWERS D A C B A C C B
Wisdom Key 6-8 correct: You know too much about Communist Russia. Joseph McCarthy would have had a field day with you! 3-5 correct: Unless you live in the Ukraine (in which case the USSR is about to be your homeland), it’s okay that you are only moderately educated on the great bastion of Communism. 0-2 correct: как вам не стыдно (Just in case you don’t speak Russian, it means “shame on you.”)
bombing will begin in five minutes. ~ President Ronald Reagan (during a radio microphone test) • Following his doctor’s orders, Nikita Khrushchev has cut his drinking in half. He’s leaving out the water. ~ Bob Hope • There is no income tax in Russia. But there’s also no income. ~ Will Rogers • In Russia we only had two TV channels. Channel One was propaganda. Channel Two consisted of a KGB officer telling you: Turn back at once to Channel One. ~ Yakov Smirnoff • We had a very successful trip to Russia… Our first stop was Red Square, the heart of Moscow – if Moscow has one. ~ Bob Hope
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3. The Russian Federation was established following the disbanding of the Soviet Union. Who was the Federation’s first president? a. Smirinoff Wodka b. Viktor Chernomyrdin c. Boris Yeltsin d. Mikhail Gorbachev
6. What did Putin work as in the 1980s? a. Moscow banker b. Doctor c. KGB spy d. Ski instructor
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2. The official residence of the Russian president is the Kremlin in Moscow. What does Kremlin means? a. Fortress b. The Best c. Headquarters d. Pinnacle
c. Brezhnev d. Stalin
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1. The constitution of the USSR declared that the responsibility of all citizens was the following: a. To love the motherland b. To drink vodka like a fish c. Live life to the fullest d. Labor
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“Say What?” Recently disclosed text messages between David Wildstein and Bridget Kelly (the two main players in Governor Christie’s lane closing scandal) about Rabbi Mendy Carlebach, who was the Port Authority Chaplain:
Mr. Obama, tell us about your plan for nuclear war with Russia! - A heckler at President Obama’s speech to the Democratic National Committee last Friday
WILDSTEIN: He has officially [gotten me angry].
I’m sorry. Who is that back there? What the heck are you talking about? - President Obama’s response to the heckler
KELLY: We cannot cause traffic problems in front of his house, can we? WILDSTEIN: Flights to Tel Aviv all mysteriously delayed.
Secretary of State John Kerry went on “Meet the Press” yesterday and actually criticized Russia for its action in the Ukraine. He said, “You just don’t invade another country on phony pretext in order to assert your interest.” Then he said, “I mean, we stopped doing that, like, months ago.” - Jimmy Fallon Putin is playing chess, and I think we are playing marbles — and I don’t think it’s even close. They’ve been running circles around us. - House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) on “Fox news Sunday”
Big news out of NASA yesterday — the Kepler space telescope has discovered 715 new planets. Either that or somebody sneezed on the lens. - Jimmy Kimmel A Florida man tattooed a spider on his face in an attempt to overcome his arachnophobia, which is a fear of spiders. The tattoo should also help him overcome his fear of employment. - Seth Myers
Eat and sleep and you will live a long time. You have to learn to relax. - Misao Okawa, who just turned 116 years old, sharing her secrets of longevity
It’s affordable, you could get subsidies to do it, it’s in your interest and if you don’t want to do it for yourself, do it for your parents—give them peace of mind. - Vice President Joe Biden in Scottsdale, Arizona, trying to convince a young woman to purchase Obamacare (She was a Canadian tourist) I just didn’t know if I should say, ‘I’m sorry, [I’m] Canadian, don’t know if I can help you out. - The woman explaining why she stayed silent during the vice president’s pitch What I’ll say is that if you look at Iranian behavior, they are strategic, and they’re not impulsive. They have a worldview, and they see their interests, and they respond to costs and benefits. And that isn’t to say that they aren’t a theocracy that embraces all kinds of ideas that I find abhorrent, but they’re not North Korea. They are a large, powerful country that sees itself as an important player on the world stage, and I do not think has a suicide wish and can respond to incentives. - President Obama in an interview with Bloomberg News explaining his view on Iran
The group that came up with “Got milk?” has officially retired the slogan. They said the ad campaign was a success. Pretty much everyone has heard of milk. - Conan O’Brien
Stop going on television and trying to threaten thugs and dictators. It is not your strong suit. Every time the president goes on national television and threatens Putin or anyone like Putin, everybody’s eyes roll, including mine. We have a weak and indecisive president that invites aggression. - Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in response to President Obama warning Putin not to invade Ukraine, hours before he did just that The FDA has approved a new camera that can be swallowed so that doctors can look at the inside of their patients’ bodies. So to answer your question: Yes, selfies CAN get worse. - Jimmy Fallon
Death to Jews - Words spray painted along with Nazi swastikas on a Reform Jewish synagogue in the Crimea region of Ukraine, which has come under Russian rule
Despite the fact that the Ukraine has been all over the news for the past few weeks, a survey found that 64 percent of U.S. students still couldn’t find Ukraine on a map. Said Vladimir Putin, “Soon nobody will.” - Seth Myers I heard that celebrity chef Paula Deen is opening a new restaurant. The restaurant’s called, “Paula Deen’s Kitchen.” You know, because “White Castle” was taken. - Jimmy Fallon
We do a lot of things for reasons besides profit motive. We want to leave the world better than we found it. And anyone who objects? Get out of the stock. - Apple CEO Tim Cook in response to some shareholder complaints that it is wasting money because of its consideration of environmental issues
With all this uncertainty in the Ukraine right now, there’s talk that the country could be split into two separate countries. Which explains their new name: “Two Kraines.” - Jimmy Fallon
Hey, you know who they locked up? Public enemy No. 1, El Chapo Guzman. He was the leading distributor of cocaine and cocainerelated items in the world. So another setback for Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. - David Letterman I think that the public has the impression that because there has been so much talk about climate, that events of the last 10 years, from an insured standpoint on climate, have been unusual. The answer is, they haven’t. You read about these events, but you read about events 30, or 40, or 50 years ago. - Warren Buffett when asked on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” if extreme weather events have increased, affecting insurance markets
Women spend an average of 335 hours a year getting ready, according to some very passive-aggressive researchers who are outside waiting in the car. - Jimmy Kimmel A spelling bee in Missouri was forced to shut down on Saturday because it ran out of words for the final two contestants to spell. The organizers said, “You know, someone ought to just publish a big book with all the words in it.” - Jimmy Fallon
The cops had to arrest Felton [who had an unlicensed gun] because the only person on the Knicks allowed to shoot is Carmelo Anthony. - David Letterman
Despite all that good news, there’s plenty of horror stories being told. All of them are untrue, but they’re being told all over America. The leukemia patient whose insurance policy was canceled [and] could die without her medication, Mr. President, that’s an ad being paid for by two billionaire brothers. It’s absolutely false. Or the woman whose insurance policy went up $700 a month—ads paid for around America by the multibillionaire Koch brothers, and the ad is false. We heard about the evils of Obamacare, about the lives it’s ruining in Republicans’ stump speeches and in ads paid for by oil magnates, the Koch brothers. But those tales, turned out to be just that: tales, stories made up from whole cloth, lies distorted by the Republicans to grab headlines or make political advertisements. - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), talking about Obamacare on the Senate floor last Wednesday I demand an apology from Senator Harry Reid. I absolutely demand an apology. - Julie Boonstra, the woman in the ad who in fact has leukemia and lost her insurance policy on Fox News* This week the Russian government gave all 44 of its Olympic medalists a new Mercedes. When asked what happened to the athletes who didn’t medal, Putin said, “Do not open trunk.” - Jimmy Fallon President Obama has announced that 4 million people have signed up for Obamacare. Obama said he wants to hit 7 million users by the end of March, at which point he’ll sell it to Facebook for $10 billion. - Seth Myers
Remember that beer commercial, “This Bud’s for you?” Well, when you see Iran building ICBMs, America, that SCUD’s for you. - Prime Minister Netanyahu at the AIPAC Convention
An article on Jan. 20, 1853, recounting the story of Solomon Northup, whose memoir “12 Years a Slave” became a movie 160 years later… misspelled his surname as Northrop. And the headline misspelled it as Northrup. The errors came to light on Monday after a Twitter user pointed out the article in The Times archives. - Last Tuesday’s New York Times, issuing a spelling correction for a rather old article
A new survey has found that almost half of dog owners admit to spending more money on their dogs than on their significant others. I tried to ask my wife if that’s true, but she and our dog were out to dinner. - Jimmy Fallon
Yes, I could see this one from Alaska. I’m usually not one to Told-Ya-So, but I did. - Sarah Palin, who was mocked in 2008 for saying that if Obama is elected Russia will eventually invade Ukraine
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Disney World is raising the price of a one-day ticket to Epcot to $94. It’s now so expensive that families are saving money by just taking actual trips around the world. - Jimmy Fallon
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Haym Solomon and Mordecai Sheftall
Two Jews Who Financed the American Revolutionary War
ne of the most important factors as a spy when they found out he was that enable a country to fight supplying money to American troops. in a war is its ability to finance Solomon was pardoned when they the production of found they had a use weapons, pay the for him as an intersoldiers and pay its preter for German expenses. In the past troops fighting. But decade, the United Solomon was hardly States paid in excess an asset for the Britof $3 trillion for the ish; he secretly conIraq War (this tovinced the German tal is for the years soldiers to desert. 2003-2010 in which In 1777, SoloAmerican troops mon married Raplayed an active chel Franks whose role) and the globbrother was a al War on Terror is high-ranking officer Haym Solomon adding quite a bill to on George Washour national debt. ington’s staff. He Back in the 1700s, the U.S. was a was arrested for the second time in fledgling country and had no financial 1778 and was sentenced to the hanginstitutions to pay for the Revolution- man’s noose. Escaping with the help ary War (1775-1783) and relied primar- of the Sons of Liberty, Solomon made ily on citizens to keep it running. Two his way to Philadelphia penniless and Jews played a major part in financing was soon joined by his family. He was the revolution and keeping George soon employed by the French as their Washington surrounded with fighting paymaster general in America and othmen to eventually defeat the British. er European governments hired him Haym Solomon and Mordecai Sheftall to sell securities to the newly formed were called upon by their new country American government. to help raise money and they delivered In late summer 1781, General in a big way. Washington’s Continental Army was at Haym Solomon was born in Poland Yorktown but was in desperate need of in 1740. His family came from Europe- funds. They needed food, supplies and an Sephardic backgrounds but took on money to pay the troops and WashingAshkenazik customs. Until he was 35, ton knew that there was one man who Solomon moved around Europe learn- could raise $20,000 in such a short ing about finances and picking up sev- period of time. “Send for Haym Solomon,” he ordered and soon Solomon raised the money through bills of exchange. The Battle of Yorktown was won by the Americans with the French support and proved to be the decisive battle in the war as the British soon negotiated a peace treaty. In 1785, Haym Solomon died and was buried at the Mikveh Israel Cemetery in Philadelphia. His legacy is that he is remembered as the financer of the Revolution although some of the stories told Robert Morris, George Washington, about him may be exaggerated. and Haym Salomon Sculpture in Chicago One version of the Yorktown aceral languages. In 1775, he moved to count has Washington’s envoy burstNew York City and became a financial ing into Mikveh Israel Congregation broker for overseas accounts. A year in middle of Kol Nidre and Solomon later, he was arrested by the British making an appeal right there to raise
Indies for the rest of the war. the money. Mordecai was left without much Another important figure in helping the Founding Fathers fund the war money but became an integral part of was Mordecai Sheftall. He was born in the Mikveh Israel Congregation along Savannah, Georgia, in 1733 to a very with Haym Solomon. As a business frum family—a foreign concept in the venture, he invested in a ship that Deep South. Although his father was would capture and loot British ships poor, Mordecai worked hard to be- for the American cause. However, this come rich and at the age of 25 owned ship ran aground on its first voyage and a wharf. There were only six Jewish families in Savannah so Mordecai married a Jewish girl from Charleston, South Carolina, in 1771. Sheftall was a founder of the Mikve Israel Congregation in Savannah and donated land for the first Jewish cemetery in the city. After the war started he did all that he could to help provide for the soldiers especially those The hat worn by Sheftall Sheftall, who came from Georgia. His eldest son of Mordecai Sheftall, during the war loans to the Continental Congress were never repaid because they lacked the funds to do so. Finding that Mordecai called it quits for the rest of soldiers needed supplies, Sheftall per- the war. The Sheftalls returned to Sasonally paid for their expenses out of vannah in 1783 and the state gave him a big tract of land in reward for his hehis own pocket. The British captured Savannah in roic efforts during the war. The prop1778, and Sheftall took up arms to de- erty that was stolen by the British was fend his city. Some patriots managed never given back to him. A century and a half later, heroes to avoid capture but Mordecai and similar to these men his fifteen-year-old came on the scene son were imprisoned when the State of Isalong with 185 other rael was founded in Americans. The Brit1948 and was immeish were curious as diately plunged into to how the patriots war. Sheftall and Solwere being funded but omon will be rememSheftall would not tell bered as heroes for not them, so they tried to only financing the rev“break him” by givolution but for coming ing him only pork to through at such a criteat. After refusing to ical time for their new eat, he was transferred country. Sheftall in off of a British ship particular was instruand separated from mental in setting up his son. His wife and Mordecai Sheftall a Jewish community other children escaped to Charleston. Finally, Mordecai was in Savannah. Solomon, though, is the able to arrange parole for his son but more famous of the two, and a WWII they were still under a watchful Brit- liberty ship was named in his honor. ish eye. Escaping and hoping to rejoin their family in Charleston, he and his son were again captured and were held Avi Heiligman is a weekly contributor to until 1780. In June of that year Mor- The Jewish Home. He welcomes your comdecai was paroled again and the family ments and suggestions.for future columns was reunited in Philadelphia. His son, and can be reached at aviheiligman@ Sheftall Sheftall, was sent to the East gmail.com.
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Global Putin Takes Part of Ukraine; Obama Takes Heat Hours after President Obama warned Russian President Vladimir Putin last Friday that “there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine,” Russian forces took full control of the Crimean region of the Ukraine, with over 6,000 forces stationed there. Although gaining control over the entire Ukraine would certainly go a long way to bringing back the USSR—a dream many believe is still alive in Putin’s fantasies—the mere fact that he took control of the Crimean region is not necessarily an indication of further designs. The Crimean region has always been closely associated with Russia: it was transferred by the Soviet Union to Ukraine in 1954; it hosts the Russian military’s Black Sea Fleet; it is the only region in Ukraine where ethnic Russians are a majority. Even so, Putin’s invasion of a sovereign nation’s territory is disconcerting. Ukraine‘s acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk decried, “This is actually a declaration of war on my country.” He said, “If [Putin] wants to be the president who started a war between two neighboring and friendly countries, he has reached his target within a few inches.” Kiev ordered a call-up of military reserves, but also instructed its troops not to respond to Russian military “provocations” for fear of triggering a bloodbath as Russian forces in Crimea restricted Ukrainian units’ movements and demanded they surrender their weapons. The Obama administration issued a strong verbal rebuke to Putin but has expressly ruled out military intervention. Secretary of State Kerry accused Putin of acting “in 19th-century fashion by invading another country on a completely trumped up pretext.” But he also said, “The last thing anybody wants is a military option in this kind of situation.” Although Putin in all likelihood does not have to worry about military pushback, he may face biting repercussions such as economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation from other nations. Although this standoff is taking place in the Eastern Hemisphere and involves a longstanding relationship between at-times friendly and at-times bickering neighbors, in Washington, President Obama is taking flack for the invasion. Many political pundits have taken swings at the president over his handling of this matter and, even more, over his inability
to see this coming. During one of the 2012 presidential debates, when Mitt Romney declared that Russia poses a geopolitical threat, Mr. Obama mocked Romney and declared: “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.” Less than a half year later, it looks like President Obama wouldn’t think that line is so cute anymore. Putin—who Forbes Magazine recently titled as the most powerful person in the world ahead of Mr. Obama— seems to be showing his gravitas. Obama, on the other hand, seems just as lost as other leaders, who are flailing for a way to quickly end this standoff. “I think Putin is playing chess, and I think we’re playing marbles. And I don’t think it’s even close,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said on “Fox News Sunday.” Republican Arizona Senator John McCain sought to directly tie the crisis to President. Obama and surmised on Friday, “President Putin does not have a great deal of respect for President Obama.” Russian President Vladimir Putin may have invaded Ukraine because he’s unafraid of a weak White House, he said. How and when this crisis will end is anybody’s guess. But one thing is certain: Vladimir Putin plays by his own rules. And he plays hard.
Gates is Richest in the World
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the richest of us all? This week, Forbes released its annual ranking of the world’s billionaires. The list has gotten longer and richer than in years’ past, with 1,645 billionaires in total with an aggregate net wealth of $6.4 trillion, up for $5.4 trillion just a year ago. 268 new billionaires were added to the list, including a record 42 new women. Bill Gates is back on top after a fouryear hiatus, reclaiming the title of world’s richest person from telecom mogul Carlos Slim Helu of Mexico, who ranked No. 1 for the past four years. Gates, whose fortune rose by $9 billion in the past year, has held the top spot for 15 of the past 20 years. Spanish clothing retailer Amancio Ortega (best known for the Zara fashion chain) retains the No. 3 spot for the second year in a row, extending his lead over War-
ren Buffett, who is again No. 4. American gambling tycoon Sheldon Adelson, who added $11.5 billion to his pile, makes it back into the top ten for the first time since 2007. It’s not easy getting onto the top of the list: a record net worth of $31 billion was needed to make the top 20, up from $23 billion last year. The year’s biggest dollar gainer was Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, whose fortune jumped $15.2 billion, to $28.5 billion, as shares of his social network soared. Tech, and more specifically Facebook, helped propel numerous fortunes lately. The company’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg, joins the ranks for the first time, as does Facebook’s longtime vice president Jeff Rothschild. Also, thanks to a $19 billion deal (including restricted stock) with Facebook, WhatsApp founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton join the ranks of Silicon Valley’s wealthiest for the first time. They are 4 of 26 newcomers whose fortunes come from technology, 10 of whom are American, including Dropbox CEO Drew Houston and Workday cofounder Aneel Bhusri. Thanks to the tech boom, and strong stock market, the U.S. once again leads the world with 492 billionaires, followed by China with 152 and Russia with 111. But wealth is spreading to new places. Billionaires were found for the first time in Algeria, Lithuania, Tanzania and Uganda. Also for the first time, an African, Aliko Dangote of Nigeria, breaks into the top 25. Worth $25 billion, he moves up 20 spots. Roughly two-thirds of the billionaires built their own fortunes, 13% inherited them and 21% have been adding on to fortunes they received. Other notable newcomers include World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Vince McMahon, fashion king Michael Kors and Denise Coates of UK online betting firm Bet365. Of course, not all news is good news. Turkey lost 19 billionaires this year due to inflation and a sagging stock market. Indonesia, whose currency tumbled 20% against the dollar, now has 8 fewer ten-figure fortunes. Altogether 100 people dropped out of the ranks, while another 16 passed away. So who are the richest people in the world? As we mentioned, Bill Gates, 58, is once again at number one with a net worth of a whopping $76 billion. The self-made do-gooder is worth $9 billion more than a year ago and has given away more than $28 billion in his lifetime so far, working to eradicate polio and getting fellow billionaires more involved in philanthropy. Carlos Slim, 74, is the second wealthiest person in the world. He is also selfmade with a net worth of $72 billion. Amancio Ortega of La Coruna, Spain, is the third wealthiest person on the globe with a net worth of $64 billion. The 77-year-old is also self-made and has grown his portfolio $26.5 billion in the past two years. Ortega’s father was a railway worker and
he worked as a gofer in a shirt store before making his fortune. American Warren Buffett is now number four on the list with a net worth of $58.2 billion. The 83-yearold lives in Omaha, Nebraska, and also earned his immense fortune on his own, with no family money. CEO of Oracle, Larry Ellison, 69, has a net worth of $48 billion, making him the fifth richest person in the world. A resident of Woodside, California, the self-made billionaire’s daughter has financed many successful Hollywood films. Charles and David Koch came in tied at the sixth and seventh spots with a net worth of $40 billion each. Their wealth is in part inherited and growing. With a net worth of $38 billion, Sheldon Adelson, 80, came in eighth on the billionaire list. The Las Vegas resident made an average of $45 million a day in 2013. The self-made rich man has made his fortune in casinos. Christy Walton and Jim Walton came in at ninth and tenth on the list, respectively, with a net worth of $36.7 billion and $34.7 billion. Their wealth comes primarily from WalMart. Christy is now the richest woman in the world.
North Korea Deports Australian Missionary
On Monday, North Korea deported an Australian missionary detained for spreading Christianity in the country, saying he apologized for his anti-state religious acts and requested forgiveness. John Short had been arrested by authorities on February 16, the birthday of Kim Jong Il, a national holiday, for secretly spreading Bible tracts near a Buddhist temple. Prior to his release, Short, 75, admitted he committed a crime that hurt the Korean people’s trust in their leaders and that he apologized for his behavior. “I now realize the seriousness of my insult to the Korean people on February 16th because I made the Korean people angry and for this I truly apologize,” Short was quoted as saying in a written apology, according to separate KCNA report. “I am willing to bow down on my knees to request this tolerance of [North Korea] and the Korean people.” KCNA said North Korea decided to expel him in part out of consideration for his age. The missionary arrived on Monday on a flight to Beijing, where he declined to
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speak to reporters, saying he was too tired, and was escorted to a vehicle from the Australian Embassy. “Clearly this is welcome news for Mr. Short, his family and his supporters,” Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement. “Australian consular officials stand ready to provide assistance to Mr. Short to ensure he can return to his home in Hong Kong as soon as possible.” North Korea’s constitution guarantees freedom of religion, but in practice only sanctioned services are tolerated by the government. Defectors from the country have said that the distribution of Bibles and secret prayer services can mean banishment to a labor camp or execution. North Korea typically frees foreign detainees after they’ve admitted their crimes, but many say after their releases that their confessions were given involuntarily and under duress. The Hermit Kingdom has been holding Korean-American missionary Kenneth Bae since November 2012. Bae, sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for hostile acts, held a similar news conference to apologize his behavior. This was not the first arrest for Mr. Short. The missionary from Barmera, South Australia, has been arrested multiple times while evangelizing in mainland China. He was banned from entering China for nearly two years after his second arrest in 1996. Authorities later let him back in and he was arrested several more times for “speaking out about the brutality against Chinese Christians,” said the site. He has lived in Hong Kong for 50 years.
Muslim Extremists Kill 29 Boys in Nigerian School Last week, Muslim extremists killed 29 teenage boys at a school dormitory in a pre-dawn attack in Nigeria. The terror group called Boko Haram—which means “Western education is sin”— used knives, guns, and fire in the brutal attack. Teachers at the school said that before the attack, the terrorists gathered the female students together and told them to go get married and to abandon their education. The group says it aims is to replace Nigeria’s political leadership and establish a new state under strict Islamic law. The day after the attack on the school, Muslim terrorists attacked
several other towns and killed 37 people. The attacks consisted of the burning and looting of various shops, banks and houses by militants with rocket-propelled grenades. Several days later, twin car bomb blasts at a bustling marketplace killed at least 51 people in Maiduguri, the northeast Nigerian city that is the birthplace of the country’s Islamic extremist terrorist group. Thousands of people have been killed since 2009, when Boko Haram launched its campaign to instill Islamic law. But things have gotten even worse over the past several months.
Israel Israel to Place Anti-Missile System on Passenger Jets Last week, Israel’s Defense Ministry announced that the country has successfully completed a series of tests of an anti-missile defense system for passenger jets. Elbit System’s C-Music system – whose Hebrew name translates to “Sky Shield” – is designed to protect commercial airliners against shoulder-fired missiles. Israel’s Army Radio reported that several Israeli passenger planes have already been outfitted with the gear. The system detects incoming missiles with a thermal camera. When the missile reaches a certain proximity to the aircraft, the system fires a laser at the missile’s seeker which deflects it off of its trajectory, allowing it to explode at a safe distance from the aircraft. “The experiments, carried out in southern Israel, were some of the most complex and sophisticated ever carried out in Israel,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday. “They simulated a range of threats that the C-Music system will have to deal with.” “C-Music is considered the most advanced system of its kind in the world, and will provide ultimate defense to planes,” the ministry said. “It combined advanced detection and disruption technologies, and meets the stringent requirements of commercial flight.” The name C-Music stands for Commercial-Multi Spectral Infrared Countermeasure. Elbit Systems President and CEO Bezhalel Machlis said the system is applicable both to commercial and military jets and that the defense
contractor has already received orders from the Brazilian and Italian air forces. The system can’t be applied to planes too soon. In 2002, terrorists fired shoulder-launched missiles at an Israeli Arkia Airlines passenger plane as it was taking off from Mombasa in Kenya. Thankfully, the two missiles missed their target and the plane landed safely in Tel Aviv.
Additionally, on several occasions in recent years, Israeli airlines were instructed to halt domestic service to the southern port and resort city of Eilat due to the threat of possible shoulder-fired missile attacks from terrorists operating in the bordering Sinai Peninsula in Egypt.
Arabs Set Fire to Police Station On Wednesday, Jerusalem Arabs set ablaze a police station next to the Lions’ Gate in Jerusalem. Aryeh King, Jerusalem city councilman, was present at the scene of the attack and managed to document it. According to King, instead of stopping the attackers, police officers fled the scene. “Unfortunately the prime minister is instructing the authorities to avoid eastern Jerusalem, and these are the results,” charged King. “Last night the funeral of a terrorist was held there, they marched from the Mount of Olives towards the Lions’ Gate attacking everything in their path and didn’t let Jews pass,” reported King. He adds that once the group arrived at Lions’ Gate they burned the police station.
King, who lives in Maaleh Zeitim on the Mount of Olives, noted that the incident merely highlights an endemic failure of the capital’s security. “The security in eastern Jerusalem is abandoned, women don’t dare go to the mikveh in Armon Hanatziv, in Park Hamesilah next to Beit Tzafafa people are robbed in broad daylight,”
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the councilman pointed out. He added that Arab residents “build wherever they want,” without enforcement of the building laws. “The Americans are disconnected from reality,” charged King, referring to “peace talks” negotiated by U.S. Secretary of State Kerry. “Don’t they understand the Arabs don’t want eastern Jerusalem? They want all of Jerusalem.”
Etihad Airways Wipes Israel off the Map The U.S. Department of Homeland
Security spends $425,000 annually on a preclearance customs facility for Etihad Airways, a partner of American Airlines, at Abu Dhabi International Airport. The facility fast-tracks Abu Dhabi travelers to the United States by allowing them to clear customs more easily and bypass long lines. But the carrier, owned by the United Arab Emirates, has an official travel-route map that shows all surrounding countries, including Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Cyprus — but not the Jewish State or its major cities. But it doesn’t stop there. Etihad also has refused to transport any Israelis, who aren’t allowed in the UAE. In 2010, it even began teaching its
flight agents how to identify Israeli travelers by their “accents and traits,” the BBC has reported.
Etihad is the sole airline that provides service between Abu Dhabi and U.S. cities, including New York, Chicago and Washington. Last May, U.S. senators blasted thenDHS Secretary Janet Napolitano for funding the facility. They noted Etihad would be the only carrier to benefit from the facility, which opened in January and handles fewer than 1,000 travelers a day. “We question whether the department is choosing preclearance locations based on risk or based on a pay-to-play process,” the 11 senators wrote to Napolitano. In response to this revelation, State Department rep Peter Boogaard said, “DHS doesn’t condone discrimination of any kind, and a preclearance agreement in no way suggests support for any specific airline or policy.” The UAE is one of the 34 countries with no diplomatic relations with Israel.
National FBI Mole Met Bin Laden According to the 9/11 Commission Report, the FBI and CIA’s intelligence on bin Laden had been “at best cloudy” and made no mention of a source that had direct contact with the leader of al Qaeda. But it turns out that in fact the FBI had a mole who met with Osama bin Laden. Information brought out in the course of a lawsuit against the FBI shows that an FBI mole who met with Osama bin Laden was later killed in 1994 by al Qaeda who suspected he was a U.S. informant. Information from the mole led to the FBI thwarting a terrorist attack on a British cruise liner and another in Los Angeles. The FBI recruited the mole in 1993 when he was the driver and close confidant of the “Blind Sheik,” Omar Abdel-Rahman, the mastermind behind the 1993 World Trade Center attack. The FBI found the Sudanese driver on a terrorism watch list after being tipped off by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Asiana Airlines Penalized for its Response after Crash
On July 6, Asiana Flight 214 clipped a seawall upon landing in San Francisco. Three people died and dozens were injured in the crash. One of the victims, a 16-yearold girl, apparently survived being ejected onto the tarmac, only to be run over by a fire truck in the confusion. Recently, U.S. Department of Transportation officials revealed that it took the South Korean airline five days to contact the families of all the 291 passengers onboard. Additionally, a crash hotline that was set up was initially routed to an automated reservations line, resulting in more angst and anguish among the families. Last Tuesday, in the first penalty of its kind, federal transportation officials docked Asiana Airlines $500,000 for failing to promptly contact passengers’ families and keep them informed about their loved ones after a deadly crash last year at San Francisco International airport. Never before has the department concluded that an airline broke U.S. laws requiring prompt and generous assistance to the loved ones of crash victims. Many of the passengers were from China and South Korea; as such, their only means of information was via the airline, which was half a world away. “The last thing families and passengers should have to worry about at such a stressful time is how to get information from their carrier,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx pointed out. Under a consent order the airline signed with the department, Asiana will pay a $400,000 fine and get a $100,000 credit for sponsoring industry-wide conferences and training sessions through 2015 to discuss lessons learned from the situation. In a statement emailed to The Associated Press, Asiana spokeswoman Hyomin Lee said the airline “provided extensive support to the passengers and their families following the accident and will continue to do so.” Even so, the airline said in the consent order that its response immediately after the crash was slowed because it occurred on a holiday weekend when staffing was short.
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The airline also said it was not alone among foreign airlines with “few trained employees to attend to post-accident responsibilities,” and it noted that it had assigned a special representative to each passenger and family within a few days of the crash; flown in family members from overseas; and provided professional crisis counseling through the Red Cross. Many airlines invest in crash preparedness and family assistance planning, but a minority are “using lip service and euphemisms in their plans,” said Robert A. Jensen, whose company has contracts with hundreds of airlines to help after an accident. “It’s time that some of the airlines that have been flying under the radar be held accountable,” said Jensen, CEO of Kenyon International Emergency Services. “Somebody finally got caught.”
Tague was standing in Dallas’s Dealey Plaza when the shots were fired on that infamous day. A bullet presumably meant for Kennedy instead struck a curb near where Tague was standing and sent debris flying into his face. “It was just skin-deep, that’s all there was to it,” Tague recalled three months ago when he was the subject of a video story on the 50th anniversary of the assassination.
U.S. Expels Venezuelan Diplomats
Tague’s experience at Dealey Plaza ultimately led Warren Commission investigators to conclude that one of the three shots missed and that one of the rounds went through both JFK and Texas Gov. John Connally. JFK researcher Debra Conway said the commission was initially going to settle with two shots hitting the president and one hitting the governor. “But because Mr. Tague was near the missed shot and was wounded … they had to account for the missed shot,” said Conway, president of JFK Lancer, a historical research group. “Jim is a very important witness,” she pointed out. Tague said that he was at the scene of president’s murder by chance. “I was going to meet a cute redhead for lunch,” Tague said in his trademark Texas drawl. But when traffic came to a stop in downtown, Tague got out of his car to investigate. That’s when he saw the president’s motorcade heading toward him. Then came the gunfire. “I guess 50 years later I’m still trying to absorb all of it,” he said in November. A native of Plainfield, Ind., Tague served in the Air Force before settling in Dallas. He sold cars for three decades and managed one of the top dealerships in Dallas before retiring. But November 22 changed things for him. Through the years, Tague’s own curiosity transformed him from eyewitness to JFK assassination researcher. He befriended other JFK assassination buffs, visited the National Archives to inspect evidence, and amassed a huge collection of Kennedy-related books, some of which he sold on eBay. He also authored two books, including last year’s “LBJ and the Kennedy Killing” in which he alleges a cover-up plot. “Personally, I’m urging young people to keep the truth alive,” he admitted. Even in the months before his death, he still made daily trips to the post office to
Last Tuesday, the United States gave three Venezuelan diplomats a deadline: leave the country within 48 hours. The expulsion came as a reprisal over a decision by Caracas last week to expel three American diplomats. Venezuela accused the Americans of recruiting students to lead protests in Caracas against President Nicolas Maduro. Washington called the accusations “baseless and false.” The State Department said Venezuela’s First Secretary Ignacio Luis Cajal Avalos, First Secretary Victor Manuel Pisani Azpurua, and Second Secretary Marcos Jose Garcia Figueredo, had been declared personae non grata. “This convention permits the United States to declare any member of a diplomatic mission persona non grata at any time and without the necessity to state a reason,” the State Department said citing the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations. The time has come, the time is now. Will you please go now?
Witness to JFK Assassination Dies at 77 On Friday, a material witness to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963 died. James Tague was 77 years old.
send out autographs to people seeking a tie to that fateful day in Dallas. “I did not let it consume my life; I just say it made my life interesting,” Tague said.
Report: Christie & Cuomo Faked Outrage about Toll Hikes
Beacon restaurant in Manhattan, a meeting that was disclosed several months after the toll hike fiasco, when Cuomo’s office released his appointment schedule. To me, it’s hard to imagine that Governor Christie would discuss something so serious over dinner, which is pretty serious itself.
How Biden’s Obamacare Sales Pitch Fell Flat… like a Pancake When vice president made a surprise stop at the Butterfield Pancake House in Arizona last week while on a “sell Obamacare tour,” his pitch fell flat, well, like a pancake.
It seems like these days New Jersey Governor Chris Christie just can’t seem to stay away from bridge scandals. This one doesn’t only involve Christie but also involves New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. According to numerous former Port Authority officials who spoke with the Bergen Record, in August 2011 when the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey proposed massive toll hikes for bridges and tunnels, it was all part of a scheme to get lower toll hikes approved and to get Governors Christie and Cuomo to look like heroes who fought back against the massive toll hikes. When the initial jaw-dropping toll hikes—a 75% increase for E-ZPass users and a 112% increase for cash payers— were proposed by the Port Authority, a seemingly angry Governor Christie joined commuters and lawmakers blasting the increase. He said that he had no advance knowledge of the proposal and pooh-poohed it by saying, “You’re kidding, right?” In a joint statement, Christie and Cuomo declared that although the Port Authority was facing financial issues, so were families in the States of New Jersey and New York. Within a few weeks, Christie and his New York counterpart, Governor Andrew Cuomo, consented to a more modest increase than the one proposed by the bistate agency. But according to the six former Port Authority officials, the whole thing was orchestrated from the beginning to make the governors look good. “They knew what the toll increase would be,” said one former official. “They set the governors up to look like heroes. It was all a farce. Many speculate that the plan was partially orchestrated a week before the initial, higher toll hike proposal was announced, when Christie and Cuomo had dinner at the
As the vice president was walking into the restaurant he saw a young woman sitting on a bench. He put on his 1,000 watt smile and with the cameras in tow he sat down near her. He emphatically tried selling her Obamacare and told her, “It’s affordable, you could get subsidies to do it; it’s in your interest and if you don’t want to do it for yourself, do it for your parents— give them peace of mind.” The only problem? The woman, identified as Jackie, was a tourist visiting from Toronto. She told reporters afterwards that she didn’t have the heart to stop Mr. Biden midpitch. “I just didn’t know if I should say, ‘I’m sorry, [I’m] Canadian, don’t know if I can help you out,” she said. I hope the pancakes worked out better Uncle Joe.
That’s Odd Car Returned 30 Years Later Never give up. That’s the moral of this story. Three decades after it was stolen, a
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1957 Chevrolet Bel Air has been returned to a Northern California man – in better shape than when he originally owned it. Ian “Skip” Wilson was shocked to get a call from the California Highway Patrol informing him that his long-lost Chevy was taken off an Australia-bound cargo ship. The 65-year-old says the car has had a lot of work done on it since it disappeared from his Lake County home in 1984. It was returned with a monogrammed interior, 17-inch racing wheels, rack-and-pinion steering and a 350-horsepower V-8 engine. “There’s all kinds of chrome added under the hood,” said Wilson, a retired Lake County mechanic doubly astonished that his 1957 Bel Air has returned and that it’s been gorgeously customized. “The headers look brand spankin’ new,” he said. “The tires, they look like they haven’t even been around the block.” A ‘57 Bel Air is one of the world’s most prized collector’s cars.
driving a Prius with a “this car runs on vegetable oil” bumper sticker, or better yet, zipping through the streets on a rusty bicycle; it also pretty much requires you to have a hipster beard. Walk through the streets of Williamsburg and judging solely by the beard it is often hard to tell the difference between hipsters and the Chassidim who live there. (Jay Leno once showed pictures of beards on his show and played a game with his audience called, “Hipster or chassid?”) Well, what happens when you are a hipster and you can’t grow a good beard? According to hipster website DNAinfo, in a new trend, beard-challenged hipsters are now turning to plastic surgery to fix their facial hair woes. The hair for beard transplants typically is taken from the patient’s head and then planted through micro-incisions on a bare patch of face in an eighthour procedure under local anesthesia, similar to how hair transplants are done. The procedure ranges in price from $3,000 for fill-ins of beard sections to $7,000 for a full beard. $7,000? Do you know how many save the whale bumper stickers you can get for $7,000? And think about how many tofu burgers you could buy!
Art Gets Trashed The retired mechanic says the twodoor was in sorry shape when he bought it for $375 in 1975 with plans for fixing it up. Amazingly, the car was stolen from Wilson in 1983. It was then recovered but in 1984, the car was stolen again. This time, car and owner were not reunited until last month. The car was discovered by officers searching cargo ships bound for Australia. Interestingly, out of all of the cars onboard, this was the only one that was confirmed as stolen. It was pulled off the docks just two days before it was being shipped. “Somebody put a whole lot of work and money into that car,” Wilson said. “It was all disassembled and put back.” He added, “I imagine somebody in Australia must be awful upset.”
The Length Hipsters Go to Be Hipsters
Being a hipster no longer just means
derneath, a real mess. So I took the cardboard and the bottles outside.” She continued: “How could I have known? Am I to blame? No, I was simply doing my job. But am I sad ? Sad, yes.” Thankfully, the woman’s employer realized that she was “just doing her job” and being “polite.” Insurance will be covering the cost of the damages, although I can’t imagine why the “artist” can’t just redo his exhibit. In fact, if he’s looking to feature some delicious cookie crumbs, he can look under the seats in my car.
Living near JFK Airport May Increase Health Risks According to a newly released European Commission study, living under a flight path for more than 20 years can raise the risk of heart disease and stroke due to the disruptive effects of nighttime noise. The study, which examined 4,712 people who had been living near airports in six European countries, found that air pollution did not play a role in the increased health risks. There was also no significant link between noise from aircraft during the day and either of the illnesses, suggesting that disrupted sleep or stress could be to blame. Just one more reason why Kennedy Airport should increase its flight paths and allow Far Rockaway/ Five Town residents to get some much-needed, uninterrupted sleep.
Happy 116th Birthday Misao Okawa
Last week, a cleaning woman in an art gallery in Italy made a mistake: she threw out the trash. Generally, throwing out the trash is part of the job of janitor. But at the Sala Murat gallery, the trash was actually art. Yes, you read that right. An exhibit by Paul Branca featured crumpled pieces of newspaper, pieces of cardboard, and cookie crumbs. In an attempt to clean the gallery, the conscientious worker threw out the garbage she found on the floor…oops, I mean the art exhibit. Interestingly, the piece was meant to invite art lovers to think about landscape and the environment. So, how much was this trashy exhibit worth? Believe it or not, the garbage was valued at over $13,000. (Thinking about changing careers?) In an interview, the cleaning woman admitted, “I saw all this rubbish on the floor, the cardboard, the glass bottles un-
Osaka Okawa of Japan, who is 91-years-old, and his 94-year-old sister celebrated a birthday on March 5th for a very special person in their life: their mother, Misao Okawa, who just turned 116-years-old. Ms. Okawa holds the Guinness World Records title for oldest person in the world. A super centenarian, she has lived through three centuries and has witnessed the advent of cars and planes. She also lived through the tenures of 20 U.S. presidents. To date, she has outlived the average life span for women in Japan—which is 85.9 years—by nearly 30 years. Asked about the happiest moments of a life that has now spanned three centuries, Ms. Okawa unhesitatingly recalls her mar-
riage in 1919 to Yukio Okawa and the birth of their three children. She also has four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. She says the saddest time of her life was the death of her husband in June 1931 – an almost unthinkable 83 years ago. So what’s her recipe for a long life? “Eat and sleep and you will live a long time,” she told the UK Telegraph. “You have to learn to relax.” Tomohito Okada, the head of the Kurenai retirement home where she has lived for the last 18 years, says Ms. Okawa’s her favorite meal is sushi, particularly mackerel on vinegar-steamed rice, and she has it at least once every month. I definitely would love to do the sushi part, although the sleep part of her key to longevity I can’t really follow because I live near Kennedy Airport (see above story) and the relax part I don’t do either because the restaurant always gets my sushi order wrong.
Finally a Good Excuse for Speeding
Scott Lowe, 22, of Rockland, Massachusetts, was pulled over by a police officer for speeding through the town of Hingham. When asked why he was speeding, the excited young man informed the officer that he had just won $50,000 on a Massachusetts State Lottery scratch-off ticket and was going to lottery headquarters to claim it. The police officer believed the speedster because he was shaking and showed the police officer the winning scratch-off ticket. Not wanting to damper Lowe’s good luck and good mood, the police officer issued just a verbal warning, urging him to drive safely. “Today was really his lucky day,” the department posted on Twitter.
How Not to Act With a Gun A 36-year-old man from Michigan intended on showing his friend about gun safety, but instead shot himself in the head. The man, whose name has not been released, was showing his friend how his three handguns are safe when they aren’t loaded, according to the Detroit Free Press. He demonstrated by placing the guns against his head and pulling the trigger. The third gun had a bullet in it which discharged and instantly killed the man. The shocked friend told police that before the big demonstration, the man had
This baby was born in a New York minute. Last week, as Polly McCourt rushed to get a cab during rush hour in New York City, she felt the very real pangs of childbirth. Her doorman tried unsuccessfully to flag down a cab for the ride to the hospital, but someone else grabbed it instead. Like most New Yorkers, Polly’s little baby couldn’t wait. Telling the doorman that the baby was on its way, she realized she wouldn’t be making it to the hospital. “I turned around and said, ‘I need to actually sit down,’” Polly recalled. And so she did—in the middle of a busy sidewalk in Manhattan, propped up by the doorman and surrounded by strangers who came to her aid. Thankfully, paramedics arrived just in time to deliver the beautiful baby girl and bring Polly and her new daughter to the hospital. Her daughter, Ila Isabelle, will always remember the story of her birth and the kindness of New Yorkers. Polly and her husband planned to name their daughter Ila Polly but then named her Ila Isabelle after the wonderful stranger named Isabelle who gave Polly her coat to keep her warm. “I’m getting emotional just thinking about it,” Polly said. This is the third child for Polly and her husband, Cian, who was stuck in traffic in the Lincoln Tunnel during his wife’s surprising delivery.
Keith Lukas, 43, of Hillsborough County, Florida, has been arrested numerous times for crimes such as driving under the influence of alcohol, battery and disorderly conduct. But he felt that the police did not treat him properly and he hasn’t been afraid to tell them – 2,297 times. Lukas would call the sheriff’s office “You hear all those Wild West stories of buried treasure, and you think they’re fantasies – well here, this one really did happen,” Don Kagin, the coin expert, said. “And what is almost unbelievable about this collection is what pristine condition so many of them are in.” Aside for the couple who has a lot to celebrate, so does the IRS. A “treasure trove” is a taxable item. According to experts, the couple will have to play approximately 47% of their findings to tax. According to experts, the coins, dating from 1847 to 1894, were likely buried over a significant period of time in the late 19th century. Approximately 90% of the coins will go up on Amazon’s “Collectibles” site, according to Don Kagin Inc. who is assisting the anonymous owners. Next time you see a tin can on your property, don’t just kick it down the road.
Dumb Criminal of the Week
Canned Treasure A couple walking their dog on their Northern California property stumbled upon a tin can sticking out of the ground on the path that they walk every day. The woman bent down to examine the can and dug out a little bit only to discovery over 1,400 mint coins buried in six tin containers. At first, the couple didn’t know what to do with the coins and just kept them in their house. Eventually, they went to rare coin experts and after they examined the coins, the experts informed the couple that the coins are worth approximately $10 million dollars. The couple is keeping their identity and location secret for many reasons, the main one being to prevent treasure hunters from ripping up their land with backhoes.
Dyonta Rose, 29, of DeSoto, Texas, was arrested by police on drug charges last week. But when the officer left Rose alone, he was able to escape while still wearing his handcuffs. Later that evening, Rose was apprehended again, not because of good detective work, but because Rose called 911 and requested an ambulance because the cuffs were cutting off his circulation. Police responded to the call and the too-tight-cuffed criminal is now facing additional charges of felony possession of a controlled substance, escape and tampering with evidence. It was certainly a good attempt to escape by Rose, but he obviously can’t think off the cuff.
Make Your Thank You Letter Work For You by Jessica Yuz
In the last Career Corner article I made the argument for the importance of Thank You letters and enumerated the “who”, “what”, and “when” of writing thank you letters. In this issue I will help you “Make Your Thank You Letter Work For You” with tips for writing unique and effective thank you letters. Preparing to write your thank you letter begins while you are still in the interview. Before you leave the interview clarify the following information to make the letter writing process easier and more effective: 1. Names and titles of all essential members of the interview team including support staff such as administrative assistants 2. Essential responsibilities of the job and whether (or not) you are qualified to perform those responsibilities 3. Which parts of the interview went poorly and why 4. An agreed-upon next step (i.e. hiring time-line, 2nd interview, etc.) Once you have gathered all the appropriate information you are ready to sit down and write your letter. As I previously mentioned, the thank you letter should be sent within 24 hour of the interview date. Although every letter is unique most letters should address the following: 1. Your gratitude to the interview-
er(s) for meeting with you 2. Unique topics or facts about yourself and your qualifications to stay fresh in the interviewer(s) mind and set yourself apart from the other applications 3. Your enthusiasm for the position and desire to work for the company 4. Clarification about any issues or events that went poorly during the interview (tardiness, poorly responding to a question, inappropriate joke, etc.) Finally, I always suggest having a qualified friend or career professional read the letter for spelling and grammar errors and to make sure that the names and titles are spelled correctly. The thank you letter is your last opportunity to stand out among the other applicants and show the interviewer that you are the right person for the job. Take advantage of this powerful tool by putting your best foot forward. Good Luck! About the Author: Jessica Yuz, MBA is the Founder of Yuz Career Advisers, dedicated to helping individuals identify their interests and set realistic goals so they can take control of their future. With over a decade of experience in higher education, Jessica works with her clients in the areas of; undergraduate and graduate school applications, career exploration, resume writing, interview skills, job search and placement, goal setting, time and stress management, and related fields. Jessica also specializes in assisting professional’s transition between employment, find fulfillment in their work and achieve life-work balance. You can contact Yuz Career Advisers at firstname.lastname@example.org or (323) 989-4341 and follow Jessica’s career advise blog at ycadvisers.blogspot.com.
MARCH 6, 2014
Annoying Criminal of the Week
countless times a day for over a year and belittle dispatchers and use vulgar language while griping about how authorities had treated him in the past. Last week, Lukas pled guilty to harassing the sheriff’s office and was placed on probation. As part of the plea deal, he promised he would only contact the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office if he had a legitimate need for law enforcement or medical services. I am not a betting man, but if I was I would place all my chips on the “he calls again” line.
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been drinking “all day.” Really?
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MARCH 6, 2014
Obamacare Changes Continue
Phsycotherapy: Beyond the Myth By Mark Levine, Ph.D.
By Roger Marks, LUTCF, Certified Enrolling Agent for Covered California Insurance Brokers and Medi-Cal In an about face, the State of California has deemed Brokers who are certified to offer Covered California may assist applications for Medi-Cal. Originally, the Covered California program separated the insurance agents from the Medi-Cal program, but now brokers who are certified to offer Covered California may assist applicants in applying for the Medi-Cal program if they fall under the Federal Poverty Level. The questions brokers in California get asked regularly by their clients: What are the income limits at which they would be pushed into Medi-Cal? The simple answer is that the applicant must be under the Federal Poverty Level. Shop and Compare Tool If you have used the Covered California “Shop and Compare” website, the website will immediately inform you if you, or your children qualify for Medi-Cal based on your income. Some have applied assuming their income would qualify them for a subsidy, only to have the online Covered California application process reject the request for a policy. The choice at this point is to find a local office for Medi-Cal and have the application for Medi-Cal completed in person, or to upload the required documentation by themselves in the Covered California website. It is still possible to ask an agent to assist you at this point, but as there may be little or no compensation, they may be reluctant to do so. If you began the process with a broker, they would probably complete the process for you as they were enrolling the application from the beginning. Better to be informed If you find yourself near the Federal Level (based on your most recent tax return), the best course of action is test the limits on the Shop and Compare Tool. For an individual, the minimum is $15,500 annually as read on your Tax Return’s “AGI” or “Adjusted Gross Income”. To receive a subsidy at this time, your income needs to be between the minimum and no more than three times that amount. If your income is higher, then there
would be no premium assistance offered, even though one can still apply for coverage. Many times, it is just easier to apply for coverage directly with an insurance company and avoid the headache of income requirements and invasive disclosure by going the “direct route”. Also, it is preferable to many to apply directly and avoid that hassle if the subsidy would be very small. It really would depend on the applicant’s preference. Covered California’s Website Crashes In the last week, the Covered California website was shut down for a number of days. As a result, it left Californians wondering what to do about their applications. To compensate, Covered California still accepted paper applications. Paper applications are a viable option sometimes for consumers. They may be mailed or faxed. The process takes longer but the applicant avoided the website crash and secured an effective date once the application was processed. Politics, Horror Stories Finally, during the week, stories were coming out about those with preexisting conditions who lost their doctor, had medications limited and the battle of who was or was not covered played out in the media and in our government. We, the consumers are the people trying to cope with the changes and the legislation is far from settled yet, and new directives are being issued by the White House to try and cope with a large new bureaucracy. The legality of the mandates under the constitution are contested loudly. We may expect this debate to go on for some time and that the program will continue to bring changes. The best advice your broker or any insurance professional can give you is to stay informed. Roger Marks is an insurance professional and has been specializing in Health Insurance Underwriting for 25 years. He works in Valley Village. To ask Roger a question you may email him at email@example.com or call his office at 818-985-PLAN (818985-7526)
As a young man visiting Eretz Yisrael, I once stepped into a Beis Midrash/House of Study in Bnei Brak where an older man greeted me warmly. After introducing ourselves and sharing some words of Torah, he asked me what I was doing in life. I explained that I was studying to become a psychologist. His next words were very surprising. “Tell me, is it true that you can look in my face and tell what is going on inside? I’m a little scared of that.” Let me clarify for the record: psychologists are not mind readers! However, while this belief is rare, there is still a certain stigma about the therapeutic process and many people are subsequently wary of pursuing therapy. It is a real pity for people to close themselves off from a course of action that can result in their leading happier, more fulfilled lives. Such choices not only affects themselves, but those around them. Therefore, it is important to clarify some of the more common misconceptions that exist about therapy and the therapeutic process. MYTH #1: Therapists are unnecessary, I just need a good friend with whom to speak. Leora was a young mother struggling with discipline in the home. She often felt very confused by different parenting techniques she had heard of. In fact, many times she found herself on the phone with friends to air out her day, and ended her evening with a lot of contradictory advice. More doubtful than ever she wondered, “Why can’t I just make up my OWN mind? Why don’t I ever trust my own judgment?” If one is blessed with good, caring friends, it is often hard to see the need for a separate, therapeutic relationship. Although it is a wonderfully enriching to have good friends in your life, a therapist serves a very different function. Friends will often either offer free advice or be unconditionally empathetic. A good therapist, however, will guide his client to tuning into and hearing their own inner voice. The person will then be able to take others’ opinions and view them against their own inner guide. MYTH #2. Therapy never ends, it will just keep me stuck in my past. Yaakov was a very nervous man who just couldn’t sit still for even a moment. The minute he slowed down, he would think about some other, urgent task that had to be completed. Although blessed with a wonderful wife and children, he could never really enjoy them. Vacations? Forget about it! Even playing ball was a real stretch. Constantly preoccupied with worries and tasks, he was often short tempered with those around him. Many times, he would ask himself, “What am I working for? There has got to more to life than this!” Not until he was in therapy did he understand that his constant activity was his way of running away from powerful and painful experiences in his early life. It is a very common fear to be wary of delving into one’s past, especially into experiences that were difficult. But, have you ever had an extreme reaction to something that just happened to you?
This occurs when something triggers an experience that was painful in your past. The emotions from such past experiences don’t just disappear on their own. Until they are recognized and dealt with in a healthy way, they can remain inside a person and become a tender spot. These feelings take up a lot of a person’s energy, sapping one of the ability to focus on the here and now. A therapist can help a person find those hidden holes and close them up, so there are no more leaks. In other words, a therapist, who is trained to know what to look for, can guide a person to gently and gingerly uncover and heal the emotions from those past experiences so that these experiences become less tender, remain in past, and do not negatively affect the present. MYTH #3. Going to therapy will result in my blaming other people (like my parents!) for my problems. Malkie prided herself on being a good daughter, no matter what. She often put her parents’ needs before her own. After a time, she lost touch with what her own needs were. She would describe herself as unhappy and hard to please, but she didn’t even know how to begin helping herself. While the therapeutic process does encourage a person to squarely face their own emotional landscape, therapy does not encourage people to blame others. Blame, by definition, is a negative and limiting emotion. (If its someone else’s fault then there is nothing I can do about it anyway!) On the contrary, the therapeutic process is a way of taking the helm of one’s own life rather than remaining under the control of others. One of the goals of therapy is to enable a person to adjust their perspectives and develop their own realistic expectations of others in their life. Then, with Hashem’s help, they will fully own their ability to create the life they choose to live. MYTH #4: Seeing a therapist is proof that there really is something seriously wrong with me! It is human nature to feel vulnerable when you need to seek emotional help. But, do you feel that way about seeing a dentist for a cavity? Or, taking your car to a mechanic for a tune-up? Of course not. In fact, therapy is really just an internal tuneup. Bravely facing and working to clear a problem is the sensible thing to do. When a person is ready to work on themselves and clean house in order to face their future head on, therapy is a wise course to pursue. With hard work and Hashem’s help, their efforts will payoff! Stay tuned for next month’s article, “Does Psychology Contradict or Complement a Torah True Life?” Mark Levine, Ph.D. is a practicing psychologist in the Los Angeles Orthodox Jewish community.
By Alex Idov inquiries from Rabbinic leaders around the United States as to whether the drink was considered acceptably kosher. Although he
lived in the city where the Coca-Cola Co. was (and still is) headquartered, he was unaware of the answer and inquired within the company for knowledge of the ingredients. The company shared the drinks top-secret ingredients( though, not the exact recipe) with Rabbi Geffen and he ruled that due to the small amount of beef based glycerin in the drink, it was not considered kosher to the standards of the Orthodox community. Wanting to gain the kosher market within the Jewish population, Cola-Cola tried to find a substitute for the non-kosher glycerin and was fortunate to find a coconut oil and cottonseed oil based glycerin, produced by the Proctor and Gamble Company. The Co-
ca-Cola Company replaced the beef based glycerin with the oil based one and Rabbi Geffen approved the beverage kosher certified. And the best part of this whole deal is that one doesn’t have to give up drinking Coke for Pesach (Passover). While the recipe for Coca-Cola contained ingredients which were by-products of grain (and therefore not kosher for Passover), Coca-Cola chemists found that by substituting cane and beet sugars for those derived from grain, and they could continue producing coke which would be acceptable to drink on Passover, without significantly altering the cola’s taste. Every year the Coca-Cola Company continues to produce a special “Passover run” of Coca-Cola made according to this special recipe (this run can be easily spotted by its yellow cap bearing an O-U-P symbol). This special run of Coca-Cola has proven to be extremely popular outside of circles of people who keep Passover, as many people like the taste of this formula better than the one produced year around (hence the new craze of importing Coca-Cola from Mexico). Thanks to Rabbi Geffen’s research and involvement with the Coca-Cola Company
many kosher consumers have been able to enjoy Coca-Cola for the past 80 years. I once asked my father, who remembers Rabbi Geffen from his childhood, if Rabbi Geffen’s leadership of Orthodox Jewry is still remembered in Atlanta. He answered that unfortunately, those whose lives were affected and touched by Rabbi Geffen’s religious guidance and leadership are now very few and the younger generation does not seem to know of him. It is a comfort to think that while many may not know or remember the impact of this illustrious Rabbi on the Atlanta community, his impact on the world of kosher will always be remembered. As for the rest of us, the recipe for the world’s favorite soft drink still remains a well-kept secret. Alex Idov is a kosher food blogger who runs the award-winning site ‘Kosherology’ and a regular contributing food columnist to The Jewish Home newspaper. He is currently studying for his bachelor’s degree in Culinary Sustainability & Hospitality. Visit ‘Kosherology’ at www.exploretheworldofkosher.com and like ‘Kosherology’ on facebook
MARCH 6, 2014
Two years before my great-grandmother was born in the beautiful southern city of Atlanta, GA, John Pemberton was busy introducing his new flavorful and fizzy concoction - and lucky for us, a concoction that would one day become kosher.... The year was 1886, and Pemberton, a Confederate veteran of the Civil War and pharmacist by trade, had recently created a non-alcoholic drink to replace an alcoholic coca-wine “tonic” he had been selling for medicinal purposes (non-alcoholic due to restrictions imposed by the Prohibition). Originally, he sold his new creation as a medicinal drink at a soda fountain at Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta. It soon became the world’s favorite soft drink: Coca-Cola (or CoCola, as pronounced by true-blood Southerners), instead of a medicinal tonic and found its way into the homes (and hearts) of many Americans with the advent of it’s bottling in 1891. But it wasn’t until 1935 that the popular drink would become kosher. Rabbi Tobias Geffen, then leader of the Orthodox Jewish community of Atlanta (and Rabbi of Congregation Shearith Israel, where my father’s family were members), had received
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THE REAL THING: HOW COCA-COLA BECAME KOSHER
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MARCH 6, 2014
Ta-eem Grill had a problem other restaurants only dream of. It was too popular. The demand for their shawarma, falafel, and hummus was so intense that lines were often over an hour long. Owner Sylvie Kraizberger recollects, “It was devastating to see people wait in line for so long, some people would drive by and see the huge line and make a U-turn to find somewhere else to eat”. Many customers didn’t mind the wait, and Ta-eem developed a cult-like following with loyal customers returning almost daily. With shops on either side of Ta-eem that had no signs of moving out, Sylvie and her husband Yoel weren’t sure how to proceed. They never considered moving to a new location, but new that something had to give. They continued to cook in a tiny kitchen and trusted that Hashem would find a solution. “G-d has His mysterious ways. Right when we said to each other that we must find a way to provide for all our customers, the hair salon next door to us closed and we were able to take the space and expand Ta-eem Grill.” Ta-eem Grill has been opened for about three years now and, with their recent expansion, has tripled in size. The location is still at 7422 Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles and the lines are still out the door, but the lines move quickly because of the large kitchen staff and because there is much more seating, nearly one hundred people can sit comfortably munching their pitas and laffas without an elbow in the eye. As soon as you enter the newly remodeled location, you can feel the pride of ownership and Ahavas Yisroel of the Kraizbergers. The décor is hip, indus-
trial warehouse meets Breslov, with recycled wood tables, rustic lighting, and family style benches and chairs. One wall features the famous Breslov slogan “Na-Nah-Nachman” written artfully in huge letters, about four feet in height. The opposite side symbolizes the Kosel (Western wall) with brick-shaped burlap hanging along the entire length of the wall. It’s arty, it’s Melrose, yet somehow
it feels spiritual, like a secret shul in Tzfas that moonlights as a restaurant. The Kraizberger’s are deep people, but they are practical, pragmatic and kind. Sylvie circles around the very busy eatery
asking guests if they are enjoying their meals and if there’s anything she can do the make the experience better. Waiters are friendly, polite, and go out of their way to please. You can feel comfortable customizing your order, asking the Israelis behind the counter to kindly stuff your pita with fries and spicy matbucha. These people actually like their customers and the customers like them back, returning their love with loyalty to Ta-eem Grill. The Kraizberger family has deep Emunah that Hashem always leads them towards solutions that will be best for them. Over twenty years ago the Kraizberger family owned a similar restaurant in Israel. They moved to America and found themselves in the car business. They ran a successful car dealership for many years, but when the economy turned they needed to close down the car business and decided to return to their roots and try their hands in the food service business once again. They explain, “We know two things: cars and food. Cars were finished, so now we went back to food.” Ta-eem grill was immediately popular with both the Jewish crowd and Melrose locals and quickly drew fire hazard sized crowds. They feel that Hashem answered their prayers. After the remodel, Ta-eem also switched to a more well-known Hashgacha, RCC and hired two Mashgiach Temidi to man the ship. My foodie carpool, Yossi Kagan, first introduced me to Ta-eem Grill, citing it as THE place to eat in the La Brea area. We brought my parents and kids there this week and everyone was happy with their feast. I really appreciated the six different dishes of salads, including corn salad, spicy
carrot, pickles, and cabbage salad, that come immediately to the table and keep the kids busy while the orders are filled. Their fries are special, not the bulk frozen type, but cut and fried in house from real potatoes. Ta-eem’s Shwarma was a big hit with my parents who are shawarma fanatics. They liked how juicy and plentiful the meat is. Ta-eem packs their pitas with shawarma meat until they burst, spilling meat and salads onto the plate. You can choose any of the many salads from the salad bar to stuff into your pita. You also have the option of wrapping your shwarma or falafel in a laffa, baguette, or plated with hummus and salads. I also want to recommend the Pargiot plate. Pargiot are grilled, dark chicken pieces which are arranged with Israeli salad, green cabbage salad and hummus. The Sabich and Shakshuka are also very popular. Prices are very fair with falafel in a pita for only $6.50 and the most expensive thing on the menu, the Beef Steak Kabbob, is still under $16. Expect crowds and to meet people you know. You might even have a reunion or two. Children are more than welcome and can feast on fries, pickles, and shnitzel and ketchup. Delivery and catering is available. Call 323-944-0013 and visit www. ta-eemgrillinc.com. Estee Cohen is a California native and goes out to eat more than is appropriate. She is a kosher food insider, has a patient husband and 3 little kids. She is passionate about restaurants, science education, and collects rooster figurines.
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