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A L & d o o e k La k! ‫בית‬ ‫מדרש‬ ‫גבוה‬

Board of Governors Honorary Committee Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz Co-Chairman, Board of Governors Duvi Blonder Chaim Freeman David Hager Yehuda Hertz Michael Kest Menachem Klein Chaim Kolodny Meir Levin Frank Menlo Berel Weiss Zevi Wolmark

Reception Committee Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz Reception Chairman Abbott Family Moshe Chopp Zvi Eilat Aaron Dov Friedman Moshe Leib Haberman Avi Hager Dovi Jacobs Avi Mayer Jeff Mendell

BMG Rabbinic Alumni Serving the LA Community in Leadership Positions

Dynagrafik 845-352-1266


MAY 1, 2014

ership n t r a P h a r o T A Continuing

Rabbi Aryeh Adler Rabbi Gershon Bess Rabbi Yoel Bursztyn Rabbi Gavriel Cohen Rabbi Avrohom Czapnik Rabbi Daniel Danishefsky Rabbi Pini Dunner Rabbi Shmuel Einhorn Rabbi Chaim Zelig Fasman Rabbi Shmuel Fasman Rabbi Moshe Fisher Rabbi Sholom Gershon Ginsberg Rabbi Berish Goldenberg Rabbi Yehoshua Goldenberg Rabbi Boruch Yehuda Gradon Rabbi Aron Tzvi Gross Rabbi Eliezer Gross Rabbi Yitzchok Dovid Grossman Rabbi Kalman Pinchos Gruman Rabbi Avraham Yechiel Hirschman Rabbi Boruch Kupfer Rabbi Nechemia Langer Rabbi Menachem Levine Rabbi Chaim Lopian Rabbi Moshe Yosef Moldaver Rabbi Dovid Revah Rabbi Shalom Rubanowitz Rabbi Chaim Boruch Rubin Rabbi Ezra Schochet Rabbi Avraham Schulman Rabbi Elchanan Tauber Rabbi Yakov Yitzchok Vann Rabbi Sholom Weil Rabbi Aryeh Weiner

his WofeeChizuk TShabbos May 3, 2014 w ‫אמור‬

HaRav Aryeh Malkiel Kotler ‫שליט"א‬


The Abbott Family 128 S. Formosa Ave.

HaRav Yeruchim Olshin ‫שליט"א‬



‫קהילת יעקב‬ ‫מרא דאתרא‬

‫קבלת שבת‬ ‫מעריב‬

Rav Gershon Bess ‫שליט"א‬ 7211 Beverly Blvd.

‫מרא דאתרא‬

‫סעודת שבת‬

‫בית מדרש חוג‬ Rav Shmuel Einhorn ‫שליט"א‬ 7200 Beverly Blvd.

The Abbott Family 128 S. Formosa Ave.

‫מנחה שיעור‬

(1 hour Before



‫כולל בית אברהם‬ ‫ראש כולל‬

Mr. & Mrs. Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz 102 N. Alta Vista Blvd.

‫קבלת שבת‬ ‫מעריב‬

‫סעודה שלישית‬

Mr. Moshe Braun’s Minyan 128 North McCadden Pl.

Rav Chaim Fasman ‫שליט"א‬ 7159 Beverly Blvd.

‫סעודה שלישית‬


‫מרא דאתרא‬

‫מרא דאתרא‬

Rav Dovid Langer ‫שליט"א‬ 340 N. La Brea Ave.

‫עץ חיים‬

‫מרא דאתרא‬ Rav Chaim Boruch Rubin ‫שליט"א‬ 303 S. Highland Ave.

‫חומש שיעור‬ ‫ועונג שבת‬

9:45 pm Mr. & Mrs. Zvi Eilat 430 N. June St.

‫שערי תורה‬

‫סעודת שבת‬

Mr. & Mrs. Zvi Eilat 430 N. June St.


Rav Shlomo Einhorn ‫שליט"א‬ 5353 W. 3rd St.

Join us!

Annual Community Reception Sunday Evening, May 4, 2014 at 8:00pm Moshe Ganz Hall 360 North La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, California divrei Chizuk by

HaRav Aryeh Malkiel Kotler ‫שליט"א‬ Rosh HaYeshiva

pico-Robertson/ Beverly Hills Community

Breakfast Reception with the

Roshei Yeshiva Hosted by

Mr. & Mrs. Henry Manoucheri and Mr. & Mrs. Robert Millman Sunday morning, May 4, 2014 9:00 am at the Manoucheri home 431 S. Beverwil Drive, Beverly Hills, CA Breakfast dedicated ‫ לע"נ‬Mr. Said Manoucheri ‫ע"ה‬

Rabbi Aaron Kotler will visit with the community as Scholar-in-Residence at Adas torah 1135 S. Beverly Drive

‫מרא דאתרא‬

Rav Dovid Revah

‫שבת פרשת אמור‬ ‫אכסניא‬

Mr. & Mrs. Raphy Nissel 717 N. Crescent Dr.

‫קבלת שבת ומעריב‬

Young Israel of Beverly Hills ‫ מרא דאתרא‬Rav Pini Dunner ‫שליט"א‬


‫עדת תורה‬

Guest Speaker

Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff ‫שליט"א‬

‫ מרא דאתרא‬Agudas Yisroel Bais Binyomin of Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York

‫ מרא דאתרא‬Rav Dovid Revah ‫שליט"א‬ 1135 S. Beverly Dr.


(1 hour Before

‫עדת תורה‬


‫מרא דאתרא‬

We look forward to greeting you, Family of Dr. Charles Abbott ‫ע"ה‬ Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz ReCeptioN CHAiRmAN

Rav Dovid Revah ‫שליט"א‬ 1135 S. Beverly Dr.

‫סעודה שלישית‬

Pico Bais Medrash

Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff ‫שליט"א‬

‫מרא דאתרא‬

Rav Avraham Y. Hirschman ‫שליט"א‬ 9027 Pico Blvd.



ed m i a l c c a y l h The hig r a n i m e S e g Marria A L o t g n i m o now c

RABBI BEN TZION SHAFIER is the founder of Tiferes Bnei Torah and TheShmuz.com. He is a noted and energizing lecturer, speaking more than 150 times each year. TheShmuz.com now has more than 10,000 members and generates thousands and thousands of Torah downloads each week in locations throughout the world.


Shaarey Zedek, 12800 Chandler Blvd. Part I:

Thursday, May 8th at 8:30 pm Part II:

Shabbos Day:

• Shacharis at 8:15 am followed by kiddush and shiur given by Rabbi Shafier LUNCH TOGETHER WITH RABBI SHAFIER

• Shiur one hour before mincha

Part III:

Motzei Shabbos, May 10th at 9:00 pm

Cost: $50 for the series which includes Shabbos lunch For more information please contact: Elie Istrin 818-257-9333, Yosef Traube (216) 712-1196


If you’re married for more than two weeks, you’ve likely found yourself asking questions like: > Why do we fight over such petty things? > Why does she react that way? > Why can’t he just change? And like many couples, you might find yourself struggling through happy, and not such happy times, often not even understanding why things seem to just “blow up”. In this Shmuz we are introduced to a Torah based perspective on the inner dynamics of marriage. By focusing on some of the most basic needs of a human, and then moving on to many of the more common pitfalls and blunders that couples make, we are given a tour of the complex weave of emotions, needs and expectations that creates a successful marriage.

MAY 1, 2014

Marriage seminar






MAY 1, 2014

Community Happenings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6



Bobker on Sefira - And the Count Begins . . . . . . . 21

JEWISH THOUGHT The One Percent. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Who is Moshiach?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Black Like Us . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26

EDUCATION Forgotten Heroes –General Jack Jacob . . . . . . . . . 20

HUMOR & ENTERTAINMENT Centerfold. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Quotes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42

LIFESTYLES Restaurant Review Two Dishes at Taco Flame . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56 Travel - Monterey and Big Sur. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58 JWI Cookbook – A Sampling. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Kosherology – Is Quail Kosher?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38

NEWS Global News. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 National News. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 That’s Odd. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51


Dear Readers, This Monday we’ve marked what’s come to be called the Yom Hashoah. First and foremost it’s a day that asks for our reflection on the suffering of those before us; remembering them as individuals who were persecuted, tortured and killed for being Jewish. It is also a day to reflect on the stories of superhuman heroism which took place, asking ourselves what we would do if we were faced with the same monstrous barbarism and the indifference to it by the rest of the free world. Would we still believe in the sanctity of life, of the importance of a good deed, the value of putting on Tefillin or lighting a Shabbos candle a single time? Holocaust survivors are our heroes. They saw an otherwise advanced society decay into a beastly one where the wicked took pleasure in others suffering and annihilation. They saw their loved ones, our ancestors, ripped away in broad daylight. Children were taken from parents, human beings were treated like unwanted filth. They are our heroes for having lived through this. They are our mentors for the small acts of bravery they showed in the worst of times. They help us remember all the loved ones that perished for no reason. And because they chose the heroic path of bringing up our grandparent’s generation, putting aside all their suffering and focusing on raising new families, they ensured the survival and thriving of today’s Jewish communities that nurtured us. These are sobering thoughts, but are necessary to help us keep our perspective in this modern world of plenty. As believers on days such as these, we are reminded that while we cannot fathom a reason or justification for such suffering, we are absolutely certain that all that happens comes from above and that no nation or individual decides our final fate or destiny. In small form, each one of us has our own experiences which we do not understand and which seems to run contrary to the very values we were taught. This past Sunday marked the first Yahrtzeit of my father in law, Rabbi Eliezer Lipman Dubrawsky, a most kind, humble and gentle individual. It defies our mortal understanding that after living according to the teachings such as brought down in Rambam Hilchot Ishus 15;19 “And so have our Chachomim taught us, that a person respect his wife more than himself and love her like himself”, a spouse, parent or child can all to suddenly be taken away leaving an unimaginable void. Let us use these times to beseech our Father in heaven that He “repay us” for all the suffering we’ve experienced as a nation and as individuals. That He gather us from the four corners of the world and that we once again become a nation in our own homeland, experiencing the fulfillment of the prophesies foretold to us a few thousand years ago including Isaiah 10;32 which we read on the final day of Pesach; “Yet today he will stand in Nob… A staff will emerge from the stump of Yishai… The spirit of Hashem will rest upon him – a spirit of wisdom and understanding, a spirit of counsel and strength, a spirit of knowledge and fear of Hashem… The wolf will live with the sheep and the leopard will lie down with the kid… They will neither injure nor destroy in all of my mountain; for the earth will be as filled with knowledge of Hashem as water covering the sea bed… He will raise a banner for the nations and assemble the castaways of Israel; and he will gather in the dispersed ones of Judah from the four corners of the earth… You will say on that day ‘I thank you, Hashem, for you were angry with me, and now your wrath has subsided and you have comforted me. Behold G-d is my salvation; I shall trust and not fear… Give thanks to Hashem, declare his name, make his acts known among the peoples… Exult and shout for joy, O inhabitant of Zion for the holy one of Israel is great in your midst”. May we see it’s fulfillment in the very near future. Wishing you a most blessed and enjoyable Shabbos!

Israel News . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 Mideast Peace Talks Fall Through Again. . . . . . . . . 48


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


By Alisa Roberts

Liebe Geft, Museum Director, announced that the theme of this year’s commemoration was Jews on the Edge, between annihilation and liberation, “For that indeed marked the situation for the Jews of 1944, exactly 70 years ago.” She went one to explain that the expression “on the edge,” is taken from a Nathan Alterman poem, and is meant to capture the double race the Jews of Europe were caught in that year: while the Allies and the Red Army were liberating more and more of Europe, what was left under the Nazi regime was rushing its remaining Jews into death marches and concentration camps. “It was a year in which everything depended upon the scales of time, and the Jews remaining in Europe were asking themselves … as Alterman wrote, ‘Which ending will come first?’” The Jewish Community Children’s Choir, under the direction of Dr. Michelle Green Willner, opened the program. They performed their two songs, Chana Senesh’s My God, My God and an arrangement of Vehi Sheamda and Ani Ma’amin, beautifully and poignantly. Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, spoke about the double language of zachor and al tishkach. “As we look around the

world today,” he said, “we see that it’s not enough just to remember – zachor. Al tishkach: do not forget the survivors, do not forget the victimizers, do not forget the bystanders. Do not allow Holocaust history to be denied or rewritten.” Rabbi Cooper then introduced the diplomats in attendance, including Dr. Bernd Fischer, Consul General for Germany; Mr. Giuseppe Perrone, Consul General for Italy; Mr. Jun Niimi , Consul General of Japan; Mr. Jean-Francois Lichtenstern, Consul General of Switzerland; and Mr Abdulla Ali Al-Saboosi, Consul General for the United Arab Emirates. There were also representatives from Austria, Estonia, Guinea, Hungary, the Netherlands, and Poland. Rabbi Cooper closed his remarks with a thought on another aspect of zachor: remembering the good, hakarat hatov. David Segal, Consul General for Israel, then took the stage to present an award for Righteous Among the Nations. Mr. Segal spoke about the expulsions and exterminations in Hungary 70 years ago. “We should be clear in our minds about what was at stake then and what is at stake today,” he said. He then told the story of Emilia Krutova, a Slovakian woman with two young children, who hid 12 Jews in her attic for two years. Her son, Edward, accepted the award from Yad Vashem on his late mother’s behalf. The many Holocaust survivors in attendance were then acknowledged. With their names displayed on the screen hanging over the stage, they stood to be recognized. Cantor Arik Wollheim followed this moment with the song Eyli Eyli. Rabbi Marvin Hier, Founder and Dean of the Wiesenthal Center, outlined the history of Hungary’s alliance with Nazi Germany. He described some of the atrocities committed under the Arrow Cross Party rule. “Let’s make no mistake about it,”

MAY 1, 2014

The Museum of Tolerance’s Holocaust Remembrance Day commemoration was held on Monday April 28. The ceremony focused on the local community alongside older generations. The front rows of the packed auditorium held members of the Consular Corps from all around the world, numerous Holocaust survivors, and special guests, while the upper rows were filled with several classes from local high schools as well as community members.


Holocaust Remembrance Day Commemoration at the Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance

he said. “The perpetrators were not gangsters who were part of a mob. They were ordinary people … [who] committed unspeakable crimes against humanity.” But

he too had someone to remember for the good. He told the story of Pinchas Rosenbaum, a Hungarian Jew who posed as a high-ranking Arrow Cross officer in order

to save hundreds of Jews and others. He closed with the sobering statistic that the anti-Semitic Jobbik party in Hungary received a quarter of the vote in recent elections and emphasized how important it is to remember that it was not only the Nazis who perpetrated these crimes but their collaborators as well. Special guest Bernd Elias was the final speaker. He and his wife traveled from Switzerland so that Mr. Elias could speak about his cousin, Anne Frank. He spoke movingly about human rights. “When will we learn, or rather, when will we put into practice what we have learned from the Holocaust?” He spoke of Anne’s experience, but focused on her ideals and her hope for the future. “Ultimately, commemoration has to mean action.” Cantor Netanel Baram sang the memorial prayer, followed by a final song by the Jewish Community Children’s Choir, and Hatikvah. Leibe Geft’s last words to the audience were brief and simple, but encapsulated the event: “May we continue to learn from the past in order to shape a just, peaceful, and joyous future.”


MAY 1, 2014


Connecting with Alumni through Learning What better way to stay connected to YULA and our Beit Midrash than studying Torah with our YULA Rebbeim? Fueled by a desire to learn and stay connected with their alma mater, a group of UCLA students, including Moishe Kahn and Roy Hadavi, approached Rabbi Yitzchak Etshalom with the idea of instituting a weekly shiur. Thus was born YUCLAlumni, a

new program for YULA alumni at UCLA interested in continuing their Jewish learning. Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, the JLI Rabbi at UCLA, was thrilled with the idea and encouraged as many students to attend as possible. At the first meeting along, over 20 students were in attendance. The shiur will focus on a the study of Tehillim; they started with Pirkei Hallel and will work

their way through Pesukei D’zimrah and other texts and prayers. When returning to Los Angeles for Pesach vacation, YULA is a favorite spot for recent graduates to return. Last year’s seniors were roaming the halls this past week, coming back for davening and to visit with former rebbeim and teachers.

On Monday, April 7, Rabbi Sufrin hosted a special alumni learning program with eight recent graduates. In preparation for Pesach, the boys learned about the Top 10 Highlights of the Hagaddah, and had a great time reminiscing about their experiences at YULA over divrei Torah.

Bearing Witness: Commemorating the Shoah at YULA Each year, the number of living Holocaust survivors dwindles, and the memory of the Shoah fades a little bit more into history. In order to keep the stories and lessons of the Holocaust in our collective Jewish memory, allowing our students to hear from living survivors and bear witness to the terrors of the Shoah is of utmost importance. For the past three years, YULA has worked closely with Yeshiva University and Beth Jacob to design a meaningful competition for high school students across Los Angeles in honor of Yom Hashoah. Based on a question prompt, students create an essay or piece of artwork and submit their entries to YU and Beth Jacob staff members to review. Winning submissions are announced at the annual Yom Hashoah program. This year, students across Los Angeles were presented with the following prompt: “How has the Holocaust changed your Jewish pride? How can/should you live your life differently because the Holocaust happened?” On Sunday evening, April 27th, Beth Jacob hosted the annual Yom Hashoah evening with over 300 people in attendance. Submissions by YULA 10th graders Joseph Hier and Yair Isaacs won first prize, and Honorable mentions were awarded to Sam Richter, Asher Willner, and Joel Manesh. For Monday’s Yom Hashoah program at YULA, the entire student body had the unique opportunity to hear from Jack and Gitta Nagel about their experiences in the

Shoah. Moderated by their grandson and YULA alumnus Zev Nagel, Jack and Gitta spoke about the incredible stories of their childhood, the trials they faced during the war, and the countless miracles and strength of character that allowed them to survive. Both survivors emphasized the importance of faith and belief in G-d as life lessons that they have carried with them during and after the war. YULA 10th grader Yair Isaacs gave the following explanation for his powerful winning drawing at Sunday evening’s Yom Hashoah gathering.

In my 10th grade Jewish history class at YULA, taught by Mr. Joey Small, I’ve come to grasp the relevancy of the Holocaust and how the history of our people is pertinent and crucial to my understanding of what it means to be a Jew in the modern world. The Jewish people experienced unimaginable horrors during the Holocaust. However, Baruch Hashem, we were also blessed to experience the miraculous birth of the modern State of Israel. In my drawing I highlight the Jewish star as the focal point. It represents our people’s degradation and humiliation during the first

half of the 20th century, while during the second half of the 20th century the Jewish star became an integral part of our nations’ pride, emblazoned, front and center on the State of Israel’s flag, as eluded to on my sketch. The dark black on the left

side of the star reflects the darkness of the Holocaust, while the lighter shade of black represents the transition from darkness to light, as we sing in so many schools and shuls across the country, “Umeiafeila l’ora, umishiabud lgeula”. For me, the candle that lies at the central core of the picture represents the inner flame of the Jew, the pintele yid, that is never extinguished no matter what we experience. It is important for us, as we move forward into the 21st century, never to forget the past and always be cognizant of it, as our past helps illuminate our future; both as individuals and as a people.


orthodox community. And this is because of Ralph’s supermarket. For 42 years the city of Sherman Oaks cloistered a Ralphs store at the corner of Hazeltine Ave and Ventura Blvd. It was a traditional store, but Ralphs conducted their own neighborhood research and decided that this location could handle something more extraordinary. On Thursday, April 10, just sneaking into the calendar to catch the final Pesach shoppers, a newly built Megastore Ralphs was opened at the same location. Taking eighteen months to build, it is for the most part, an impressive store. In fact, it’s overwhelming. The pharmacy section rivals Target, a

kosher bakery offers crispy croissant that will make other kosher bakeries drool. There’s a new Kosher Deli that rivals the busy counter at Cambridge Farms and roasted and fried chickens are at affordable prices. The Sherman Oaks area lost two terrific bookstores, but superstore Ralphs has a decent book aisle, extensive kitchenware, substantial flower market and inviting garden plants; this is a store that changes the way you shop. The fruit and vegetable section is luscious and the wide aisles and new shopping carts create a more upscale experience than a race around the 99c store or a game of bumper carts at Super Sal. The new Ralphs is open from 6am to 2am and rumor has it that at least two Mashgiach will cover the hours and will supervise the 1500 sq ft kosher department, which includes a private kosher meat processing room, a deli, meat, seafood, wine, canned goods and frozen section. What more could we ask? Actually, there may be a little more that is needed. In the race to open the store before Passover, the shelves in the kosher department were erratically organized and only partially covered with paper. Bissli was available in a non- kosher- for- Pesach variety and more than one family found they had accidentally purchased the wrong

kind. Amidst the crowd of 1000 people who visited the store in just the first hour, this was to be expected, but time will tell whether the store’s management will continually fix the problems. How confusing will it be for kosher customers to shop in a store that offers identical brand products in a non-kosher form on the adjoining aisle? Shoppers for the neighborhood and the surrounding catchment zone will be able to price match. Could this be healthy competition that successfully livens up the local stores that previously had exclusive rights to feed our kosher families? Will the Valley Village crowd be drawn to Sherman Oaks for all-in shopping? And just as important, how costly and tasty are the challot? So far, the pricing is exhaustingly erratic. At the opening of the new Ralphs, an iPad was raffled and Emek Hebrew Academy was given a donation of $2500, which Principal, Rabbi Shifman, accepted with grace. Milliken High School was also a recipient. As for the rest of the shoppers, they were happy to enjoy face painting, balloon animals and certain food samples. The bold decision to open this new mega Ralphs has brought change to the Valley. G-d can change everything in the blink of an eye.

New Ralph’s Fresh Fare of Sherman Oaks Presents a Grant to Emek for $2,500! April 10th was a very exciting day for Emek Hebrew Academy Teichman Family Torah Center. Rabbi Mordechai Shifman, our Head of School, was asked to attend the Grand Opening and cut the ceremonial ribbon of the new Ralph’s Fresh Fare in Sherman Oaks as one of three schools in the neighborhood receiving a grant for $2,500. The funds received from Ralph’s

will be used to further assist with our scholarship fund. Rabbi Shifman expressed his gratitude on behalf of our 620 students, for Ralph’s investment in our community. We hope to have a long-standing relationship with Ralph’s supermarket, as they inaugurate a new 1,500 square foot kosher store-withina-store to cater to the Jewish Community.

MAY 1, 2014

Los Angeles hasn’t financed a Jewish community survey since 1997 and at this time the anecdotal evidence shows young Jewish families are moving eastwards and away from the Valley. Sherman Oaks had always enjoyed a strong Jewish presence but it is not an area that abounds in orthodox families. In fact, there is just one orthodox synagogue, Chabad of Sherman Oaks at Kester and Ventura Blvd, as well as the Conservative Temple B’Nai Hayim on Van Nuys Blvd. Despite the unknown demographics of the current Jewish community in the San Fernando Valley, changes are a happening in the accessibility of kosher food for the


Reinventing Ralphs


MAY 1, 2014


Upcoming Reception in LA for Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh sponsors a “Kollel Avrechim” consisting of about 60 young Talmidei Chachamim, who have distinguished themselves in their studies and are dedicated to mastering the complexities of daily practical problems posed by life in a Jewish State. Many of them are preparing to serve as Dayanim (judges) in the Israeli Rabbinic Courts and some have already been appointed to these honored positions. On May 7, 2014 the Los Angeles community will be hosting a reception in honor of Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh in the Sephardic Temple, 10500 Wilshire Boulevard. We wish the Yeshiva, Rosh Yeshiva, Rebbeim and staff as well as its students, many successful years to come till the arrival of Moshiach!

Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh has been at the forefront supporting Torat Yisrael and the State of Israel for 60 years. HaRav Chayim Yaakov Goldvicht, zt”l, was a talmid of both the Brisker Rav and the Chazon Ish. He established Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh in 1954 (5714). The first class of 12 students formed the nucleus of the present enrollment of nearly 450 Talmidim from Israel and the Diaspora. As the first Hesder Yeshiva, Kerem B’Yavneh successfully integrates the study of Torat Yisrael with service to the State of Israel. The State of Israel requires Torah scholars who are thoroughly trained in Jewish Law and are familiar with the jurisprudence of the State. Kerem B’Yavneh

A Water Tight Question; Will You Swim-4-Sadna?

By Myrna Meyers

“Hey! Would you like to swim with me?” So started my training for a 2 mile women’s swim in the Kinneret. I emailed the director of the event to confirm the dates and to see if I could join. “Oh my, you’re calling from the States?” she said, with great excitement. This made me feel like an American swimming celebrity, but only until my first 1 mile training swim. My friend encouraged me by saying, “ You are not going to do the shorter distance. Don’t think about it! There are rafts to help you if you get tired. You don’t need to worry.” Swim4Sadna 2014 is the 5th annual women’s swim-a-thon fundraising event on behalf of Sadnat Shiluv b’Emunah. The swim-a-thon is a personal swimming challenge. This fun, non-competitive platform was developed to emulate the pillars of Sadna‫י‬s educational vision; personal empowerment and inclusion for all. The Sadnat Shiluv b’Emunah is located in Gvaot, Gush Etzion, which is south of Jerusalem. The project helps Special Education children between the ages of 2-20 who fall between the cracks of the school system. The Sadna programs are therapeutic and

successfully take the students into a program that guides their entire adult life. The Sadnat programs include: a kindergarten where normative children learn together with children with special needs, a special education school consisting of 8 classes for children with varying disabilities, aftercare program for all pupils in the school, an agricultural farming program which provides vocational training and employment opportunities, assisted living in communities in Gush Etzion, and “Merchav Meshalev”, a unique project

that brings students from other schools to the Sadna for a day of joint volunteering and activities. Swim4Sadna 2014 will raise funds for the development of a comprehensive vocational training and employment program for the young adults who are part of Shiluv B’Emunah. This employment program will include job training on a variety of skills so each participant can make a contribution and develop independence according to his or her own abilities. This will help us establish a place where the

graduates of the Sadna schools will be able to work, meet and host visitors. I now have a chlorine sniffle and they call me Galilee girl at the pool where I train, but the Swim-4-Sadna event has won my heart. This year’s all-women’s swim is on the 30th of May, across the Kinneret, the lake that is 8 miles wide. I’m relieved to say it’s not a race, (thank G-d). Women of all ages and ability will try and swim the 2 miles, but swimming your own personal best is OK as well. My friend keeps assuring me there are plenty of rafts and water safety support along the way. Thank goodness! Perhaps you want to help? Go to the web site and sign up to swim with me or sponsor a swimmer. Or if you are in Israel at that time and so inclined come and CHEER! For me, well its back to the pool :-) and See you in Israel, G-d willing. Swim 4 Sadna Rosh Chodesh Sivan Friday 30/05/2014 – For more information: info@swim4sadna.org www.swim4sadna.org

Chabad House Of Lake Tahoe Prepares For First Shavuot With the recent opening of Chabad of Lake Tahoe, the Jewish visitors to this idyllic resort are able to travel lighter and ski better with the knowledge that a kosher meal can be delivered to their rental home. As if the gift of fresh waters and snowy mountains were not enough, Chabad of Lake Tahoe is now running prayer services, Shabbat meals, and a homecooked delivery service called The Kosher Tahoe. More than 70% of the homes around Chabad of Lake Tahoe are available for short term rent. The permanent population of Lake Tahoe is estimated at 67,000 but the area enjoys 3 million annual visitors and many travelers are Jewish. The new Chabad

House just experienced their first Pesach and the room was packed with more than 60 people who attended the Seder. Rabbi Mordy Richler, a native Californian, explained the unique experience of a mountain Seder. “When we came to the plagues we could hear the local frogs so loudly that the drama of the plagues was alive,” he said. Rabbi Richler’s Australian wife, Shaina sums up the Jewish lifestyle in Lake Tahoe in one easy phrase, “Healthy body, healthy soul.” The area is a showpiece of flowing streams, pristine air, varied wildlife and the clear blue waters of the Lake. It is this wilderness that helps many people find perspective. And more than that. The

Richler’s were overwhelmed to have two brown bears walking down their street at Chanukah. They lit the menorah with a view of the bears outside the window. The drive to Lake Tahoe from LA is 7

hours, by air it is only an hour. Jewish families from southern California can now put Lake Tahoe on the summer vacation list. With endless original activities in the area, there is plenty of fun for all ages. With kosher food to feast on, you can try the hike

to the tea house on Fannette Island, hit golf balls in the water at Edgewood and then snorkel to retrieve them, Picnic while you watch the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival productions at Sand Harbor and Jet Ski on the Lake. “This is a beautiful place,” Rabbi Mordey Richler said of the Lake Tahoe region. “Everybody is very positive, happy, and open to learning as well. There’s no better place to learn about and discover Judaism.” Plans are in the works for Shavuot activities but with the mountains and flowers all around, there isn’t much decoration that will be needed. For more information check out www. jewishtahoe.com


riages in our communities. The Seminar seeks to address two pivotal questions -what is causing this sudden epidemic, and more significantly, what can be done about it? In other words, how can we ensure that our marriages are as good as they can be? Regrettably, there isn’t one “cause” for the breakdown in relationships, and many of

the reasons are deeply rooted and not easily changed. Traits such as self-centeredness, unrealistic expectations, and a lack of maturity and self-control aren’t things that are quickly changed. Nevertheless, attitudes can be altered, and with focused work many challenging marriages can be greatly improved. The Marriage Seminar

was produced by Rabbi Shafier to address these realities and remedy the issues that they sprout. Some of the hosts of The Shmuz include Shaarey Zedek, Anshe Emes, Bait Aaron Outreach Centere and the Yachad Kollel.

The Jewish Home Interview with AJ Stern TJH: Can you please introduce yourselves and your role in planning the Celebrate Israel Festival on Lag BaOmer May 18, 2014 at Rancho Park? AJ Stern: First, we want to greatly thank you for providing us the opportunity to discuss the Celebrate Israel Festival organized by the Israeli American Council (IAC). I act as Chief Volunteer Advisor and Consultant for Celebrate Israel. With me are Sagi Balasha, IAC CEO; Naty Saidoff, Celebrate Israel Chairman and IAC Board member; and Adee Drory, Director of Celebrate Israel. TJH: Can you briefly describe the main goals of the Israeli American Council (IAC) and how it relates to the Celebrate Israel Festival? AJ Stern: The IAC’s mission is to build an active and giving Israeli-American community throughout the United States in order to strengthen the State of Israel, our next generation, and to provide a bridge to the Jewish-American community. Consistent with these goals, the Celebrate Israel Festival provides the Greater Los Angeles Jewish community an opportunity to come together as “Am Echad Lev Echad - One Nation One Heart” to demonstrate strong support and solidarity for Israel irrespective of individuals religious or political beliefs. TJH: AJ, as an orthodox Jew, what attracted you to volunteer for the Celebrate Israel Festival? AJ Stern: In addition to personally identifying with the goals of the festival, I

really appreciated the sincere efforts made by the IAC to create a festival that is not only welcoming to the entire Jewish community, including the orthodox, but a festival that everyone will greatly enjoy. TJH: What has the IAC done this year to help ensure that the festival is geared towards the entire community? AJ Stern: From the beginning, our mentality has not been that this is an IAC event. Rather, this is a community-wide event. To that point, Naty hosted an event at his home around the High Holidays to gather input from various Jewish institutions. Over 100 different organizations attended from across all spectrums of the Los Angeles Jewish community. During the evening, people had the opportunity to provide input, suggestions and constructive criticism with the goal of making this year’s festival an even greater success. Since that event, the IAC has held subsequent events and has been in contact with each organization via email and phone encouraging them to actively participate in planning the event and/or promoting the event. In addition, Naty and I have had numerous private meetings with community leaders such as Rabbi Baruch Sufrin, Head of Harkam Hillel Hebrew Academy; Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn, Rav and Dean of Yavneh; Rabbi Steven Weil, Executive Vice President of the OU; Rabbi Effie Goldberg, Executive Director at NCSY and JSU for the Los Angeles area; Rabbi Shlomo Cunin, Chabad and many others to seek their

guidance. TJH: What are some suggestions provided by outside organizations that the IAC incorporated into this year’s festival? Can you please provide an example of an orthodox institution helping plan the festival? AJ Stern: Given numerous comments relating to the cost last year, we have decided to lower the ticket price to $5 each online for both adults and children (door price will be $10). Likewise, we added an Instagram exhibit where attendees can see

the winners that took part of our national Tour of Israel Instagram competition. #celebrateisraelfestival and #insta_global are the hashtags to have your photos submitted. In coordination with Tamid USC, Israel’s Start Up competition winners will be showcasing their latest innovation and ideas at the festival. Everyone agreed to make this year’s festival fully glatt kosher with each vendor under the hashgacha of either the RCC

or Kehilla. With the great help of Rabbi Sufrin and the entire Hillel team, we were able to achieve this goal. In addition, the Hillel choir will perform on the main stage and participated in the mini Israel exhibit along with other organizations. TJH: What is this year’s theme? AJ Stern: The theme is Tour of Israel. Attendees will have the opportunity to visit various areas of Israel such as the sandy beaches of Tel Aviv, the Kotel in Jerusalem, camel rides in the Negev, Kibbutz in the Kinneret and much more. Notes left in our Kotel will be delivered to the Holy Land by the Jerusalem Foundationdelivered to Israel by the Jerusalem Foundation. In addition, Rothchild Street artist pavilion will showcase local Jewish and Israeli artists with their creative jewelry, crafts, gifts and home décor. TJH: What other activities are there for kids and teens? AJ Stern: For teenagers, we’ve built a giant Israeli army obstacle course as well as rock climbing, bungee jumping and other amazing activities. For kids, we have amusement park rides, petting zoo, balloons, face painting, glitter tattoos, arts and crafts projects and so much more. There will be a special fly over on the main stage during the official ceremony. TJH: Thank you for participating in the interview and I wish you much success with the Celebrate Israel festival. AJ Stern: Thank you and we hope to see you and everyone else at the park on Lag Baomer May 18!

Consul General of Israel Bestows Honor of Righteous Among Nations “Because of Emilia Krutova’s unimaginable bravery, for twelve Jewish souls, the question of annihilation or liberation was answered with freedom.” - Consul General David Siegel To grant title to those who helped Jews during the darkest time in their history, Israel’s Remembrance Authority established the Righteous Among the Nations. To this end, Yad Vashem set up a public Commission, headed by a Supreme Court Justice, which examines each case and is responsible for granting the title. Those recognized receive a medal and a certificate of honor and their names are commemorated on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem.

For the first time in five years, the recognition was bestowed upon a local hero on Monday to coincide with Holocaust Remembrance Day. Emila Krutova, a naturalized American citizen from Slovakia, found herself trapped by the war during a visit back home to her village of Bresova. She was a young widow, with two small children and an elderly father living in a two room cottage. During the middle of the war, at the

peak of the Holocaust, she opened her home to 12 Jews and hid them in her upstairs bedroom for the duration of the war. If anyone entered the room downstairs where she and her family were living, she would tap the ceiling and they would climb into an abandoned adjoining attic. Emilia cared for and fed the 12 Jewish she was protecting - would shop three times a day for food in different places so as not to raise suspicion as to why a small family would need to buy so much. If discovered, Emilia, her entire family, and the Jews she was hiding would be shot on sight. As a young boy, Emila’s son Edward

remembers the Jewish families his mother took in. He remembers the great lifelong friendship his older sister developed with one of the survivors who still lives in Israel. Consul General of Israel, David Siegel bestowed the honor of Yad Vashem’s title of Righteous Among Nations to Emila Krutova and said, “because of Emilia Krutova’s unimaginable bravery, for twelve Jewish souls, the question of annihilation or liberation was answered with freedom.” Edward Kruto, Emilia Krutova’s accepted the honor of Righteous Among Nations on behalf of his mother, Emila Kruto.

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On May 8th-18th, the LA community will have the privilege once again to host Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier and “The Shmuz” as the next stop of his ongoing “Marriage Seminar Tour”. The Marriage Seminar, is Rabbi Shafier’s response to the reality of the unfortunate spread of divorce and troubled mar-


The “Marriage Seminar West” comes to LA



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A /C





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Dan Reisinger; Unusual Artist of Bold Whimsy By Ruth Judah

Dan Reisinger is one of the most prolific and creative Israeli artists living today. Now 75, Reisinger explains his life’s inspiration as a metaphor in three split colors: yellow for the yellow star, red for the Soviet Army, which liberated him from the darkest time of his life, and blue for the Israeli sky. His work is also split; sharp, but whimsical and The Skirball Museum has a free exhibition now running until May 11th. The exhibition showcases the bold colors of the art of Dan Reisinger alongside the bold statements of his work. While the kids will have fun at Noah’s Ark, it is easy to view the posters and pictures in the exhibition, To The Point. Reisinger has enjoyed a prolific career in many art forms. His bright and defiant posters supporting Russian Jews are as energizing as his El Al posters encouraging tourism. He has designed buildings, books, Haggadah’s, calendars and postage stamps alongside a body of work that includes poignant fine art. The Skirball exhibition focuses on the Reisinger posters that provided commentary to the social and political dilemmas facing Jews in the late 60’s to the 90’s. The show also presents Reisinger images

that document the changing architectural landscape of modern Tel Aviv. There is no surprise in learning the reason for Reisinger’s colorful statements about world events. At the start of the Second World War, Reisinger was successfully hidden by a Serbian family and after the war, his mother and stepfather

took him to Israel; the rest of his family had perished in the Holocaust. They had lost everything and everyone, but Reisinger kept a connection to art and in 1954 he served in the Israeli Air Force, as head of the Publications division. The work suited him perfectly and he developed a skill with imagery by studying postage stamp design with a man who would be his mentor and longtime friend, the prestigious British designer, Abram Games. It was in the 70’s that Reisinger was commissioned to design a new logo for El Al. “I wanted to bring something fresh, something new, something more cheerful to compensate for the dark years I went through,” he explained. He also took on the position of poster designer for the Maccabiah Games, a position he held until 2001. You will see his work at the Yad Vashem memorial museum in Israel and although Yugoslavian, the Hungarian government supported a successful one man show in Budapest for Reisinger’s 70th birthday. In 2010 Reisinger had an exhibition in London and elaborated on his artistic voice and his desire to bring color to public spaces. He said of his art, “I am fed up with the political grayness and the political stagna-

tion, and all the news full with negativity. We need so much optimism in (Israel). I want to do something which makes people smile.” Today you can purchase a Vintage poster of Dan Reisinger’s art can on eBay for $100. It’s probably a solid investment in values and hope. It will also make you smile.

The Changing Role of Jewish Civic Engagement in LA By Alisa Roberts

“We’re here to answer the following question,” said Daniel Gryczman, chairperson of the Federation’s Community Engagement Strategic Initiative. “How can Jews in Los Angeles continue our community’s legacy of civic engagement, and how is our community’s role changing?” He was introducing the panel discussion held recently at University Synagogue and hosted by The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. The evening’s topic was the changing civic and political role of the Jewish community of Los Angeles, and the panel included Bob Blumenfield, Third District Councilmember; Richard Bloom, Assembly member for District 50; and Ana Guerrero, Chief of Staff for Mayor Eric Garcetti.

The discussion was moderated by Dr. Raphael Sonenshein, Executive Director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles. “The roots of the Jewish community,” he said in his opening remarks, “were on the east side of Los Angeles, and then eventually the mid-city area, and then

the west side and the San Fernando Valley. The Jewish community is always in motion, and so is its relationship to politics.” Panelists answered questions about how they became politicians, how extensive they felt anti-Semitism is today, and what causes they would like to see prioritized by Jews who want to become involved. While each panelist had come into politics in a different way and had different experiences during their time in public office, there was one question they all answered similarly. When asked whether they thought it really mattered if there are Jews in public office, the panelists – not surprisingly – were unanimous: Yes, it matters. Blumenfield expressed a balanced view, “I think it does matter; at the same time, it’s not the be all and end all…it’s more about having an active Jewish community involved in the issues you care about, engaging with public officials – whether they’re Jewish or not.” He went on to emphasize that while Jews holding office may not be essential, Jews will be

more passionate than other about Jewish issues. Bloom agreed strongly with this. He spoke about having our own issues as Jews, and how we can present a personal context. “I think it’s extremely important,” he said. “We’re part of the quilt of diversity… we need to be represented.” Guerrero was the most emphatic, “I think one of the reasons that Los Angeles is one of the most progressive cities in the country, and maybe the world, is because of the impact of Jewish leaders.” She went on to emphasize the commitment Jews have to social justice issues, and closed with the idea that we should be identifying and supporting the election and functioning of the next Jewish elected leaders.




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Pittsburgh Chassidus

The Holy Dynasty from Nadvorna - Czernowitz - Newark - Pittsburgh - Ashdod The Trailblazer of Ashdod The present Pittsburgher Rebbe, Rav Mordechai Leifer, shlita, has helped lead the Pittsburgher dynasty since 1981, when he moved to Israel and found Pittsburgh chassidus’s yeshiva in Ashdod. When his father passed away in 1990, the current Rebbe, who is his only son, succeeded him. Under his leadership, Pittsburgh institutions have expanded and flourished. The community has continually grown and now includes a full educational system from kindergarten to kollel. The present Rebbe has continued the kiruv for which the chassidus was known in the US. The Rebbe meets with hundreds of non-religious Jews each week, and is bringing many of them closer to Yiddishkeit, Shabbos, tefillin, and family purity. Pittsburgh chassidus were the trailblazers in Ashdod before other chassidic groups moved in and turned the city into the third largest chassidic community in Eretz Yisroel. The Pittsburgher Institution is still a trailblazer in the way it serves all segments of the community. The Rebbe joins the students during their learning sessions, delivers shiurim, supervises the development of every student and personally encourages them. The yeshiva has a special program which chal-

lenges the students to memorize and be tested on hundreds of pages of Gemara by heart. Those who rise to the challenge are crowned with the honorary title of “Moreinu” and “Chaver.” The combined Pittsburgher Institutions constitute a fortress of Torah and chassidus which benefits the entire religious community in Ashdod. In addition to the many families of Pittsburgher chassidim, the Rebbe’s tishen attract many chassidim whose Rebbe’s do not reside in Ashdod but who still want to be elevated by a warm and inspiring tish on Shabbos and Yom Tov. Many traditional Jews, immigrants and even secular Jews are attracted to the tishen where they get a powerful dose of Yiddishkeit. The Rebbe’s door is open daily until the small hours of the morning for religious and non-religious who are in need of advice and guidance. Pittsburgh is today a large and influential chassidus with many followers and admirers. History The previous Rebbe, Rav Avrohom Abba zt”l, was the son of the first Pittsburgher Rebbe, Reb Yosef zt”l the Tzidkas Yosef Reb Yosef, a direct descendent of the Nadvorna dynasty, who moved in 1926 from Hungary to Pittsburgh. Rav Yosef re-

mained an Eastern European-style rebbe who quietly served his Creator while soaring to lofty levels of holiness. When his sons reached yeshiva age, he sent them back to study in Europe. Of his three sons who were in Europe when World War II erupted, two perished during the war. Reb Avrohom Abba, the son who was the lone survivor, settled in Czernowitz, Romania and married the daughter of the Nadvorna Rebbe, Reb Isomor zt”l. They emigrated to America shortly after the war. He built and led a large shul and community center in Newark, New Jersey. He preferred to direct his efforts to imbue secular American Jews with Yiddishkeit, and turn around their lives with his warmth and love of fellow Jews. Under his direction, many Jews chose Torah education for their children, and the following generations owe their Judaism to the “Czernowitzer Rebbe” as he was called in Newark. After his father’s passing in 1966, Rav Abba moved to Pittsburgh and was known ever since as the Pittsburgher Rebbe. His great love for the Land of Israel motivated Rav Abba to open a Kollel in Jerusalem in the name of his late father. However, his sense of mission did not let him leave Pittsburgh until he felt the time

was right which happened several years later. Many were surprised that he chose to settle in the port town of Ashdod, a secular town. Rav Abba, however, saw this as a continuation of his efforts to spread Judaism. He decided that this town would be his personal challenge. By means of love and warmth, he drew more and more secular Jews to Judaism. On Shabbos, he would go from shul to shul and convince religious Jews to wear their talleisim openly in the streets so the presence of Shabbos and Judaism would be felt. He would gather children attending public schools and organize activities for them to introduce them to the beauty of Torah. Reb Avrohom Abba’s fame started to spread far and wide and many flocked to him to seek his guidance and blessings. He was renown as a miracle worker who especially helped those who were childless. This modest tzadik, who throughout his life had tried to hide his greatness, became a famous rebbe. In 1990, Reb Avrohom Abba passed away, and his son, Reb Mordechai, assumed his position and continues to lead the chassidus and the wide-scale kiruv.

We are very pleased to announce that the ADMo”R

MAY 1, 2014

HaRav HaTzaddik


Pittsburgher Rebbe


of Israel

will be visiting the Los Angeles community from

May 8 - 27 The Rebbe Shlit”a will personally accept visitors who are interested in a private consultation, and to receive his blessing and advice (English/Hebrew/Yiddish) in the Pico-Robertson, Fairfax, Valley Village, Encino, Tarzana & Woodland Hills neighborhoods.

For an appointment and more information, call:

323-920-5502 347-989-6821 or mail to: pittsburgh1@neto.bezeqint.net

Friends of the Pittsburgh Institutions 411 N. Citrus Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90036


‫ב‬ ‫א‬ ‫ק‬ ‫י‬ ‫ל‬ ‫ד‬ ‫ע‬ ‫צ‬ ‫י‬ ‫ר‬



MAY 1, 2014


40th Anniversary of the Mitzvah Tank By Ruth Judah

On Thursday, April 10th, Yud Aleph Nissan, the boys and girls of Cheder Menachem and Bais Chaya Mushka in Los Angeles, gathered together for a very special Pre Pesach Rally, honoring the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s 112th birthday. For forty years, the Mitzvah tanks have been gathering on the Rebbe’s birthday and driving through city streets reminding Jews to do mitzvot, lay tefillin and enjoy the Passover holiday.

The children at the rally were connected via live video to rallies worldwide, including Melbourne, Montreal, Miami, Golders Green, London and Crown Heights. Rabbi Shalom Duchman, international director of Kollel Chabad was one of the original creators of the mitzvah trucks in 1974 and his brother, Rabbi Duchman arranged this year’s event. Rabbi Duchman was proud to see this year’s event run smoothly and with plenty of enthusiasm. The Rebbe believed that the Mitzvah trucks would bring Jewish people closer to

their heritage. Citing Maimonides, the Rebbe repeated time and again: a single person performing a single mitzvah, could be the deed that tips the scales and brings redemption to the entire world and all of creation. At the gathering, the boys of the Cheder cheered wildly when their school’s name was called out as the winner of the “highest lines of Tanya bal peh” learned. The event continued with pesukim recited by the boys, in another program run by Rabbi Duchman, who also leads the Rebbe’s Diamond Daveners Children’s Minyan. In honor of the 40th anniversary of Mitzvah Tanks, Shabi Soffer created an exclusive and memorable video that documents the history of the Mitzvah tank. The video can be viewed at: https://vimeo.com/91872811 The Mitzvah Trucks have been hard at work for many years. The shape of the standard vans or u-haul trucks has modernized but the message hasn’t needed to change: the vans are a place to come and do mitzvot and to receive the tools to let you take mitzvot home with you. The logos are the same as they were in the early days, “Mitzvot On The Spot, For People On The Go.” “Bringing Light And kindness To Young And Old.” The crowd moved outside to a noisy celebration as the 12 Mitzvah Tanks drove off through the streets of Hollywood, spreading Passover awareness. Many of the Cheder boys were thrilled to be onboard. The L.A.P.D. kindly lent their support which made the parade possible. The mitzvah tanks were then dispersed to UCLA, SMC, Beverly Hills Public Schools, Downtown Los Angeles, Hancock Park, The Grove, and other high schools citywide. The boys distributed over 3,000 hand baked Matzohs, guides, kid’s magazines and other mivtzoim materials. The next event has now been confirmed as the Great Lag BaOmer Parade on Sunday, May 18th and the streets of Pico and Doheny will be closed for a morning of celebration. Rabbi Duchman has hinted that plans are in the works for floats, marching bands and other festivities. The L.A. Mitzvah Tank office would like

to thank Kol Yakov Yehuda, Cheder Menachem, Unzere Kinder foundation, Congregation Levi Yitzchak, Kol Avrohom-Bais Bezalel, Chabad Persian Youth, the devoted drivers, the bochurim, and our Tankistim who

all helped and participated in the beautiful community wide present to the Rebbe. Also, a special thanks to Los Angeles Askan Rabbi Yankee Raichick for arranging the permits and police escort.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles Takes Leading Role In Repairing 600 Gravesites, Increasing Security at Mt. Zion Cemetery The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and the Friends of Mount Zion Cemetery are embarking on the next phase of a project that will culminate this summer with nearly 600 gravesites being repaired at Mt. Zion Cemetery in East Los Angeles. Funding for the work was provided by the Federation as well as by Friends of Mount Zion Cemetery, an organization formed by Rabbi Moshe Greenwald, with significant donations by individual community members. “We have been allocating money for the upkeep of Mt. Zion for many years,” said Jay Sanderson, President & CEO of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. “With thoughtful consideration of the need, and

with serious community support and involvement, including the leadership of Rabbi Moshe Greenwald and our partnership with Friends of Mount Zion Cemetery, we have been substantially addressing the poor conditions of the cemetery and will continue to do so. While our Federation’s mission is to build community and ensure a strong Jewish future, we have taken on the role of accelerating the repairs and restoring the grounds out of respect to the deceased.” The current repairs spearheaded by the Federation include re-setting of headstones, concrete work and general grounds mainte-

nance. The initial step was the installation of a new security fence to shore up parts of the property in order to prevent vandalism, which has been an ongoing issue at the cemetery. Thus, far 400 headstones have already been re-set. When the next phase is completed, the total will be just under 600. “There’s still much more work to be done, and we need our community to step up in providing the additional funds required to continue the pace of the significant progress we have made to date,” said Sanderson. Over the past decade, The Jewish Feder-

ation has allocated nearly $25,000 per year to the upkeep of Mt. Zion. However, the funds haven’t been able to keep up with the damage created by vandals, earthquakes and neglect of the grounds. As part of the current effort, an engineering firm was hired to create a schematic of the entire grounds and individual burial sites in order to effectively map out the work to be done and prioritize the individual sites that needed the greatest amount of repair. To contribute funds to the unmet repair needs of Mt. Zion, contact the Federation or visit www.restoremtzion.com.


By Chaim Gold my chashivus for Torah transformed. Rav Aharon’s own chashivus for Torah transmitted the Torah’s sweetness”. Targeted Roundtable Discussions Chaired by Expert Rabbanim An important innovation at the Acheinu Kiruv Conference was the thirty concurrent roundtable discussions on issues mechanchim and mekarvim face today, consisting of rabbinic authorities and kiruv professionals. Roundtable disucssions dealt with bochurim who have been orphaned of a parent, or transition from a baal teshuvah yeshiva to a mainstream yeshiva , or yeshiva ketana to yeshiva gedolah. Among the mechanchim and rabbinic leaders were HaGeonim Rav Chizkiyahu Yosef Mishkofsky, shlita, of Yeshiva Orchos Torah, talmid muvhak of Rav Aharon Leib Shtei-

Senior Ponovezh Rosh Yeshiva, HaGaon HaRav Gershon Edelstein added the importance of davening with fervor in birchas haTorah when saying: “Please sweeten the words of Torah in our mouths and our children’s mouths.” The Critical Ingredient: Loving A Talmid Like A Son One of the conference highlights was the keynote session in the presence of the senior Sephardic gadol, HaGaon HaRav Shalom Cohen, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Porat Yosef, newly appointed successor to HaGaon HaRav Ovadiah Yosef, zt”l, as Shas’s Nasi of the Moetzet Chachmei HaTorah. Rav Cohen, who has expressed his admiration for Acheinu’s activities in the Sephardic and Ashkenazi communities, spoke about the imperative of a Rebbi and

comes after investing great effort into learning. Without ameilus, it is virtually impossible to achieve mesikus haTorah. To inculcate mesikus haTorah one must himself toil in Torah. One must himself possess mesikus HaTorah and Ahavas HaTorah to impart these.” A Dream Come True A moving siyum haShas by alumni to mark Acheinu’s 20th anniversary was a dream come true for Rav Hofstedter. “The greatest nachas,” he remarked more than once,”is to see alumni so attached to Torah that they complete entire masechtot and take Dirshu tests!” Acheinu’s Executive Director, Rabbi Shlomo Fisherowitz remarked, “It was moving to see so many at the tables with Rebbeim and Avreichem representing the cross-section of Jewry, all working to bring today’s youth closer to Hashem. It is a zechut to be part of a movement whose transforming kiruv produces bnei Torah!” Acheinu’s Yeshiva L’Tze’irim “Yom Shekulo Torah” for Parents and Students Acheinu’s Yeshiva L’Tze’irim in Modiin Illit has put countless young men on the path to greatness. Its recent “Yom Shekulo Torah”, where parents learn with their sons, opened with a siyum on Masechet Megilah by the talmidim. HaGaon HaRav Shlomo Amar, former Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, addressed them, “The true bond between father and son is forged through learning Torah together.” Fathers learning with their sons gained a newfound appreciation for the budding talmidei chachamim. Rav Zev Hofstedter, Rosh HaYeshiva, said “Parents were amazed to see their son’s progress in midos and Torah.”

sweetness. Aside from Rav Hirsch’s inspiring keynote session, the Conference, was addressed by HaGaon HaRav Shalom Cohen, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Porat Yosef and Nasi of Shas’s Moetzet Chachmei HaTorah as well as the Nasi of Dirshu and founder of Acheinu, Rav Dovid Hofstedter, shlita. “His Eyes Lit Up at the Word Torah!” Rav Hirsch quoted HaGaon HaRav Yitzchok Hutner, who once said that whenever he spoke with Rav Aharon Kotler, he would steer the conversation so that Rav Aharon would say the word “Torah” “His eyes would light up! It was clear he was talking about the greatest treasure! I would feel my love of Torah increase and

man, shlita, Rav Binyamin Finkel, shlita, Mashgiach in Mir Yerushalayim, Rav Yisroel Gans, senior R’M at Yeshiva Kol Torah and posek of the Mattersdorf neighborhood of Yerushalayim and many others. Pre-Conference Guidance from Gedolei Hador Before the conference, Rav Dovid Hofstedter and senior Acheinu members visited gedolei hador who offered enthusiasm and advice. HaGaon HaRav Shteinman said, “The more one learns Torah, the sweeter it becomes. Those involved in kiruv should teach as much Torah as possible.” HaGaon HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, smilingly seemed to almost not understand the question! “All you must do is open a sefer and learn to see how sweet it is!”

mentor creating a bond with each talmid. “A talmid who feels his Rebbi or mentor loves him like a father will accept guidance. That is how Torah and yiras shamayim is transmitted.” “The Gemara says the world exists in the merit of the Torah of children. We must ensure that the world continues to exist because of our children’s Torah. The only way they will learn properly is if they feel their Rebbi truly cares about them. Everyone who teaches Torah must do so in a way that his talmidim can learn from example, thereby sustaining the world.” “The Rebbi Himself Must Possess Mesikus Hatorah And Ahavas Hatorah” Acheinu’s founder, Rav Dovid Hofstedter, noted that the sweetness of Torah

HaGaon HaRav Asher Arielli, Shlita Tests Acheinu Yeshiva Talmidim Students of the Acheinu Yeshiva Hakedosha in Yerushalayim for baalei teshuvah with no learning background recently completed the entire Masechet Bava Metzia! The Gaon, HaRav Asher Arielli, senior R”M at Yeshivat Mir came to test them and impart appreciation of their accomplishment’s magnitude, “Talmidim who began learning a year or two ago, speak in learning as those who learned all their lives. One sees how happy they are, how much they love Torah and Hashem!” Rabbi Ariel Elbaz, a R”M at the yeshiva said, “We stay with each bachur, tapping into his strengths. That is how, with great siyatta d’Shmaya, they completed the entire masechta!”

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Mesikus haTorah! How does one taste the sweetness of Torah learning? “Mesikus haTorah cannot be transmitted without understanding importance of Torah. One develops a taste for the Torah’s sweetness when he understands its importance,” said HaGaon HaRav Moshe Hillel Hirsch, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Slabodka, a prominent talmid of HaGaon HaRav Aharon Kotler, addressing the Acheinu Kiruv Annual Conference in Yerushalayim on April 1. “The primary vehicle for this is personal example. Seeing how important Torah is to one’s Rebbe, the talmid recognizes its sweetness.” Hundreds of Roshei Yeshiva, Rabbanim, and Kiruv activists participated in the conference focusing on kiruv rechokim and kiruv kerovim and cultivating that


ACHEINU KIRUV CONFERENCE INSPIRES MESIKUS HATORAH Hagaon Harav Moshe Hillel Hirsch, Shlita, and Hagaon Harav Shalom Cohen, Shlita Address Keynote Session

Sol Teichman’s Visit to Emek Middle School on Yom Hashoah


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On Monday, April 28th, Emek middle school boys and girls had the merit of receiving a visit from Emek patriarch and Holocaust survivor, Sol Teichman. Rabbi Shifman, Head of School, expressed his gratitude to Mr. Teichman for recounting his story “from his glory days living in the shtetl to his experiences in the Holocaust, and then his rise again upon his arrival to America.” Mr. Teichman retold his story of growing up in Munkacz with his extended family and having everything ripped away by the Nazis; he recounted his experiences in Auschwitz and the terrible march he endured under horrific conditions. Mr. Teichman described how weighing only 60 pounds, he carried his brother on his back for days, driven only by his unshakable will to live. He told the stu-

dents of his unwavering faith in Hashem, not questioning His reasons for the atrocities the Jews had to endure. “Not for one minute, to this day, did I lose my faith in Hashem,” he declared, even after losing eighty members of his immediate and extended family. Mr. Teichman pointed out that for twenty years after the Holocaust he tried to forget all of the details in order to be able to function in his “new life”. Now, however, he realizes that remembering and retelling his story is what will prevent such an atrocity from ever happening again. His lesson to the children was to “be nice to one another and to never forget”. We are so grateful to have had the opportunity to listen to Mr. Teichman’s story and we are blessed to have him as one of Emek’s founders and primary supporters.

Who is Moshiach? By Rabbi Sholom Kesselman

Moshiach is a human being of flesh and blood. He is not an angel nor is he a figurative spiritual concept. He is an actual person, born from a father and mother who will bring about the greatest global revolution that ever was or will be. He will transform the world from its current violent and unholy state into a peaceful and G-dly place. But just who exactly is this person and how will he succeed in this almost impossible mission? Let’s take a look at the Rambam’s description of Moshiach. (MIshne Torah, sefer shoftim, hilchos melachim, ch. 11): “A king will arise from the House of David who diligently contemplates the Torah and observes its mitzvot as prescribed by the Written Law and the Oral Law as David his ancestor. He will compel all of Israel to walk in (the way of the Torah) and rectify the breaches in its observance, and fight the wars of God… He will build the Temple in its place and gather the dispersed of Israel…. He will then improve the entire world, motivating all the nations to serve God together, as Tzephaniah 3:9 states: ‘I will transform the peoples to a purer language that they all will call upon the name of God and serve Him with one purpose.” (And in sefer mada, hilchos teshuva ch.9): “… The king who will arise from David’s descendants will be a greater master of knowledge than Solomon and a great prophet, close to the level of Moses, our teacher. Therefore, he will teach the entire nation and instruct them in the path of God. All the gentile nations will come to hear him as [Isaiah 2:2] states: “And it shall come to pass in the last days that the mountain of God’s house shall be established at the peak of the mountains... [and all the nations shall flow to it].” The picture that the Rambam paints is that of spiritual giant who is also a political genius. Jewish history has provided many

great leaders. Some were great political leaders and others spiritual giants. Moshiach’s greatness is the fact that he will absolutely excel in both fields. As a political leader, he will succeed in fighting the wars of G-d, gathering all the Jews back to Israel, rebuilding the temple, compel all Jews to walk in the way of G-d and motivate the entire world to serve the one true G-d. As a spiritual giant, he will be wiser than Solomon, will posses prophecy on a level close to Moses, will teach the entire nation Torah – including all of the greatest rabbi’s that ever lived and himself diligently learn Torah and observe its Mitzvot. Any one of these feats alone would be noteworthy, but the combination of all these qualities together in one man is a staggering accomplishment. The redemption will be both a political revolution as well as a spiritual one. The two cannot be separated from each other. Simply returning to the land of Israel and creating our own sovereign state is not redemption. All Jews experiencing a spiritual awakening and returning to the ways of the Torah is also not redemption. It is only when the two come together in perfect harmony that we can consider it the redemption. It must involve the Jews returning to the land of Israel and creating a sovereign state with this itself being totally infused with a spiritual and G-dly revolution of not just all Jews but of the entire world. The one to bring about this double revolution will therefore be the absolute master of both fields. He will be called a king as in a political leader and also a Rav as in a Rabbi and teacher. Although redemption involves both of these aspects, the purpose of it all is ultimately the spiritual revolution. Moshiach is really about the elevation the world and all people in it to its highest possible G-dly state. The political aspect is just a means toward achieving this end. So once Moshiach has achieved his political goals, he will turn his attention completely to the teaching of Torah and the ways of G-d, filling the world with G-dly awareness and knowledge as the ocean covers the sea bed. He will teach the deep esoteric secrets of the Torah to all.

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And the Count Begins… By Mr. Joe Bobker


uring the long centuries when Jews were scattered from the Holy Land, they still related, like absentee landlords and homesick relatives, to the seasons in Israel rather than to the seasons in the countries in which they lived. How did this longing gain such a powerful pull? Because our Sages infused the three main seasons with Jewish holidays: Pesach with spring, Shavuos with summer, Succos with autumn. This consolidated both the mystic (“the air of Eretz Yisrael makes wise”) and the historic (“let My people go!”) links between the people of Israel and the Land of Israel, so poignantly described by Holocaust survivor and author Yaffa Eliach: “The first day of spring in Palestine was when the almond trees were beginning to blossom, yet in [my Polish shtetl of] Eishyshok it was the very heart of winter. Nonetheless, the shtetl managed to believe in the reality of the Jewish calendar, not the reality before their eyes. During one Tu B’Shvat,

when a snowstorm was raging outside, the boys in cheder celebrated springtime. For the moment, they were living in a different climate zone from the one outside the cheder windows, a land of figs, dates, and carob, not that wintry landscape where large, swaddled creatures struggled against snow and ice and blustering winds” This potent tool of memory recognizes Judaism as a religion of “sacred times,” one that infuses into the Jewish calendar not just festival days off work but opportunities to honor Time itself within the context of “spiritual” harvests. Thus even before we settle into the pleasures of Pesach, we are directed, in a brief and enigmatic Torah command (“Seven weeks shall you count…and you shall keep the Feast of Weeks”) to start “counting” (in a language which is understood) towards the next festival: Shavuos. This “countup” is sanctified with a nightly blessing said immediately after ma’ariv, starting from the second night of Pesach (or first night if in Israel), and continuing for seven weeks.

This period, which coincides with Israel’s first spring wheat-growing season when the cold, torrential rainy season ends and the more temperate, growing season begins, is known as s’firas ha’omer, literally “counting the omer,” a reference to the omer haTenufah, “a new meal offering,” which each Jew was obligated to bring to the Temple in Jerusalem. The term is derived from us’far’tem lachem, “you shall count for yourselves.” Immediately after the first day of Pesach, the Beis Din Gadol would go out into a pre-Pesach prepared field and watch three sickle-wielding men cut three “measures” of barley (se’ahs) which were then brought to the Temple where only one tenth (an “omer”) was needed for the offering. It was then “waved” in a ceremony (kemitzah) and burned, with the remainder going to the kohen. It was important to harvest these fresh crops in fields as close as possible to Jerusalem for two reasons: a Torah concept known as ain ma’avirin al ha’mitzvos, wherein a mitzvah should be done sooner rather than later (thus the distances were kept short); and,

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EW S HH OH M OM M AY 2014 T HT EH EJ EJW I SI H E En nM AY 2 41, ,2012

Bobker on Sefira




73 99 more pragmatically, the Jews were not allowed to eat from their new spring grain nor from a fruit picked from less than three-year-old trees, known as orlah, which means “closed, sealed,” until the Temple priesthood received their portion. And so there was a desire (of hunger) to “rush” this mitzvah, in that the quicker the pilgrim-journey was made, the quicker their harvests would be “released” back to their families. That is why, of the three “pilgrimage” festivals (aliyah le-regel), Shavuos was the most popular. Since Jewish law allowed this trek (aliya) to Jerusalem, or Shilo before the construction of the Temple in the time of the Judges, to be taken anytime between Shavuos (the beginning of summer) and Sukkos (summer’s end), the anxious Jews chose the earliest allowable date (Shavuos) to finalize their omer obligations. They were well aware of the Talmudic truism, when food is lacking in the pantry, quarrel knocks on the door; put more bluntly by R’ Nahman ben Jacob: “Miracles are one thing – but they rarely provide food!” This explains the incredible gaiety surrounding this mitzvah; pilgrims, accompanied by flute musicians, arrived at the gates of Jerusalem with oxen whose horns were covered with gold and olive leaf wreaths. They were met by appreciative kohanim and singing Levites who guided them to the Temple where, with further fanfare, they placed their baskets of choice fruits at the foot of the altar and recited a double thanksgiving prayer to God: for Israel’s redemption from slavery and for the bounty of the promised land. (Remember: s’firas ha’omer has not always been a semi-melancholy, low-key mourning period. Although prevalent today, this is nowhere to be found in the Torah. The mourning wardrobe made its debut sometime in the eighth century, and even then it was so below-the-halachik-radar that when the prolific Rambam codified Jewish law some several hundred years later, he makes not a single reference to any omer lamentations.) Meanwhile, the rabbinate forbade the residents in Jerusalem to charge the pilgrims rent during their stopover. Why? Because the City of Jerusalem was considered a community possession. Are there “laws” of counting? Yes. And they can have their complicated moments. Since the very counting is the essence of the mitzvah, one is not allowed to say to a fellow Jew, “Hey, did

you know that today is the x day of the Omer?” because that is an inadvertent fulfillment of the mitzvah without the accompanying bracha. How then should one advise another what omer day it is? By responding that “yesterday was day x of the

and knew my father would be upset. So when I went to visit some friends in Crown Heights the next day I asked Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, the Lubavitcher Rebbe. I wasn’t nervous because I had an opening. The Rebbe asked me to de-

Omer,” on the assumption that anybody can add a one to “yesterday.” So important is this daily count, that to miss a day deprived Jews of blessings equal to the balance of days. What if one loses or gains a day by flying across international datelines? I remember the first time I flew from Israel to Sydney, Australia, with a Pesach stopover in New York which meant a full day was lost. My father, z”tl, was concerned. Since I was paying a visit to Rabbi David Twersky, the Skverer

liver a small vial of Pesach wine to the shochet in Sydney. And where else to ask about a seven-times-seven formula but at 770? The Admor of Chabad was strict. He told me I had to change my bookings and fly to Australia in the opposite direction, via Europe and Asia. But I had no choice. I already had my return ticket and, being so broke that I couldn’t even pay attention, I flew straight home (Shavuos is kept together with the community one finds one-

Pilgrims, accompanied by flute musicians, arrived at the gates of Jerusalem with oxen whose horns were covered with gold and olive leaf wreaths.

Rebbe in Rockland County, for family reasons, my father told me to ask the Rebbe what I should do about counting s’fira. I confess, I didn’t ask. I was a bochur, and too nervous. I felt guilty

self in regardless of whether the s’fira count was done accurately or not). The obvious paradox is this. Why is it a “count down?” Shouldn’t it be a count up?

The count is a very carefully worded one: instead of saying this is the eighth day, we say, “Today is one week and one day of the omer,” a methodology that the Rambam calls a mitzvas atseh, one that creates a greater anticipation and motivates us to not just count the omer but to make the omer count. But what are we actually counting? Days, weeks? Both, as per R’ Abaye: “It is a mitzvah to count days and it is a mitzvah to count weeks.” Nevertheless, why do we start counting from one to forty-nine and not from fortynine down to zero? I’m not sure. Perhaps by ticking off the days that have passed, we accustom ourselves to appreciate each passing day? Counting is not so easy. It can get confusing. Remember: We do not count (lispor) the “omer” itself but keep track of the days (49) and weeks (7) between two “waves,” the start and completion of the harvest crop. And why does the spiritual spotlight shine on the number “49” when the rabbis of the Talmud had already chosen “48” as the number of ways Torah is acquired? Jewish mystics saw this extra 24 hours akin to the “two steps forward, one step back” philosophy in that one needs an extra day of overall review, a retrospective look-back at a journey of self-improvement. Judaic numerology then “proved” that this countdown was essential for Jewish unity because the number of Hebrew letters in the names of the twelve tribes is…forty nine! And the fiftieth day, Shavuos? This was the day that tied it all together. The number “50” has many mystical overtones: the width of Noah’s boat was 50 cubits; 50 was the number Abraham started with in seeking the “righteous” of Sodom; there were 50 judicial arbiters chosen by Moses; the Tabernacle had 50 hooks, 50 planks of gold, 50 cubits; the Levite service stopped at the fiftieth year; 50 shekels was the value of a 20-60 year old male; and every fiftieth year was the year of Yovel, whose countdown to freedom from slavery and embracing Torah during hak’hel, a “gathering,” expresses the same idea as that of sefiras ha’omer. Here’s a klotz kasher. Why count at all? Isn’t Mother Nature a chronological certainty? Doesn’t a spring harvest always follow a summer one!? I’m not sure. The Torah never explicitly explains why we must count nor the importance of the number “49” but we do know that whenever the Torah uses the term lochem (or lecho) it is always in the context of our own good and benefit: in this case, u’sefartem lochem,


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Babylon and the dayan of Mahuza, insisted on counting days but not weeks, and argued zecher l’Mikdash hu, that the mitzvah to count was no longer

satisfied, bless your G-d for the good land He has given you.”) Remarkably, nothing has changed since then. Even in today’s techno-

obligatory, only commemorative, on the basis of a Talmudic adage known as noheg b’zman haBayit, “operative only in the time of the Mikdash.” But this position fell by the wayside the moment the Rambam declared sefira counting a valid obligation “in full d’Orayta.” R’ Mordechai Rosen, a Modzhitzer chossid, uses a classic example of discovering “hidden” messages by rearranging the three Hebrew letters that immediately precede and follow the word omer to get kales (“praise”) and nefesh (“soul”). This, he suggests,

world of supermarkets, frozen foods, and microwave ovens, at a time when it is hard for us to visualize that our ancestors spent a thousand years focused on farming, Jews still start (washing hands) and end (benching) each meal with similar Thanksgiving blessings and customs. Consider: at the start of the wheat crop there must have been an understandable trepidation amongst our farming ancestors who faced the trauma of starvation as their families ricocheted between feast and famine. The omer period overlapped with this

Even in today’s techno-world of supermarkets, frozen foods, and microwave ovens, Jews still start (washing hands) and end (bensching) each meal with similar Thanksgiving blessings and customs. makes the nature of the sefira bridge one of internal praise for all that the Heavens provided, which is why the “count” is done together as a group, in conscious unison as a nation. This brings us back to the rabbinic determination to maintain a powerful bond of memory to the ancestral soul and soil of Israel. And so the count continued. As does the thanksgiving; a count-me-in campaign akin to a national “Thank You” card to the Heavens. (“When you have eaten and are

agricultural uncertainty; the tension of sudden changes of weather reflected in the Hebrew word chamsin, which describes a hot dry wind but is derived from the Arabic meaning of ‘fifty,’ indicative of how often the dryness burnt the farmer’s stalks of ripening wheat, thus threatening the entire Jewish community’s sustenance. “All hope is lost if you are afraid,” cautioned the Torah, so perhaps counting was a way of harnessing their fears?

The Jews punctuated each day and each week with a blessing that kept one eye on a count that got higher and higher until all Jewish anxieties melted, tensions were relieved, and the ordeal of waiting for the first sight of grain, olives or grapes (the three staple crops recorded in the Torah) was over, leading to the post-offering pungent smells of burnt bread wafting in the early summer air of Jerusalem. Which reminds me of a Yiddish saying: The Heavens rejoice when the Jews rejoice. In this case the Jews rejoiced when the wheat and fruit summer crop of the land fed them. No wonder G-d directed that this anticipatory joy climax with the simcha of Shavuos, a rapturous yom tov replete with costumes, parades, and decorations in both the Temple, where the kohen was obviously happy with his new gifted food baskets, and at home, where the wife and children were obviously happy to see the fruits of their farmer-husband-father finally on the dining room table. And so, on the first Shabbat of the omer, when the dates of the new month of Iyar are announced, it is a minhag to bake the challah in the shape of a house key and sprinkle sesame seeds on it; the “key” is for good luck (sustenance, parnassa, etc.) and the seeds are a reminder that the first signs of life-preservation (manna) occurred in the month of Iyar. Writing about food has made me hungry. And reminds me of the gemara’s common-sense declaration, Im ein kemach, ein Torah, “If there is no flour then there is no Torah.” This helps explain why each simcha seems to be obsessed with…food! Consider: The completion of Torah study is followed by a seudas mitzvah, a “happy meal.” The very first Torah blessing is on food (manna). The only explicit blessing in the entire Torah is related to, yes, food (Birkas HaMazon). Meanwhile R’ Huna, rosh yeshiva of Sura in Babylon, advises aspiring Torah scholars not to live in a town “where you cannot get vegetables!” Joe Bobker, alumnus of Yeshivas HaRav Kook in Jerusalem, is the former publisher and editor-in-chief of the Los Angeles Jewish Times, author of the popular Torah With a Twist of Humor series and the 12-volume Historiography of Orthodox Jews and the Holocaust to be published next summer by Gefen Press, Jerusalem. He can be reached at jbobker@aol.com.

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“count for your own sakes.” What we do know is that these seven weeks must have great significance, otherwise G-d would not have made them the most primary seasonal festival in the Jewish calendar. Some see a psychological reason: after the Pesach pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the Jews had to come back for Shavuos which was not that far away, perhaps tempting them not to make the effort a second time, especially at a busy period of the agricultural year; thus “counting” made them feel less complacent. Meanwhile Torah linguists point out that the word sapar (to count) is similar to si-payr (to tell a tale); in other words, to count is to also recount by way of telling a story. Which was? That physical freedom (Pesach) is incomplete without spiritual direction (Shavuos, the giving of the Torah), which is why such halachists as German-Spanish R’ Jacob ben Asher (Baal Haturim) and R’ Joseph Karo (Shulchan Aruch) “attach” the laws of sefira to the laws of the Pesach seder. The Baal Haturim also presented a pragmatic reason: Jewish farmers were so busy harvesting the fields away from home that they were concerned they would miss the beis din’s Rosh Chodesh announcements; thus in order to insure that they kept Shavuos timely they “counted” the days themselves. This opinion, that there is no intrinsic significance to omer counting other than to know when Shavuos falls, is contested by Italian Rabbi Ovadia Sforno who argues that counting is a form of ongoing tefilla in and of itself for a successful harvest, separate and apart from Shavuos. R’ Yeruham of Provence hedges his bets: he argues that there are two separate mitzvos; one still binding, one not: the former being the 50-day count in order to get to Shavuos, the latter being the seven week count from the offering of the omer. Meanwhile the anonymous 13th-century Spanish author of Sefer Hachinuch, which lists and elaborates on the 613 mitzvos, disagrees with them all: rejecting the pragmatic and agricultural linkage he claims that the psychology behind counting towards Shavuos was simply a reinforcement of a “desire to reach that time [of receiving the Torah]”. But why do we still “count” today in the 21st century? Especially when there are no longer offerings, no Temple, nor any needy kohanim to support? This is not a new question. R’ Amemar, the prominent scholar from


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The One Percent

Self-help books are a major industry. Thousands of volumes offering direction and guidance for people to improve, change and enhance every aspect of their lives generate much income for authors, publishers and bookstores. Millions search for an easy way to improve their condition. They forget that a person is not wired like a cellular phone, which can be upgraded with the push of a button. Real change requires much hard work. Quick-fix solutions and “three easy steps” rarely lead to lasting transformation. While contemporary bookstore shelves groan under piles of such works, we are fortunate that the process for change is mapped out for us. Our directives come from the eternal wellsprings of Torah, from the insight of Chazal, who created a system of growth that has worked for centuries. The weeks of the Sefirah period are marked as an auspicious time for growth, with an opportunity to refocus on our priorities as we march towards Har Sinai, contemplating what defines us as the Am Hashem. Each evening, we exult anew in the brocha of “al Sefiras Ha’omer,” thanking Hashem for granting us the mitzvah of counting the Omer. Rishonim were puzzled by the text of the brocha, for, in fact, we are not counting the Omer at all. We are actually counting the passage of days since the date upon which the Korban Omer was brought during the times of the Bais Hamikdosh. Though yet as children we were taught that we are counting down from Pesach

to Kabbolas Hatorah, the fact is that we don’t refer to this period as the countdown to Shavuos. Why not? It is puzzling, as well, that we refer to the Yom Tov that follows Pesach as Shavuos to mark the fact that we have counted towards it for the past seven weeks. It’s the zenith of a period of weeks, yet the actual period gets its name from the Omer barley offering, why? The Omer offering exemplifies a lesson in achievement. The korban was brought from barley, which is viewed as a lowly grain, suitable for animal food rather than human consumption. Through proper development, though, barley can merit being offered to Hashem on Pesach. Thus begins the lesson of Sefiras Ha’omer. Even barley can be elevated through refinement and focus. The effectiveness of our leaders has always been found in their ability to inspire others and the realistic role models they served to their people. Gedolim were never looked at as museum pieces, marvels to behold, but, rather, as real-life examples of the heights every man can reach through hard work. We were selected by Hashem to be His “one percent.” He has provided us with the ability to rise above our surroundings and attain greatness despite all that conspires to depress us. Even when we get bogged down, encumbered by physicality and sin, even when we weaken and become disillusioned, we should never view ourselves as terminal failures, for we can climb out of the morass of negativity. It is a challenge to remain positive and focused when we are surrounded by disappointment, and it is easy to lose sight of our lofty role as a chosen people. It starts to sound like a cliché, chas veshalom. There are too many prevalent voices eager to make us believe the worst about ourselves and our brothers and sisters who cling to the path of Torah and mitzvos.

Without even realizing it, we are affected by the subliminal messages found in much of the media deriding our way of life.

We begin to perceive ourselves as barley instead of wheat, as chaff instead of enriched flour, and we begin acting in a man-

ner unbefitting who we really are. Pesach marks the day we became a people, and we immediately begin counting the Omer to internalize the lessons of the Omer offering and the steps necessary to maintain our lofty status and achieve the ability to receive and accept the Torah. The message of Kabbolas HaTorah and the Omer is really one: Man can climb to great heights. One of the striking figures in the mussar world was my grandfather’s rebbi, the sainted Rav Doniel Movoshovitz of Kelm. An imposing man, the tzaddik was a walking example of the heights man can attain. His very being filled his students with a love for Torah, as he inspired them with a deep desire to grow. After the passing of the Chofetz Chaim, his bereft talmid, Rav Elchonon Wasserman, began his custom of traveling to Kelm for the month of Elul to spend the spiritual period in the proximity of Rav Doniel. In reference to Rav Doniel, Rav Elchonon quoted the posuk in Yeshayah (66:1) which states, “Hashomayim kisi vehaaretz hadom raglai - The entire universe is Hashem’s footstool… ve’el zeh abit el oni unechai ruach…, but to this Hashem looks, to a poor and humble person who is zealous regarding His word. Rav Elchonon applied this to the master of humility, Reb Doniel. He would say that all the grandeur of creation, Hashem’s world, derives its purpose from the actions of a lone humble man. And Rav Doniel himself, crown of creation, had a similar perspective on all people. A talmid once noticed that the rosh yeshiva looked ill, and he inquired if Rav Doniel was feeling unwell. Rav Doniel admitted that he had not eaten all day and was suffering from a severe headache. The student wondered why his rebbi didn’t take a break from his activities to partake of some food. Rav Doniel explained that there were people coming to see him all day, “and how does one leave people simply to go and eat?” The tzaddik of Kelm, stronghold of human development, saw people not as barley, but as the most refined, superior beings. The attitude that saw the splendor of man resulted in them being enabled to

reach supreme heights. The time period dedicated to seeing ourselves as capable to soar, which will lead us to the ultimate goal of each individual member and of our nation as a whole - Kabbolas Hatorah - is also the time when we mourn the 24,000 talmidim of Rabi Akiva who were taken from this world because they didn’t display proper respect for each other. At the time of year when the splendor of each Jew is being revealed and we work to rise above the pettiness and negativity of the masses, we must go out of our way to show respect for each other. This is hinted at in the way the posuk instructs us to count on the second day of Pesach, substituting the word Shabbos for Yom Tov, as it states, “Usefartem lochem mimochoras haShabbos.” This is because Shabbos is the day that most resembles the world in its perfect form, mei’ein Olam Haba. The Torah is telling us that if we properly take advantage of the opportunity presented by Sefirah, we can rise to that lofty status as we complete the count on Shavuos and appropriately appreciate the Torah. Thus, the posuk completes the commandment of counting for seven weeks by stating, “Ad mimochoras haShabbos hashviis tisperu, count until after the seventh Shabbos,” again to reinforce the concept that properly utilizing the Omer count can lead one to a world of Shabbos, mei’ein Olam Haba. Just as the poor and unemployed might be jealous of the hardworking and wealthy, blaming them for their failures, so do we,

gifted with a rich inheritance, endure the bitterness and blame of the spiritual have-nots. The great si-

nas am ha’aretz to a talmid chachom that we experience so bitterly in our day is really nothing new. As Torah study increases during the period of ikvesa deMeshicha, so does the antagonism it engenders, as the Gemara foretells at the end of Maseches Kesuvos. Rav Shmuel Shapira was a legendary Yerushalmi tzaddik who would spend much of the night in the bais medrash, reciting Tikkun Chatzos, being misboded and learning. In time, neighbors began to convince


hearts, and legions of talmidei chachomim got their first sense of what Torah means when they heard it. “Now,” he continued, “it is very likely that if the story were to happen today, in our neighborhood, the neighbors would scoff and criticize. They would shake their heads at Hillel’s lack of concern for his own health and censure him for his complete lack of connection to this world. They would say that he isn’t realistic or practical. But tochterel, they would be wrong. With his action, he showed himself to be connected to reality on a far deeper

ty problems, a vicious war is being waged against Torah and halacha, with one wall crumbling after the next. We mustn’t lose the image of Hillel on the rooftop. We have to ensure that we don’t develop an altered sense of reality about what is really practical, necessary and important. Each day of Sefirah we have the opportunity to rectify a different middah, searching our own souls for areas that need tikkun just as we searched for chometz before Pesach. The journey that began with barley keeps growing ever more refined, cul-

lar middah of the day. Reciting the tefillah forces us to contemplate our actions and seek improvement. The parshiyos we currently read are filled with mitzvos bein odom lachaveiro, commandants that direct us on how to deal with others - not cheating them, not speaking ill of them, not underpaying them, and not oppressing them. So often, the pesukim conclude with a reminder that “ani Hashem” or “veyoreisa mei’Elokecha.” The message is that every Jew around us reflects Hashem’s light and essence, and we need to develop the ability to see them

apartment and listened to his daughter describe the difficulties she was experiencing. He discerned that the rebbetzin was, in fact, capable of sharing a life with such a holy individual and her concerns stemmed from what people were telling her. He understood that his daughter had allowed others to temper her enthusiasm of having the zechus to be married to a tzaddik. “Tochterel,” he said, “so many generations have been raised on the same story of Chazal used to imbue doros of Yiddishe kinderlach with the ideals of ahavas haTorah. Every Jewish child has grown up with the account of how Hillel Hazokein nearly froze to death on the roof of the bais medrash, so determined was he to hear the shiur of Shmaya and Avtalyon inside. This picture is baked into so many Yiddishe

level than talkative neighbors.” The father’s wise words found their mark and Rebbetzin Faiga returned home dedicated to helping her husband attain the heights he eventually reached. Rav Shmuel Shapira became a leader of the Breslover kehillah, a rebbi of Rav Yaakov Meir Schechter, and a close neighbor of Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, who held him in high esteem. Rav Krishevsky’s response should assist us as well as we look at the scoffers among us. We must not be deterred by the kulturkampf being waged on so many different fronts, in so many different countries. The levels that this has reached in our own land, pitting brother against brother, are doubly painful. Now, as the Holy Land is beset by so many domestic and securi-

minating in the korban consisting of wheat which was offered in the beis hamikdosh on Shavuos, at the climax of our path to spiritual sophistication. We count the Omer and then ask Hashem, “Harachamon,” that the “avodas Bais Hamikdosh” be returned. Upon completing the fulfillment of most other mitzvos, we don’t make this request. Tosafos in Maseches Megillah (20b, d”h kol) asks why Sefirah is different. Perhaps we can explain that this is tied to the fact that we pray for our efforts during the Sefirah period to realize their potential and lead us to the final redemption. We then recite the special tefillah “Ribono Shel Olam,” asking that by engaging in Sefirah, we should be cleansed from tumah and blemishes caused by the particu-

as such. Rav Doniel Movoshovitz saw people as being so much more magnificent and important than food. Each of us has the ability to live as Rav Doniel viewed us and to see others that way too. The current period called Omer, a reference to the barley offering, is the quintessential preparation for Kabbolas Hatorah, for they both embody the same ideal: grasping the gift of Sefirah, counting and climbing until we merit the great day of receiving the gift. We are the smallest of nations, the “one percent” in many ways, but if we appreciate that fact and embrace it and each other ke’ish echod beleiv echod, as one man, with one heart, united, we will merit preparing the entire world for the coming of Moshiach bekarov.

MAY 1, 2014

his wife, Rebbetzin Faiga, that she needed to put her foot down and convince her husband to adopt a more conventional schedule. She went to discuss the matter with her father, Rav Yosef Kadish Krishevsky. Rav Yosef Kadish was a talmid of the Chofetz Chaim who had ascended to Yerushalayim and became a leading member of the chaburah at Yeshiva Toras Chaim. Aiding his acclimation among the veteran Yerushalmim was a letter written by Rav Chaim Soloveitchik of Brisk, urging a warm welcome for the newcomer. Rav Yosef Kadish sat in his humble


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Cover Story Nachum Soroka


Mideast Peace Talks Fall Through Once Again


ith last week’s unequivocal declaration by Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu that the current peace talks with Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian government are, for the time being, over after Abbas formed a unified government with the terrorist group Hamas questions abound. The two sides have been negotiating since 1993.Was there any hope that these negotiations would lead to anything more than we have seen in close to ten years? Were these talks ever any more than another overreaching attempt by the hyper-ambitious US Secretary of State John Kerry to shape foreign policy? Is Mahmoud Abbas another Yasser Arafat who has no intention of having an Arab-sanctioned Jewish State part of his legacy or is he just a fearful follower of Hamas? One may argue that this round of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians was doomed from the start. For one, Kerry, the statesman who urged the sides to meet close to nine months ago, has been of the less amenable characters to Israeli interests, especially in recent months. Just two weeks ago he made headlines for dramatically testifying to the US Senate that the Israelis were derailing the peace talks with a big “poof”. That was only weeks after he warned the Israelis with threats of inter-

national boycott and a third intifada. As time goes on, it is becoming increasingly clear that Kerry’s intentions, perhaps not unlike most of his kind, but definitely more transparent than his predecessors’, are not about solving the issues, but of finally creating a legacy for his career in politics. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has quipped, “The only thing that can ‘save’ us is that John Kerry will get a Nobel Peace Prize and leave us alone.” Unfortunately, Kerry’s tact may be his worst enemy.

in the event of an impasse. Additionally, Mahmoud Abbas himself has proven to be someone who is unwilling to be the Anwar Sadat of his day. Already, in 2008, he walked away from then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s offer of close to six percent of Israeli territory and large amounts of refugee absorption. The offer even included international control of the Temple Mount, with three of the five nations in charge of the area Arabs. Olmert said of Abbas: “From that time, I

One may argue that this round of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians was doomed from the start. Kerry’s decision to hold the talks in absolute confidentiality, with only American mediator Martin Indyk and his American counterparts privy to the details and progress, has also proven to be a grave mistake that did not allow the possibility of outside, foreign help

am still waiting for his telephone call.” Moreover, Abbas’ Fatah government has never been in control of significant Palestinian territories, such as Gaza. At 79, and with rival, more Islamist factions to contend with, Abbas is a very weak leader who is in a position where

it takes incredible amounts of courage and strength to reach a handshake with the Israelis. Indeed, last week’s pact formed with Hamas is testimony to Abbas’ standing in the Palestinian territories. Nine months ago, at the beginning of negotiations, however, prospects of reaching a solution were somewhat promising. The Israelis promised to release over one hundred prisoners— many of them murderers—in exchange for the promise that the Palestinians would not petition members of the UN for state status. (In March, though, the Palestinian Authority reneged and signed fifteen UN conventions.) Then, on the second day of negotiations, July 29, never one to hold his cards close to his chest, Abbas boldly declared, “In a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli – civilian or soldier – on our lands.” Kerry’s stated purpose in arranging the talks was to put an end to the conflict for good. On the table and up for the discussion was the full range of issues that have concerned both sides since the beginning of the conflict: Jerusalem, borders, refugees, security, settlements, division of resources, and international status. The Israelis insisted on a completely demilitarized Palestinian state with complete Israeli control of

25 new housing in parts of the West Bank. The talks were allotted nine months, and ended on April 29. Whatever progress was being made up until last week came to a crashing halt when Mahmoud Abbas announced a new unified government between his Fatah party and the openly hostile Hamas. Following the announcement, Netanyahu’s government released a statement that it “decided unanimously that it will not negotiate with a Palestinian government that incorporates Hamas, a terrorist organization that seeks the destruction of Israel.” Netanyahu also introduced new sanctions against the PA government after their announcement. Abbas, however, claims that his new government will still recognize Israel, be committed to nonviolence, and is dedicated to continuing peace talks. Yet Israel’s reaction is understandable. Avigdor Liberman, Israel’s foreign minister, said he “will not As usual, Israeli and Palestinian demands accept a [Palseem to be too far apart for reconciliation estinian] govthat refugee status for Palestinians can ernment that openly receives its authorbe inherited from generation to genera- ity from Hamas, an organization that tion while the standard refugee status clearly speaks about violence, terror that applies in other parts of the world is and doesn’t recognize our right to exnot inheritable. Abbas has recently cre- ist and doesn’t recognize our previous ated a new demand with regard to these agreements.” The US agrees. Jen Psaki, refugees, called the “individual right.” a State Department official, said last That is, the Palestinians want the right week, “It’s hard to see how Israel can be of entry into Israel to be decided by expected to sit down and negotiate with each individual it applies to. This would a group that denies its right to exist.” create a mess for Israel if it would have Does all this necessarily mean that to contend with each and every person peace for Israel will not be attained this who claims to be a refugee individually. time around? With only two and a half All this is aside from the overriding Is- years remaining for President Obama’s raeli concern that a complete absorption last term in office, it seems highly unof refugees would bear a weight on the likely that his government would atcountry and its economy that may be too much. Perhaps the most difficult issue for the two sides to reconcile regards land swaps and potential new settlements for a Palestinian state. Martin Indyk, the mediator from the US, claimed that the negotiations were leading to an agreement that would allow over eighty percent of the contested land that is populated to When Hamas and Fatah laugh together it isn’t funny for Israel be officially recognized as Israeli while Israel would swap some tempt another round of negotiations afunpopulated land to the Palestinian ter the last grueling nine months failed state. Israel was also ready to allow the so abruptly. But, Israeli officials have Palestinians to begin construction on been quick to point out that their offi-

cial statement last week that ended the talks was carefully worded so as not to rule out the possibility of restarting dialogue even past the April 29 deadline in the event that Abbas’ new unified government is not able to form. Hamas and Fatah have given themselves only a few weeks to reach an agreement regarding the exact composition of their unified government, and if one is unable to be reached, it is very likely that there will end up being no combined government in the PA. To be clear, however, both Fatah, which has never been too powerful in the Palestinian territories, and Hamas, which has been severely weakened with the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt this year, have plenty of incentives to reach a compromise with each other in the coming weeks. It should be noted, though, that both in 2011 and 2012, reconciliations between Fatah and Hamas proved fruitless. Whatever clarity can be gained from the past nine months, which have been loaded with uncertainty, is small. Abbas seems to be in a difficult position from where, having already walked away from a deal from Olmert which offered much more than anything a Netanyahu government will ever offer, it is almost

impossible for him to reach any agreement with Israel without becoming known as a weak and compromising leader in the Arab world. It is much eas-

Did Kerry push too hard for peace?

ier for him to reconcile with the hardline Islamist factions that control over a third of Palestinian territories and turn his focus to governing within, while paying lip service to international demands to recognize Israel and condemn terror. Even so, last week, John Kerry said, “We will never give up our hope or our commitment for the possibilities of peace. We believe it is the only way to go, but right now obviously it’s at a very difficult point, and the leaders themselves have to make decisions.” Clearly, even Kerry himself has come around to realize that this battle is harder than he once thought.

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airspace and radio waves. The Israelis were also to retain the right to deploy military resources into Palestinian territory and would keep forces in parts of the Shomron to protect planes from rocket attacks by Arab terrorist groups. The reason for Israel’s rigidity should be clear: with whatever military capabilities the Palestinians have been given in the past, they have used them for terror and offensive attacks on innocent Israeli civilians. The issue with refugees and their “right of return” has always been a thorny one for Israel. The UN definition of refugee with regard to Palestinians is different than the regular definition used for other peoples. The UN holds

The Jewish Women’s Repertory Company announces



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ar Ye



Wo Onl men y!

Black Like Us By Rabbi Avi Shafran


MAY 1, 2014


May 19, 20 & 21 7:00 - 9:30 pm 1039 S. La Cienega Blvd. For more information, call 310-535-1653 or visit www.JewishWomensTheater.com

The confluence of this past Shabbos and reports about Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s alleged ugly racist remarks inspire me to share the piece below, which was written three years ago. The Chasam Sofer probably never saw a black person. There weren’t likely very many in 19th century central Europe.  But he certainly knew they existed.  After all, they are mentioned in a posuk, the one that opens the haftarah of parshas Kedoshim, which was this past Shabbos.  There, Kushites—Kush is generally identified as a kingdom in central Africa—are a simile for Klal Yisrael. “Behold, you are like the children of Kush to Me,” the navi Amos (9:7) quotes the Creator addressing the Jewish People. “Just as a Kushite differs [from others] in [the color of] his skin,” comments the Gemara (Moed Katan, 16b), “so are the Jewish people different in their actions.” One might assume that the intention of that explanation is simply that, while most people often act thoughtlessly or selfishly, Jews, if they live as they should, do otherwise, planning their every action, concerned about their obligations to the Creator, and to others. But the Chasam Sofer’s interpretation of the Talmudic comment (he apparently had “the righteous” in place of “the Jewish people”) goes in a different direction, and makes a point as fundamental as it is timely. His words: “It is well known that every Jew is required to observe all the mitzvos.  But there is no single path for them all.  One Jew may excel in Torah-study, another in avodah (service, or prayer), another in kindnesses to others; this one in one particular mitzvah, that one in another.  Nevertheless, while they all differ from each other in their actions, they all have the same intention, to serve Hashem with

their entire hearts. “Behold the Kushite. Inside, his organs, his blood and his appearance are all the same as other people’s.  Only in the superficiality of his skin is he different from others.  This is the meaning of ‘[different] in his skin,’ [meaning] only in his skin.  Likewise, the righteous are different [from one another] only ‘in their actions’; their inner conviction and intention, though, are [the same,] aimed at serving Hashem in a good way.” There are two messages to glean here.  One—which wasn’t intended by the Chasam Sofer as a message at all, but as a truism—is that people of different colors are only superficially different from one another.  What lies beneath our shells are the same veins, sinews and organs, no matter our shades. The Chasam Sofer’s novel message, though, is that there are different ways, no one of them any less essentially worthy than any other, of serving Hashem. All too often we fall into the trap of thinking that we, or our children, must follow a particular trajectory and land in a particular place in life.  But when Chazal teach that “just as people’s faces all differ one from the other, so do their minds,” they are informing us otherwise, that there are different, equally meritorious, trajectories, different, equally praiseworthy, landing places for different people.  It’s not just that people are dissimilar and will choose a variety of vocations, excel in a variety of fields, and establish individual priorities.  It’s that in all our diversity of vocations, fields and priorities, we can be entirely equal servants of Hashem. Consider Rav Broka, who, the Talmud recounts (Ta’anis 22a), was often accompanied by Eliyahu Hanavi, and once asked the prophet whether in a certain marketplace there were any people who merited the World-to-Come.  The individuals Eliyahu pointed to turned out to be a prison guard who made special efforts to preserve prisoners’ moral integrity and who interceded with the government on behalf of his fellow Jews; and a pair of comedians, who used their humor to cheer up the depressed and defuse disputes. One wonders if the parents of those meritorious men felt disappointed at their sons’ choices of professions.  Or whether they realized that there are, in the end, many paths that can lead to the World-toCome. © 2011 AMI MAGAZINE




MAY 1, 2014


Travel Guide: Monterey and Big Sur By Aaron Feigenbaum Approximately halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco lies the charming coastal city of Monterey boasting a cool climate, a world-renowned aquarium, friendly people, and a relaxing atmosphere. On the way to this lovely destination, take in the breathtaking views of Big Sur, one of America’s most beautiful coastal drives. The Monterey region was first settled by the Ohlone tribe and the town itself dates back to 1770 when it was founded by Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portola who became the first governor of California (among other areas). Monterey became the heart of Spain’s empire in Western North America and at one time served as the sole port for all taxable imports. During the Mexican-American War in 1846, U.S. troops, having already expelled Spanish soldiers from most of California, captured Monterey unopposed and it officially became part of California on July 7th of that year. Today Monterey is

known as one of California’s most picturesque cities as well as serving as the inspiration for many John Steinbeck novels including “Cannery Row” and “Tortilla Flat.”

What to See and Do in Monterey:

Monterey Bay Aquarium: As Monterey’s primary attraction, this former sardine cannery now houses over 35,000 sea creatures representing over 600 different species including great white sharks, stingrays, fluorescent jellyfish, and the rare ocean sunfish. If that’s not enough, there’s an impressive kelp forest that’s the first of its kind for an aquarium as well as fun opportunities for sea lion petting. At $39.95 per adult and $24.95 per child, it’s not exactly cheap fare; however, it is well worth the price to experience one of the world’s most diverse and enjoyable aquariums. Fisherman’s Wharf: Monterey’s

Fisherman’s Wharf may not have an amusement park like Santa Monica Pier does, but where it excels in is the charm found in its beautifully colored buildings, the intimate feel of the surroundings, as well as in the plethora of activities to be found. While there are the typical touristy shops selling all sorts of trinkets, there are also opportunities for fishing, sailing, whale watching, and scuba diving. Museum of Monterey: At the reasonable cost of $8 per adult and no charge for children, this museum offers interesting displays about Monterey’s history including models of Cannery Row, the lens formerly housed at the Point Sur Light Station, as well as some nice pieces of art. Monterey State Historic Park: Set on the cliffs with a commanding ocean view, the State Historic Park is one of Monterey’s best attractions and features a host of historic buildings including Colton Hall where California’s constitution was drafted in 1849, the Old Whaling Station with actual whale bones, the Stevenson House (once home to Robert Louis Stevenson), and the Pacific House which was once used as a U.S. Army as a storage facility and is now home to the Monterey Museum of the American Indian. Nature: Nature-lovers can experience any and all of the city’s five beaches or travel along the gorgeous Monterey Bay Coastal Trail. You’ll also want to check out nearby Pacific Grove Marine Gardens where you can view tidepools, seals, kelp beds, and a beautifully flowered trail.

Travelling through Big Sur:

A trip to Monterey simply wouldn’t be complete without experiencing the spectacular views and sites along the Big Sur, a 90 mile stretch of coastline running along the Pacific Coast Highway from the San Carpoforo Creek in San Luis Obispo County to Carmel (just south of Monterey). One of Big Sur’s main attractions is the Bixby Creek Bridge. One of the most photographed bridges in the world, Bixby simply demands that you stop and admire the jawdropping view of the ocean, as well as the surrounding cliffs and hills.

Another must-see is Point Sur Lighthouse, a quaint brick building dating back to the late 1800‘s. (Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children.) Be sure not to miss McWay Falls near Big Sur Village. It’s an 80-foot waterfall set, incredibly, right on a beach. If you have extra time, head inland to the Ventana Wilderness and hike through majestic forests, hills, and rivers. Stopping by Carmel, a scenic little city just 5 miles south of Monterey with a rich literary and artistic past, isn’t a bad idea either. Eat and Daven: Unfortunately, there are no kosher restaurants in Monterey, but there is a Whole Foods which carries some kosher products. Additionally, you can arrange catering with Chabad of Monterey by calling 831-643-2770 or visiting their site at chabadofmonterey.com. Chabad of Monterey is also the only frum shul in the area and can be found in the beautiful town of Pacific Grove only a few minutes away from the aquarium. Getting There: While Monterey does have its own airport, if you have a bit of extra time it’s highly recommended to either drive up the Pacific Coast Highway or take Amtrak’s Coast Starlight to enjoy the incredible views offered by the Big Sur. At its cheapest, Amtrak tickets will cost about $130 per round trip ticket. Trivia: -In 1967 Monterey played host to the Monterey Pop Festival which featured some of the biggest names in rock including Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, Janis Joplin, and The Who. -In the only land and sea battle fought on the West Coast, Argentinean-French naval commander Hipolito Bouchard attacked Spanish positions in Monterey in 1818. He and his crew managed to hold the town for six days during which they burned the Spanish fort and governor’s residence. (Sources: Wikitravel, City of Monterey) .



TTHE H E JJEWISH E W I S HHOME H O M E n MAY M AY1,2 2014 4 , 2012

n g i S l i a m E r u o What Y u o Y t u o b A s y a Off S Thx = I am hip (or too lazy to write the whole word…and some of the letters on my keyboard seem to be missing)

Take it easy = You’ll never see me again

Thanks = You are generically important to me

Enjoy the rest of your day= Hopefully it’s going better than mine

Thanks! = I hope the exclamation point means as much to you as it does to me

Have a blessed day = I am so spiritual

Many thanks = Zero thanks

Adios = I know one word of Spanish, but I hope you think I am bilingual

Thank you = I am furious with you

TTYL= OMG, we have to go for lattes some time soon

Regards = I really couldn’t care less

Respectfully = Please don’t ever ask me if I really respect you

Kind regards = I really couldn’t care less, but this is my way of appearing like I could

Enjoy your weekend = Please don’t reply to this email today; I want to get out of the office already

KR = I couldn’t even be bothered to write the full words, that’s how kind my regards are

Let me know how you want me to proceed = The last time we got into this mess you were supposed to communicate with me and you didn’t

Sincerely = Insincerely

Please confirm receipt of this email= I have zero trust in you

Cheers = Look how normal I am

:) = Please realize that I am a lovable little fuzz-ball

Bye = Go jump in a lake

;) = Please realize that I am a lovable little fuzz-ball (but not a perfectionist)

Best wishes for continued success = I would rather be writing Hallmark cards Thank you for your time = You really think you are the busiest person in the world, but please read this email

Later = I am really not formal, so let’s deal with this “coolly” Peace – In my next lifetime I want to come back as a 1960s hippie

Looking forward to hearing from you = REPLY IMMEDIATELY

Riddle! A Texas rancher hitched up his horse and traveled to Mexico. When he was there he visited his cousins and two friends. The whole round trip took four days. But he went on Wednesday and came back on Wednesday. How could this be? Answer below

Answer to riddle: His horse’s name was Wednesday.

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2. What is Cinco de Mayo meant to commemorate? a. A tragic event in which 15 tons of Mexican-bound mayonnaise sunk at sea b. A historic battle c. The founding of Mexico d. A national hero 3. What does the term “Cinco de Mayo” mean in English? a. Mayan Day b. Celebration of May c. The fifth of May d. May Day 4. What is the official name of Mexico? a. United Mexican States

b. Mexico Istacoville c. Mexican Federation d. Mexico 5. Which one of the following U.S. states was never part of Mexico? a. California b. Nevada c. Utah d. Arizona e. Oregon f. New Mexico g. Colorado h. Wyoming 6. Mexico’s population is: a. 17 million b. 35 million c. 72 million d. 120 million 7. What is Mexico’s national drink, tequila, made of? a. Coconut juice

b. Agave c. Hops d. Corn ANSWERS: 1. C 2. B 3. C 4. A (Mexico has 31 states) 5. E 6. D 7. B WISDOM KEY 6-7 correct: Great job! You deserve a nonalcoholic tequila! 3-5 correct: You are so-so—and you thought that eating burritos made you an expert on Mexico 0-2 correct: You cracked on this one like a stale taco

You Gotta be


Two Americans, Bob and Jeff, decide to go bungee jumping in a small village in Mexico. They carefully set up their equipment and are all ready for their adventure. Bob jumps, bounces at the end of the cord and flies back up by the platform. Jeff isn’t able to catch his friend, but he notices that Bob has a few cuts and scratches. Bob falls again, bounces, and comes back up. This time, he is bruised and bleeding. Again, Jeff misses pulling Bob up. The third time it happens, Bob comes back pretty messed up; he’s got a couple of broken bones and is almost unconscious. Luckily, Jeff finally catches him and says, “Holy cow, what happened? Was the cord too long?” “No,” says Bob. “The cord was fine, but the birthday party down there thinks I’m a piñata!”


Comm Let the ission er dec Send your s tuff



o fivetow centerfold@ nsjewis hhome. com

MAY 1, 2014

1. Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of which national heritage? a. Spanish b. Brazilian c. Mexican d. Venezuelan


T H E J E W I S H H O M E n M AY 2 4 , 2012

Cinco De Mayo Trivia



MAY T HTHE E J EJEWISH W I S H HHOME OME n M AY 1, 2 42014 , 2012




Compiled by Nate Davis

“Say What?” When I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close. – Michael Bloomberg while talking to the New York Times about his efforts to eliminate smoking, obesity and gun violence In honor of Earth Day, Apple announced that it will recycle all of its used products for free. That’s right, they’re recycling Apple products. And then Samsung said, “Beat you to it.” - Jimmy Fallon Here’s the attitude: “Ohhhh, don’t make me do this. Ohhhh, this is too hard.” - Speaker of the House John Boehner talking about his fellow Republicans attitude on immigration reform It wasn’t mocking, listen, you all know me. You tease the ones you love. - Ibid., after facing a backlash from Republicans

Dutch designers have created a baby’s onesie that comes with built-in Wi-Fi. That way, your child can search the web for better parents. - Seth Myers

A two-state solution will be clearly underscored as the only real alternative. Because a unitary state winds up either being an apartheid state with second-class citizens or it ends up being a state that destroys the capacity of Israel to be a Jewish state. – Secretary of State Kerry to a group of senior foreign policy officials

I have had the privilege of meeting literally every major world leader in the last five years. - Vice President Joe Biden

I do not believe, nor have I ever stated, publicly or privately, that Israel is an apartheid state or that it intends to become one. Second, I have been around long enough to also know the power of words to create a misimpression, even when unintentional, and if I could rewind the tape, I would have chosen a different word to describe my firm belief that the only way in the long term to have a Jewish state and two nations and two peoples living side by side in peace and security is through a two-state solution. - Ibid., after facing a fierce backlash

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is running for re-election, and he’s got a catchy campaign slogan: “Forget my first term. I was on crack.”

A zoo in China has a depressed panda so they just installed a TV in its cage to cheer it up. Then the panda said, “Or, you could just let me out of animal jail.” - Jimmy Fallon

- David Letterman Domino’s debuted a new pizza where instead of dough, they’re using fried chicken. It’s called “Domino’s deep dish you’re all going to die. - Conan O’Brien

Next week Google will give the public the chance to buy its $1,500 Google Glass, finally ending the stereotype that people who wear glasses are smart. - Jimmy Fallon

I am a bully! - The sign an Ohio judge made a 62-year-old man hold for five hours on the a street corner after he was convicted of harassing a neighbor’s disabled children

I never know what to get the Earth for Earth Day. So I just bought it an iTunes gift card and buried it. – Jimmy Kimmel

It’s nice to meet you. – What a robot said to President Obama when he visited the Miraikan museum, which showcases Japanese emerging science and innovation. I can kick a soccer ball, too. - Ibid. OK, come on. - President Obama in response, before playing soccer with the robot

If you look at the results of what we’ve done over the last five years, it is fair to say that our alliances are stronger. - President Obama discussing his foreign policy with Ed Henry of Fox News


Basement now! Basement now! Let’s go, now! - A Mississippi meteorologist during a live TV broadcast when a tornado touched down abruptly

Yesterday, North Korea held its annual marathon. Congratulations to first, second and third place winner, Kim Jong Un. - Conan O’Brien The happy song makes me HAPPY. - A Facebook message that a 32-year-old North Carolina woman posted while she was driving. (Less than a minute later she was killed in a fatal accident) A pharmaceutical company in Canada is offering $47 billion to buy the company that makes Botox. People at Botox were pretty excited — I mean, you should’ve seen the look that wasn’t on their faces. – Jimmy Fallon

A Kansas man on trial for first-degree murder wants to remove a tattoo across his neck reading “murder” because he’s worried it might prejudice the jury. Though he might be able to create reasonable doubt by just adding a question mark. – Seth Myers

To a certain extent, trust has been lost. But we do not think we are to blame. The United States can act in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, but Russia is not allowed to defend its interests. – Vladimir Putin He’s a decent and brave man, he would do it. - Ibid., when asked by a six-year-old girl during a TV appearance if the US president would come to his rescue if he were drowning I absolutely would save Mr. Putin if he were drowning. If anybody is out there drowning, I would save them. I used to be a pretty good swimmer, I grew up in Hawaii. – President Obama, at a press conference in South Korea

Yesterday Hillary Clinton admitted she is thinking about running for president. Though it would be more shocking if she admitted to ever thinking about anything else. – Seth Myers

Joe Biden said the U.S. will help Ukraine with financial aid as long as the leaders tackle corruption. Because if anything stops corruption, it’s bribing someone to stop corruption. – Jimmy Fallon

A Southwest Airlines pilot who famously landed at the wrong airport has retired. He tried to retire to Florida but ended up in Alabama. - Conan O’Brien

I’m beginning to think there’s more freedom in North Korea sometimes than there is in the United States.

We don’t carry that kind of stuff, so I sent out people to CVS to buy it. – The owner of a high-end Manhattan restaurant explaining what he did when Warren Buffett was dining there last week and asked for a Cherry Coke and Dairy Queen

Hillary Clinton is going to be a grandmother. She’s very excited about it. She’s home right now knitting a tiny pantsuit. - David Letterman

- Mike Huckabee at the New Hampshire Freedom Summit I think the pact with Hamas kills peace. If it moves forward it means that peace moves backward. As the State Department said yesterday, the ball is in the Palestinian court. I hope they dribble it in the right direction. Right now they are kicking it backward. - Prime Minister Netanyahu during an MSNBC interview, after the Palestinian Authority entered a unity government with Hamas

I have issues - Words printed on the T-shirt of a Hayward, California, man, as he robbed a bank last week Mr. Snowden, you are a former agent, a spy; I used to be working for an intelligence service, so we are going to talk one professional language. We don’t have a mass system of such interception, and according to our law, it cannot exist. But we do not have a mass scale uncontrollable efforts like that, I hope we won’t do that and we don’t have as much money as they have in the States, and we don’t have these technical devices that they have in the States. Our special services, thank G-d, are strictly controlled by the society and by the law and regulated by the law. - Vladimir Putin at a public question-and-answer session when asked by Edward Snowden (via video) whether Russia had similar surveillance programs as the United States

As you’ve no doubt heard by now, in the coming months I will be passing the baton to my friend and colleague, Sylvia Burrell. - Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (who oversaw the glitch-plagued rollout of the Obamacare website) in an email to the entire HHS Department, announcing that she is leaving her post. Her successor’s last name is actually Burwell Unfortunately, a page is missing. - Ibid., the following day during her farewell speech at the White House, when she noticed that she was missing a portion of her speech


T HTHE E J EJEWISH W I S H HOME H O M E n MAY M AY 1,2 42014 , 2012

Is that somebody throwing something at me? Is that part of Cirque de Soleil? My goodness, I didn’t know that solid waste management was so controversial. - Hillary Clinton, when someone threw a shoe at her during her address at the Scrap Recycling Industries meeting in Las Vegas


Avi Heiligman

General Jack Jacob


Singlehandedly Defeats a Whole Army

eroes in the military are usually and in 1963 was promoted to brigadier the ones fighting the enemy in general. Two year later Jacob comclose range combat. Very rarely manded a division during one of the do commanders meet the enemy face many wars between India and Pakistan. to face. During the Bangladeshi War of In 1969 he was a major general and was 1971, a commander went to the enemy appointed chief of staff of the Eastern and forced an entire army to surrender. Command. His job was put down insurThis incredible feat is gencies in these areas and more impressive when to keep tabs on neighboryou know that he had ing Pakistan. very few soldiers in his In 1971 the eastern command and was bluffsection of Pakistan had ing. Lieutenant General an uprising and wanted Jack Jacob of the Indian to start their own country Army was the man who called Bangladesh. The singlehandedly defeated Pakistani government an entire army. was ruthless in their retalJacob Farj Rafael Jaiation and killed upwards cob was born in 1923 in of half a million civilians. Calcutta which was then Millions more fled to Inpart of British India. His dia who then declared family was Baghdadi war on Pakistan. GenerSephardic Jews that had al Jacob was tasked with General Jack Jacob moved there in the 1700s. drafting a war plan and They were described as deeply religious came up with the idea of drawing the in an area with few Jews. During WWII, Pakistanis into swampy lands in EastJack heard of the plight of his brethren ern Pakistan. After tiring out the enemy, in Europe and decided to join the Brit- they then would capture the capital, ish Army to fight the Nazis. Dhaka. Jacob’s superior, Lieutenant After graduating from officer school General Sam Manekshaw, agreed to the in 1942, he was given his first assign- plan except for the capture of Dhaka. ment. Ironically, it was with the Arab Jacob realized that the capture of Legion in the British Army posted in Dhaka was more strategic than the Northern Iraq in case the Germans got small towns fortified by the Pakistani that far. Soon it became apparent that Army. The Indian Army therefore bythe main battle was in Egypt and North passed many of these defenses and Africa so Jacob was reassigned to an severed communications. Control of artillery unit to fight the Afrika Korps. East Pakistan was coming under Indian However, they arrived after the battle Army control in two weeks of war but and were sent to Burma to fight the in- Dhaka still remained to be captured. A vading imperialist Japanese Empire. He drawn out war could spell disaster for saw action there in some of the toughest the small Indian Army so Jacob came terrain fighting of the war. up with a daring plan. He went to the While in Burma (today the country heart of the enemy and gave them an is called Myanmar), Jacob met the ec- ultimatum. centric British General Orde Wingate. Pakistani Lieutenant General Wingate was not Jewish but morally A.A.K. Niazi invited Jacob to discuss was a Zionist and had trained Jewish a ceasefire on December 16. Instead of settlers in Palestine in clandestine war- a ceasefire, Jacob wrote a declaration fare. This was Jacob’s first time meeting of surrender for the Pakistani general a Zionist and it rubbed off on him and to sign. Unarmed and accompanied by later had an effect on India’s positive only one staff officer, he flew to Dhaka. reception towards Israel. Jacob told Niazi that he had a half an After the war, Jacob attended mil- hour to decide or the Indians would be itary schools in the U.S. and England coming to Dhaka to destroy the enemy. and joined the Indian Army when they Indian planes would bomb the 26,000 gained independence from Britain in or so Pakistani soldiers in Dhaka and an 1947. He had risen through the ranks untold number of civilians would be in

ficer of the state he stayed in politics for harm’s way. While Niazi was contemplating the over 30 years. In the 1990s, Jacob was surrender, Jacob went outside and said a big advocate for an advanced India-IsShema Yisrael. The truth was that Jacob rael relationship. He visited Israel many had but 3,000 men some 30 miles away times and was a personal guest of forand they were up against 93,000 Paki- mer Prime Minister Rabin. Several of stani troops. He was hoping that Niazi Jacob’s personal effects were donated would focus on the previous two weeks to Israel, and his uniform hangs in the of Indian victories and didn’t want to Israeli military museum in Latrun. Although there are some reports see any more bloodshed. The United Nations was also pushing for a ceasefire that Jack Jacob passed away last year and this would be the only chance that the many sources still maintain that he is Indians could capture Dhaka. Against alive at the age of 90 living in Delhi, India. Years ago, all odds, the he said about bluff worked. his time in the All of the PaIndian Army, kistani soldiers “Although I was in the area surone of only a rendered, and few Jews in the Jacob became army, I never the hero of the came across any war. It was the anti-Semitism, largest surrenonly enthusider of soldiers asm and accepsince WWII, tance.” Howevand when Niazi er, he won’t talk returned to PaGeneral Jacob is on the far right about his time in kistan he was stripped of his rank. The war was over, the British army. General Jack Jacob will be rememand Bangladesh became an independent bered as the man who convinced an ennation. After 38 years in the army, Jacob tire army to surrender under incredible retired in 1978 and went into business odds thereby saving countless lives. and became the governor of Goa. He cracked down on criminals and saved Avi Heiligman is a weekly contributor to areas from destruction. When he left The Jewish Home. He welcomes your comoffice someone scrawled graffiti on the ments and suggestions.for future columns walls that said, “Without Jacob who and can be reached at aviheiligman@ will feed the poor?” A truly beloved of- gmail.com. 



  

T H E J E W I S H H O M E n M AY 1 , 2014

Forgotten Heroes



Citing what it calls are failures on Russia’s part to live up to their part of the agreement aimed at solving the dispute in Crimea, the United States has put sanctions on seventeen large Russian companies and seventeen government officials. These companies are run by close allies to Vladimir Putin’s government. While many in Moscow feared that this latest round of sanctions would be much harsher than they turned out (the Russian markets jumped one percent following the US’s announcement), President Obama said the sanctions were so that Putin should “change his calculus with respect to how the current actions that he’s engaging in could have an adverse impact on the Russian economy over the long haul.” An important omission on the list of sanctioned companies was banks and public companies, again a relief for Moscow. Said Obama, “We don’t yet know if it’s going to work.” Most of the companies that were sanctioned are owned by three people: Gennady Timchenko and brothers Boris and Arkady Rotenberg. They were all individually sanctioned in March. Timchenko owns Stroytransgaz, which has made millions of dollars from pipeline construction contracts from state-owned Transneft. Another Putin crony who was sanctioned is Igor Sechin, president of the state-controlled oil company, Rosneft. Rosneft shares business partnerships with ExxonMobil. Sechin was behind Putin’s scheme against the oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovskyt to wrest his company, Yukos, away in 2003. Also on the list is Sergei Chemezov, a friend of Putin who shared an apartment with him in East Germany in the 1980s. The EU also sanctioned individuals, freezing assets and denying visas.

As it has become the norm in Egypt, the Egyptian government sentenced Muhamad Basie, the general guide to the Muslim Brotherhood, to death along with 682 Brotherhood supporters. Ever since the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood leader Muhamad Mursi from the Egyptian presidency, the new government, led by Abdel Fatah al Sisi, has ruthlessly killed hundreds of Brotherhood and secular government supporters. “This is a corrupt government. This is a failed regime. We have no real police. We have no real state,” said Sabah Hassan, whose son was sentenced to death. Al Sisi’s government has become known for its mass trials of accused dissenters. “The decisions are possibly the largest possible death sentences in recent world history. While they’re exceptional in scale, they’re certainly not exceptional in kind,” said a Human Rights Watch official. The US expressed alarm over the recent events. The White House released a statement, “Today’s verdict defies even the most basic standards of international justice.”

S. Korean Ferry Sinks on Live TV The entire country of South Korea was left traumatized and devastated after watching on live television the sinking of a ferry full of high school students. When the news of the sinking ship came in, cameramen rushed to the scene, and the public watched the tragedy unfold. Students were seen flailing in the cold water, and then the boat slowly turned upside down and eventually slipped beneath the surface. The Sewol Ferry was a nearly 7,000ton ship with a capacity of 921 passengers. There are more than 300 people missing or dead. “It’s not only the victims and their families, but a majority of the general public is suffering from mental shock, sadness, rage, and feeling of helplessness,” wrote an editorial from Seoul Newspaper. “In short, it’s not an exaggeration to say that this en-

The trauma was magnified by embarrassment over charges of criminal negligence by much of the ship’s crew, inappropriate reactions by government officials, and cruel pranks following the sinking. Eleven members of the ferry’s crew, including the captain, have been taken into custody on suspicions of negligence and abandoning people in need. The South Korean president called them “murderous.” Colleagues of the captain, Lee Joonseok, who has more than 40 years’ experience at sea, called him the nicest person on the ship, but he is now being strongly condemned for delaying the evacuation and apparently abandoning the ferry. A video of Lee being treated on shore after allegedly landing on one of the first rescue boats sparked outrage. Tragically, in the days after the ferry sank, families were tormented with hoax text messages claiming to be from students trapped in air pockets complaining that they were cold, but still alive. Yellow ribbons in memory of victims envelop Korea’s landscape. Korean social media and the rest of the country have held countless candlelight vigils as they mourn the loss of many young lives. As hope of survivors dwindles, the country continues to mourn.

Jewish Journalist Released after Capture in Ukraine Last week, Simon Ostrovsky, a US-Israel reporter with Vice, was held captive for three days by pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine. He was captured when he stopped at a checkpoint after a pro-Russian paramilitary showed him a Russian passport which indicated that he was, in fact,

not a Ukrainian citizen. “I was held for three nights and three days,” Ostrovsky related. “They blindfolded me, tied my hands behind my back, took me down into the cellar, threw me on the floor,” Ostrovsky continued. “Two or three guys, I think, were beating me.” Despite the trauma, Ostrovsky revealed that he was comforted by the fact that they focused their blows on his midsection and were consciously avoiding his face. “I don’t think they want to kill me, I think they just want to put a scare into me,” he said.

Throughout his ordeal, Ostrovsky said he didn’t know if anyone in the West knew he was taken captive. But people did know about his capture, and the world implored his kidnappers to release him. Ostrovsky is known as a brave and adventurous reporter. The situation in Ukraine now is precarious and those who ask questions are in danger. Despite the danger, Ostrovsky vows he will return to the region. “I think the reason they took me is because they wanted to stop me reporting. So, I’d really like to go back to Ukraine and continue sending stories from there, because that’s what it’s all about.”

Nigeria’s $510B Economy

Revised data recently revealed that Nigeria has an economy worth $510 billion. The West African nation is the largest economy in Africa. Yet, 70% of its citizens live in poverty. The new value of Nigeria’s GDP adds previously excluded industries like telecommunications, information technology, music, airlines, burgeoning online retail outlets, and Nollywood film productions that didn’t exist when the last GDP count was computed in 1990. Then, there were

MAY 1, 2014

17 Russian Companies Sanctioned

tire nation is going through post-traumatic stress disorder.” “Koreans are very nationalistic and they take pride in the rapid development of their country. When there’s some problem or anything that reflects poorly on the collective, on the nation or Koreans on the whole, people will get upset about it,” Daniel Pinkson, head of International Crisis Group in Seoul, pointed out.



682 Brotherhood Supporters Sentenced to Death


MAY 1, 2014


300,000 landlines. Today, Nigeria has 100 million cell phone users. Growth in agriculture and tourism since democracy was restored in 1999 also explains the increased figures. Until now, South Africa was regarded as the biggest economy with a GDP of $353 billion. “Nigeria’s success is a reminder that Africa is moving ahead despite its current challenges,” said investment manager Kevin Daly of UK-based Aberdeen Asset Management, which invests in Africa. He pointed out that billionaire Aliko Dangote is a Nigeriean who is building Africa’s largest privately-owned oil refinery. Finance Minister Ngozi Ikonjo-Iweala recently said that the new data makes Nigeria the 26th largest economy in the world and raises its per capita income to $2,688, making it number 121 in the world, up from number 135.

dozen officials at the State and Defense departments, the military’s U.S. Central Command, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Special Operations Command, the CIA, and the FBI are working the case. It seems that Bergdahl’s Taliban captors are anxious to release him, according to a defense official and a military officer, who both spoke to the Associated Press only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case publicly.

Ukrainian Mayor Shot

“Elements in all echelons — from the top of the Taliban down to the folks holding Bergdahl — are reaching out to make a deal,” the defense official said. However, both sides have distrust issues with each other. Although Bergdahl’s abductors have indicated to the U.S. government that they want to deal, the U.S. government has not formally responded to that outreach, the military officer said. Bergdahl, 28, from Idaho, was last seen in a “proof of life” video released in December. It is believed that he is held by members of the Haqqani network, which operates in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region. The Haqqani network was designated as a foreign terrorist organization in 2012 by the State Department.

The mayor of Kharkiv, the second largest city in Ukraine, was shot in the back by Russian-armed insurgents this week on his morning jog. Gennady Kernes, the city’s mayor, was originally against the demonstrators that toppled Russian supported Victor Yanukovych but had since changed his mind and openly opposed Vladiimir Putin’s offensive in Ukraine. His city has largely been unaffected by Russian militants, who have seized government buildings in neighboring towns. The mayor was flown to Israel for treatment of serious injuries. Authorities believe that doctors in Israel have more experience treating those types of wounds that those in Ukraine. Kernes is Jewish and that may have been a factor in him being transferred to Israel as well.

Talks for Bergdahl Release Continue American Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was kidnapped almost five years ago in Afghanistan on June 30, 2009. Recently, his captors have indicated a willingness to release him. It still remains unclear which U.S. government officials have the authority to strike a deal for his release. About two

Kim Jot-That-Down

ed by Kim’s grandfather, Kim Il-Sung, in the 1950s. “It’s about presenting him as having broad knowledge – however, it’s ridiculous. He can’t possibly know about all of these different things. It’s important, however, that the apparatchiks [loyal Communist subordinates] that surround him are seen to be hanging on his every word,” remarked Grayson. Those taking the notes will be exerting extreme caution, according to Professor Steve Tsang of the University of Nottingham. “They wouldn’t want to write down anything that was, say, politically inaccurate, or it might come back to bite them.” Tsang noted that anything that might be used from the notes would first pass through the propaganda department and might wind up considerably altered from its original version. Curious what might be written in the final draft of some of the “Dear Leader” comments? A look at the publication of Kim Il-Sung’s visit of a fishery in 1976 may be a good preview. The note reads, “Watching a truck at work, the president said that its bucket seemed to be small in comparison with its horsepower. He said the problem of carriage would be solved if the bucket was enlarged. Afterwards, the truck’s bucket capacity increased to two tons from 800 kg. As a result, 20 trucks were capable of carrying the load to be done by 50 trucks.” Kim Jong-Un’s propaganda machine and his control of the masses were put on display in March, when reports leaked that he had enacted a new order requiring all North Korean men to have his “Dear Leader” haircut.

Island Nation Sues Nuclear Powers

of U.S. nuclear tests after World War II. It filed a federal lawsuit against the United States in San Francisco, naming President Barack Obama, the Departments and Secretaries of Defense and Energy, and the National Nuclear Security Administration. The Marshall Islands claims the nine countries are modernizing their nuclear arsenals instead of negotiating disarmament, and it estimates that they will spend $1 trillion on those arsenals over the next decade. The countries listed in the suit include Russia, Britain, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea. The last four are not parties in the 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, but the lawsuits argue that they are bound by its provisions under “customary international law.” The Nonproliferation Treaty, considered the cornerstone of nuclear disarmament efforts, requires good faith disarmament negotiations between countries. The Marshall Islands were the site of 67 nuclear tests by the United States over a 12-year period, with lasting health and environmental impacts. “Our people have suffered the catastrophic and irreparable damage of these weapons, and we vow to fight, so that no one else on Earth will ever again experience these atrocities,” the country’s foreign minister, Tony de Brum, said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. The country is seeking action, not compensation. It wants the courts to require the nine nuclear-armed states to meet their obligations. “There hasn’t been a case where individual governments are saying to the nuclear states, ‘You are not complying with your disarmament obligations,’” John Burroughs, executive director of the New York-based Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, part of the international pro-bono legal team. “This is a contentious case that could result in a binding judgment.”

Royal Brother-in-Law Dies

Kim Jong-Un apparently feels that whatever he has to say should be officially documented 24 hours a day. In a recent series of photos, note-taking officials and generals are depicted surrounding the North Korean dictator and recording his every move and word as he visits a unit of female soldiers, a fishery station, a pilot, and a renovated youth camp. Korea expert Professor James Grayson of the University of Sheffield remarked that the photos are “part of the image of  the great  leader offering benevolent guidance,” a propaganda practice institut-

It takes a lot of gall to take on the nine nuclear armed nations of the world. It takes even more of it if you are the tiny Pacific nation of the Marshall Islands. An unprecedented lawsuit has been filed in the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, demanding the United States and eight other countries to meet their obligations toward disarmament and accusing them of “flagrant violations” of international law. The island group was used for dozens

Mark Shand, brother-in-law of Prince Charles, died suddenly at the age of 62 following a head injury. “It is with deep sadness that we have to confirm that the Duchess of Cornwall’s brother, Mark Shand, has today passed away in New York. Mr. Shand died in hospital as a result of a serious head injury which he sustained during a fall last night,” Clarence House said in a statement. “The Duchess, The Prince of Wales, and all her family members are utterly devastated by this sudden and tragic loss. Mark


Bill Gates’ new crusade is to harvest a culture of giving in China. The average per capita income in the Communist country is just $6,091 and rural Chinese may make less than $1,000 annually, while many of the ruling party elite are supremely wealthy. Just days after the founders of Chinese search engine company Ali Baba announced the formation of a $3 billion charitable trust, Gates took out an editorial in the state-run Communist newspaper, The People’s Daily. The newspaper is required reading for all government officials. “China has many successful entrepreneurs and business people. I hope that more people of insight will put their talents to work to improve the lives of poor people in China and around the world, and seek solutions for them,” Gates wrote in the editorial. “Investing for the poor requires participation from the entire community.” Many of the Chinese wealthy, however, are reluctant to donate out of fear that it would bring unwanted attention onto them and their fortune.

Kerry: Israel Can Become an Apartheid State

Israel Gaza’s Ark “Protest Ship” Sunk On Tuesday, a mysterious explosion

It seems hard enough to get John Ker-

ry to keep his mouth shut in public. Now, Israel is fuming over some incendiary and small-minded comments that Kerry made behind closed doors. According to the Daily Beast, Kerry threatened Israel with more Palestinian violence if they don’t make peace. He also said that Israel would become an apartheid state. Former White House press secretary Ari Fleisher blasted out this tweet in response: “Disgusting. Pres O must repudiate Kerry. Kerry Warns Israel Could Become ‘An Apartheid State.’” Tweeted Monica Crowley of Fox News, “Appalling…” State Department official Jen Psaki tweeted in defense of Kerry: “@JohnKerry does not think and has never said Israel is an apartheid state. 2 nations, 2 peoples living peacefully needs 2 state solution.” But the author of the report was quick to rebut: “Right he said it could become one.” Sounds like they need some serious fire engines in Washington.

Abbas: Israel is Committing “Ethnic Cleansing”

On Monday, Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas attacked Israel for not recognizing eastern Jerusalem as “occupied territory,” accusing Israel of “war crimes” and “ethnic cleansing” by allowing movement in its capital city. “Up till now, Israel hasn’t recognized that East Jerusalem is occupied land,” stated Abbas, according to the Arab news agency Wafa. Abbas referred to the UN recognition of “Palestine” as a non-member observer state in 2012, claiming it gave the PA rights along the 1949 Armistice lines and Jerusalem as its capital, and further claiming that Israeli activity in the city is a “war crime” under the Geneva Conventions. “The goal of Israel is to conduct an ethnic purification against the Palestinian residents of the city,” charged Abbas. “Israel is conducting crimes by moving citizens living under occupation to other areas, and in parallel by moving citizens from its territory to occupied territory.” Abbas declared a need for developing a

fund to manage the eastern part of Jerusalem. Speaking before a crowd in Ramallah consisting mainly of Arab businessmen, he declared that he had contributed one million dollars from his “presidential institute” budget, asking for contributions from PA residents, and notably the businessmen in the crowd, to donate to the fund. “We have to defend the city before we lose it, and then crying about it won’t help,” Abbas said regarding  the fund. “There’s no doubt that Jerusalem is the capital of the Palestinian state, and we don’t want to raise a wall that will separate between the East and the West, rather to leave it open to all religions, Christians, Muslims and Jews, to pray at the Kotel,” claimed Abbas. Just a month ago, the PA Minister of Religious Affairs claimed that the Kotel is part of Al-Aqsa Mosque, and therefore off limits to Jews. Even with these divisive remarks, Abbas took the opportunity also to state his demands for the continuation of the peace talks, which reached their April 29 deadline on Tuesday. Those conditions included the release of the fourth and final batch of terrorists offered as a “gesture” by Israel, as well as an Israeli building freeze in eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. An additional condition placed by Abbas was the definition of Israel’s borders, saying, “We have a serious problem in the borders; Israel is the only country that doesn’t have borders.” “The Israelis have to stop saying that their borders are wherever their soldiers arrive at,” charged Abbas. Is this the person we are expected to “make peace” with?

Starbucks’ Rumored Investment

There was some big news this week for home-soda company, SodaStream International.  Stocks of the Ma’ale Adumim-based company took their biggest leap in two years after daily newspaper Globes reported that Starbucks Corporation is negotiating a 10 percent stake in the company. Shares of SodaStream soared 14 percent to $46 in New York, a rally that cut SodaStream’s loss this year to 7.6 percent. Starbucks, the world’s biggest coffee chain, is expected to acquire the stake at a company value of $1.1 billion, although officials have declined to comment on the

MAY 1, 2014

Bill Gates to China’s Elite: Invest in the Poor

sunk Gaza’s Ark, a “protest” boat that was preparing to breach Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza. The blast occurred in Gaza City’s port, and was preceded by an anonymous telephone call warning the guard of the ship that it was about to be blown up, organizers of the “protest” project told AFP. The ship, a large fishing vessel which was being readied to challenge Israeli naval authority in June, sustained major damage and sunk in the shallow waters of the port, leaving three-quarters of it submerged. “An anonymous caller phoned the guard and told him to leave because they were planning to destroy the boat. He was very afraid and ran away,” said project manager Mahfouz Kabariti, adding that the guard was unharmed. “We blame Israel because we have had very bad experiences with them in the past when they destroyed several solidarity boats,” continued Kabariti, referring to the mysterious damaging of two boats in Greece in 2011, which similarly were planning to challenge the blockade. Kabariti added, “We are convinced Israel did it because we were preparing for a test run next week, with the main voyage planned for June 15.” “Gaza’s Ark” was intended to challenged restrictions not allowing ships from Gaza to go beyond six nautical miles from shore. Workers have been working for over a year to outfit the boat to carry goods and more than a 100 passengers. “Gaza’s Ark and all our partners in the Freedom Flotilla Coalition are considering our next move in response to this cowardly act of terrorism,” said anti-Israel activist David Heap. “But our position remains clear – neither this nor any other attack will stop our efforts to challenge the blockade of Gaza until it ends,” added Heap. Fellow activist Ehab Lotayef joined in, saying “Freedom Flotilla boats have been sabotaged before... You can sink a boat but you can’t sink a movement.” Back in October it was reported that members of Canada’s extreme left were behind a large part of the financial backing of “Gaza’s Ark.”


Shand was a man of extraordinary vitality, a tireless campaigner and conservationist whose incredible work through the Elephant Family and beyond remained his focus right up until his death.” Shand, a one-time famous thrill-seeker, became a conservationist whose mission was to save the Asian elephant from extinction. After riding his elephant, Tara, across India, he set up a charity, Elephant Family. He had attended a fundraising event for the charity before he fell and was taken to the hospital. Prince Charles married Camila, Duchess of Cornwall, on April 9, 2005 in a small civil ceremony at Windsor Castle. Shand was her younger brother.


MAY 1, 2014


rumors. In February, Coca-Cola Company agreed to buy a 10 percent stake in Keurig Green Mountain, Inc., which is developing a make-your-own single-serve product similar to SodaStream’s, for approximately $1.25 billion. “The announcement helped validate the do-it-yourself beverage market and fueled speculation that PepsiCo Inc., the world’s second-largest softdrink maker after Coca-Cola, will make a bid for SodaStream,” wrote Bloomberg.

National More Than a Cup of Joe

With endless combinations and concoctions available, Starbucks presents a whole lotta choices for your latte. But have you ever wondered what is exactly the most popular drink ordered at Starbucks nationwide? Well, according to an online survey by the company Quartz, Starbucks costumers aren’t as adventurous as you might have thought; by far the most popular drink is coffee with the “plain ole latte” coming in second. But, there do remain certain drinks that are extremely popular in specific cities: in Seattle, Starbucks’s hometown, residents prefer coffee with an added espresso shot (helps keep you awake during all those dreary, rainy days). All the wannabe movie stars in LA love their two-pump, no whip mocha lattes. In San Diego, everyone’s ordering green tea frappuccinos (hey—that’s not even coffee!). And San Franciscans are way too vegan—they shun milk and prefer soy lattes. As for New York City, you know, the place with two Starbuckses on every street: we like good old Pike Roast coffee. A venti white chocolate skinny machiatto with espresso? Fughedaboutit!

A Chinese Big Apple? Ever wondered where all those Chinese people prancing down Fifth Avenue came from? Well, these days they may not just be tourists; according to the top five real estate brokerages in the city, the Chinese

are now the number one foreign buyers of luxury real estate in New York.

After the sanctions imposed on Russians from unrest in Ukraine, Russian oligarchs and millionaires have slowed down snapping up hot properties in the Big Apple, leaving room for wealthy Chinese buyers to move in. According to Pamela Liebman, CEO of the Corocoran Group, “In sheer numbers, the Chinese outspend the Russians in every segment of the market.” According to some, these new Chinese buyers are just exploiting the relatively favorable valuations of real estate in Manhattan; in Hong Kong, apartments can go for up to $5,000 a square foot, while in New York they’re anywhere between $2,100 to $2,500. The Chinese are also attracted to New York for its renowned educational institutions. Says broker Shawn Elliot, who ferries clients around in a Rolls Royce, “They’re looking for trophy properties. They’re looking for their children to be comfortable, and to be near Columbia or New York University.” Elsewhere in the world, the Chinese are also taking over the market, becoming top buyers in Sydney, Melbourne and London.

world-famous song, “Hurricane,” which lamented Carter’s tragedy. Muhammad Ali also appealed on his behalf. He was granted a new trial and freed in 1976. “I wouldn’t give up,” Carter said in an interview on PBS in 2011. “No matter that they sentenced me to three life terms in prison. I wouldn’t give up. Just because a jury of 12 misinformed people … found me guilty did not make me guilty. And because I was not guilty, I refused to act like a guilty person.” After leaving prison, Carter moved to Toronto. He served as the executive director of the Association in Defense of the Wrongly Convicted from 1993 to 2005. In 1999, director Norman Jewison made Carter’s story into a movie starring Denzel Washington. Washington was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in the film. At the Golden Globes that year, Washington said of Carter, “This man right here is love. He’s all love. He lost about 7,300 days of his life, and he’s love. He’s all love.”

Anti-Semitic “Prank” at NYU

Al Qaeda Leader Calls for Americans’ Capture Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has a new plan to arrange for the release of his kidnapped comrades. According to al Qaeda media arm As-Sahab, the head terrorist has called for militants to kidnap Westerners, especially Americans, to exchange them for jihadist captives.

Death of a Hurricane

That’s the story of the Hurricane/ But it won’t be over till they clear his name/ And give him back the time he’s done/Put him in a prison cell but one time he could-a been/The champion of the world. Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, the man who became a legend after Bob Dylan iconized his fate in a song, died last week at the age of 76 due to prostate cancer. In 1966, Carter, an elite black boxer with an impressive 27-12-1 record with 19 knockouts, was framed by the police in the murder of three white thugs in Paterson, NJ, and was sent to prison by an all-white jury. His racially incited fate became known to the world in 1975, when Bob Dylan released his

elevator. The warnings concluded, “THIS IS NOT A REAL EVICTION NOTICE.” The group said they were replicas of notices routinely left at the homes of Palestinians by the Israeli government. NYU spokesman John Beckman said that while the school encourages open discussion, the prank crossed the line. “It is disappointingly inconsistent with standards we expect to prevail in a scholarly community,” Beckman said. “Our Residence Life and Housing Office will be communicating with the students in the dorm, looking into the matter, and following up appropriately.” NYU officials didn’t understand why Palladium was targeted. “However, were it to be the case that the fliering was done there because it was perceived to be a dorm with a higher proportion of Jewish students, that would be troubling, dismaying, and a matter of deep concern for our community,” Beckman said. Similar hate pranks have been pulled at other universities in recent months, including Rutgers, Michigan, and Northeastern. No one from the group could be reached for comment.

Jewish students were targeted by a pro-Palestinian group this week when a threatening “eviction” notice was slipped under doorways of Jewish students in NYU dorm rooms. ”If you do not vacate the premise by midnight on 25 April, 2014 we reserve the right to destroy all remaining belongings. We cannot be held responsible for property or persons remaining inside the premises,” read the notices, which were delivered by members of the Students for Justice in Palestine. NYU sophomore Hunter Goet, whose room got one of the threatening notices, said, “A lot of people felt transgressed upon because they felt threatened by it. They felt like their housing was being threatened. It was a massive source of panic.” The activist student group targeted Palladium Hall on East 14th Street because it is widely believed to house the most Jewish residents, and it even has a Shabbos

Zawahiri succeeded the late Osama bin Laden as leader of the global terror network in 2011. In the first part of the interview, the al Qaeda chief called for unity amid widening divisions with a rival jihadist organization. In the second part the interview, which was posted on Twitter, Zawahiri was asked what Muslims should do to free militant prisoners. “I advise them to capture Westerners and especially the Americans as much as they can, to exchange them for their captives,” he replied.



MAY 1, 2014



Obama and the Robot

Ever thought President Obama looks a little stiff during speeches? Well, this week the president got his first interaction with a real robot at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo, Japan. Obama was introduced to ASIMO, a robot who “was about the size of a 10-yearold child and was dressed in an astronaut suit,” according to a White House pool report. ASIMO then walked up to a soccer ball and said, “I can kick a soccer ball, too.” He then sailed one towards Obama, who blocked it with his foot. Said Obama, “How about that! That was pretty impressive!” “I have to say,” the president later said, “that the robots were a little scary, they were too lifelike. They were amazing.” I heard the White House is now thinking of replacing its teleprompter with a robot.

Too Many Parents on Too Many Smartphones Many parents complain that their children spend too much time with a screen in front of them. But a new study shows that

it’s the parents who are attached to their phones in an unhealthy way. Researchers at the Boston Medical Center observed 55 different groups of parents and young children eating at fastfood restaurants. The study found that the majority pulled out their mobile devices right away, and, in turn, their kids tended to act up more in the eatery. “It’s just normal childhood behavior,” said parenting coach Toni Schutta. “If I can’t get your attention in a positive way, I’m going seek it in a negative way.”

tached to our phones.” Once her daughter starting talking, however, it was the push she needed to kick her phone habit. “Dinner is a good time to have family time, so trying to keep the phone as much as possible away,” she said. A novel idea…

Schutta says parents spend, on average, 11 hours a day using electronic devices. All that time takes away from face-toface communication that helps kids learn behavior. “Kids in preschool and kindergarten are no longer as able to read social cues from other human beings,” Schutta said. “That’s in part because of their own media use and it’s in part because of their parents’ media use; they’re just not getting that training.” Too much time with technology can also leave an emotional impact on your child if you’re missing life moments for email. “We get such a limited amount of time with our kids in the day, we need meaningful conversations,” Schutta pointed out. Suzanne Ferguson of Minneapolis said she and her husband used to be smartphone addicts, checking their emails around their kids. “We were the couple that would go out to eat at dinner and both be on our own phones,” she said. “We’re very much at-

Dan Clevenger has resigned from his position of mayor of Marionville, Missouri. The reason that town may sound familiar is because it is the hometown of Kansas City killer Frazier Glenn Miller, the anti-Semitic gunman and former KKK leader who killed three people earlier this month at Jewish centers in Kansas City. Clevenger was forced to resign over comments in which he said that he “kind of agreed with him [Miller] on some things, but I don’t like to express that too much.” At least some of those points of agreement are apparent in a letter Clevenger wrote to the Aurora Advertiser several years ago, in which he introduced himself as “a friend of Frazier Miller, helping to spread his warnings.” “The Jew-run medical industry has succeeded in destroying the United States workforce,” the former mayor wrote, and went on to attack “the Jew-run government-backed banking industry” which he said “turned the United States into the world’s largest debtor nation.” The town’s aldermen had voted 4-1 to start impeachment proceedings, and residents attending a special meeting demanded his resignation. Frazier Glenn Miller, also known as  Frazier Glenn Cross, is  facing the death penalty over a shooting-spree at two Kansas City Jewish institutions which left three people dead.



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Anti-Semitic Mayor Forced to Resign



Iranian Building in NYC to Give be Sold for Victims of Terror

A Manhattan building linked to Iran

has been seized by the U.S. government. The ruling, handed down last week, said that the Iranian companies that own 650 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan must forfeit the building to the victims of terrorism. The skyscraper, worth $500 million, was majority-owned by the Alavi Foundation, a non-profit organization that promotes Islamic culture and the Persian language. The 36-story, 382,500 square-foot building stands at the corner of Fifth Avenue and West 52nd Street, near the Rockefeller Center and Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. In a 2009 lawsuit, the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office claimed that the Alavi Foundation was controlled by Iran. It also said that two minority owners, Assa Corp. and Assa Co. Ltd., were shell companies backed by Iran’s Bank Melli. Among the plaintiffs are five Israeli families who were victims of a double suicide attack in Jerusalem in 1997. In 2002, a U.S. Federal Court awarded them compensation of $272 million.

Under last week’s settlement, however, the families will have to share the proceeds from the sale of the building with hundreds of American terror victims, including victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Last year, U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest in the Manhattan Federal Court ruled that the owners were deliberately “shielding and concealing Iranian assets” in violation of U.S. law and that the skyscraper was subject to government forfeiture. Attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, head of the Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center, expressed satisfaction over the New York court ruling. Darshan-Leitner said that the families of the victims of the 1997 Jerusalem bombing will receive a hefty sum from the proceeds of the sale even after sharing with other victims. “The building is valued at half a billion dollars. We did have the first right to it but many joined the lawsuit, and the U.S. government decided that the property will be divided among all the victims,” she said. According to Darshan-Leitner, despite the victory, there is still a long way to go until the victims and their families receive the compensation. “The Iranian organization that owns the building will probably appeal the ruling and it could take another two years. But we believe that in the end,


Whoops. The New York Police Department did not exactly get the results they were looking for after asking people to post images of themselves and NYPD officers on Twitter. “Do you have a photo w/ a member of the NYPD? Tweet us & tag it #myNYPD. It may be featured on our Facebook,” the Department posted on its NYPD News Twitter feed, hoping to fuel a feel-good, lowcost public relations campaign. The result was many pictures of alleged police brutality. Images and tweets of arrests of demonstrators went viral, including an officer pulling the hair of a handcuffed young black woman and another of the bloodied face of an 84-year-old stopped for jaywalking. One image depicting police after striking a protestor prompted the following comment: “Here the #NYPD engages with its community members, changing hearts and minds one baton at a time.” Also largely criticized was the unpopular “stop and frisk” policy, which many argue unfairly targets minority youth. So far, the NYPD has yet to post any happy shots on its Facebook page from its request for public submissions.

Con-Grads! 80% of High School Students Receive Diploma

Report: Wrongfully Convicted Getting Death Penalty According to a new study, as many as 300 people who were sentenced to death in the U.S. over a three-decade period were likely innocent. Dozens of defendants sentenced to death in recent years have been exonerated before their sentences could be carried out, but many more were probably falsely convicted, said University of Michigan professor Samuel Gross, the study’s lead author. “Our research adds the disturbing news that most innocent defendants who have been sentenced to death have not been exonerated,” Gross wrote in the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In their research, Gross and his colleagues examined the 7,482 U.S. death sentence convictions between 1973 and 2004. Of those, 117 had been exonerated in recent years, thanks to the efforts of numerous groups and a tide of public attention to issues surrounding the death penalty. Gross and his co-authors estimat-

ed that about 4 percent of those sentenced to death were actually innocent, nearly three times the number exonerated during that period. For their conclusion, the research group used a mathematical formula that included the number of inmates whose sentences were commuted to life imprisonment, the length of time it took for a convicted inmate on death row to be set free, and the number of inmates who were exonerated.

Interestingly, the research indicates that once inmates’ sentences are commuted to life imprisonment, they are far less likely to be exonerated, mostly because there are fewer legal resources allocated to their cases. “If you were never sentenced to death, you never had the benefit – if you call it a benefit – of that process,” Gross said. Although the study focuses on a period ending 10 years ago, the percentage of false death sentence convictions likely holds true today.

Lovin’ the Livin’ What do farmers and Eskimos have in common? Not only are they used to freezing weather, they both love where they live. A recent Gallup poll shows that Montanans and Alaskans are both the happiest about the state they live in, saying it was one of the best places for them to live. (More Texans think that you can’t mess with Texas and it’s the best state in the US, but fewer Texans think it’s one of the best compared to Montana and Alaska folk.)

Who can’t stand their state? Well, more than a quarter of Illinois residents think it’s the worst place to

MAY 1, 2014

NYPD Twitter Snafu

US high schools have reached a milestone: they finally graduate eighty percent of students. Although the ultimate goal of a ninety percent graduation rate may seem far off— experts say 2020 at the earliest—the eighty percent success rate has been the product of an aggressive program targeting high school dropout rates for the last decade, including schools’ use of one-on=one intervention specialists. Also, increases in the African-American and Hispanic graduation rates helped boost the overall number. Fifteen percent more Hispanics and nine percent more blacks graduate now than in 2006. Iowa, Vermont, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Texas were the states with the highest success rates: 88 to 89 percent. At the bottom of this list are high schools in Alaska, Georgia, New Mexico, Oregon and Nevada, which only graduate approximately seventy percent of students. “At a moment when everything seems so broken and seems so unfixable ... this story tells you something completely different,” said John Gomperts, president of America’s Promise Alliance, the organization that helped produce the report.


we will win, and Iran will pay,” she said.


MAY 1, 2014


live. That should make sense, judging by the fact that they also mistrust their corrupt state government most and are very resentful about its taxes. And take that Joisey—only twenty eight percent of its residents think it’s a good place to live. (And I heard they’re all on Chris Christie’s payroll). What makes happy residents? Accord-

ing to Gallup, it takes “greater standard of living, higher trust in state government, and less resentment toward the amount they pay in state taxes.” Still, that may not always be the case; West Virginians, who rank pretty low on the US economic scale and have high stress levels, are still in the middle of the list of satisfied state residents. Go figure.

Obama: I Regret Not Spending Time with My Mother You may not agree with his politics,


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but you can’t argue with his values. While on a tour of Asia, President Obama took out an hour for an open question and answer session with high school students. He candidly spoke about his regrets about not spending more time with his mother who died in 1995, at the age of 52. “There was a stretch of time from when I was, let’s say, 20 until I was 30, where I was so busy with my own life that I didn’t always reach out and communicate with her and ask her how she was doing and tell her about things,” Obama said. “I was nice and I’d call and write once in a while. But this goes to what I was saying earlier about what you remember in the end, I think, is the people you love. I realized that I didn’t – every single day, or at least more often – just spend time with her and find out what she was thinking and what she was doing, because she had been such an important part of my life.”

On that vein, Obama asserted that family is central to his having a happy life and also “feeling as if I’ve been true to my beliefs and that I’ve lived with some integrity.” As for what he would like his legacy to be, Obama said that fathering his daughters Malia and Sasha and being a good husband are his priorities, “because if you don’t do those things well, then everything else you’re gonna have problems with.”

That’s Odd Hair Today, Not Gone Tomorrow

Walk in Appointments Welcome Tower Saint John’s Imaging | 2202 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90403 www.towersji.com | Tel: (310) 264-9000 | Fax (310) 264-4092 Women in China’s Long-horn Miao minority have an interesting tradition.


“Honey, what are you thinking about?” It’s the dream of every wife: to be able to read her husband’s (usually blank) mind. And it may not be too far off in the future. Scientists at prominent universities are making promising leads into the world of mind reading.

Customer Pays for More than Just the Food Many young adults wait tables in or-

der to earn extra cash while they figure out their lives. Melissa Mainier from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, used to serve patrons at Peachtree Restaurant and Lounge. One afternoon in 2010, Benjamin Olewine, a local philanthropist, dined in the restaurant. During his brief conversation with Mainier, the waitress mentioned that she was in college and attempting to slowly pay off her massive student loans. To her surprise, Olewine offered his financial support.

“He said, ‘I’d love to help you.’ I was like, help me? What is he talking about?” Mainier recalls. “He elaborated, and he said if I needed help financially, he would be happy to help.”

MAY 1, 2014

Reading our Minds to Become a Reality?

Marcel Just, head of Carnegie Mellon’s Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging, has predictions for a future where government officials can read our thoughts, but, “I don’t think we have to worry about this in the next 5-10 years, but it’s interesting to think about. What if all of our thoughts were public?” Just is working on allowing our brains to dial phone contacts or direct a cursor by just thinking. ( And you thought Google glass was too geeky?) Recently, researchers at Yale were able to scan subjects’ brains and identify who the person was looking at just from reading the brain scan. The researchers first copied scans with their complementary faces onto a computer and then trained the computer to interpret new scans into faces. It was correct almost seventy percent of the time! Says Marvin Chun, author of the Yale study, “This really is bringing science fiction closer to reality.”

a woman combs her hair, she collects it, and she hands it to her daughter when her daughter marries.” She added, “For some people, their history is in books. However, for the Miao, their history is on their heads.” I wonder if those wigs are more affordable than ours…


They create elaborate headdresses out of the hair of their dead ancestors and wear them at special occasions. Some of the hair they use dates back to hundreds of years ago. The women save the strands of their hair that shed when they brush. The hair is then carefully woven around horn-shaped headdresses fitted to the heads of the young women and girls. Every wig, made of hair, yarn, and twine, is passed down from mother to daughter. They are dyed and carefully maintained to preserve a shiny and healthy look. Although there are now less than 5,000 members in the Miao minority, the strong tradition carries on. Shu Tu, 27, a Chinese expert in minority cultures, said, “The wigs are worn on all sorts of big occasions, from weddings… to feast days, and traditionally they also used to be worn by the men. But it seems as if it was, at the end of the day, too much effort for the menfolk, and they gradually dropped the tradition. But it continued among the women, and the hairdos that they have now include hair not only from the mother and grandmother but probably even the great-grandmother and even older… It’s regarded as a living way for them to honor their ancestors. Every time


MAY 1, 2014


At first, Mainier was reluctant to accept such a tremendous favor, but eventually she agreed. She is currently a nurse at Pinnacle Health’s General Osteopathic Hospital and is working toward a bachelor’s degree from Drexel University. Olewine is paying every single expense related to her studies, from tuition to books. “[My parents] were both so shocked when I told them; they couldn’t believe it,” says Mainier, who adds that her father passed away two years ago. “My dad was so happy for me. Both my parents were just so happy for me. I’m sure they would [have wanted] to help me if they could.” Olewine, who made his money in the food industry and has a charitable track record, hopes she continues her education and earns a master’s degree,. Of course, he is willing and glad to cover her expenses. “I’m going to continue to pay it forward,” Mainier vowed, “for the rest of my life.”

with her mother’s still-pristine pink lipstick kiss. This card has tremendous sentimental value to Heifetz since her parents passed away over a decade ago. “I always knew that my parents watched over the family,” Heifetz related. “It’s something else to get something like this. It validates everything.” Strangely, three days later, another letter arrived dated back to 1969! This letter was from an old friend. At this point Heifetz contacted the post office. Officials were unable to explain the delays, but they did discover a third piece of mail – a 1969 birthday card from her brother. I guess I’ll stick with my eCards.

knew Platz, who died at age 54. “I knew very little about my grandfather, but I found out that he was a writer who was very open-minded [and] believed in freedom and that everyone should respect each other,” she said. “He did a lot for the young and later traveled with his wife and two daughters.” She was grateful to have a tangible connection to her roots. The postcard will go on display in a German museum. Come to think of it, postcards themselves belong in museums.

Message in a Bottle Found…A Century Later

Fastest Ride to the Top

Is This Letter Better Late than Never?

It was a normal day at work for Konrad Fischer, a fisherman fishing off the coast of Germany, until he discovered a message in a bottle, literally.

Susan Heifetz got a whole lot of mail last week, except the letters from her family arrived to her former address 45 years too late. Heifetz grew up in an apartment building in Sheepshead Bay of Brooklyn. Recently, the current tenant at that apartment received two letters for Heifetz. The Good Samaritan tracked her down about the mail that was postdated June 27, 1969. “I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh,’” Heifetz recalled. “He said, ‘I have a letter for you and the only reason I’m trying to find you is because it’s postmarked 1969.” “I said, ‘Tell me what else is on the envelope. He said to me, ‘On the back is a lipstick mark,’ and at that point I started to cry. This was my mother’s thing at the time — to always seal it with a kiss.” The letter was a birthday card from her parents for her 19th birthday. “Dear Susan,” the card began. “Mazel Tov.” It was signed, “Love and kisses, Mamma Molly and Daddy Sam,” sealed

Last month, Fischer found the postcard that was mostly illegible aside from the name of the sender, Richard Platz. In the note, Platz requests that the message be forwarded back to him. However, it may be hard to track him down. The letter is dated from the year 1913. Platz’s postcard is thought to be the oldest message in a bottle in the world right now. Despite its age, Fischer wanted to return the postcard to Platz and tracked down Angela Erdmann, 62, the sender’s granddaughter. “It was very surprising,” said Erdmann. “A man stood in front of my door and told me he had post from my grandfather. He then told me that a message in a bottle was found and that the name that was on the card was that of my grandfather.” Platz wrote the note when he was just 20 years old. Sadly, Erdmann never

Hitachi has announced that its new high-speed elevator for the Guangzhou CTF Financial Centre in China will travel at 45mph (1,200 meters per minute). Hold on to your hats. This speed will allow the elevator to reach the 95th floor in just 43 seconds. The elevator will carry economists, officials, and guests up and down the approximately 1,700-foot skyscraper. There will also be a double decker elevator to utilize all vertical space. The company told reporters that they will employ the latest technologies to ensure a smooth ride and to prevent vibrations and noise. Of course, safety is on everyone’s mind as they’re plunging vertically. But the company says that safety is guaranteed with state-of-the-art brakes that can sustain temperatures of over 300 degrees Celsius and still operate.

Until now, the record-holder for the world’s fastest elevator was held by the elevator in the Tapei 101 building in Taiwan, which travels at 37.7 mph and reaches its top floor in just 30 seconds. I wonder if they give out motion sickness meds on your dizzying flight to the top.

Biggest Bundle of Joy

On April 22, there was huge news in the nursery of Massachusetts General Hospital. Doctors there delivered the biggest baby in over a decade. Baby Carissa was born in the late afternoon and weighed 14 pounds, 5 ounces. During her pregnancy, mom Caroline Ruscak said strangers often asked her if she was expecting twins. But big babies run in the family. Both parents were born weighing approximately 10 pounds. Mom is 5 feet, 9 inches tall, and Dad is 6 feet, 6 inches tall. Their first child was born weighing 10 pounds, 5 ounces. “Everyone in the operating room was like, ‘Oh my G-d!’” Ruscak remembers. “All that matters is that she’s healthy,” says the new mother. I wonder how many bottles she drinks a day.

1,000 Days of Summer

Many people considered Tomislav Perko lucky when he got a high-paying job as a stockbroker at the age of 23 in his native city of Zagreb in Croatia back in 2007. Aside from earning $10K a month, he also loved the thrill of chasing the market. “I had my own apartment. I bought


he says. After Asia, he planned to go to Australia, the most expensive leg of his trip. Eventually, he found an airfare deal for a $120 one-way ticket to Brisbane on Air Asia. After Australia, his next destination was Africa, but he had to figure out a way to cross the Indian Ocean. Perko searched for a job on FindACrew.net, a site where boat captains can find crews to help out on trips in exchange for free passage. He had zero experience on the open seas, but luckily, Perko managed to talk his way into the three-person crew of a 45-foot yacht. Throughout his journey, he found places to stay for free, worked in exchange for rent, or set up camp by bus stops. As one could imagine, after over a year, he was exhausted. Although he was only halfway into his 1,000 day goal, he decided to return home for a break. Travelling had taken a toll on him both physically and mentally. “In the end, I realized that this freedom I was striving for is the freedom to choose what you want to do in that moment,” he says. “If that is to go back home and cut the trip short, you do that.” Due to the popularity of his blog and Facebook page, Perko had become quite the celebrity in Zagreb and Croatia by the time he returned. After two months, he set out for the final leg of his journey to South America. Perko details his experiences in his book, 1,000 Days of Spring, which he is still hoping to self-publish. Living on $10 a day has just been added to my bucket list.

Together Until the Very End “Till death do us part.” At least one couple took that quite literally. Helen, 92, and Kenneth, 91, Felumlee died within fifteen hours of each other after being married for seventy years. The couple met as teenagers and was married in 1944, raising eight children over the years. Helen was a homemaker and Kenneth a mail carrier until his retirement a number of years ago. After retiring, the couple travelled to all fifty states by bus together. They did not sleep apart from each other until three years ago, when he had his leg amputated, and ate breakfast every day while holding each other’s hand.

“We knew when one went, the other was going to go,” daughter Linda Cody told the Zanesville Times Recorder. “We wanted them to go together, and they did. She was staying strong for Dad and he was staying strong for her, that’s what kept them going.” They had 23 grandchildren and 43 great grandchildren.

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more than 150 other couch surfers from around the world. “By listening to their stories and realizing that it is possible to travel with almost no money, I decided to try it out,” Perko relates. “I went on a 4-day trip to Bulgaria. There was no going back after that.” Perko had studied tourism in college and enthusiastically began planning an around-the-world trip that would take 1,000 days. He selected locations with warm climates like the Middle East, Asia, Australia, Africa, and Latin America, so he wouldn’t need heavy gear and layers of clothing. Perko expected to travel frugally. He had about $1,300 for his excursion and decided on a budget of $10 a day. He planned to try to find work on the road and write a travel blog in the hopes of earning some cash along the way to fund the rest of his trip. But it seems that people really liked hearing about his excursions. Perko’s blog caught local media attention, which lead to MasterCard to offer Perko $1,000 a month to wear their logo abroad and occasionally advertise for them on his blog and Facebook page, which eventually attracted more than 25,000 fans. The intrepid traveler named his trip “1,000 Days of Summer” and officially set out in September 2011. It took him about two weeks to hitchhike his way east to his first destination, Turkey, where he began an eight-month journey through Asia and the Middle East, including stops in Pakistan, Iran, and Iraq. From the Middle East, he ventured on to India, Nepal, Malaysia, and Thailand. “I realized I could travel and it was cheaper than living at home in Croatia,”


everything I wanted, went to all the parties, all the restaurants,” Perko boasts. “I was always thinking money is what makes you successful. I thought that was what I was supposed to do my entire life.” Of course, his quick success fed his ego, and he convinced a few family members and close friends to invest $30,000 of their life savings in the market with him. “I told them they could not lose,” Perko recalls. “In those days, you couldn’t lose.” But then came the financial crisis of 2008. Although the recession began in the U.S., its effects extended overseas, and all of Perko’s clients’ portfolios disappeared, along with his friends’ and family’s savings. “I couldn’t really stay there and look at red screens every day with nervous clients calling me non-stop,” Perko said. So he decided to quit in early 2009 with zero savings and over $30,000 of debt. At that time, youth unemployment rates in Croatia reached nearly 50%. Perko was considered one of the lucky ones when he was hired to work at a juice bar and wait tables. “It was completely a change of my lifestyle,” says Perko, now 29. “That was my new beginning.” His change of fortune radically changed his life. One day, Perko randomly met a man from France who was traveling through Europe using a website called CouchSurfing.org. The site is a global social networking platform that connects travelers with people in countries all over the world who are willing to open their doors to them free of charge. Perko offered him a place to crash, and in less than a year, he went on to host


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Science and Technology in the Headlines Nissan develops self-cleaning car Car wash owners may want to brace themselves: Nissan has developed a new self-cleaning car. No, it’s not robots doing the work. Rather, Nissan, in collaboration with Ultra Tech International Inc., has come up with a highly advanced type of surface coating called Ultra Ever-Dry that repels both oil and water by creating a thin layer of air between the paint and the environment. A video put out by Nissan shows a car painted with Ultra Ever-Dry driving through a muddy road while the dirt rolls right off the surface and the car stays spotless. This innovative technology has only been tested by Nissan’s European division and there are no plans as of yet to export it to North America. Space transport company SpaceX plans to sue Air Force The pioneering space company SpaceX, headed by Elon Musk (billionaire, former Paypal investor, and CEO of Tesla Motors) has decided to sue the Air Force for what it alleges are unfair no-bid contracts given to rivals Lockheed Martin and Boeing, both represented in the joint venture United Launch Alliance. The complaint stems specifically from a “block buy” of 36 launches from ULA by the Air Force. ULA was awarded the contract without any competing bids and at a cost of billions of dollars. SpaceX asserts that this is an example of government waste and inefficiency, and that they could have done it at a far cheaper price. In particular, they claim that their Falcon 9 rocket costs at least four times less than the rockets developed by ULA. Musk wants the ULA exclusive contract canceled and the Air Force to establish a competitive bidding system. This is not the first time Musk and Space X have butted heads with Lockheed and Boeing. In 2005, Musk filed an antitrust suit to prevent ULA from coming into existence in the first place. The case was dismissed. Spanish island will 100% powered by renewable energy In a first of its kind, the little-known remote island of El Hierro in the Canary Island chain off the coast of Africa will be completely powered by wind and solar energy with no connection to any outside electrical grid. Five wind turbines will be set up at the northeastern tip of the island to provide 11.5 megawatts of power to the island’s 11,000 residents - more than enough to meet demand. This power will also be used for the island’s energy-intensive desalination plants from which their freshwater is derived. When wind is in short supply, the island will turn to its hydroelectric station using water, stored in the crater of an extinct volcano, to produce electricity. There is also a conventional fuel power station as a backup. In all, this

move is estimated to reduce the island’s carbon footprint by around 19,000 tons per year, eliminate the 40,000 barrels of oil consumed annually, and save about $4 million per year. El Hierro’s bold move is attracting international attention from other islands such as Aruba, Hawaii, and Malta. Representatives from El Hierro have been invited to speak at international energy conferences in Malta and South Korea. But El Hierro’s plans don’t stop at providing renewable energy for homes. Officials there also plan to run all 6,000 vehicles on the island with renewable energy by 2020. Corn-based biofuels are more polluting than gasoline, scientists say Corn-based ethanol is an energy alternative touted by many including the biofuel industry and the federal government which has paid out billions of dollars in farm subsidies over the past decade. Opponents have long argued that corn-based ethanol is resource-intensive and depletes the food supply thereby raising prices and hurting those who are economically vulnerable. Now, scientists at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have published a paper finding that corn-based ethanol actually increases carbon emissions by 7% over a five-year period through the burning of plant residue, thus disqualifying the fuel from being classified as renewable according to federal guidelines. The scientists say burning the plants rather than leaving them in the ground leads to soil depletion and thus more carbon pollution. Needless

to say, government and industry leaders were quick to attack the study as flawed. One called it “highly academic” and another pointed out that the study presented too simplistic a model that doesn’t account for variations in soil depletion over a given area. Nevertheless, the authors of the study contend that their research is the most accurate to date and that government policy is misguided. On a related note, scientists at Stanford University have developed an ethanol

production method that doesn’t use any plants, but rather a copper metal catalyst. They envision this technology one day becoming carbon-neutral by converting CO2 to make liquid fuel to power the catalyst. Each time it produces ethanol, the catalyst will emit CO2 which will be used to fuel the process all over again in a closed loop. (Sources: RT, Phys.org, ExtremeTech, NPR)



never expected that my class in organic agriculture would bring me to learn about the kashrus of quail and of other birds. Of course, I learned these things indirectly as a result of the class, and not in the class itself. While in the process of doing research on the differences between eggs of pastured and non-pastured (conventionally raised) chickens, I became interested in eggs of different birds and how they differ from chicken eggs. For instance, I was told that duck eggs, “a baker’s secret,” are commonly used by many bakers as their yolks are desired for rich cakes and cookies and I then went in search of finding some to see for myself how they differ. This search brought me to find the eggs of a bird that had never even crossed my mind: quail. While looking for duck eggs in a local farmer’s market I noticed a carton of locally raised quail eggs being sold at a discounted price. I quickly took interest and decided that it would be interesting to experiment with them and see how they differ from chicken eggs and bought them to make for Shabbos—hey, it’s a cool and exotic kosher food, right? As it turns out, it’s not that simple. While the Torah provides physical signs and characteristics in mammals (i.e. that they have both split hooves and

chew their cud) and fish (i.e. that they have both fins and scales) that identify them as a kosher species, it does not do the same for birds. Rather, the Torah lists 24 families of non-kosher birds and leaves it to be assumed that accordingly the remaining species of birds are all kosher. But it’s still not that simple! According to tradition, after the Torah was given, Moses identified and detailed to the Jewish people which birds were

Alex Idov

This is a great recipe to use with quail eggs, as it is easy and adds a cool/fancy touch to a meal as a garnish or accompaniment. Of course, you can make this recipe with regular ol’ chicken eggs, as well. permitted to be eaten, and which were forbidden. This oral tradition, known as a mesorah, has been passed down from generation to generation for thousands of years. Of course, many things get lost over time—and this is no exception. Thus the status of the acceptability of many birds as kosher is not as widely recognized or accepted as the birds for which we have a stronger based tradition and they are thus forbidden to be eaten according to the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law). For instance, it is universally accepted that chicken is a kosher bird while even today some people will still not accept turkey as a kosher bird. According to the O-U’s website, many families of birds have been accepted as kosher in different localities at one time in history including goose, pigeons, doves, and of course—quail. As any student of the Bible could tell you, quail are mentioned in the book of Exodus when the Jewish people, who were wandering in the Sinai desert, complained of a lack of meat. In response to this complaint, G-d sent slav, which is commonly translated as quail, for the Jewish people to eat. The only issue with simply translating slav as quail is that there are currently almost 50 breeds of birds identified as “quail.” The common Coturnix quail, also known as Pharaoh, Bible, and Nile quail, is the breed of quail that is accepted as kosher according to the Orthodox Union (OU). This recognition comes as the result of much research by the Orthodox Union team, in particular Rabbi Chaim Loike (the OU bird expert). As I am sure you can tell from some of the names this bird is referred by, this quail is said to be of the same kind that the Jewish people ate in the desert after leaving Egypt (i.e. Bible quail/Pharaoh quail) and the same quail that was commonly eaten by the Jews of Europe prior to WWII. In order to identify the kosher quail, Rabbi Loike, along with some of his fellow peers, met with Rabbi Zweigenhoft, a Holocaust survivor who prior to the war was well recognized in Europe

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½ cup cider vinegar ½ cup water ½ cup peeled and grated beet (from about ½ medium beet) or juice from 15 oz. can with beets included 4 teaspoons granulated sugar 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for serving 2 teaspoons pickling spice 24 quail eggs Preparation Place the eggs in a medium saucepan with a tight-fitting lid and cover with cold water by 1 inch. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Immediately remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let sit 3-4 minutes. Prepare an ice water bath by filling a large bowl halfway with ice and water. When the eggs are ready, transfer them with a slotted spoon to the ice water bath. Let sit until the eggs are cold, about 5 minutes. Carefully crack and peel each egg and rinse under cold water to remove any residual shell pieces and set aside. In a pint or Mason jar, combine vinegar, water, beets and beet juice, sugar, salt, and pickling spices. Cover and shake jar to make sure all ingredients are well-combined. Carefully add eggs to the jar and refrigerate overnight. These can stay in the fridge for up to one week. Serve halved with coarse salt sprinkled on top.

for his knowledge of the identification of various kosher species. Rabbi Zweigenhoft detailed how to identify the kosher quail from the non-kosher quail and this information was then compared to historical/biological information on the quail of Europe. Also playing a key role in the identification of the Coturnix quail as the kosher quail was archeological evidence in Egyptian pyramids which contained depictions of these quail being harvested by the Egyptians. This indicated that these were the birds which were present in the desert and thus consumed by the wandering Jews. With all this information indicating the Coturnix as the kosher quail, the OU officially recognized the bird as a kosher species.


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If you should have the desire to try cooking with quail eggs (as I did), I recommend that you do your research in verifying that the eggs you find are those of a Coturnix quail and to check with your local kashrus organization as to comply with their acceptance of quail/eggs and their kashrus standards.

Alex Idov is a kosher food blogger who runs the award-winning site ‘Kosherology’ and a regular contributing food columnist to The Jewish Home magazine. He is currently studying for his bachelor’s degree in Culinary Sustainability & Hospitality. Visit ‘Kosherology’ at www.exploretheworldofkosher. com and like ‘Kosherology’ on Facebook.


MAY 1, 2014



As a preschool teacher and native Mexican, Sara Betesh dreamed about opening a Kosher restaurant with kids’ indoor play area for years. Her husband, Rabbi Abraham Betesh, who runs a Jewish outreach organization called Chesed Avraham, was very supportive of the concept. Although the Betesh family had no experience in the restaurant industry, their Mexican relatives are renowned for their traditional Mexican cooking and for years the Betesh family dreamed of starting a venture together. Finally, after years of planning, Sara Betesh’s cousins agreed to move from Mexico to California with the shared vision of creating a children’s play zone along with a restaurant that serves authentic Kosher Mexican food. Taco Flame was born a few weeks before Pesach and has had a steady popularity since the day it opened. I, like many others, lapped up the idea of a place where adults and kids could enjoy non-pizza food while being entertained. Even if all Taco Flame offered were bare basic Mexican style foods I would have been happy, but their cuisine and selections are both delicious and, in some cases, quite daring. Taco Flame’s friendly manager, Miguel Guerrero tells me that the most popular dishes are the tortilla soup and Mole Verde Enchiladas. Mole Enchiladas include 3 corn tortillas stuffed with either chicken, meat or vegetables covered with mole sauce. Knowledgeable cooks and Top Chef fan’s may remember that mole is a traditional Mexican sauce made out of many exciting ingredients including chili peppers, spices and tomatoes. Mole is served so frequently that 99% of all Mexicans must have tasted it, and mole is a must at celebrations. The revered sauce takes several hours to prepare and

has over 20 unique ingredients! This is why most chefs will prepare a “faux mole” that tastes similar, but is missing the depth of flavor that only preparation and patience can create. Chef Miguel is very proud that Taco Flame offers “the real thing”. The Mole Verde Enchilada is complete with mushrooms and faux sour cream and cheese. I’ve been a few times with my kids and I’ve personally enjoyed the Beef Fajitas best of all. This is excellent for lowcarb dieters and meat lovers because the dish comes to the table piping hot on its own little skillet with the soft fajita shells on the side. You can choose to stuff the

eral healthier options that little children will devour, but will make you feel like you actually fed your kid something decent for dinner. My kids like the mini sliders, which are three cute and tiny hamburgers and the Tiny Taquitos which are crispy with shredded chicken inside; feel free to sneak a bite while the kids are playing in the Fun Zone next door. I know a thing or two about health codes, and creating play areas for children in a restaurant is very challenging. For all those who kvetch about the lack of “a Kosher Chuck-E-Cheese”, the health codes are a large part of the reason they don’t really exist. I commend the

Beef pieces into the shell, or skip the shell and eat the soft, savory meat solo. Most meals come with delicious guacamole and your choice of rice. Go for the green rice with herbs; it’s very different and although I never thought I’d describe rice as “refreshing”, this is. I absolutely love that Taco Flame offers both traditional kiddie guilty pleasures like chicken nuggets as well as sev-

Betesh family in doing this restaurant in a very smart way that keeps the Health Department at bay. Officially the restaurant is separate from the Fun Zone; there is a large plexiglass window in between the areas so you can keep an eye on your children while they play and you eat. The play area is charming and includes a couple of slides, a ball pit, and a climbing area. The Fun Zone also hosts

a train table, large blocks and Fisher Price toys for children aged 3 and under, as well as an air hockey table. The second room will be of interest to your 7 and up crew: there’s an arcade room complete with several video games and 2 gaming systems. They’ve used the space well and children of all ages can play for hours. A few tips: Remove yarmulkes and shoes before entering the ball pit. When I last checked Taco Flame had a collection of 12 kippahs that recently resurfaced inside the ball pit. Also, the arcade does NOT require quarters, I really appreciated this after I already stuck $2 worth of quarters in the machines. It’s nice not to be nickled and dimed while you are paying for a meal. You can eat your enchilada and relax. Taco Flame can be rented out for birthday parties or other events. I think it would be an adorable place for an upshernish. There’s a large patio and an elevator to the restaurant with some parking in front of the strip mall that houses Taco Flame and more parking in the basement. Taco Flame is at 5450 W. Pico Blvd. #204 in Los Angeles. You can reach them at 323-634-7544 or 323-634-7344. Visit them at www.tacoflamela.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.  





Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman, International Director - Yachad

JUNE 13-15, 2014 visit yachad.org/family


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