THE JEWISH HOME SEPTEMBER 24, 2015 2
THE JEWISH HOME SEPTEMBER 24, 2015
THE JEWISH HOME
SEPTEMBER 24, 2015
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JEWISH THOUGHT Changing Ourselves. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 At the Root of Sukkos Joy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 It’s Not A Lemon. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
Hakhel – Then and Now. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
HUMOR & ENTERTAINMENT Centerfold. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
LIFESTYLES Sukkos Around the World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Travel Guide: Seattle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Fly a Companion for Free for a Year!. . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 The Legal Issues with Uber. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 Behind the Music . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 JWI Cookbook – A Sampling. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46
NEWS Global News. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 Israel News . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 National News. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 That’s Odd. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
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
SEPTEMBER 24, 2015
The Infamous Case Of The ‘Get Of Cleves’. . . . . . . . 30
We have just started the post Shemitah year in which we are commanded to “Gather together the people, the men, women and small children, and the stranger who is in your cities, so that they will hear, they will learn and they shall fear Hashem and be careful to perform all the words of the Torah.” The purpose of this mitzvah was to relive the experience of the Jewish people at Mount Sinai. As the Rambam writes, when the Jewish King would read from the Torah, the assembled Yidden concentrated on his words, as if they were hearing from G-d himself. Let’s think for a second. If the Jews who entered the land of Israel needed to relive the experience of Kabalos Hatorah every seven years, how much more so our generation needs to remember and refresh our relationship with Hashem. We will then tread the path of the generations that came before us. Sometimes we wish we were a child again, running into the Sukkah to make a bracha on the Lulav, kissing the Torah or davening from a Siddur. Our inner child feels trapped by our mistakes and the cynicism that has accumulated over the years. “Ki naar yisroel viohaveiu.” For the nation, Israel is but a child and I love him. Our Father in Heaven sees us as
his children. Yom Kippur gave us the opportunity to tap into this relationship followed by Sukkot, and this year Hakhel, a time when pure joy emanating from the soul can be experienced. Still, we sit in the Sukkah wrapped in Hashem’s embrace and wonder what happened to us during the year... but G-d says, you’re the one I want. You are the purpose of creation. If we can accept that we have flaws, but we have purpose, then perhaps this year we will indeed change our behavior. If we are not the glutton we sometimes feel like, the insensitive person we sometimes act like and the impulsive animal we sometimes think like, then we are simply shedding outside layers which have covered us. And that is a reason to be joyous. Harachaman hu yakim lanu es sukas Dovid hanofales, may the Merciful one establish the fallen Sukkah of David when we will have Hakhel in the literal sense, with the entire Jewish people united as one. What a site and experience that will be. A true zman simchaseinu. Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos and a beautiful Sukkos,
THE JEWISH HOME
Community Happenings. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6
Hundreds Of Rabbis Rally On Capitol Hill To Reject Iran Nuclear Deal Hundreds of rabbis, synagogue and community leaders from across the country gathered on Capitol Hill on September 9th, in the midst of Congress’ debate over the Iran nuclear deal, to call on Congress to reject the deal that paves a pathway to a nuclear-armed Iran. The rally was organized by the Orthodox Union and the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA). The rally was held a few days before Rosh Hashanah and opened with a poignant shofar blast, a deliberate connection to the Rabbi’s March held before Yom Kippur of 1943 in support of American and allied action to stop the destruction of European Jewry. That gathering of Rabbis at the White House was a painful event in American history. President Franklin D Roosevelt refused to meet the contingency! Instead, he disappeared through the back exit of the White House and left for vacation in a determined effort to reject American support for the persecuted Jews of Europe. The gathering of orthodox, lower income, Eastern European rabbi’s at the Rabbi’s March were true representatives of the Jews who were being annihilated. These men knew there was no better institution to save the victims of the holocaust than The White House, but their request was publicly turned down, and reported in the press at the time. The outcome of the war would have been very different if the Rabbi’s March of 1943 had met with some success. With this in mind, the rabbis at the September rally came to represent tens of thousands of
members of the American Jewish community, from more than 20 states and every region of the country. They recognized the importance of having their voice heard. Speakers at the rally included Martin Nachimson, president of the Orthodox Union,
dox Union. Martin Nachimson explained, “The reason we are gathered here, in the shadow of the Capitol, is to make a clear statement that this deal is morally repugnant. Under this deal, the Iranian regime will be given greater legitimacy, power
Rabbi Shalom Baum, president of the RCA, Rabbi Haskel Lookstein of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in New York City, Rabbi Marc Penner, Dean of Yeshiva University Seminary, Rabbi Efrem Goldberg of Boca Raton Synagogue, Rabbi Kalman Topp of Beth Jacob Congregation, Beverly Hills, Rabbi Lenny Matanky of Congregation K.I.N.S. in Chicago and Honorary President of the RCA, and Allen Fagin, Executive Vice President of the Ortho-
and money, despite its being deeply anti-American, anti-Semitic, and the leading sponsor of terrorism in the world.” Rabbi Baum commented on the impetus for hundreds of rabbis to travel to Washington in the face of a vote that appears to be set. He said the Talmud teaches that, “When you have an opportunity to scream in dissent and you are silent, you have done wrong. It isn’t only about the result – it’s that silence in the face of ter-
Leading Rabonim of the time marching on Washington to help their European brethren stuck in Nazi inferno, 1943
The Melitzer Rebbe, Yitzchok Horowitz, recites the El Maleh Rahamim in memory of victims of the Nazis
ror is not an option. Silence in the face of terror is unacceptable.” Rabbi Lookstein noted that the deal will give legitimacy and financial power to Iran’s leaders. These are the men who support global terror and openly threaten the State of Israel, as well as the United States and he added, “This is why, days before the Day of Judgment, I am here with my fellow rabbis to raise our moral objection to the nuclear deal with Iran.” Rabbi Penner remarked that, as Jews, we recognize that evil exists in the world. “Iran is evil and they will do evil if good men do nothing,” he declared. With the imminent start of Rosh Hashanah, “We ask to be given clarity and strength. Clarity to see evil for what it is and strength to fight those who would do us harm.” Allen Fagin gave the closing speech and compared the vote and the Iran deal to an “Alice in Wonderland” moment. Fagin called on the Jewish community to stand together in support of of Israel’s security and defense and with support for the expansion of non-nuclear related sanctions against Iran. “And we need to be vigilant and vocal to make certain that the tens of billions of dollars to which Iran will gain unfettered access through sanction relief, is not used to arm her terrorist proxies,” he exclaimed. After the rally, hundreds of rabbis participated in lobbying meetings with U.S. Senators and Representatives where their message was heard.
At the foot of the Capitol building
Outside the White House. President Roosevelt refused to meet with them
Photos courtesy of the David Wyman Institute
THE JEWISH HOME
SEPTEMBER 24, 2015
open a kollel. I went to various Gedolim for haskama and put a small ad in the classifieds. I started two weeks later with 14 people. Describe a night in Kollel Chatzos. The members are picked up (since it is the middle of the night, we provide transportation) and Kollel begins promptly at 12:45 with Maariv. Then they settle in to learn. Some chazer what they learned during the day, some learn b’chavrusa. Others participate in Dirshu; Maggidei Shiur prepare and there is a Dayan who reviews shailos and learns Shulchan Oruch. Many say tikun chatzos. Each member has a list of names specific to their kollel to keep in mind while they learn. At some point he takes out the paper and recites the names. We keep the lists relatively small and these exemplary talmidei chachomim develop a strong spiritual connection to the names they daven for; if a name is taken off the list, they notice. They learn until daybreak and daven Shacharis at netz. There is something very special about a davening that comes after an entire night of being immersed in Torah! Then the members head home to eat breakfast and help with the family and sleep for a couple of hours. By ten o’clock am they are back in their regular day kollel. So they learn day and night?! Yes. They get home from day kollel, eat supper and help with the kids, go to sleep at about 8:30 pm for four hours and then wake up and head to Kollel Chatzos for the night. It is an intense way of life, but the kollel members who commit to it can’t imagine anything else. In fact, there’s a huge waiting list in each city. What type of person signs up for Kollel Chatzos? Yungerleit aged 25-30; deeply committed to learning Torah. They must be learning during the day as well. When someone applies we meet with him and ask, “What is your plan for learning and what is your plan for your home life? When will you
sleep?” They must be able to sleep for four hours before they come. When someone is accepted, he is committed for one zman. For most kollel members, there is an adjustment period, but then it becomes a way of life. What about the wives? The application actually requires the wife’s signature stating that she agrees and supports this decision, just like for
Hatzolah members. Some wives even add that it is an honor. During the year we plan support groups for the women, and inspirational speakers; before Pesach we give out bonus coupons, and before Shavuos we give a gift bag and a beautiful letter thanking the wives. How did one small kollel grow into four locations and a world renowned source for the zechusim of limud hatorah? The kollel started after Pesach and by the summer, I was running out of money. I happened to mention the kollel to a new father and he reached into his wallet and gave me $30. He told me, “I can’t stay up the whole night before the bris to learn. Please have the kollel learn in zechus of my baby.” The Rashash brings an incredible chiddush: if someone cannot stay up to learn the night of his baby’s vachnacht, he can
ask someone else to learn on his behalf and it is as if he himself learned for his baby the entire night. I realized that this was a potential way to help support the kollel while providing new fathers an avenue to have a shmira and a zechus for their baby. We started advertising and more people signed up for the zechus of having the kollel learn throughout the night. It grew from there. What do you think appeals to people most? When people hear the power and merit of supporting the kollel, and the yeshuos it brings, they realize that there is definitely a koach to supporting Torah being learned b’chatzos halailah. There have always been those who feel a deep connection to segulos and yeshuos. Now people across the board are recognizing the tremendous zechus in helping ensure there is never a moment without Torah being learned, especially during the night. When you consider the time difference between the Kollel Chatzos locations in America and Eretz Yisroel, it means that in essence Torah is being learned nonstop from 6 pm to 6 am. Add this Torah learning to the rest of Torah being learned during the day throughout the world and Torah is being learned 24 hours a day. You give people the opportunity to become a partner with Kollel Chatzos. Where does the money go? Exclusively to the kollel members and administrative costs to help administer and raise funds for the kollelim. Without the money raised, we would not be able to pay the kollel members and the families would not have the ability to live this elevated and exceptional life of Torah. The more money raised, the more I can give each kollel member and the more locations I can open. What is your vision for the future? A kollel chatzos in every city with enough money to include as many kollel members as possible. And ultimately, that each kollel chatzos should be a full day kollel as well.
SEPTEMBER 24, 2015
Rabbi Nechemye Hoffman is the Founder and Director of Kollel Chatzos which he started in 2011 with 14 members and a dream. Today there are four locations and the power and zechus of supporting limud hatorah, is reverberating across the globe. What is Kollel Chatzos? Every night at a little past midnight, close to 100 young talmidei chachomim in Brooklyn, Monsey, Monroe and Meron, leave home to learn in Kollel throughout the night. People are inspired when they see the yungerleit running in to shul at that time, with tallis and tefillin in hand. Such excitement for learning when everyone else is going to sleep! What differentiates Kollel Chatzos from other organizations of the same name? In America we are the only Kollel Chatzos and the only kollel learning throughout the night. We are the only kollel in Eretz Yisroel with regular, young kollel members learning the standard range of Torah. Walk in to any of our locations at 3 am and you’ll think you stepped in to a normal, vibrant day kollel. How did the Kollel get started? When I was a bochur learning in the Mir I was zoche to get to know a tremendous talmid chochom and mechaber seforim who shared with me that it is a life changing experience to learn the Zohar. I went to Meron for Lag b’Omer and bought myself a small set of Zohar and found it very inspiring. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai states over and over that chatzos halaila is such a special time to learn, so I decided to try. I davened Maariv in the first minyan in yeshiva, went to sleep and woke up at 12 am. I had the key to a Bais Medrash in Meah Shearim; I let myself in and learned alone, the whole night. Then I got married and settled in Monroe with a regular day kollel schedule, but I really missed the chatzos halaila learning and always talked about it. About a year and a half after I got married, my wife urged me to use our chasunah savings to
THE JEWISH HOME
Interview with Rabbi Hoffman, Founder of Kollel Chatzos
THE JEWISH HOME
SEPTEMBER 24, 2015
Gedolei Yisrael Remember The Chofetz Chaim on his Yahrtzeit Over 500,000 Jews Worldwide Join in Special Day of Tefillah and Unity Chaim Gold
It felt like Neilah on Yom Kippur! Tens of Gedolei Yisrael pouring their hearts out in tefillah. Venerated Rabbanim, reciting the 13 middos of rachamim, the words “Hashem, Hashem Kel rachum v’chanun,” thundering against the silent backdrop of trees and weather-beaten matzeivos. Most of all it was the tears. The sight of the venerated gedolim begging Hashem for rachamei shamayim in the zechus of the Chofetz Chaim while standing at his kever was something impossible to forget. To see the gedolim begging Hashem to protect Am Yisrael and begging Him to especially protect the Lomdei Daf HaYomi B’Halacha, who learn the Chofetz Chaim’s Torah on a daily basis, sent chills up the spine. As the rain beat down it seemed as if the very heavens were crying with the gedolim during the tefillos. An Unforgettable Spiritual Odyssey The special tefillah journey of a delegation of senior Gedolei Yisrael and Rabbanim to the kever of the Chofetz Chaim and the Radin Yeshiva established by the Chofetz Chaim and to the kever of the Avi Hayeshivos, Rav Chaim of Volozhin in the town of Volozhin, was a spiritual odyssey that will not be forgotten. One could not help but be impressed when hearing the venerated Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Zichron Melech, HaGaon HaRav Shmuel Yaakov Borenstein,shlita, leading the selichos in the Yeshiva of Radin beis medrash, his voice reverberating, “Ulai yachos al am oni v’evyon, ulai yerachem. Perhaps He will pity his poor and destitute people, perhaps He will have mercy!” In truth, the tefillos at Radin were the climax of the unique worldwide yom tefillah and day of unity that was marked 24 Elul/September 8, the yahrtzeit of the Chofetz Chaim. The precarious times in which we live and the proximity of the Chofetz Chaim’s yahrtzeit to the Yom Hadin of Rosh Hashanah spurred the hanhalah of Dirshu to declare the Chofetz Chaim’s yahrtzeit a special day of Torah and tefillah for all of Klal Yisrael. In keeping with the words of the Gemara that ‘he who learns the Torah of a tzaddik has the ability to invoke Heavenly mercy in the tzaddik’s zechus, hundreds of thousands of Jews the world over engaged in learning the daily limud of Daf HaYomi B’Halacha and the daily limud in the Sefer Chofetz Chaim.
than 500,000 people urging them at this precarious time to take a few minutes to daven for the Jewish People.
Children in Melbourne Austrailia participating in the Yom Tefilla
Rav Simcha Kook, a member of the delegation to Radin
Others engaged in heartfelt recitation of tehillim. More than 200,000 copies of the daily learning was distributed to yeshivos and shuls, over 120,000 to chadorim, with over 80,000 to girl’s schools and seminaries. In the United States and other diaspora locations tefillos and learning the Chofetz Chaim’s sefarim took place on an unprecedented scope. In Brooklyn, large schools such as the Belzer Cheder and Yeshiva Tiferes Elimelech, learned and davened for Klal Yisrael. In schools, yeshivos and chadorim throughout Lakewood, Monsey, Toronto, Los Angeles, and even
Houston, Texas, Sefer Chofetz Chaim and Tehillim were learned and recited on behalf of Klal Yisrael. Even numerous businesses stopped in the middle of the work day and switched over to the real business of davening for Klal Yisrael. Notable among them were Riverside Abstract, Madison Title and BP Graphics. Moreover, over 50,000 people contacted Dirshu and accepted upon themselves to learn Mishnah Berurah as a result. In addition, a targeted campaign of “Jewish Unity” to unaffiliated Jews through various mediums reached more
The Plea! The group of gedolim left Eretz Yisrael on 23 Elul/September 7. After landing in Minsk they journeyed to Radin. Throughout the airplane ride and bus trips, numerous gedolim gave powerful addresses about the nature and importance of this mission and the imperative to learn the Chofetz Chaim’s sefarim. After arriving in Radin, Selichos, Shacharis and a Daf HaYomi B’Halacha shiur, the daily Mishnah Berurah and Mussar program was held in the beis medrash of the Radin Yeshiva. In that holy place where the Chofetz Chaim left his indelible impact, where the walls were saturated with words of Torah and tefillah from the pre-holocaust kedoshim, tefillos of gedolei Torah once more rose to the heavens. The Nasi of Dirshu, Rav Dovid Hofstedter remarked, “I don’t know if there was ever a time since the churban of Europe where the beis medrash of the Radin Yeshiva was so packed with great talmidei chachamim engaged in Torah and tefillah!” This was followed by tefillos at the kever of the great Kohein Gadol, the Chofetz Chaim. In the very same place where Rav Chizkiyahu Mishkovsky, zt”l, Rav of Krinik delivered a hesped on the Chofetz Chaim at his levaya, 82 years later, his grandson, Rav Chizkiyahu Mishkovsky, shlita, delivered moving words of chizuk, calling on Jews the world over to connect with the Chofetz Chaim by undertaking to learn his Mishnah Berurah daily. “How can a person live as a Jew if he doesn’t know the halachos of daily living?” From Radin, the group went on to the town of Volozhin where they davened at the kever of Rav Chaim of Volozhin. In Radin, HaGaon HaRav Shlomo Kanievsky, shlita, son of HaGaon HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, shlita, and Rosh Yeshiva of Kiryas Melech and Tiferes Tzion said, “Rav Chaim of Volozhin gave us the mesorah on how to learn Torah and the Chofetz Chaim gave us the gift of how to keep the Torah, halacha l’maaseh. We are learning your Torah, we are learning the Chofetz Chaim’s halachos, please, in that zechus may all of Klal Yisrael and especially the yeshivos hakedoshos and lomdei halacha be preserved and granted heavenly assistance and mercy.”
THE JEWISH HOME SEPTEMBER 24, 2015
THE JEWISH HOME
SEPTEMBER 24, 2015
Standing at Attention before G-d We are fortunate to live in a country where we have a right to religious freedom and are able to outwardly celebrate the Jewish New Year. We have that privilege because of the brave men and women who fight daily in our nation’s military on behalf of our rights and freedoms. It is something that is easy to forget. It is something that is easy to take for granted. On Rosh Hashana, we are given prayers, rituals, and laws which help us remember once again G-d’s kingship and
goodness. This stops us from taking our Jewish life for granted. Now, we can focus on G-d as the Creator of the world, which reminds us that it is from Him that we receive blessings and success, in the upcoming year. This past Rosh Hashana, I joined the program at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base in Oceanside, California. It was organized and executed by Rabbi David Becker, founder and director of JFAAF, Jewish Friends of the American Armed Forces.
JFAAF’s mission is to support Jewish chaplains and Jewish service members in the United States military. Present at this meaningful event was a group of families from Los Angeles and the San Diego area, who came to celebrate Rosh Hashana and to support the Chaplain services available to Jewish members stationed at Camp Pendleton. Also, very much involved, were the two Jewish Navy chaplains posted at Camp Pendleton, Lieutenant Commander Rabbi Aaron Kleinman
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and Lieutenant Daniel Kamzan. We were additionally honored by the participation of a large number of service members and their families. The event included beautiful services which involved everyone’s personal participation, as well as festive meals with delicious food. There was a variety of programming where the civilians participating could learn about the experience of being Jewish in the United States military and the military members could connect and engage with a warm group of fellow Jews. The event was uplifting and inspirational because of the sense of connection and community. There was a deep interconnection between a wide variety of individuals from all walks of life. Service members sat with families, children from La Jolla played with children who live on base. Chaplains chatted with communi-
ty members. Retired officers talked with families and shared stories. Everyone genuinely wanted to share and learn from each other. We are fortunate that JFAAF can facilitate support for our Jewish chaplains and service members. Rabbi Becker works to implement programs like the Rosh Hashana services and meals, as well as a myriad of other programs throughout the year, on bases the world over. It is our responsibility as part of the American Jewish community, to recognize and appreciate this service which is offered to those serving in the armed forces. We must pray for their well-being and thank G-d for their passion and courage. As we begin this new year, we must recognize and actively remind ourselves of God’s kingship and goodness and we must recognize the blessings He has given us as American Jews. He has given us freedom and safety and we must acknowledge the American military and support our Jewish brothers and sisters who serve to protect us and fight for freedom throughout the world. To donate and support JFAAF please contact Rabbi David Becker at Rabbidbecker@yahoo.com, or visit Jewish Friends of the American Armed Forces at JFAAF.org
THE JEWISH HOME SEPTEMBER 24, 2015
THE JEWISH HOME
SEPTEMBER 24, 2015
Take Note! Glatt Kosher Grass-Fed Organic Beef Now Available With an increase in the demand for natural beef, it is surprising that kosher options have been slow in coming, but this month saw the launch of Tevya’s Ranch product line which now offers affordable, glatt kosher, grass fed, antibiotic-free, organic beef. Tevya’s Ranch has been importing superior meat from Uruguay for many years. A family owned company, the business is growing quickly as demand has been feeding sales for grass-fed beef. Their launch of several organic versions, available in many kosher markets nationwide and even online, expands healthy food options for kosher shoppers. Competitively priced, grass fed beef is the same price as factory produced beef, or even less. The new line of organic grass fed beef is only slightly more per pound. Just last year, a multi-million dollar deal created a merger between Albertson’s and Safeway grocery chains because competition from more wholesome supermarkets had been affecting their bottom-line profits. The failure of these supermarkets was a comment on consumer response to mass-produced food. Increasingly, we want our food to be natural and closer to what G-d created. This is what Tevya’s Ranch is doing. Today, we are seeing far better food options and a broader spectrum of food supplies which offer greater choice for the most discerning diner, the family chef and the tiring toddler. Californian shoppers are better educated than generations before, knowing that steak has less sodium than a hot dog and organic milk has more calcium than vanilla pudding. Even discount stores now offer wholesome, additive-free foods for sale at competitive prices. Shabbat splurges are inevitable, but now we can create a more varied meat meal that provides nutritious sustenance. Previously, the grass-fed organic beef market was bereft of suppliers. Highly affordable organic fruit and vegetables were
readily available and even non-kosher markets offered glatt kosher, grain-fed, organic chicken. Still, despite the increase in demand, grass-fed organic beef was a latecomer to the market. America has been slow in providing grass-fed beef, organic or not, for many reasons. Primarily, it is because consumer demand for burgers and steak is so high that a factory farm has an economic incentive to produce cattle which is ready for slaughter in as little as 16 months, rather than 24. All cows start their lives by grazing on pasture for six months or so, but commercial cows are then fed at a feedlot on a concentrated mix of corn, soy, grains, and other supplements, plus hormones and antibiotics, with a fair dosage of GMO’s, and the cow is then ready for eating as quickly as possible. Despite the health concerns, demand for beef has risen. Overall beef sales rose 7% to $23.6 billion in value in 2014. Beef prices have reached an all-time high and perhaps because of this, growth in the production of healthier beef products has also been impressive. Sales of beef labeled “natural” climbed an impressive 23% to $701.8 million in 2014 and organic meat sales increased a massive 75%, according to market-research firm IRI. So it is that Americans are trying to eat more carefully and there is a better understanding of the issues at stake – excuse the pun. The new products from Tevya’s Ranch will provide a simple choice and will help consumers avoid the confusion that is endemic to other lines of beef. Simplicity is need-
Ruth Judah ed because American labels are magnificently confusing. “Antibiotic-free” only means that the animal wasn’t given antibiotics within 24 hours of being processed. “No antibiotics administered” doesn’t reflect whether there were antibiotics in the feed and “100% pastured” doesn’t mean the cattle were grass fed. Jo Robinson’s book, Pasture Perfect, is now ten years old, but even then we were educated on key issues relating to pasture-raised animals, “If you eat a typical amount of beef per year, which in the United States is about 67 pounds, switching to grass-fed beef will save you 16,642 calories a year.” All these issues have created the foundation for a grass fed versus a grain fed cow. Buying Tevya’s Ranch beef lets the consumer do what’s better for the planet because less energy goes into growing grass than grain. This choice is better for you and your family, because there is less overall fat and cholesterol and more omega-3s and other “good” fats in the beef. Finally, you can do what’s better for the cow, steering away from harsh feedlot practices. Glatt Kosher grass fed antibiotic-free beef comes from herds which are handled in a more humane way from start to finish. It is not surprising that Tevya’s Ranch is farming cattle in Uruguay. Although a small country, bordering Argentina and Brazil and with a population of less than 4 million, Uruguay has been the birthing ground of grass- fed beef. The country has vast prairie lands and the seasons are mild so there is all year grazing. Grazing on fields that glisten under the sun and stars, Uruguayan cattle are never fed hormones and antibiotics are never given to healthy animals. Grass-fed cows from Uruguay have time to fatten, so they are not too lean, which would produce beef with less flavor.
A WORD FROM TEVYA At Tevya’s Ranch all our products come from cattle raised in open pastures on a natural grass fed diet. Strict health policies insure that hormones and antibiotics are never used for growth. This leads to a sustainable, healthy and lean product with less of the bad fats such as saturated fat and more of the good ones like Omega-3, vitamin E and CLA. In fact Grass fed beef has similar fat content as skinless fish and chicken, so there’s no more worrying about your cholesterol level when enjoying a good steak! Tevya’s, beef done naturally. Our high quality line of products include: 100% grass fed beef. Cattle are raised on a 100% grass fed diet making this a healthy and natural choice. “Never ever”. In addition to being
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raised on a 100% grass fed diet, these are premium cattle which are source verified and are never administered hormones or antibiotics. USDA Certified Organic Beef. These cattle enjoy a 100% grass fed diet, are source verified, hormones and antibiotics are never administered and is 100% USDA Certified Organic Beef. Grain Finished. For those looking for a bit more taste, these cattle are mainly raised on a grass fed diet but grain is then added, creating a healthy product that is tasteful and juicy. Black Angus. Premium Black Angus cattle which is grass raised and grain finished, producing the perfect combination of health, taste and quality.
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Certified Organic Beef” comes from cattle who are raised like Never Ever beef, but are additionally USDA certified as organic. Then there is “Grain Finished” and “Premium Black Angus” beef, which are grain fed for the last three months. This creates a juicier end product. When cooking grass fed beef, cook steaks on a higher flame for less time, but roasts on a lower flame for more time. A Tevya’s Ranch farmer shared the company vision, “Our production line is now producing meat that is sustainable, healthy and lean with less of the bad fats such as saturated fat and more of the good ones like Omega-3, vitamin E and CLA. People are not educated in this, but grass fed beef has less fat than fish and less fat than skinless chicken. There’s no more worrying about your cholesterol level when enjoying a good steak!” Tevya’s Beef can be found in California at quality kosher stores and online at westernkosher.com For more information visit tevyasranch.com.
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Uruguay prides itself on progressive techniques for managing its cattle. Government regulations exist to manage the use and disposal of pesticides used in animal health. Uruguay has never had mad cow disease because, among other preventive measures, there is compulsory veterinary inspection of food products of animal origin. Additionally, the importation and manufacture of veterinary drugs for growth promotion, or fat promotion in cattle is illegal and cattle are raised in open pastures. In launching this organic line of grass-fed beef, Tevya’s Ranch has created new organic meat options which provide the kosher consumer with an earthy, grassy and flavorsome steak, burger or brisket. Taste tests overwhelmingly come out in favor of this wholesome alternative. There is “100% Grass Fed” beef from cattle raised entirely on a grass fed diet. There is the higher quality “Never Ever” beef, which is from premium cattle who are never administered hormones or antibiotics. The “USDA
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SEPTEMBER 24, 2015
Local Teachers Attend School Program on “Terrorist, Suspicious Activity and Active Shooter Awareness” As summer vacation came to an end, teachers returned to school before the students so they could attend in-service training on a plethora of topics covering everything from introducing new faculty team members, learning new curriculum and operational procedures, as well as CPR
transcribed audio recording of a teacher in Columbine High School calling 911 during the tragic event in 1996. The teachers listened first hand to the stress that a teacher could face in such a situation, G-d forbid. This training was given by community activist and school parent Michoel
certification. Recently, the two local Chabad schools Bais Chaya Mushka & Cheder Menachem, received an additional, sobering safety class on Terrorism, Suspicious Activity and Active Shooter Awareness. For Israelis, this terror element has been a daily reality through their history. Until recently, we’ve been more fortunate here in the U.S. Yet, the threat is evolving and we are left to ponder the painful questions: What if I were there? What should/ shouldn’t I do? Unfortunately, ever since 9/11 the threat of terrorism in the U.S. is very real. Not a day goes by where we don’t hear or read about an act of terror which has recently included a mass shooting in a cinema, a mall, a house of worship, a courthouse, and even in schools and colleges. The faculty at the Chabad schools were taught how to deal with an attack. The Jewish community is susceptible to threats from a broad spectrum of fundamentalist groups. The first half of the training was an overview of the history of terrorism, the categories of terrorists, from Domestic, Racial, Animal Rights/ Environmental to Islamic fundamentalism. Some of the more noteworthy and recent attacks on Jewish targets were discussed and analyzed. Faculty then learned about suspicious activity, what to look out for, local occurrences, and how to report events. The second half of the class covered Active Shooter Survival. The training was for classroom based awareness, not physical hands-on self-defense. It included a wealth of audio-visual aids, including a
Bloom. The Cheder Menachem session also included an extra hour practicing “lockdown” procedures. The teachers entered a classroom while school security director, Yossi Eilfort, simulated an attacker attempting to enter the classroom. Many lessons were learned from the practice session and these will be implemented in the schools policies. One teacher said “This was really great training, something everyone should learn...... I wasn’t sure what to expect, but Bloom laid it out in such a way that I could understand, all without scaring us so we don’t lose sleep at night.” Bloom said the event came about when he was asked by an administrator to assist the school with lock-down and general safety planning. The administration wanted to know how to better secure their facilities and keep their students safest. Bloom’s curriculum comes from his experience working with the LAPD, Federation, and Homeland Security. Bloom holds certificates in a multitude of related courses some of which include: Multi Hazard Emergency Planning for Schools & Houses of Worship, IED/ Bomb Threat Management, Protective Measures, Site Protection, Active Shooter Response. Bloom emphasized, “While we must always remain vigilant, there is no known credible threat to our community. This doesn’t mean that we can let our guard down, or that some pretty bad people aren’t trying everything in their power to harm us. We are at a greater threat level today than we were on September 10th, 2001. Thanks to the open dialog and partnerships
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AT THE END OF THE YEAR, IT ALL ADDS UP
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SEPTEMBER 24, 2015
between Federal, State, and Local law enforcement, especially with community partnerships at the grass roots level, we are light years ahead of our pre-9/11 deterrent and intelligence capability.” Bloom is passionate about the subject and explained the reason for this, “I was personally touched by the hand of terror when my mother’s cousin Shmuel Greenbaum lost his pregnant wife, L.A. native Shoshana (Heyman) in the Sbaro pizza Shop bombing in Jerusalem. A month later the 9/11 attack happened. At the time I was living in NY working on an ambulance, but had come home to L.A. for Rosh Hashana and missed the attack. At first I was upset that I wasn’t there, but in retrospect, G-d had a different plan for me.
I have friends who responded to the call and who have nightmares to this day, other friends and colleagues who’ve lost their lives to ailments attributed to the toxic air surrounding Ground Zero. “When something negative happens, we need to do something positive to wipe away the darkness, this is my personal way of illuminating, by teaching others to protect themselves. If even one tragedy is averted because of something someone learned, than it was well worth my time and effort.” Bloom’s wish has already come true. After his presentation, one of the teachers approached him with information on some credible suspicious activity that she had observed in the community. Bloom made
sure that the proper report was filed with LAPD, and the correct wheels were spinning. Bloom said “This was a very observant woman, who noticed some activity that didn’t feel right. She notified LAPD right away, but wasn’t sure if she was overreacting or not.” Bloom continued “It’s better to be safe than sorry.” The LAPD has a website and hotline called iWatchLA where suspicious behavior can be reported anonymously. The number to call is 1-877-A-THREAT or visit www.iWatchLA.org for a wealth of information. Bloom is available to give this training at Shuls, Schools, and organizations. He can be reached at MichoelBloom@soronc. org. Bloom is a long time Hatzolah mem-
ber, an elected Neighborhood Councilman where he sits as the Vice-Chair of the Public Safety Committee, a volunteer with the LAPD’s Counter Terrorism & Special Operations Bureau (CTSOB) - Liaison Section, and works closely with the Jewish Federation Community Security Initiative. Bloom has been exposed to the philosophies and training of LAPD’s Deputy Chief Michael Downing’s Counter-Terrorism and Special Operations Bureau. Downing has been a long-time friend of the Jewish community since he was Captain at the Hollywood Police Station where he was one of the first city officials to open their arms to Hatzolah at its inception in the summer of 2001.
i-shine Program Receives Generous Gift from The Foundation
Through a generous grant from the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, Chai Lifeline West Coast is pleased to announce i-Shine, Chai Lifeline’s after-school program. Chai Lifeline West Coast provides emotional, social, and financial support to seriously ill children and their families. The Foundation’s generous grant of $200,000 will allow Chai Lifeline to provide an invaluable program of fun, games, friendship and mentorship to scores of elementary and middle school-age children living with illness or loss in their homes. i-Shine was created by Chai Lifeline to meet the unique needs of children whose siblings are ill or who are bereaved of a sibling or parent. “These children often suffer in silence,” explained Rabbi Simcha Scholar, Chai Lifeline’s executive vice president. “They may come home to an empty house or a housekeeper instead of a parent. They might feel that no one will understand their particular sorrow or
they simply may not want to worry an already overburdened parent. As a result of their home situations, though, parents and educators can see behavioral or academic issues in school. By providing stability, mentorship, and help, i-Shine gives children a time and place where the focus is on them and where they can shine.” Twice a week, children will meet after school in the Fairfax/La Brea area (Mondays) or the Pico/Robertson area (Wednesdays). i-Shine pairs its young participants with high-school age counselors and mentors who provide homework assistance or perhaps tutoring, games, sports activities or they might share a snack or dinner. “By the time children go home, their homework is finished and they’ve eaten dinner. We hope that by relieving parents of these tasks, they will be able to spend some quality leisure time with their children,” said Randi Grossman, MPH, Chai Lifeline West Coast director. In the eight years since its inception on
the east coast, Chai Lifeline, parents and schools have seen marked improvements in academic and social skills of i-Shine participants. For its younger participants, the emphasis is on fun and friendship. At i-Shine, children can develop peer relationships with others living in difficult situations. Through games, interactions, sports, arts and crafts, baking, and just ‘hanging out,’ children have myriad opportunities to laugh and enjoy their time together. Counselors become trusted mentors as well as compassionate listeners. Ms. Grossman is certain that i-Shine will give children in Los Angeles the same opportunity. “We saw how quickly friendships developed during our pilot i-Shine program last year. We are looking forward to expanding the program and we’re grateful to The Foundation for the support that will allow so many more children to benefit.” The Foundation’s President and CEO
Marvin Schotland, said, “We are proud to support Chai Lifeline’s i-Shine program, which seeks to improve the well-being of children impacted by the death or illness of a parent or sibling. Its approach of utilizing Jewish experiences and story-telling to help children heal, has enormous potential to benefit the community today and generations to come. We look forward to more children being assisted by this vitally important program.” Chai Lifeline West Coast is actively recruiting high school students and adult volunteers to help with the program. For more information or to volunteer contact Call Chai Lifeline at 310 274-6331 or email email@example.com Established in 1954, the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles manages charitable assets of more than $1 billion. For more information visit www.jewishfoundationla.org
2017! Currently, 3,453 Israeli farmers are fulfilling the mitzvah of shmitah on behalf of the entire Jewish people. Shmitah is a communal mitzvah, yet in today’s economy, the financial burden is not evenly or equitably distributed across the Jewish polity. For the most part, it is the farmers who cultivate the land in fulfillment of 2,000 years of our collective hopes and prayers.
vah of shmitah on behalf of all Jews? The vast majority are from the Religious Zionist and mesorati (traditional) communities. These farmers are veterans of the religious kibbutz and moshav movements and IDF service, and they farm the Land of Israel as a fulfillment of the reestablishment of Jewish religious national life. In observing shmitah, they draw inspiration from the words of Rav Kook, Rav Lichtenstein
support to the farmers. The rest of us have been missing out on the opportunity to take part in this important religious, Zionist, agricultural and societal mitzvah which speaks to our deeply held values of faith, return to the land, social and environmental responsibility and Jewish unity. The Shmitah Fund was created to share the cost of this sacred obligation, with the Modern Orthodox, Religious Zionist and broader Jewish community supporting the farmers who keep shmitah on behalf of Am Yisrael. The budget for helping support the farmers this shmitah cycle is $22.5 million – which averages under $7,000 per farmer. It’s not nearly enough to support the farmers at a level they would earn in a regular year, but rather to help them cover certain basic expenses such as land lease and equipment payments so they don’t literally lose their farms as a cost of keeping shmitah. Thanks to the efforts of Keren Hashviis, all but $6 million of the target budget has been raised. The charedi community has done its part and more, so it’s time for the rest of us to do ours. We have 6 - 8 months to raise the remaining $6 million.
to rest during the seventh year of the cycle; in the eighth year, planting may begin anew. But the Torah recognizes that crops planted in the eighth year will not yield a harvest for some months hence, and sustenance will need to come from another source prior to the eighth year’s harvest. The Talmud explains that planting is often not possible until well into the eighth year, depending on the agricultural cycles of different crops. This calculation is complicated by modern agricultural technology, and the shift from broad-based subsistence farming to a small agricultural sector (2% of Israel’s contemporary workforce) within a larger, post-industrial economy. Today’s shmitah-observant farmers will not begin to earn post-shmitah income until anywhere from March 2016 to January
They feed the nation, preserve its pioneering spirit and fulfill the mitzvot hat’luyot ba’aretz. They are the ones who are left to bear the economic hardship of shmitah on their own. To observe this foundational mitzvah on our collective behalf, they forgo 18 months or more of income and struggle to meet their ongoing lease payments for farmland and equipment, and even, ironically, to feed their own families. They sacrifice as a declaration of emunah that the land belongs to G-d, and all productivity and livelihood are determined by G-d. They struggle in the hope that the merit of their actions will bring prosperity and security to Israel and the Jewish people as a whole. Who are these farmers, these families, who sacrifice so much to fulfill the mitz-
and other leading rabbinic luminaries who wrote about shmitah as a foundational Torah value, and heter mechira (the legal “workaround” to avoid Shmitah-observance with halachic sanction) as a tragic–though halachically valid and often unavoidable–concession to expediency. And yet, the cause of shmitah and the heroic farmers in the front lines of its observance has remained off the radar screen of the broader Religious Zionist, Modern Orthodox and traditional Jewish communities. For the past 10 shmitah cycles, support for shomer-shmitah farmers has come almost exclusively from the charedi community, in support of Keren Hashviis, the organization working “on the ground,” with the sanction of Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture, to provide financial and moral
The farmers will not make it without our help, and they should not have to. It is our mitzvah no less than theirs. In our tefillot on Rosh Hashanah we acknowledge Hashem as King over all Creation, and we proclaim that the world and everything in it belongs to Him. For 3,453 Israeli farmers, this was not merely a 2-day declaration of faith, but continues on as a 2-year sacrifice. Learn more about Israel’s shmitah-observant farmers, and opportunities to partner in this special mitzvah hat’luya ba’aretz, at www.shmitahfund.org. Dave Matkowsky is the founding director of The Shmitah Fund.
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The Torah refers to Sukkot as Chag Ha’Asif – a Celebration of the Harvest – and connects the unique joy of this holiday, Z’man Simchatenu, to the harvest bounty. But there is no harvest in Israel this Sukkot which is the culmination of the seventh year of the shmitah cycle. For the consumer, observing shmitah – the Torah-mandated sabbatical year during which planting, harvesting and other agricultural activities are prohibited in the Land of Israel – entails some measure of inconvenience in obtaining desired produce, even for Jewish celebrations. But for the contemporary Israeli farmer, whose livelihood depends on having a crop to sell, shmitah-observance is nothing less than a two year struggle, day in and day out, to make ends meet. Israel’s farmers need our help to complete the cycle during the just-begun “Eighth Year of Shmitah.” Many people assume that shmitah is a 12 month endeavor, beginning with Rosh Hashanah of the seventh year and concluding with Rosh Hashanah of the eighth year. The Torah seems to indicate as much, stating that fields and vineyards may be cultivated for six years, and must be allowed
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The Plight of Israel’s Farmers Entering the Eighth Year of Shmitah
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SEPTEMBER 24, 2015
Shabbos Project 2015 Comes to Los Angeles On the Shabbos of the 23th/24th October 2015, Jewish people will gather once again in hundreds of cities around the world for the international Shabbos Project. The concept is simple: Jews of all walks of life, from across the spectrum. Religious, secular and traditional, young and old, from all corners of the globe, will be uniting to experience Shabbos together. The Shabbos Project is a global, grassroots movement that brings Jews from across the world together to keep one full halachic Shabbos. The initiative was introduced in South Africa in 2013 to dramatic effect. Around 75 percent of the country’s 75 000 Jews kept Shabbos in full, many for the first time, and people of diverse backgrounds and persuasions were brought together in ways not seen before. In 2014, the idea of an international Shabbos Project was born, “One Shabbos celebrated – and kept in full – across the Jewish world, by the entire Jewish people, at the same time”. The global event met with an astonishing response. An estimated one million Jews in 460 cities and 64 countries around the world took part – not just in unique Shabbos programs, but in city-wide pre-Shabbos Challah Bakes and post-Shabbos Havdallah Concerts. An untold number observed Shabbos in full for the first time in their lives. Many of today’s leading behavioral scientists, neurologists, psychologists and social commentators point to a “crisis of attention” in the digital age – a world that has become a constant feed of information and entertainment, a procession of beeps and pings and pop-ups doing battle for our attention. “A world in which we are so besieged by distractions,” said Rabbi Goldstein of South Africa, “that we’ve forgotten how to live.” Innumerable studies show serious harm being done to relationships, social skills, concentration levels, physical memory, physical wellbeing, even our ability to feel. And almost invariably, the solutions put forward – more face-to-face time, digital detox, slowing down, taking a nap, going for a walk, deep breathing, self-reflection, distraction-free meals around the table – point in the direction of Shabbat. “A unique tranquility and intimacy permeates our homes on Shabbos,” explained Rabbi Goldstein. “No one has to answer the phone or rush off. No one is distracted by the screens of information and entertainment that saturate our world. We are left with a remarkable, uninterrupted haven of love and connection, which allows us to appreciate and focus on what we have in our lives.” Shabbos holds a special power and resonance in today’s world. “It enables us to momentarily set aside the distractions, demands and pressures of daily life – offering us the time and space to renew our inner selves, and to revisit and reinvigorate our
most important relationships. Rabbi Goldstein noted that “Shabbos can hold us together in a society where everything seems to be pulling us apart.” Importantly, the Shabbos Project is not merely about performing a symbolic gesture to acknowledge Shabbos – it involves keeping the holiday in full. For Goldstein, authenticity is everything. “This approach is predicated on the idea that the real energy of Shabbos – its
Rabbi David Ordan we emerge on Saturday night as new human beings, ready to face the week with all of its attendant challenges and opportunities.” “Keeping It Together” also refers to the sense of unity and togetherness generated in literally keeping Shabbos together – as one Jewish people, and as individuals, families and communities all over the world, all at the same time. “One of the unique aspects of the Shab-
Last year’s “great big Challah bake”
transformative power – is wholly dependent on immersing oneself in the full Shabbos experience.” The tagline of the Shabbos Project is “Keeping it together.” This is an allusion to the unique restorative powers, the opportunity for deep physical, emotional and spiritual rejuvenation, which the full Shabbos experience affords. This is especially relevant in a modern world in which people are beset with constant noise and distraction; a world where what is truly important often takes a backseat. “’Keeping it together’ means keeping our lives together,” Goldstein explains. “Of course, there is good food, sound sleep and deep relaxation to look forward to on Shabbos, but there’s more. Shabbos restores us, not just in a physical sense, but emotionally and spiritually as well, so that
bos Project is that all factional identities – all denominations, affiliations, ideologies, and political differences – are put aside,” says Goldstein. “This is real Jewish unity – built from the ground up. ”Indeed, while the Shabbos Project is coordinated and managed through formal communal organizations and partners, the initiative is essentially a grassroots social movement, driven by the people for the people”. The Los Angeles Shabbos Project is part of the global, grassroots movement that began in South Africa in 2013. Last year a few volunteers came together and decided to try and create the Shabbos Project in Los Angeles. With a lot of mesiras nefesh and help from several rabbonim, there was an amazing Challah Bake which had over 500 women in attendance at Yeshiva Aahron Yaakov Ohr Eliyahu day
school as well as several other community events in just a few short weeks. MyAish hosted Shabbos dinner and lunch at Nessah Synagogue and drew a crowd of over 1,000 people to each meal. The success of the events was inspiring and the feedback from everyone who attended was positive. There were many people who had never experienced the beauty of Shabbos before, and they also loved it! In April of 2015, Beth Leventhal, Tali Merewitz, and Leanne Praw began planning and preparing for the Shabbos Project Los Angeles 2015. Along with a dedicated committee of community volunteers from all over the city, they have been gearing up to make this year bigger and better. Los Angeles has a very unique community and they are hoping to unite the community in a new way. Many of the city’s shuls and schools are participating and will be helping to promote and publicize the Shabbos Project, encouraging Jews of all stripes to join in and be a part of the event. The weekend will kick off on Thursday, October 22nd with the Los Angeles Great Big Challah Bake. It promises to be an awe inspiring evening with the theme, One Night, One Prayer, One Voice. We hope to unite all the women and girls who attend with a full program showcasing the art of challah making and the spiritual aspects. There is limited space available so we strongly encourage everyone to preregister at http://thegreatchallabake2015. eventbrite.com. There are several other large community events being planned for the Shabbos Project weekend. MyAish, JUN and Josh Golcheh are organizing a Friday night block party called Shabbat Project 3000, and will be closing down Pico Blvd between Cardiff and Rexford to host approximately 3,000 people for Shabbos dinner. This would be the largest gathering of Jewish people for an event like this in Los Angeles history! They invite all shuls in the area to participate in uniting the community for an amazing experience. Tickets for this event are available at https:// www.eventbrite.com/e/shabbat-project-3000-tickets-18593075389. In addition there will be other community events from Shabbos Oneg programs to Shalosh Seudas. For more information on the events please go to the Los Angeles regional page on the official Shabbos Project website at www.theshabbosproject.org/ en/Los-Angeles. If anyone is interested in being a sponsor or in organizing events such as a block party or meals please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Together, we can Keep it Together.
19 THE JEWISH HOME
Changing Ourselves Rabbi Yochanan Weiner, Menahel of Yeshivas Ner Aryeh
After all, having a בריתis a physically painful procedure, especially for adults. The תורהtells us that אברהםsucceeded in influencing his whole family to perform the מצוהof ברית מילה. What was the method that he used? Was it his great חכמהand oratory skills that he used to explain to them the value of this great ?מצוהAfter all, אברהםand שרהwere powerful מקרבים. The Torah in Parshas Lech Lecha tells us that אברהםconverted the men and שרהconverted the women. Surely אברהם, being a חכם, a נביא, and a great communicator would be able to persuade his family to fulfill this
Furthermore, we see that even אברהםunderestimated the impact of his actions and therefore needed ’ממראs encouragement. If we want our children and students to learn Torah, daven properly, and have good מדות, we need to make sure we’re doing our part. The more they see us learning Torah the greater they will value this. If we daven with kavanah and joy, so will they. If we show self-control, patience, and humility, so will they. We cannot expect our children to have any good middah if we don’t personify it. Telling them will not necessarily help. Our actions speak
much louder than our words. Of course the teaching and explaining of proper behavior to our children and students is crucial. However, the way we act, our level of growth, will have a far greater impact than anything we say. Reb Yisrael Salanter, who spearheaded the movement of learning מוסר,, is known to have said, “First I set out to change the world, but it didn’t work. I scaled back and decided to focus on my country, and was unsuccessful there as well. I then decided to concentrate on my hometown, and achieved no greater success. I gave all my effort to changing my own family, and failed there as well. Finally, I decided to change myself.” In reality, Reb Yisrael did indeed change the world. He influenced generations of people to take on learning musar and working diligently on selfgrowth. His ability to inspire and influence the masses was due to the saintliness and greatness of Reb Yisrael himself.
The yom tov of Sukkos provides a tremendous opportunity for family growth in ruchniyus. The culture and atmosphere we create will greatly affect our children. Do we put up the sukkah with joy or are we just trying to get it done? Do we shake the lulav and esrog with the proper appreciation for this beautiful mitzvah or as a robot with programmed motions? Do we discuss Torah thoughts and sing zmiros in the sukkah or are we talking about mundane matters while enjoying delicious food? Do we focus on the significance of what the sukkah represents or do we complain about the heat? Our children will be able to answer these questions after sukkos. May Hashem grant us all the wisdom and courage to make real changes in our middos and our commitment to Torah and Mitzvos. Be’ezras Hashem we will see our children following right behind us.
SEPTEMBER 24, 2015
There are many ways of inspiring and positively influencing our children and students. Teaching Torah hashkafa, discussing mussar concepts, extrapolating lessons from חומשand חז״ל, are among the many valuable methods of helping our children develop their יראת שמיםand מדות. However, the most underrated yet most powerful strategy in חינוךis one that doesn’t require words at all. This tactic can be gleaned from a relatively unknown episode in the Torah. אברהם אבינוwas commanded to perform the מצוהof מילהon himself and his family. אברהםwas looking for a strategy that would convince his family members who didn’t want a בריתto get circumcised.
important מצוה. Interestingly, אברהםused a totally different strategy. חז״לtell us that אברהם sought the advice of his friends, ,אשכול ענר, and ממרא. ממראtold אברהם, “Circumcise yourself and everyone will follow your example.” And that is exactly what happened. אברהםfulfilled the מצוהhimself and then the rest of his family went along with this willingly. There are two obvious questions here. Firstly, why didn’t אברהםattempt to convince others by speaking to them; especially since by doing the מילהon himself first, אברהםrisked not having enough strength to persuade them and circumcise them. Secondly, why did אברהםneed ממרא for this strategy? Couldn’t אברהםthink of this on his own? The answer holds an invaluable lesson on the power of “setting an example”. אברהםcould have given a great speech and explained the beauty of מילהin a way that no one else could, yet even his great piety and wisdom might not have succeeded in convincing his family to have a ברית מילה. It seems that it was the act by אברהםof setting an example and circumcising himself, created the persuasive power that ultimately ensured that others would follow.
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SEPTEMBER 24, 2015
At the Root of Sukkos Joy
The Rambam writes at the end of Hilchos Sukkah (8:12) that “even though there is a positive commandment to be joyful on the holiday of Sukkos, there was a heightened celebration in the Bais Hamikdosh to fulfill the posuk of ‘Usemachtem lifnei Hashem…’” He continues, “It is a mitzvah to partake in the special joy, but not everyone who wanted to do so was able to, nor were they ignorant. Only the great men of Yisroel, the heads of the yeshivos, the Sanhedrin, chassidim, zekainim and anshei ma’aseh were the ones who sang and danced and created simchah in the Bais Hamikdosh during the days of Sukkos. The rest of the nation, the men and the women, came to see and hear” (8:14). Why, if there is a mitzvah to be especially joyful on Sukkos, was it only the talmidei chachomim who danced? Why did everyone else just watch the gedolim as they demonstrated extreme exuberance? Why didn’t the hamon am also sing and dance? Let us analyze the special Yom Tov of Sukkos and, through a new understanding of the chag, perhaps understand the principles set forth by the Rambam. The Tur (Orach Chaim 417) states that each of the Yomim Tovim is celebrated in the merit of one of our forefathers, the avos. Sukkos is keneged Yaakov Avinu, as the posuk hints when it states, “Ulemikneihu asah sukkos.” [Interestingly, the Vilna Goan (Aderes Eliyohu, Parshas Bolok 22, 23), cites the posuk of “V’Yaakov nosa sukkosah” as an indication that the Yom Tov of Sukkos is connected to Yaakov.]
Yaakov Avinu is tied to Torah study. He is referred to as the “ish tam yosheiv ohalim,” for he dwelled in the tent of Torah, and famously studied Torah for fourteen years in the yeshiva of Shem v’Eiver. Since this chag is in his merit, it stands to reason that the joy expressed on this Yom Tov is the joy of Torah. The Vilna Gaon states (Even Sheleimah 11:14-15) that everything that transpires during the month of Tishrei hints to the World to Come. First there is the Day of Judgment, Rosh Hashanah. Then all sins are forgiven on Yom Kippur. Finally, there is the great joy of Sukkos and Shemini Atzeres/Simchas Torah. The future will mirror this. First there will be the Day of Judgment and then the realization of the pesukim, “Vezorakti aleichem mayim tehorim,” and, “Ki eslach la’asher ashir.” Then there will be Sukkos, as the posuk says, “Vesukkah tihiyeh letzeil yomam,” referring to the time of simchah. This will be followed by Shemini Atzeres, when the deniers of Hashem’s existence will disappear and Klal Yisroel will celebrate, “Atzeres tihiyeh lochem.” They will then partake in the joyous meal of the Livyoson, brought about by the
Rav states that on the seven days of Sukkos, the korbanos hachag are keneged the seventy nations, and Shemini Atzeres is akin to the World to Come, when no strangers will interfere with our simchah, just as no strangers have any relationship with the Torah. From this we see that the joy of Sukkos is akin to the joy of what will transpire at the End of Days. That joy, as we see, will be caused by the revelation of the ohr haganuz and the wealth of Torah that will be studied with the tzaddikim. The great men of the Jewish nation, in turn, will share their newfound knowledge with the rest of Am Yisroel. Perhaps this is the reason that the tzaddikim danced in the Bais Hamikdosh on Sukkos as the rest of the nation watched. They knew that what was transpiring is a hint to what will transpire after the redemption. They demonstrated that they believed in the future of Am Yisroel, when the ohr haganuz will be revealed to the tzaddikim, who will engage in the joyful study of Torah with Hakadosh Boruch Hu Himself. The joy of the tzaddikim was a precursor of the great joy that they will experience after the arrival of Moshiach. The joy of
WE EACH HAVE THE ABILITY TO CHANGE AT ANY TIME, ESPECIALLY AT THIS TIME OF YEAR. tremendous amount of knowledge that will then flow into the world, as Moshe Rabbeinu, who is referred to as Livyoson, reveals the secrets of the Torah. Hakadosh Boruch Hu will bring joy to the tzaddikim by being mechadeish for them chiddushei Torah, as the posuk states, “Vayechezu es haElokim vayochlu vayishtu.” This is what is referred to as the ohr haganuz, the hidden light, which will be revealed to the tzaddikim le’osid lavo. In fact, the sefer Maaseh Rav (Sukkah 232) writes that the Vilna Gaon was very happy on Sukkos and even more so on Shemini Atzeres, because according to Kabbolah, there is a bigger mitzvah to be joyous at that time. The Tosafos Maaseh
the nation was in showing that they share that belief in netzach Yisroel and eagerly await the day that the novi Tzefania (3) foresaw: “Ki oz ehofeich el kol ho’amim sofah berurah, v’oz yaalu kol hagoyim lehishtachavos laHashem lachog es chag haSukkos.” All the nations of the world will join to bow to Hashem and celebrate Sukkos with us. That, additionally, is the reason that on every day of Sukkos, fewer cows are offered as korbanos than on the prior day. Since the korbanos are keneged the amim, and since, le’osid lavo, the amim will admit to Hashem’s Kingship, therefore when we bring fewer korbanos each day, we are hinting to the period to which Shemi-
ni Atzeres alludes, when the beliefs of the nations will be acknowledged as fictitious and the sheker in the world will be diminished, as foretold by the novi Tzefania. Returning to the relationship between simchah and Sukkos, we have to examine the statement of Chazal that someone who did not witness the Simchas Bais Hashoeivah never saw real simchah. What is the tremendous joy evoked by the simchah of drawing water for the korban of nisuch hamayim and what is the connection of Sukkos to water? We have already discussed that the Yom Tov of Sukkos is keneged Yaakov, and that Yaakov’s middah was Torah. We all know that Torah is compared to water, as evidenced in the posuk (Yeshayahu 55:1) which advises, “Kol tzomei lechu lamayim - All those who are thirsty should drink water.” The advice refers to Torah. Those who are thirsty for knowledge are counseled to seek out the Torah. Moshe Rabbeinu was the person anointed by Hashem to bring us the Torah. His very name and essence were derived from water, as the posuk states, “Vatikra shemo Moshe, ki min hamayim mishisiyhu.” However, Moshe erred with water when he hit the rock that delivered water to the Jews in the desert instead of speaking to it. Perhaps Sukkos is a tikkun, a rectification, of that mistake. Therefore, we draw water and pour it at the mizbei’ach, seeking to trigger great celebration. The joy is brought about from the tikkun of that cheit, rectifying the mistake Moshe made when he took his stick and hit the rock, instead of speaking to it, as Hashem had commanded. Interestingly, Moshe’s stick was the stick of Yaakov. It was regarding this stick that the posuk quotes Yaakov as he thanked Hashem for His kindness upon leaving the house of Lovon: “Ki bemakli ovarti es hayardein, v’achshov hayisi lishnei machanos.” Yaakov recalls how, upon going into exile as he fled his brother Eisov, he possessed that stick, and with it he succeeded in crossing the Yardein River. Thus, on Sukkos, when we pray for water, we beseech Hashem to remember Yaakov, the same Yaakov in whose zechus we celebrate the Yom Tov. In Tefillas Gesh-
kos is keneged Yaakov, who optimized Torah. Sukkos hints to the period after Moshiach, when the joy of Torah will be shared between Hakadosh Boruch Hu and the tzaddikim. The cheit of Moshe will then be repaired and he will serve as the Livyoson, sharing the sodos of Torah with the tzaddikim. The blockage that was caused when he hit the rock will be cleared, because the Bnei Yisroel will have returned to Torah, and through the merit of Torah they will be redeemed. This is the explanation of what Rav Chaim of Volozhin writes in Nefesh Hachaim (4:31): “The main path to teshuvah mei’ahavah is through proper Torah study, as first we say, ‘Hashiveinu Ovinu leSorasecha,’ and then, ‘Vehachazireinu beseshuvah sheleimah lefonecha.’” Through our acts of teshuvah throughout the period of the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah, we arrive at Sukkos returned to the Torah, for that is what we worked on during the 40-day period beginning with Rosh Chodesh Elul. We are able to connect to the zechus of Yaakov, which is Torah. Since we have fortified our connection with Torah, on Sukkos we can combat the sin of lashon hora. Now that we have the ability to beat back the sin of lashon hora, we can merit the geulah, because the golus was
caused by lashon hora, which we are now empowered to rid from ourselves. Thus, we can begin to contemplate the World to Come, when Moshiach will arrive and the tzaddikim will joyously study Torah with Hashem. So, on Sukkos, we draw the water and bring the korban nisuch hamayim, because the blockage to Torah, signified by water, will be repaired. We are all joyous. The tzaddikim, who will benefit first from the ohr haganuz, are enraptured, for on Sukkos they can taste that great day and already feel its joy. The amcha, everyone else, stands, watching and listening, waiting for the tzaddikim to share the new knowledge with them. The joy is akin to that which will be brought to the world with the geulah, which will be bezechus haTorah, hanimshol lemayim. Thus, we say, “Mi shelo ra’ah simchas Bais Hashoeivah lo ra’ah simchah miyomov,” for the closest experience we have in this world to that which will take place when Moshiach comes is at the Bais Hamikdosh, when the water flows. May we merit partaking in the joy of that great day very soon. Chag someiach.
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brought about by bittul Torah. As Chazal say (Eiruchin 15b) on the posuk in Mishlei (15:4), ‘Marpeh lashon eitz chaim - The tree of life heals the lashon.’ What should a person do to ensure that he doesn’t speak lashon hora? He should toil in Torah. “Therefore, this golus was brought about because the Jews caused Moshe to sin with the stone and not speak to it… The water in the stone is the sod of Torah, as indicated by the Zohar. Because Moshe did not speak to the stone, forgetfulness of Torah was caused, as I have explained elsewhere. The stone became blocked and it is difficult to study Torah without great exertion.” From here we see clearly the connection between Moshe and water and golus, which we discussed. But there is an even stronger connection. Rav Dovid Tevel, prime student of Rav Chaim of Volozhin and author of the classic sefer Nachlas Dovid, writes the following in his drush sefer, Bais Dovid (chapter 10): “I heard in the name of the Vilna Gaon… that mitzvas sukkah combats the yeitzer of lashon hora.” After a detailed discussion, he concludes, “Thus, Sukkos is keneged the final redemption, because at that time, the sin of lashon hora will be rectified.” This is proof to our discussion that Suk-
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em, we state, “Zechor to’an maklo v’avar Yardein mayim - Hashem, please remember the one who took his stick and crossed the water of the Yardein River… Ba’avuro al timna moyim - In his merit don’t hold back the water from us.” We ask Hashem to look aside from Moshe Rabbeinu’s error and pardon him for what he did. We say, “Look to Yaakov, who acted properly with that same stick; successfully crossed the river, and removed the stone that prevented the flocks from drinking from the be’er mayim.” Ein mayim ela Torah. Allegorically, water represents Torah. We have seen that Sukkos signifies the World to Come after the geulah, when the truths and essence of Torah will be revealed. We ask Hashem to look past Moshe’s cheit and allow us to benefit from Torah, which is epitomized by Yaakov, who is keneged Sukkos. As I was thinking these thoughts and wondering if there was any point to them, I came across an amazing chapter from the Vilna Gaon’s talmid, Rav Yitzchok Eizik Chover, published in the recently released Miluei Even on Even Sheleimah. This is what he says: “The main cause of the current golus is the sin of misusing the gift of speech for lashon hora and sinas chinom, which is
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הלכות ברכת השחר ופסוקי דזמרה סוכות תשע”ו
Daf HaYomi B’Halacha
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Dirshu congratulates the thousands of bochurim nationwide, who are taking part in Dirshu’s Daf HaYomi B’Halacha L’Bochurim program. Endorsed by Gedolei Yisroel, the program was introduced to afford bochurim the opportunity to learn the important halachos of הלכות ברכת השחר ופסוקי דזמרה, while simultaneously giving structure to their daily learning during bein hazmanim. ATLANTA
Atlanta Scholars Kollel Call Rabbi Alterman at 619-446-9557 for information
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Tiferes Israel 180 Passaic Ave (downstairs)
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Wednesday October 7th כ"ד תשרי 7:00 PM
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a b y y. l r t d c o e o f t r t e o P N . t e e w s o o t to N
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Hakhel – Then and Now Yehudis Litvak
This year, 5776, follows a shmitta year, and it is the year of Hakhel. The mitzvah of Hakhel is described in last week’s parsha, Vayeilech. Every seven years, after the conclusion of a shmitta year, when the Jewish people come to the Beis Hamikdash for Sukkos, the leaders are commanded to assemble the whole nation – “men and women and children and your stranger within your gates” – in the Beis Hamikdash and read to them selected passages from the Torah, “so that they will hear, and so that they will learn and fear Hashem, your G-d, and keep and do all the words of this Torah” (Devarim 31:12). The Rambam describes the procedure of the Hakhel ceremony. On the first day of Chol Hamoed Sukkos, trumpets would sound throughout Yerushalayim to gather the people. A special platform would be set up in the ezras Nashim, the women’s courtyard in the Beis Hamikdash. The king would sit on the platform. The rest of the nation would gather around him. The religious leaders of the people would take out the Torah scroll and pass it from one leader to the next, until the Kohen Gadol received the Torah scroll and passed it to the King. The King would stand to accept the scroll, and then sit down, unroll it, recite the blessing before an aliyah to the Torah, and read from it to the assembled nation. He would read from the beginning of Sefer Devarim through the first paragraph of Shema (Devarim 1:1 – 6:9), then skip to the second paragraph of Shema (Devarim 11:13-22), then skip to the passage on tithing (Devarim 14:22) and read from there until the end of blessings and curses (Devarim 28:69). Then the king would roll up the scroll and recite the blessing recited after an aliya to the Torah, followed by seven more blessings. All men, women, and children were obligated to attend Hakhel, unless they were ritually impure. They all had to hear the Torah reading, even if they did not understand the words, either because of a language barrier or because of young age. This was intended to create the same joy and trembling that accompanied the receiving the Torah for the first time at Har Sinai. “Even great sages who know the whole Torah are obligated to listen with great concentration,” writes the Rambam. “And one who cannot hear should direct his heart to the reading because the Torah established it in order to strengthen true faith and see oneself as if being commanded right now from Hashem’s mouth, because the king is an agent to make known the word of G-d.”
Since the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash the Jewish people haven’t been able to fulfill the biblical mitzvah of Hakhel, which does not apply when the majority of the Jewish people reside outside of Eretz Yisrael. However, in recent times the concept of Hakhel experienced a revival. Families and communities began to use the year following shmitta as an opportunity to get together and strengthen their connection to the Torah and to each other. The idea was first proposed by Rabbi Eliyahu David Rabinowitz–Teomim, known as the Aderes, the assistant to the Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi in Eretz Yisrael in the beginning of the twentieth century and the father-inlaw of Rav Kook. The first official Hakhel gathering in the twentieth century was conducted in Jerusalem in 1945 by Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Halevi Herzog. The Torah portions from Sefer Devarim were read at the Western Wall, the Kosel, in the presence of
The King would read from the Torah as if it were being given at Sinai
Poster for a Hakhel gathering
a large number of people. An eyewitness described it as an impressive gathering. In 1987, Rav Herzog’s grandson, President Chaim Herzog, read from the Torah at the Kosel at a Hakhel event, attended by many
Israeli officials. Since then, Hakhel events organized by the Israeli Rabbinate have been taking place every seven years. In 2008, President Moshe Katzav read from the Torah. This year, a Hakhel gathering is scheduled to take place at the Kosel on the second day of Chol Hamoed Sukkos. President Reuven Rivlin, together with the Ashkenazi and the Sefardi Chief Rabbis, will participate in the event. About 100, 000 people are expected to attend. Another proponent of reviving Hakhel, even outside of Eretz Yisrael, was the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn. In 1952, he called upon parents and teachers to organize children’s gatherings at Torah institutions in order to increase their Torah learning and mitzvah observance. Since then, Chabad communities throughout the world hold Hakhel gatherings every seven years. These gatherings don’t necessarily take place on Sukkos. In fact, the Lubavitcher Rebbe encouraged conducting such events throughout the year of Hakhel. This year, advances in technology took the Chabad Hakhel gathering to new heights. The gatherings took place all over the world at the same time, which was 10 a.m. local time on Sunday, September 20th. All the participants were connected to each other through live video hook up. In Los Angeles, these events took place at Moshe Ganz hall and at Chabad of SOLA. The video program included speakers from different cities and continents: New York, London, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Kfar Chabad in Israel, Johannesburg, Paris, and Buenos Aires. Rabbi Menachem Glukowsky of Rechovot, Israel, spoke about the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s directive to light up the world by using every opportunity to unite the Jewish people and strengthen their Yiddishkeit. The program included a special video presentation for children. Some local families use the Hakhel year as an opportunity to reconnect with extended family. Cindy Abrams of North Hollywood described the family gathering organized by her son in the previous Hakhel year. The extended family gathered together in Malibu over the Fourth of July weekend. They spent Shabbos at Chabad of Malibu. “We wound up all coming back to our home on the Sunday of that weekend and sharing stories and pictures of the family,” says Abrams. “[It was] wonderful and I think very nourishing for the younger generation. I would encourage anyone to make that a family minhag if they could.”
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It’s Not A Lemon Ruth Judah
is fundamental and bumpy skin is commonly chosen because this distinguishes the fruit from a lemon. Jews, with inimitable creativity, have named the etrog according to their design. There is the picturesque, Eve’s Etrog, so named because of the supposed bite marks in the top of the fruit. Those whose heritage is from Hungary will choose etrogim shaped like a teardrop, oblong that comes
to a pointed top. Some choose an etrog that has a broad and round top and then gets narrower at the bottom and Chabad Rebbes prefer one which is domed on the top and then narrower at the base. After the fall of the second temple in 70CE, Jews planted etrog trees wherever they settled. This was a good plan, but kosher trees cannot be grafted with other species and gradually the original variety was
contaminated with a mix of lime or lemon trees. You can hardly blame the local farmers who needed to make a living from trees that are problematic, fragile, prone to bug infestation and unpredictable in fruit size and color. Wholly unsuitable as a snack, the global marketplace for etrog is small. Few have tasted the Greek etrog liquor, Kitron, and sales in the perfume industry, who use the peel of the etrog in certain fragrances, are as small as for chefs who occasionally use the peel in cakes. And still, etrog farmers can stay in business because of the guaranteed sales every year for Sukkot. Today, the largest producers of the elusive fruit is Italy, Greece, Morocco, Algeria and Yemen, but the biggest sales come from Eretz Yisroel where superior growers of etrogim will likely use seeds from the etrog grown in Calabria, southern Italy. This is because Calabria is thought to be the home of the orchard that supplied the messengers of Moshe Rabbeinu with his etrog while wandering in the desert all those years ago. This last year was shmita year so there are additional complications. Israeli farmers, despite legalistic measures to allow for sales of Israeli etrogim, have faced a decline in sales with Italian and Moroccan farmers picking up the business with their fruit that has grown outside of the shmita restrictions. Even if you purchase Israeli imported etrogim, you need rabbinical advice on whether they should be shipped back to Israel, or left to naturally deteriorate before being discarded, or is it better yet to cook some wonderful etrog preserve after the Sukkot holiday? The point is that this year you may not discard your imported etrog as you might discard your schach. Rabbi Yanky Kahn is the only Los Angeles etrog distributor who visits Calabria each year to check and purchase the fruit that he imports. Rabbi Kahn explained the enjoyment of his job, “When I was 15, I was first taken to Italy to watch the harvesting of the trees as you need two people to check that the trunk is not grafted and is kosher. Although it’s now a side business, I still travel to southern Italy each year and it is always thrilling to find a perfect etrog on a tree. Even the farmer and the workers are delighted to see it because you only get one magnificent etrog out of 1,000 that are harvested. This was a decent year. I brought home a great crop which is good news for our community. What better way to start the New Year?”
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The intrigue is building as buyers visit their stores and Rabbis in search of the exact etrog which, quite possibly, has yet to be harvested. Or not! Perhaps this year, you will be the lucky owner of an etrog that is quite perfect in every way. Sukkot beckons and the Citrus Medica marketplace is preparing for its once yearly sale. The thrill of the hunt is meaningful with American imports from Israel harvesting an impressive $1million per year. Individual sales average $40 per fruit, but certain etrogim can fetch prices of several thousands and buyers know their investment is worth every penny. This is no lemon. There are many other variables that make etrog shopping as exciting as the search for bread on the night before Pesach. Your journey will require thoughtful investigation, spiritual cognizance, artistic competence and a fair amount of luck so that you are drawn to the etrog that will make your lulav lovely. The etrog represents the heart in the lulav, because of its shape; some say the luscious fruit is also symbolic of our perfected selves. Indeed, it is necessary to love your chosen etrog or it will not survive the holiday season intact. The etrog is unique in many ways, despite sharing certain similarities with other citrus fruits. It retains a personality that includes vertically growing seeds and the thickest skin that cushions a pitifully small amount of bitter, acidic flesh. Etrogade is not replacing lemonade any time soon. Nonetheless, its superiority is undisputed as it is one of the original four species that grew in Israel. Any self-respecting etrog buyer will check for the pitom at the top, shakuah at the base and even a gartel in the center of the fruit. Do not be fooled into purchasing a small etrog as a kosher etrog must weigh 2.04 oz., even when a little dried out by the time Simchat Torah rolls around. In the same way that the four seasons change the way trees look, so too the etrog evolves along with the holiday. And now that you have to choose which to purchase, have you considered your personal favorite in terms of shape and style? Every country produces etrogim in different shapes and color variations. In order to fulfill the mitzvah at the highest level, you must have a clean and unmarked fruit and then there is the question of the tower. Oral traditions across different communities will prefer a different style, although a symmetrical arch to the top half
The Infamous Case Of The ‘Get Of Cleves’ part 2 Rabbi Pini Dunner, Rav of Young Israel North Beverly Hills
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SEPTEMBER 24, 2015
In the late eighteenth century a strange wedding followed by an even stranger divorce evolved into one of the most bitterly fought Jewish legal controversies of the era. In Part One we saw how the ‘Get of Cleves’, executed without the knowledge of the husband’s parents, was challenged by them and their rabbi, who approached the Frankfurt beit din to ask for the divorce to be annulled. But was the husband legally incompetent at the time of the divorce, as they claimed, or were their claims overblown and without foundation? And even if he was incompetent, did that mean that the divorce could be reversed? Before we continue the story, let us take a look at what might be the basis for a divorce annulment in Jewish law, based in insanity or incompetence. The Mishna in Tractate Gittin states that “if a man is seized with kordiakos and says: ‘write a Get for my wife’, it is as if he has said nothing. If he says ‘write a Get for my wife’ and is only then seized with kordiakos, during which time he says ‘don’t write it’, his latter words are considered null and void.” According to the Gemara that explains this Mishna, kordiakos is a form of mental illness with symptoms that are similar to the behavior of someone who has become completely incapacitated after drinking a potent wine directly from a fermentation barrel. Such a person cannot be taken seriously as he is not lucid, which means that when he issues the command to write the Get, even if the Get is written properly, and even if after he later recovers from his mental episode and says he wants to divorce his wife, the Get written while he was incapacitated is not valid and cannot be used for a divorce. The big question that hung over the Get of Cleves was Isaac’s sanity at the time he instructed for the Get to be written and given to Leah. Was he someone who
suffered from a chronic mental illness that diminished his competence? Or were the strange incidents at the time of his wedding just a temporary mental breakdown and did he then recover? Perhaps it was possible, however remote such a possibility, that his life was in genuine danger for reasons he could not reveal. Even if he was in the throes of a mental breakdown, did that invalidate his instructions to Rabbi Lipschuetz for the Get to be written? Isaac’s father was insistent that his son had been in the midst of a mental breakdown when he issued the instruction in Cleves to write a Get, and on this basis lobbied frantically for the divorce to be annulled, even if it could be proved that Isaac had since recovered and wanted the divorce to stand. Isaac’s father cited the various episodes of Isaac’s strange behavior before and after the wedding, and claimed that when Rabbi Lipschuetz of Cleves had agreed for the Get to be written, he had been unaware of the full history, and therefore the Get had no legal status. Those who advocated for the Get to be annulled were also disturbed by how it had been obtained so underhandedly. Isaac’s parents had not been informed in advance, they argued, and no attempt had been made to inform them subsequently. The claim was that this was suspicious behavior. They also questioned as to why had the divorce been executed in Cleves, which was a remote community. There were other larger cities with more substantial communities closer to Bonn, such as Dusseldorf and Koblenz, with outstanding rabbis who were perfectly capable of putting together a proper Get. Why had Leah and her family traveled the greater distance to Cleves? And finally, why had the Get proceeded before the couple had even had time to establish their physical relationship, which had ceased after the marital act on the night of the wedding? The advocates for the annulment drew the conclusion that Isaac was crazy, or had been at around the time this had all happened, and therefore Leah’s family had arranged a Get below the radar, to ensure that Leah did not become lumbered with a lunatic husband. They manipulated Isaac into divorcing her, and arranged for it to happen in a remote location with no oversight, and without informing the rabbi that Isaac was not competent to execute a divorce. Those opposed to the Get of Cleves also cited the Talmudic dictum which states that no one spends a fortune of mon-
ey and wastes time getting married, only to divorce his wife immediately afterwards. It was well known that Isaac’s family had invested an enormous amount of time and money into his marriage to Leah. Isaac himself had borrowed a large sum of money to pay for his marital wardrobe.
Rabbi David Tevele Schiff, Chief Rabbi of London (1722-1791) interviewed Isaac in London for the Frankfurt beit din
That being the case, it was inconceivable that Isaac would have divorced his wife a couple of weeks later, unless he was clinically, and therefore halachically, crazy. Despite these arguments, the rabbis and others who supported Isaac’s parents were in a distinct minority. The majority view was that the only thing Isaac had done that put his sanity into question was his unexpected and unexplained disappearance with the money on the morning of the Shabbat after his wedding. Since he had only acted abnormally on that one occasion, he could not be judged as someone who had totally lost his reason. Some rabbis felt that the Shabbat incident may not necessarily have been an ‘insane’ act, as Isaac genuinely believed that he was being targeted by some person, or group of people, and thought his life was in danger. Although he had no proof this was true, or had not offered any, that did not mean his story was a fabrication or simply a figment of his imagination. It was perfectly possible that his life was in danger, in which case his Shabbat disappearance was perfectly reasonable. In any event, the Shulchan Aruch states unequivocally that “a man who fluctuates between lucid and crazy - when he is lucid he is to be regarded as completely normal in everything he does, and if he divorces his wife in that time, his Get is considered valid.” Rabbi Lipschuetz of Cleves maintained unequivocally that throughout the
divorce proceedings Isaac had been completely lucid. Six members of the Cleves Jewish community who were present at the proceedings also testified that Isaac had behaved completely normally – not just during the proceedings, but throughout his stay in Cleves. Rabbi Copenhagen, who had accompanied Leah and Isaac to Cleves and was present throughout the divorce, also confirmed that Isaac’s behavior had been reasonable the entire time. There was another relevant issue that began to emerge as more rabbis and community leaders became involved in the dispute, and the controversy grew. Many people felt that it was entirely out of place for the Frankfurt rabbis – however distinguished and respected they were – to interfere in an affair that was beyond their jurisdiction. The Get had been granted by Rabbi Lipschuetz, and was therefore his sole responsibility. It had always been the custom in Germany that a beit din in one location did not interfere with or intervene in the decisions and activities of a beit din in another location. It was therefore felt that the Frankfurt beit din was out of line expressing an opinion on a matter that was essentially none of their business. Despite the eminence of the Frankfurt rabbinate, numerous rabbis across Germany announced their full support for Rabbi Lipschuetz. Furnished with the details of the story, and knowing him as a man of unimpeachable integrity, and as a rabbi well versed in the laws of Jewish divorce who knew the implications of a non-divorced woman marrying another husband, they simply refused to believe that he would allow such a travesty to unfold simply to protect his reputation. The man who had originally triggered the controversy by writing to the Frankfurt rabbinate, Rabbi Tevele Hess of Mannheim, unexpectedly died shortly after the controversy began. His plan had been simple, if somewhat naive. He had wanted the rabbis of Frankfurt to nullify the Get, and then have Isaac interviewed by a panel of experts upon his return from London to Mannheim. If he was found to be perfectly sane - as all those who supported the Get claimed he was - he would simply be asked to issue a new Get and the problem would be resolved. When Rabbi Hess died, however, the baton was grabbed by the dayanim of Frankfurt, and their agenda was totally different to his. They believed that they had to take a stand against sloppy rabbinic practices, and it was their opinion that the only reason Rabbi Lipschuetz of
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gen to Frankfurt, along with members of Bonn’s Jewish community, on the pretext that they needed to thoroughly investigate the events surrounding the divorce. Rabbi Copenhagen, believing they were now looking for a face saving way to reverse their position, agreed to come to Frankfurt and gathered together a delegation of senior community figures to accompany him. The delegation arrived in Frankfurt during Chanukah of 1766, and stayed there for three weeks. At hearing after hearing they were questioned and cross-examined by the Frankfurt rabbis about every detail of the episode, including the divorce itself. Every word was faithfully recorded by the court scribe, and Rabbi Copenhagen was convinced the evidence provided was a slam-dunk in favor of the Get. But within a couple of weeks the Frankfurt beit din sent a letter to Bonn curtly informing the community leadership that after having carefully considered the testimony presented, they had concluded that their original view was correct, and the Get could not be used – meaning that Leah was forbidden to remarry, and if she did remarry, her children would be ‘mamzerim’. Despite being so belligerently confident, the Frankfurt rabbinate were clearly conscious that their position was controversial, and so they also wrote to a former Frankfurt rabbi, Rabbi David Tevele Schiff – who was now chief rabbi of London - and asked him to interview Isaac in London to find out if he was sane, or whether he was in fact suffering from mental illness, as was being clamed by his father. They were also interested in hearing Isaac’s version of events. Rabbi Schiff met up with Isaac and they spoke for some time. In a letter back to Frankfurt he described how he had found Isaac to be completely and utterly sane, although Isaac had admitted that his behavior around the time of his marriage and divorce were objectively irrational. In terms of Jewish law his admission was irrelevant, though, as even had he insisted he was totally insane at the time of the divorce, if the presiding beit din did not think so, all his protestations to the contrary – and certainly at a later date – would be ignored. Another senior European rabbi, Rabbi Shaul Lowenstamm of Amsterdam, hearing about the London interview with Isaac, wrote to his nephew, Rabbi Meshulam Zalman Emden – also a London resident – and asked him to meet Isaac and report back. Rabbi Emden met Isaac and wrote back that his meeting had gone well, and he seemed lucid and rational. This new
‘evidence’ came to the attention of the Frankfurt dayanim, and they demanded that Rabbi Lowenstamm send it to them immediately, on the basis that they were the sole arbiters of the validity of the ‘Get of Cleves’.
Rabbi Shaul Lowenstamm of Amsterdam (1717-1790) obtained evidence independently and rejected the Frankfurt rabbinate’s claim of sole jurisdiction
Rabbi Lowenstamm agreed to send them a copy of the transcript, but queried their claim of sole jurisdiction. He also expressed his view that on the basis of what he had seen and heard he was satisfied that the Get was valid, irrespective of their contrary opinion. The Frankfurt dayanim were not cowed by his forthright rejection of their self proclaimed role, and replied that they were entirely within their rights to claim sole jurisdiction, as they were the only ones who were painstakingly collecting testimonies about the episode. They added that notwithstanding their view that the Get was invalid, Rabbi Lipschuetz’s reputation was not in any danger, as he had clearly been deliberately kept in the dark about Isaac’s history. Although they seemed to be sticking to their guns, the tone of their letter did indicate that they were conscious of the fact that their high-handed approach - which they had perhaps imagined would bolster their reputation as ‘no-nonsense’ impartial jurists - had in fact resulted in the perception that they were a bunch of arrogant, dismissive, ivory-tower bound snobs. As all this was happening Leah’s father was busy writing to any rabbi he knew to ask them to support the divorce. He was extremely concerned that if the Frankfurt ruling was accepted, his daughter would never be able to remarry. Meanwhile, Rab-
bi Lipschuetz was getting more and more agitated with each passing week at how his reputation was being called into question, and he also began to write letters to rabbis everywhere asking them to consider the details of the story and back his position. In March 1767, Rabbi Yaakov Emden, the elder statesman of the German Jewish rabbinate, declared in response to a letter from Rabbi Lipschuetz that in his view the Get was completely valid, and Leah was free to remarry. That same month Rabbi Arye Leib of Metz, author of Sha’agat Aryeh, wrote an open letter in which he stated Leah was free to remarry, despite the objections of Frankfurt. Incredibly, despite the universal support for the Get of Cleves from every rabbinic authority besides for Frankfurt, the Frankfurt dayanim remained completely unrepentant, and even began to issue public declarations voiding the Get. Rabbi Yaakov Emden sent a message to the Frankfurt rabbinate suggesting that they stand down, as they were making fools of themselves. He told them that a minority opinion must always give way in the face of an overwhelming majority, and it was evident that the vast majority of rabbis supported the Get of Cleves. But the Frankfurt beit din was in no mood to listen to him, despite his seniority, nor would they heed anyone who did not concur with their view. And so, despite the avalanche of opposition to Frankfurt’s inflexibility, the campaign against the Get and all its supporters continued unabated. In the next and final part of this article series you will discover how the Frankfurt beit din’s refusal to acknowledge the majority view resulted in them being publicly condemned by the most illustrious rabbis of the era. But how did it all end? Did Leah remarry using the Get of Cleves, or was she condemned to spinsterhood and childlessness as a result of the Frankfurt beit din? The answers to these questions depend on who you ask, and in the final part of this series you will encounter an incredible postscript to the Get of Cleves saga as produced by an apologist for the Frankfurt rabbinate in an obscure book published a century after the events actually occurred. The conclusion to this tragic episode is, as you will learn, even more perplexing and disturbing than the original story itself.
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Cleves had not realized that Isaac was suffering from mental illness was because he had not been fed all the details of Isaac’s strange behavior. This exposed his lack of professionalism, a failing that had resulted in an untenable and unsupportable Get. Rabbi Lipschuetz himself was incredulous at the obstinacy of the Frankfurt beit din, and in the Fall of 1766 wrote a formal ruling validating the Get of Cleves, and dispatched a copy of his ruling to Frankfurt. In a subsequent letter to Frankfurt he included witness statements from several residents of Cleves who had come into contact with Isaac. Some of these witnesses had even participated in the divorce proceedings. They all agreed that Isaac had acted normally throughout. But despite this, and the halachic arguments presented by Rabbi Lipschuetz, the Frankfurt beit din did not even acknowledge the letters, and Rabbi Lipschuetz never even received the courtesy of a reply. This refusal to engage with Rabbi Lipschuetz was extremely unorthodox. It also reflected badly on the Frankfurt rabbinate in light of the way another rabbi whom Rabbi Hess had approached had reacted to his original letter. When Rabbi Hess had sent his missive to Frankfurt requesting the annulment, he had sent an almost identical letter to Rabbi Naftali Hirsch Katzenellenbogen of Pfalz. The first thing Rabbi Katzenellenbogen had done was to reach out to Rabbi Lipschuetz to find out the exact details of the divorce. Rabbi Lipschuetz responded immediately with a comprehensive timeline. Upon receiving this Rabbi Katzenellenbogen wrote to Rabbi Hess to tell him that the Get of Cleves was perfectly fine, and the divorce stood. He also castigated Rabbi Hess for having written to anyone else before contacting Rabbi Lipschuetz, describing this as an unforgivable breach of protocol. Rabbi Hess had also asked Rabbi Katzenellenbogen to consult with his brother and brother-in-law, both rabbis. They concurred that the Get was valid. The brotherin-law, Rabbi Josef Steinhardt of Fuerth, was evidently so incensed by the behavior of the Frankfurt rabbinate, that he wrote a strong letter to Rabbi Abish, the chief rabbi of Frankfurt, to make his feelings clear, but his pleas for Frankfurt to cease their involvement were to no avail. As the months rolled by it became evident to Rabbi Abish and his rabbinic colleagues that Rabbi Lipschuetz was not going to roll over and concede, and that they needed to counteract his efforts against them. So they summoned Rabbi Copenha-
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SEPTEMBER 24, 2015
Travel Guide: Seattle Aaron Feigenbaum
Seattle, a.k.a. the Emerald City, is the Pacific Northwest’s largest city and is renowned for its vibrant cultural scene, friendly business climate, eclectic neigh-
borhoods, rainy weather and lush greenery. Like Portland and San Francisco, Seattle is a forward-thinking metropolis that’s focused on sustainable living and building an innovative technology sector. Thus, the city hosts some of the world’s leading tech companies such as Microsoft, Boeing and Amazon. The downtown neighborhood is cosmopolitan with many high-end hotels, restaurants and art galleries. Yet, despite Seattle’s shiny new exterior, it’s also a city that sticks closely to its natural roots. The deep green forests that the Pacific Northwest is famous for are abundant both within the city’s massive parks and just outside the center. Flanked by the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges, sprawling forests, and the waters of Puget Sound, Seattle is idyllic for those who like the outdoors but also want urban conveniences. In all, Seattle is a city of pleasant surprises and exploration. Visitors must be bold and curious to fully unravel the Emerald City’s mysteries. History The area now known as Seattle was inhabited by the native Duwamish people for thousands of years prior to the arrival of Europeans. Settlers first came in 1851 and called the land New York-Alki. They soon moved to what it now called Pioneer Square, which is Seattle’s historic quarter. They then renamed the village to Seattle after a Duwamish leader named Sealth whom they had befriended. Seattle in the late 1800’s was primarily driven by the logging industry. Lumber mills mostly sent their goods to San Francisco, but some also went to the fledgling communities around Puget Sound. The railroad made a huge impact on Seattle’s development, along with the coal industry, starting in the 1880’s. With the construction of Northern Pacific Railway Company’s Seattle depot as well as the boom caused by the Klondike Gold Rush
of 1897, the city’s population soared and new industries such as trade and shipping took hold. Despite the extensive damage of the 1889 fire, Seattle continued to grow
dy but are also testament to Seattle’s openness and eccentricity. It’s no wonder that it has quickly become one of the city’s most talked about attractions.
Lemay Car Museum
as new luxury buildings sprang up downtown. The population became heavily diversified as Jews, Italians, Scandinavians, Chinese and others moved in. Seattle continued to prosper until the Great Depression when it was hit particularly hard. WWII revitalized the shipyards and helped ease the tough economic conditions. However, it wasn’t until the end of WWII and Boeing’s creation of the 707 jumbo jet, that Seattle was fully back on track. Boeing became the leader in the commercial airline industry and as a result massively increased its workforce to the point that its fortunes were deeply tied to those of Seattle itself. One of the city’s proudest moments was its hosting of the Century 21 Exposition in 1962. The fair left the city with landmarks such as the Space Needle, Pacific Science Center, Monorail and numerous performance venues. Seattle has since become a world leader in technology and business with heavyweights such as Microsoft choosing the Emerald City as their base of operations. It also prides itself on its vast parklands, tranquil surroundings, respected cultural institutions and progressive-minded, optimistic attitude. Attractions Space Needle: Originally built for the Century 21 Exposition, the Space Needle is one of the most recognizable buildings in the world and one of Seattle’s most popular destinations. Thousands of visitors take the elevator 520 feet up to the observation deck to enjoy sweeping views of the city and surrounding areas. Chihuly Garden and Glass: Only three years old, this awe-inspiring exhibit consists of eight indoor galleries, an expansive outdoor garden and a main glasshouse that all highlight the work of celebrated glass sculptor Dale Chihuly. The artist’s colorful, exotic sculptures are not only eye can-
Museum of Flight: Seattle’s Museum of Flight is one of the largest of its kind and contains an extensive collection of interesting aerospace artifacts. Highlights include the very first fighter plane from WWI, the Lockheed D-21 unmanned recon plane, a replica of the plane flown by Amelia Earhart, the Air Force One Plane used by JFK and Nixon and the shuttle mockup used to train astronauts. Flight enthusiasts are sure to want to spend hours here. Columbia Center: While the Space Needle may have architectural charm, it can’t compete with the view of Columbia Center’s Sky View Observatory. The observation deck is the highest on the West Coast and offers breathtaking glimpses of Mt. Rainier, the Cascade Mountains, and of course the city of Seattle. EMP Museum: Founded by Microsoft’s Paul Allen, the EMP Museum is an eccentric institution dedicated to pop culture. Whether you want to play at being a DJ, perform on stage or learn more about Jimi Hendrix and Star Trek this is the place to do it. Current exhibits include the stories behind indie game developers, the history of horror films and artifacts from some of the most well-known sci-fi films and shows. Woodland Park Zoo: This national award-winning zoo features thousands of different animals, trees and plants from around the world, and goes out of its way to ensure that its different habitats are as close to the original as possible. From gorillas to grizzly bears to tigers to pythons, there’s almost every land mammal one could hope to see. Kids will certainly enjoy the indoor Zoomazium where they can explore a cave, climb a tree, cross a rope bridge through a tree canopy and more. Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour: As the name suggests, this tour explores the original roads and stores of downtown
Seattle. The tour starts at a restored late 1800’s saloon and finishes at a gift shop beneath Pioneer Square. Tour guides provide humorous and informative narration
about Seattle’s early days. Museum of History and Industry: This museum focuses on the history of Seattle and neighboring regions from pre-European colonization up through the modern city’s tech boom. One of the most notable items on display is the 1919 Boeing B-1, the Boeing Corporation’s first commercial plane. Visitors can get a feel for what life was like in the boomtown days of Seattle and understand how the city came to be the economic and technological powerhouse it is today. Pacific Science Center: A great place for kids and adults alike, the Pacific Science Center has everything from giant robotic insects to solar powered art to a special exhibit on “grossology” and more. The
center’s two IMAX theaters are currently showing films about airplanes, tiny animals, humpback whales and Mt. Everest. Be sure to also check out the planetarium for a small extra fee. Kerry Park: Seattle has dozens of parks but Kerry is perhaps its most famous thanks to the breathtaking views it offers of the city. If the weather is just right, you can even see Mt. Rainier looming large in the distance. Day trips: With lush, alpine meadows in the summer and some of the world’s snowiest conditions in the winter, Mt. Rainier National Park is one of America’s best natural wonders. Besides hosting the majestic Mt. Rainier (the highest mountain
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Mount Rainer National Park
in Washington), the park features thick forests, glaciers, waterfalls and plenty of opportunities for camping, skiing, hiking and more. The Boeing Factory tour, located in Everett, takes visitors into the world’s single largest building. You will be awestruck not only by the gargantuan size of the building but also the sheer complexity and army of workers needed to construct a modern jumbo jet. Guides explain the manufacturing process in depth during the 90 minute
The nearby city of Tacoma has the excellent LeMay car museum, which has 250 cars spanning each decade the automobile has been around, thus making the museum one of the largest in the world. The museum also features a theater showing the history of the car and a racing simulator. Daven and Eat Seattle has numerous Orthodox shuls. These include Chabad of Seattle (chabadofseattle.org) and Bikur Cholim Machizkay Hadath (bcmhseattle.org).
Seattle Space Needle
tour. Visitors start their tour at the Future of Flight Aviation Center in nearby Mulkiteo. The center is an informative primer for the factory tour and includes exhibits such as a real 727 cockpit, jet plane components, the history of the jet plane and full size aircraft suspended from the ceiling. The town of Keyport is home to the Naval Undersea Museum, one of the U.S. Navy’s 12 official museums. This one has a variety of fascinating displays such as torpedoes from various eras, a Confederate sea mine, a recreation of a submarine’s control room and a full-size sail from a nuclear sub.
There is also no shortage of kosher Seattle establishments although there are none that serve meat. For a full list of the best kosher restaurants and markets check out seattlevaad.org Getting There Flights from LAX to Seattle currently start at around $130 per person round trip while Amtrak tickets start at $145 and Greyhound tickets start at $225. Driving from L.A. to Seattle is about 1,100 miles or just under 17 hours.
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SEPTEMBER 24, 2015
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booked with miles (as opposed to paying in cash.) Round-trip flights range between 15 - 20k miles which is approximately seven flights where your companion can additionally join you for free. Finally, if you earned the Companion Pass in January of this coming year, it will last you until the end of Dec of 2017. The perks are valued at thousands of dollars. The last time we shared this information, one of our customers took advantage of the offer and here is his story: “After being informed by PEYD about the Southwest promotion, I signed up for one card. The same computer wouldn’t allow me to sign up for the second card [to get both 50,000 card offers] but I was able to sign up for the second offer using another computer. Just make sure you are on a site where the offer is for 50,000 bonus points. I almost signed up on a site where it was 25,000 for one card. “I spent the amount on each card needed to get bonus points, plus the additional amount needed to reach 110,000 [$2,000 for each 50,000 bonus card, only gets to 104,000 points, with 6,000 additional points still required] by paying for my kids summer camp tuition in advance. I then received an email within a day of my statement date, which was within 3 months from the sign-up, that I got a companion pass! “A few days after choosing my spouse [as the beneficiary] of the companion, I received a card in the mail. I booked a flight to Las Vegas, two tickets for the price of one, which I find amazing. I feel like this is too good to be true. After that one flight, I still have 90,000 plus points for future flights or use for hotels/car rentals [earning the Companion Pass doesn’t take away any points, you still have the points to pay/use for the flights as well!!]. It’s gotta be worth thousands of dollars which was awarded to me, just for spending what I anyways needed to spend. Thank you PEYD for informing me about, what in other words, is a deal that will be paying for my future vacation(s).” There is even a way to get the remaining 6,000 points needed without spending the extra $6,000. You can convert Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to either Hyatt or Marriott hotel points and then transfer those hotel points directly to Southwest. We encourage our customers and friends to take advantage of this offer before Southwest changes their rules. Visit www.PEYD.com for more information and sign-up links. CUSTOMERS MUST VERIFY INFORMATION PRIOR TO APPLYING AS TERMS & CONDITIONS ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT NOTICE.
N. Korea Reopens Nuclear Plants
China Curbs the Smartphone Addiction
If your phone breaks or gets stolen, how much do you panic? Do you stress that you will need to go a day or two with minimal contact with your family and friends? Or do you relish the temporary calm and mystery that comes along with not being able to be reached at any given second? The word “addicted” is tossed around when we talk about cell phones, but do people actually suffer from phone addictions? Studies show that the younger generation of cellphone users, particularly, are struggling with limiting their phone time. In China, they are considering phone addiction to be a pretty serious problem, and they are tackling it in a serious way. Young adults who are about to go to college are forced to go to military camp and “unlearn” their bad tech habits. There are about 250 such camps in China. According to pictures that have been released, “training” includes holding an iPhone between your teeth and engaging in physical activity. Chinese social media outlets have shown other strange exercises. Students receive “punishments” for certain infractions, and go to psychology sessions to help them curb their addiction. Many studies have shown that toddlers that spend many hours a day on smartphones and other electronic devices may need therapy later in life to break the habit. I don’t know if military camp is the answer, but it may be quicker—and cheaper—than countless hours on a therapist’s couch.
Iranian Prez: “Death to America” Not to be Taken Personally
SEPTEMBER 24, 2015
In a bold confession, North Korea has admitted to reopening its main plant for producing nuclear bombs. Experts’ assessments based on satellite imagery have suspected activity at the facility for about two years. Last week’s report from North Korea’s state media adds to concerns that the isolated nation is proceeding to sharpen its nuclear threat. Pyongyang also indicated last week that it may soon launch a long-range rocket. Any launch would be highly political and have many repercussions. The U.S. and other countries view such launches as tests of missile technology that could potentially be used to deliver a nuclear bomb as far as the continental U.S. Any rocket launch would also undermine a recent warming of ties with South Korea. The two Koreas agreed in August to hold a reunion of families separated by their shared border in October. A spokesman for South Korea’s foreign ministry said Seoul would consult with the United Nations Security Council on a response to a launch if one takes place. Dictator Kim Jong Un, North Korea has rejected all approaches from Washington and Seoul to discuss its atomic weapons program and instead pursued a policy of developing its “treasured sword” of a nuclear threat. Its leaders say it needs nuclear weapons to prevent an invasion by the U.S. and South Korea. “We continue to call on North Korea to refrain from irresponsible provocations that aggravate regional tensions, and instead focus on fulfilling its international obligations and commitments,” U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said. Last week’s state media report cited the director of North Korea’s Atomic Energy Institute as confirming that all the facilities at Yongbyon had “started normal operations.” The official, who wasn’t named, was also said quoted as saying that scientists were “steadily improving the levels of nuclear weapons with various missions in quality and quantity.”
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Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani is try-
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SEPTEMBER 24, 2015
ing to reassure a skeptical American public that when crowds in Tehran chant “Death to America!” they don’t mean it personally. In an interview with “60 Minutes,” the Iranian president said the famous Friday ritual is a reaction to previous Washington policy decisions that hurt Iran. In April, U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration signed a deal with Rouhani’s government to release Iran from many of the economic sanctions crippling its economy in return for certain controls on its nuclear program. But many in the United States are still convinced that Iran, which is ultimately led not by Rouhani but by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, remains bent on their country’s destruction. The death chants don’t help to sway their sentiments. In a July speech, Khamenei hailed the Iranian masses for demanding the destruction of Israel and America and said he hoped that G-d would answer their prayers. A clip published by Khamenei on social media last week warned the U.S. it would be defeated in any war with Iran. In the fierce debate over the deal, oppo-
nents have often cited the regular appearance of chanting anti-American crowds as evidence of Tehran’s true intentions. But according to Rouhani, there’s nothing to be scared of—the anti-American chants are remnants of an old attitude based on the United States support of Saddam Hussein. “When the people rose up against the Shah, the United States aggressively supported the Shah until the last moments. In the eight-year war with Iraq, the Americans supported Saddam. People will not forget these things. We cannot forget the past, but at the same time our gaze must be towards the future.” Iran rose up against its pro-Western monarch Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi in 1979. After the revolt, Iranian radical students took 52 U.S. embassy workers hostage and held them for more than a year. During the Iran-Iraq war between 1980 and 1988, the United States remained close to the aggressor, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, as almost a million Iranians lost their lives, many through chemical weapon attacks.
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The Man Who Saved the World Stanislav Petrov is known as “the man who saved the world” for a decision he made on September 26, 1983. The former Soviet military officer is credited by some for having averted a nuclear war. On that night, an alarm had sounded, signaling the launch of U.S. intercontinental ballistic missiles, and it was up to the 44-year-old lieutenant colonel to determine—quickly—whether the attack on the Soviet Union was real. “I realized that I had to make some kind of decision, and I was only 50/50,” Petrov recently related.
Despite the data coming in from the Soviet Union’s early-warning satellites over the United States, Petrov decided to consider it a false alarm. Had he done otherwise, the Soviet leadership could have responded by ordering a retaliatory nuclear strike on the United States and history would have played out very differently. During that tense time of the Cold War, the Soviet Union was on high-alert and feared an ambush nuclear attack from the U.S. That month, the Soviets had shot down a passenger plane flying to South Korea from the U.S., suspecting it of spying. The United States, after a series of provocative military maneuvers, was preparing for a major NATO exercise, called Able Archer, which simulated preparations for a nuclear attack. This week, a movie based on Petrov’s story will be released. Of course, the movie is called, “The Man Who Saved the World”; it was directed by Danish director Peter Anthony. Petrov appears in the movie as his older self. Interviews of him in his home in Russia and other recent footage are interwoven within the scenes played by actors portraying him in his younger years. In Russia, Petrov, 76, isn’t really regarded as a hero. He lives a quiet life in
Fryazino, a town on the outskirts of Moscow. In an interview Petrov, recalled the night, “It was this quiet situation and suddenly the roar of the siren breaks in and the command post lights up with the word ‘LAUNCH.’ This hit the nerves. I was really taken aback. Holy cow!” He quickly noticed that his colleagues were all looking at him in confusion. “My team was close to panic and it hit me that if panic sets in then it’s all over.” He needed to make a quick and smart decision. Within minutes of the first alarm, the siren sounded again, warning of a second U.S. missile launch. Soon, the system was reporting that five missiles had been launched. Petrov immediately reported to his commander that he believed the system was providing false information. He says he was not at all confident, but his decision was based on the fact that Soviet ground radar could not confirm a launch. The radar system picked up incoming missiles only well after any launch, but he knew it to be more reliable than the satellites. The false alarm was later discovered to have been caused by a malfunction of the satellite, which mistakenly identified the reflection of the sun off high clouds as missiles. Strangely, Petrov was not rewarded for his actions, most likely because doing so would have brought to light the failure of the Soviet’s early-warning satellites. Although his commanding officer did not support Petrov at the time, he was the one who revealed the incident after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. If Col. Gen. Yury Votintsev had not spoken out, Petrov said he himself “would have forgotten about it like a bad dream.”
Millions Apply for Government Job in India
While the American unemployment rate isn’t great, it’s nothing compared to India. Over two million people applied for just 368 jobs in the Indian state government of Uttar Pradesh. Officials were extremely overwhelmed by the number of applicants and said it
Palestinian Violence on Temple Mount Four more Israeli police officers were wounded as Palestinian rioters continued their wave of violence at Temple Mount. The incident took place in the neighborhood of Armon Hanatziv, where Palestinian rioters threw Molotov cocktails and
shot guns at police. Among those wounded was a 25-yearold Border Police officer who sustained moderate-to-serious injuries. The wounded officer was rushed to Shaare Zedek Medical Center for treatment. The other officers were treated for light burns, and one sustained a wound to his hand. Israeli police said Palestinian rioters had blocked roads with burning tires and garbage cans. When they tried to restore traffic, police were attacked with the firebombs.
Har Habayis has re-emerged as a dangerous flashpoint in recent days following a series of clashes between police and Palestinian protesters angry at the prospect of an increase in Israeli visitors in the run-up to the Jewish holiday season. Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that Eid al-Adha, a Muslim feast, fell out on Yom Kippur this year. These most recent clashes came as Palestinian leaders called for a “day of rage” following prayers on Friday. Israeli police preemptively called up 800 extra officers to patrol the Old City and Arab neighborhoods throughout Jerusalem, and also barred Muslim men under the age of 40 from the Temple Mount.
The CIA’s Outlook on the Six Day War
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would take a long four years to get through interviews. The state has a population of 215 million residents. The government advertised for job openings in August, known as “peons,” whose tasks include making tea and transferring files between governmental offices. The requirements for the jobs included passing primary school education and being able to ride a bike. The jobs provides a monthly salary of 16,000 Indian rupees ($243). The applications included 255 people with PhDs and 150,000 university graduates, highlighting the dearth of jobs for India’s educated class. “We have been left astounded with the response not just because the number of applicants is as high as 2.3 million,” Prabhat Mittal, secretary to the administration department of government of Uttar Pradesh, related. “We are stunned also to find candidates with PhD, B.Tech, MBA and other masters and bachelor degrees applying for these jobs of peons.” The last time India’s most populous state advertised for such jobs was 2006, and the level of applications at the time was 16 times lower, highlighting the lack of jobs for the country’s young and educated workforce. Half of India’s population is under 25 years old. According World Bank figures, youth unemployment in India was 10.5 percent in 2013, compared to 3.6 percent for the working population as a whole. “These candidates only have to be interviewed but my estimate is that the entire process will take at least four years to complete even if there are 10 boards interviewing 200 candidates a day, for 25 days a month,” a senior state government official related. The job is very attractive to young Indian workers, as they can rely on a steady incomes and their jobs are largely secure from large layoffs seen in the private sector. One graduate said that he applied for a government role because “there is so much security” in the government sector. The average number of people applying for each government post is 6,250.
The future is in your hands. Meet Lee Sahar, a current student at Yeshiva University. Pursuing degrees in Accounting and Finance, this summer Lee interned at the New York accounting firm Cohn-Reznick. A member of YU’s Business Leadership and Finance clubs, Lee also enjoys tutoring fellow students, and participates in a mentorship program through Deloitte. Career preparation is very important to Lee. She chose Yeshiva University because it enables her to balance academic goals with her religious commitment, offering her the dual curriculum in Jewish and General studies. This is the essence of Torah U’Madda and what sets YU apart.
Almost 50 years after the Six Day War, newly declassified CIA documents show the Unites States’ initial take on the war. Here are some excerpts from the 2,500 newly released documents. On June 5, the opening day of the war in 1967, a daily briefing was transferred that was classified as “top secret.” It read as follows: “Hostilities began early this morning. Both sides report heavy fighting in the air and between armored forces along the
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Israeli border with Egypt. Israeli planes raided airfields in Cairo and other areas beginning at about 8am local time (2am Washington time).” A day later, the situation on the battlefield was updated. “Cairo may be preparing to launch a campaign urging strikes against U.S. interests in the Arab world. Both Egyptian and Syrian domestic broadcasts this morning called on the ‘Arab masses’ to destroy all U.S. and ‘imperialist’ interests in the ‘Arab homeland.’ Last night Cairo radio claimed it had proof of U.S. and British participation in the ‘aggression.’ Demonstrations have now taken place against U.S. embassies and installations all over the Arab world. Arab oil-producing countries, meeting in Baghdad, say they will stop selling oil to any country which takes part in, or supports Israel in the fighting. Baghdad radio said this morning that the pumping of Iraqi oil has been stopped ‘because of US and UK attitudes.’” In the documents’ summation from the first two days of the war, the reports reads that “Israel has gained an early and perhaps overwhelming victory in the air, but the progress of the war on the ground is unclear. If Israeli claims regarding damage to Arab combat aircraft are valid, they have destroyed the entire Jordanian inventory of 21, two thirds of the Syrian inventory of 69, and 250 of some 430 Egyptian planes. Arab counterclaims of 158 Israeli planes destroyed seem grossly exaggerated, but actual losses to the Israeli force of about 270 aircraft are not known.”
Tel Aviv: Priciest City in Middle East In case you were thinking of making aliyah, consider this article before picking your dream location. According to the 2015 edition of the Prices and Earnings report
from Swiss bank UBS, Tel Aviv is the most expensive city in the Middle East in terms of price levels. Israel’s second largest city is closely followed by Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, which actually ranks higher when including rent prices into the calculation. The world’s most expensive cities – according to the survey which examines the price levels, wage levels and purchasing power of 71 cities worldwide – are Zurich, Geneva and New York. Tel Aviv ranks 22nd overall in terms of price levels but places only 33rd when it comes to earning power. Workers in the city, however, have the highest wages in the Middle East. The report indicates that employees in Zurich, Geneva and Luxembourg City are earning the highest grossing salaries worldwide, while workers in Nairobi, Jakarta and Kiev earn the lowest. Luxembourg City, Zurich, and Geneva also enjoy the most purchasing power, while Nairobi, Jakarta and Kiev are again at the bottom. In the Middle East, Dubai just trumps Tel Aviv in purchasing power, but both are way ahead of Cairo.
The study found that in most major cities around the world, people work more than 2,000 hours a year, mainly in Asia and the Middle East. The shortest number of working hours can be found in most of Western Europe.
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Israeli Goods Boycott in Iceland
was announced that the Council will be retracting its proposal to boycott Israeli goods, amending it to indicate that the boycott will only extend to items produced “in occupied areas.”
Attack at IDF Army Base
The boycott of Israeli products unfortunately took another step forward this week. Iceland’s capital’s city council has voted in favor of boycotting all Israeli-made products. The Reykjavik municipality passed the motion, which approved a boycott of Israeli goods “as long as the occupation of Palestinian territories continues.” Councilmembers said the boycott was a symbolic act demonstrating the Icelandic capital’s support for Palestinian statehood and condemnation of Israel’s “policy of apartheid.” Israel’s Foreign Ministry condemned the move, and, in an apparent reference to Iceland’s status as a hotbed of volcanic activity, said “a volcano of hatred spews forth from the Reykjavik city council building.” “For no reason or justification, except hatred for its own sake, calls of boycotting the state of Israel are heard,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “We hope someone in Iceland will come to their senses and end the one-sided blindness fielded against Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East.” Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid published an op-ed in two Icelandic publication, entitled, “The Hypocrisy of [a] Boycott.” “Does the boycott include products made by Israel’s Arab minority which is 20% of the population? … the 14 Arab Israeli parliamentarians who sit beside me in Israel’s parliament? … Israeli factories which employ tens of thousands of Palestinians for whom this is the only opportunity to provide for their children?... Israeli hospitals at which tens of thousands of Palestinians are treated every year?” he asked in the editoral. “Does the boycott include Microsoft Office, cellphone cameras, Google – all of which contain elements invented or produced in Israel?” he continued. “If the answer to all these questions is ‘yes’ then I’ll move aside and wish you all an enjoyable life until the sadly unavoidable heart attack (sorry but pacemakers are also an Israeli invention),” he said. On Saturday, after much pressure, it
An IDF base located just east of Jerusalem was attacked by Arab terrorists this week. The attackers used firebombs to start a fire and then attacked firefighters who came to put out the blaze their Molotov cocktails had set off. The attack occurred at Anatot Base located just to the east of Mount Scopus and Mount of Olives – and took place just days after a very similar attack was carried out at a nearby base two days earlier. At Anatot Base, terrorists hurled firebombs at a guard tower on the base, setting off a brush fire but fortunately not wounding any soldiers. Two firefighter crews were dispatched to the scene, only to be met by the terrorists who hurled rocks at them and a firebomb that exploded right near them. IDF forces responded by using non-lethal riot dispersal measures, which generally include tear gas and stun grenades, and sometimes rubber bullets as well. The attack comes after Arab terrorists threw a firebomb at the IDF’s Ofrit Base in Jerusalem, located on Mount Scopus near Hadassah Hospital and Hebrew University’s Mount Scopus campus. The attacks come as part of a sharp uptick in Arab terrorist attacks focused on Jerusalem, which started on Rosh Hashana. Aside from massive violent riots and attacks against police on Temple Mount that lasted throughout the week, an Israeli was murdered in a rock attack in Jerusalem’s southeastern Armon Hanatziv neighborhood. Gaza also saw some action, with terrorists there firing three rockets at Israel. The IDF responded later with an airstrike on a Hamas base.
Last month, three young Americans thwarted a terrorist on a Paris-bound passenger train. They are being hailed as heroes across the world, having saved dozens of lives. Last week, they were invited to the Oval Office. Following the incident, they had been awarded France’s highest honor by President Francois Hollande. They arrived at that ceremony in polo shirts and khakis, a wardrobe choice noted by the media. On Thursday, the three heroes, Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler arrived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue dressed in their best. They met with President Barack Obama, who praised them for their courage. He commended their teamwork, bravery and quick-thinking actions that averted “a real calamity.” The three friends were on their way to Paris for a vacation but, “ended up engaging a potential catastrophic situation and pinning down someone who clearly was intent on doing a lot of harm to a lot of people, inflicting terror on the French people.” Obama praised them as “the very best of America.” He added, “It’s these kinds of young people who make me extraordinarily optimistic about the future.” Skarlatos is a National Guardsman and Stone is 1st Class Airman—they showed up in their military uniform—and Sadler, a senior at Sacramento State University, wore a sport coat and open-collared dress shirt to meet the American president. They are all originally from Oregon and were childhood friends. After visiting the White House, the three were off to the Pentagon to pick up more honors. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James presented Stone with the Purple Heart in recognition of the injuries he suffered; he hurt his hand during the attack and said it is healing nicely. Stone also re-
SEPTEMBER 24, 2015
White House Honors Heroes who Thwarted French Terror Attack
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ceived the Airman’s Medal. Skarlatos was awarded the Soldier’s Medal, and Sadler was given the Secretary of Defense’s Medal of Valor. “When some took cover and ran, when others were unsure what to do, these three friends said, ‘Let’s go,’” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said. Carter said their uniting shout reminded him of the chilling words of those aboard the hijacked airliner on 9/11 who shouted, “Let’s roll,” before charging the cockpit and forcing the plane to crash in a Pennsylvania field before it could reach its intended target. The 26-year-old terrorist in the attack, Ayoub el-Khazzani, was known to authorities in France, Belgium and Spain. Authorities say El-Khazzani is an Islamic extremist who spent time in Syria.
Last week, Ahmed Mohamed brought a homemade clock to school that got the whole country’s attention. The 14-year-old brought the beeping, strange-looking device with wires to class and a vigilant teacher called authorities, thinking it was an explosive device. The child was then put in handcuffs and was suspended. But the device that he brought to school was only a clock of his invention, and Mohamed and his family are now insisting that he is the target of terrorism, saying that he was only arrested because he is Muslim. President Obama weighed in on the story that made national headlines, tweeting, “Cool clock Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House?” The president hosted the teenager at his residence, Mark Zuckerberg offered to have him stop by Facebook, and Twitter has given him an internship. “I built a clock to impress my teacher but when I showed it to her, she thought it was a threat to her,” Mohamed told reporters. But it’s hard to understand what exactly Mohamed built. It turns out that he did not invent this clock. He took a vintage clock made by Radio Shack and then transplanted the electronics to an old pencil box. In a video, Mohamed explains that he closed the box with a piece of cord because he didn’t
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want it “looking suspicious.” Apparently, he understood that some may think that his “invention” may be something that it’s not. This is not the first time the Mohamed family has made the news. His father, Mohamed ElHassan Mohamed, made news in 2011 when he defended the Koran as its defense attorney to an anti-Islamic pastor. He said at the time that the Koran teaches Muslims to engage in peaceful dialogues with Christians. It was also in 2001 the Mohamed debated Robert Spencer on the question of “Does Islam respect human rights?” endeavoring to make a victory against a famous “Islamophobe.” Now, a few years later, Mohamed has his national pulpit, with even the president suggesting that 14-year-old Mohamed was suspended because he brought a beeping device with wires to school only because he is Muslim.
America’s Fast Food Trend is Growing Fast
food but surprisingly the number does not change that much by economic status, race, or gender. In fact, children of wealthy households ate out slightly more frequently than kids from less affluent homes. The results were based on research gathered from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2011 - 2012, finding that adolescents ate an average of 12.4 percent of their daily calories from fast food. On average, a fast food meal contains 300 more calories than a homecooked meal. That surely doesn’t help our obesity epidemic—childhood obesity has quadrupled among adolescents over the past 30 years. As Americans get fatter and fatter, fast food franchises are consistently expanding, and their portion sizes are growing with them. To combat this upward trend, research shows that exposing kids to healthy food at a young age and cooking nutritious meals with them are a good ways to encourage children to adopt healthy eating habits and make healthy food choices.
That’s Odd How often does your family eat out? Once a year? For a special occasion? Maybe once a month? Aside from the cost of eating out, the nutrients of a home-cooked meal are much better for our bodies. But despite all of that, a new study reveals that Americans in general eat out way more than you’d guess. According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, 34% of children aged two to 19 eat fast food each day. A common misconception is that low income households tend to eat more fast
The Ice Cream Banana
nana for you. Believe it or not (and I’m sure you will believe it), the bananas we have sitting on our counter and that we mush for our babies are not the most delicious bananas in the world. Ice cream bananas, which are found in Hawaii and in other tropical environs, are sweet, taste like vanilla and even have frosted-tinted peels. And they practically melt in your mouth. Sounds like a summer frosty delight to me. Ice cream bananas (also known as blue java bananas) may be a specialty fruit, but they aren’t anything new. Farmers have been growing these sweet fruits in Hawaii since the early 1920s, according to Ken Love, executive director of Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers, and in other tropical regions for ages. And, like Baskin Robbins, there are so many different varieties. “There are over 100 types of bananas in Hawaii, all tasting different,” Love related. “It’s really the diversity that’s interesting.” Hawaiians don’t have to just settle for ice cream bananas in their country. There are apple bananas (that taste citrusy) and bananas that taste like berries (Mysore bananas). So when mothers in Hawaii bribe their kids to be quiet when they’re on the phone, they just hand them a banana. (Actually, despite their sweet taste, kids won’t really fall for that—no matter where you live.) Love likes to spread bananas over toast—like butter. Others freeze and then blend the banana for delicious smoothies. Sounds like they’re going bananas for bananas.
The Honorable Ig Nobels
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On Thursday night, a few lucky winners walked away with Nobel prizes. Well, actually, it was the Ig Nobels and the winners walked away with a few dollars and some wry grins. One of the winners, Michael Smith, a Cornell University graduate student, won the Ig Nobel for his research into honeybees. In fact, he literally put blood, sweat and tears—and honey—into his experiment when he allowed honeybees to sting him in 25 places, about 200 times. In turns out that the nostril and the upper lip are
some of the most painful places to be stung. “A sting to the nostril is so painful it’s like a whole body experience,” Smith related. Smith, though, wasn’t the only one playing with dangerous insects. He shared the Ig Nobel for physiology and entomology with Justin Schmidt, an adjunct professor at the University of Arizona who devised a pain scale for insect stings. His advice: Do not get stung by the tarantula hawk, a nasty looking wasp found in the Southwestern U.S. with a stinger about a quarter-inch long. Yes, we need an Ig Nobel winner to tell us that. Mark Dingemanse and two colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, Netherlands, won the Ig Nobel for literature for determining that the word “huh” is used in languages around the world, including some of the most obscure. “A system for fixing misunderstandings is clearly a crucial part of language,” he said. “‘Huh?’ is one element of this system: It’s the basic error signal people fall back on if all else fails.” Raghu Rau, professor of finance at the University of Cambridge, and his colleagues won for their study that found business leaders more directly affected by natural disasters as children took less risk during their careers. He pointed to late CEO Steve Jobs, who lived through a deadly landslide near his home in San Francisco as a child and ran the company conservatively. His successor, Tim Cook, witnessed few fatalities despite regular tornadoes while growing up in Alabama and has made more risky business decisions. “Think of yourself as a member of a board of directors: When you try to hire a CEO, do you want a risk taker or not?” Rau said. Well, I would hire Steve Jobs no matter where and when he grew up. The winners at the 25th annual ceremony at Harvard University were handed their prize by (real) Nobel laureates and each winner won a whopping Zimbabwean 10 trillion-dollar bill—the equivalent of a couple of U.S. dollars. “Sometimes these crazy things provide a lot of insight,” said Schmidt, the bug guy. Clearly he’s excited about his prize. Next year, the real Nobels!
Epic Pity Party Feeling down? If you can put the tissues away for long enough, maybe you should head to Somerville, Massachusetts. Everyone there seems to be a little depressed. On Thursday, the city hosted a “Pity Party” and thousands attended. Greg Cook, a local artist who helped
A Sandwich—Really— from Scratch
“So turn that grin upside down and help us make Somerville the saddest town around,” organizers said to the thousands who planned to show up. Turns out that many people have lots to feel sad about—but they all love a good party.
Watch out before you get yarn-bombed! Grace Brett may be 104, but she’s hitting the needle. The grandmother of six is a member of a knitting club known as the “Souter Stormers,” who recently yarn-bombed the towns of Selkirk, Ettrickbridge, and Yarrow in Scotland. The “Stormers” spent nearly a year secretly planning the project, which was part playful prank, part street art installation. The mischievous knitters took to the streets
Ever make a sandwich from scratch? No, I don’t mean spreading the cream cheese that you just took out of your fridge. This week, someone made a sandwich literally from scratch—and it took six months and $1,500 to make. In a series called How to Make Everything, Andy George likes to “explore everyday things many of us take for granted.” We all take the sandwich for granted—we either pick it up in our local groceries or slap together some turkey and mustard between slabs of rye bread. George, though, endeavored to make a sandwich from scratch—starting with the cow and grinding his own wheat. He grew his own vegetables, milked a cow for cheese, evaporated ocean water for salt, collected his own honey, grew and ground wheat, preserved pickles, and slaughter, de-feathered and cooked the chicken. The result? A sandwich that was, in George’s words, “not bad.” All that work and money for a “not bad”?! George gave some sandwiches to taste testers who had similar reactions. In fact, one boy took a taste and then headed to the kitchen to wash out his mouth. Turns out we shouldn’t take sandwiches for granted—we could be stuck eating $1,500 food that took six months to make.
The Legal Issues with Uber Michael Rubinstein Esq.
What’s the deal with Uber? The popular ridesharing company and its competitor, Lyft, are facing multiple lawsuits and other legal consequences across the country. In July, Uber was fined over $7 million for failing to provide statistical information to the California Public Utilities Commission. The Commission requires all shuttle operators to provide statistical information about its passengers and the zip codes they service. Uber has flouted this requirement, and the judge ruled that it should be suspended until it complies. Authorities in other states are investigating whether Uber properly complies with handicapped-transportation laws. Other issues are brewing too. The California Labor Commission recently ruled that Uber has been misclassifying its drivers as independent contractors. Uber has appealed that ruling, but the company is facing a similar lawsuit in a San Francisco federal courtroom. That suit was recently granted class-action status, meaning that thousands of Uber drivers across the state have joined the lawsuit. The suit claims that Uber has refused to reimburse its drivers for gas and tips, and to provide benefits customarily given to employees, like health insurance. While that case is pending, it’s worth noting that Fed Ex recently settled a class action lawsuit with similar allegations for a whopping $228 million. Uber argues that if it is required to reclassify its drivers as employees, its entire business model may collapse. Uber claims to be a technology app, not a transportation service. Many disagree, and with a market valuation exceeding $51 billion, the consequences of this case will be huge. On another note, what happens if an Uber driver is involved in an accident? If an Uber passenger is injured in an accident, who is responsible, Uber, or the individual driver? Uber says that it provides up to $1 million in insurance coverage for passengers injured while using the ridesharing app. That means if you hail an Uber, and are in an accident, Uber should cover your injuries.
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this month, covering fences, benches, and lamp poles all across the towns in elaborate knitted art. There were colorful knitted houses, animals, and little yarn families. But though their art is playful, the project was no joke for the secret knitters— the owner of a textiles shop in Selkirk reports that “the words ‘I could tell you but I’d have to kill you’ passed the lips of the knitters several times” as they prepared for the massive yarn bomb event. Serious stuff. Brett, who was born in London in 1910, and worked as a telephone operator, said, “I liked seeing my work shown with everyone else and thought the town looked lovely.” Keep those needles clicking.
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organize the weepy event, felt that people who are sad shouldn’t be alone. “A pity party is usually a kind of party you have by yourself to wallow in sadness—wear pajamas, binge on ice cream, listen to sad songs,” states the event’s Facebook description. “Now imagine that as a free, community, block party in Union Square. . . sad for the whole family.” Sounds like a great family event. To make the event even more depressing, there were sad bands, depressing clowns, melancholy poetry, a booth to write letters that would be discarded later in trash cans, and video games that participants “just couldn’t win.” And, of course, there was free ice cream.
But what if an Uber driver rear-ends or hits someone else, and that person is hurt? And what if an Uber driver is driving but not actually transporting any passengers? That’s where things get complicated. Uber says it requires its drivers to maintain sufficient insurance coverage through their own auto insurance policies for these types of accidents. But in reality this may not be 100% accurate. Auto insurance companies routinely deny coverage when a vehicle is used for commercial purposes. Any time a driver uses his or her car for commercial purposes, a special commercial policy must be in effect. If not, the insurance company will likely deny coverage for the loss. Driving passengers for payment is most certainly a commercial use. Some auto insurance companies are slowly expanding policies to include some form of ridesharing coverage, but the kinks are still being worked out. Until then, insurance companies will continue to find excuses to deny these claims. As discussed above, Uber claims that its drivers are independent contractors, not employees. So someone who is injured in an accident caused by an Uber driver would not be able to collect from Uber because the company claims it’s not responsible for the negligence of non-employees. The injured person might not be able to collect from the Uber driver’s personal auto insurance policy if the commercial policy exclusion applies. It’s a catch 22! This grey area could leave many accident victims without financial recourse, hence the ongoing litigation in the courts. Until these issues are clarified, liability for Uber remains unclear. To analogize, if a UPS driver delivering packages hits someone, UPS would be on the hook for any damages. Should Uber be any different? Michael Rubinstein is a Los Angeles based personal injury and accident attorney. He can be reached at 213-2936075, and at his website www.rabbilawyer.com.
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An Insider’s Look at the Jewish Music Scene
SukkoS And choL hAMoed Are upon uS, the perfect tIMe to enJoy A LIve concert. But whAt goeS on BehInd the SceneS to get the AudIence on ItS feet And SIngIng? we Spoke to SeverAL ceLeBrIty JewISh MuSIc producerS to LeArn whAt goeS on Before the curtAIn goeS up And how the JewISh MuSIc Scene hAS chAnged.
By Brendy J. SIev
The world of Jewish music production is high on talent, though small in number. Most of us have heard of the major producers: Sheya Mendlowitz, Eli Gerstner, Ding, and Yochi Briskman. Naftali Schnitzler specializes in chassidish music; David Fadida in Israeli productions. Ding was the first to produce an album; Sheya Mendlowitz followed in the 80s. Sheya Mendlowitz sang on his first album, the fourth Pirchei record, when he was 12 years old. After, he played in different bands for his yeshiva’s functions. He then started his own band and produced records. His first, the Amudei Sheish, he co-produced. His first full album featured Avraham Fried. The year was 1981. The rest is history. Mendlowitz also changed the Jewish wedding scene. He put together bands for weddings that included full strings sections and what has become mini symphony orchestras. Eli Gerstner grew up listening to Sheya Mendlowitz’s and Ding’s productions. Music, as he tells us, is in his blood. He was the boy always tapping on the table. Eventually, he took drum lessons, and, by the time he was 13, he led his camp choirs. At camp, Gerstner met Yosi Piamenta’s son, and, when Yosi a”h gave a camp concert, Gerstner backed the Piamentas on the drums. After that, Gerstner started rehearsing and playing at the Piamenta home. Yosi generously let Gerstner learn from him, and eventually drew Gerstner into the concert world. By the time Gerstner was 15, he played at the simchas bais hashoeva in Crown Heights and had learned the keyboard and guitar as well. But at
15, Gerstner also faced the loss of his great-grandfather. Like many musicians, he turned to music for solace. The night of the petira, Gerstner wrote his first song, a song that came, he says, from his tears. Now, more than 2,000 songs later, Gerstner has become the new producer of the biggest Jewish music concert in the world, a Time for Music, also known as the HASC concert. The concert has been drawing crowds for 27 years and was originally produced by Sheya Mendlowitz and then by Ding. Gerstner sees it as the “passing of the torch” of Jewish music in America and professes how he’s “so thankful to them for choosing me.”
Let’s Put on a Show!
When it comes to putting together a show, Gerstner and Mendlowitz tell us, it all depends on the size of the venue. Most of the time, an organization or school puts together an event. For a venue seating more than a few hundred people, the organization hires a producer, who works with them on who to hire and who will perform. Concerts in 2015, Mendlowitz says, are no longer about the artists. People want more, a bigger concept, to draw them in. The producer writes a script for the evening and figures out how to “wow” the crowd. Choosing performers, of course, depends on the budget. The producer finds the headliner, the most popular act. Then, the producer selects the second and third tier acts. It comes down, Gerstner says, to who will bring in the most people to buy tickets. The producer also gets the sound, lighting, and
For Eli Gerstner, “everything happened because it had to happen.” He produced his first really successful album, The Chevra, and then Yeshiva Boys Choir with Yossi Newman. Gerstner just “wanted to put out music, to give songs and music to teenagers who wouldn’t necessarily listen to Jewish music.” He produced a concert when he was asked and has since produced concerts in the Barclay Center, the Great Parade in Crown Heights, and now A Time for Music. But with all that, he admits, there’s no set answer
Sheya with Shmuel Mendlowitz and Joseph Leifer
utilize all the best recordings. Different aspects of an album can be recorded in different countries without anyone stepping on a plane. Instead of spending months rehearsing, the rehearsals overlap with the recording sessions. The chorus of a song will be duplicated (or cut and pasted) instead of being re-recorded each time the choir sings it. Because of this, Mendlowitz points out, modern recordings can, at times, sound a bit robotic. Once the songs are recorded, the producer arranges them in order and has them duplicated. The finished album needs to be distributed, a task traditionally taken by one of three companies: Aderet (Mostly Music), Sameach Music, and Nigun Music. In 2015, much of this has started to shift as well. Fewer and fewer CDs are created, as people prefer to download their music. In fact, according to Gerstner, more CDs are sold in supermarkets than Judaica stores. This has opened the music world in some ways; in others, according to Mendlowitz, the world has narrowed as people take music online. Jewish music apps and live streaming provide 24 hours of Jewish music and tell their listeners about concerts. One app, JStream, aggregates all the different Jewish music apps into one. It has been downloaded more than 50,000 times. This open market opens the possibilities for aspiring artists. A singer can record his songs and put them online, offering, initially, free downloads. Or he can sell his songs on iTunes or through his website, suggests Gerstner. But choose the music and style wisely, the producers say. Over time, says Mendlowitz, the Jewish music scene has changed, because we have tried to improve on the professional quality of the music. These are good changes. But then people get so caught up in “going secular,” putting bits of hip-hop, for example, into their songs, that there’s nothing Jewish about their music. They “took out the neshama in there.” Mendlowitz continues, “I would like to see Jewish music go back to its roots. We have beautiful things we can call our own.” Mendlowitz encourages the next generation. “Anybody aspiring to get into this should keep it Jewish. We don’t need to copy anyone else—we have our own identity. Let them copy us. Preserve what we’re given: our music and the way we conduct ourselves.”
“I would like to see Jewish music go back to its roots. we have beautiful things we can call our own.” Mendlowitz, too, says, “If a person is good, and his song is good, and he works on his craft, he’ll be successful.” He encourages people to get voice lessons and hone their personality, what he considers “three quarters of the sell.” The singer needs to have a rapport with the audience; personality comes out in singing. Still, even successful singers and songwriters are sometimes baffled by which of their songs succeed. Gad Elbaz wrote hundreds of songs before “Hashem Melech” broke. The song made his career, though he has other songs he considers personal favorites. But suppose the demo catches someone’s attention. That’s when the work begins with the producer. He picks the materials for the artist and the album. He picks the arranger, and he’s there for all the recording sessions. In the old days, Sheya Mendlowitz tells us, the artist and band practiced for months and recorded all the songs—ten to twelve, the standard number in an album—in one day. The choir, if there was one, recorded in one day as well. They used what was called an 8-track recorder, one that recorded eight different tracks of music (i.e., the drums, the piano, etc., were each recorded on a separate track) that was later properly mixed and balanced. This evolved into 24-tracks—Mendlowitz’s preference—and now what they call multi-tracks. Today, ten songs require ten months in order to
Eli Gerstner with Abie Rotenberg
Sheya with Yisroel Lamm and Mordechai Ben David backstage at The Event
SEPTEMBER 24, 2015
So, You Want to Break Into the Jewish Music Scene…
about how to break into the Jewish music scene. It’s about mazal. Sheya Mendlowitz agrees. A person needs mazal and siyata dishmaya. There’s no magic, he claims, in becoming the next big thing. In his case, “Hashem gave me a matanah. My taste represented a good majority of the taste of the hamon am.” With that, we still need hishtadlus, and there are steps an aspiring singer or songwriter can take. Write a song, make a demo, and get it recorded, Eli advises. Today, everyone’s reachable; the Jewish music world is not like Hollywood. Go to people’s websites and email them. If a song is really great, hopefully someone will offer to produce it.
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stage designers. Gerstner, for example, uses an excellent frum sound company; he uses non-Jewish companies for lighting along with a frum lighting designer. The producer, of course, coordinates the publicity and advertising. This means traditional newspaper advertising and spots on Jewish radio shows throughout the country. But 2015 also brings a whole new angle: social media. Producers connect with their fan-base through Facebook and Twitter. The headliners of different concerts usually find their music played on Jewish music apps continuously, adding to the pre-concert buzz. Certainly the most important aspect of the concert is the band. A wedding band requires great musicians. These musicians know their music well but are not necessarily great music readers. A concert, however, requires great talent to play and to read the music. Because of this, the orchestra’s name is often just a name or the name of the bandleader. Most of the musicians playing in the band are not those who play at weddings; they are actually high level professionals, who play, for the most part, on Broadway. This means that top musicians such as Kim Sessions, Jim Heinz, and Andy Snitzer regularly play at Jewish music concerts. The biggest Jewish music concert, A Time for Music, was the brainchild of Sheya Mendlowitz. Twentyeight years ago, he spent a Shabbos at Camp HASC and was moved by the experience. But he found out that, due to a loss of funding, the camp was going to close, and he was inspired to start the HASC concert, or A Time for Music. For 28 years, the concert has kept the camp open. As the “crown jewel of Jewish shows,” Mendlowitz tells us, it takes at least a half a year to prepare. Now that Gerstner is producing A Time for Music, Mendlowitz is working on something new. “Im yirtzeh Hashem, I hope Hashem will give me a bracha to put this on,” a show that will hopefully travel the country, he says.
THE JEWISH HOME
SEPTEMBER 24, 2015
• TJH CENTERFOLD
• TJH CENTERFOLD
n a c u o Y Think Work at The following are a sample of the type of questions you will be asked during the Google interview process, according to William Poundstone’s book titled, “Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google?” Good luck! 1. when there’s a wind blowing, does a round-trip by plane take more time, less time, or the same time? a. More time b. Less time c. The same time d. It depends on the airplane 2. You put a glass of water on a record turntable and begin increasing the speed slowly. what will happen first: will the glass slide off, will it tip over, or will the water splash out? a. Fall b. Tip over c. Have water splash out d. Depends on the shape of the glass and how full it is 3. Using only a 4-minute hourglass and a 7-minute hourglass, measure exactly nine minutes. You must use both. a. Start both hourglasses, flip over the 4-minute glass when it’s done, flip both glasses over when the 7-minute glass is done, then flip over the 7-minute glass when the 4-minute glass is done b. Start both hourglasses, flip over the 4-minute glass when it’s done, flip over the 7-minute glass when it’s done, let it run 1 minute, then flip it again for the 9th minute c. Start the 7-minute hourglass, flip the 4-minute hourglass when the 7-minute glass is done, measure 2 minutes using the 4-minute hourglass d. Start the 4-minute glass, flip it when it’s done to measure another 4 minutes, then flip the 7-minute hourglass to measure 1 minute 4. You’re given a cube of cheese and a knife. How many straight cuts of the knife
do you need to divide the cheese into twenty-seven little cubes? a. 10 b. 12 c. 8 d. 6 5. You’re in a car with a helium balloon tied to the floor. the windows are closed. when you step on the gas pedal, what happens to the balloon: does it move forward, move backward, or stay put? a. Moves forward b. Moves backward c. Stays put 6. At 3:15, what is the angle between the minute and hour hands on an analog clock? a. 0 b. 7.5 degrees c. 6 degrees
d. 5.5 degrees Answers: e. A 1. f. D 2. g. B 3. h. D 4. 5. i. A 6. j. B wisdom Key: 5-6 correct: Congrats! You should actually fly out to Silicon Valley right after Sukkos for an interview at Google! (Maybe we could fly together.) 3-4 correct: You won’t get the Google job, but you can become CEO of AOL if you want. 1-2 correct: You won’t get the Google job, but you can work at a pizza shop if you want. 0 correct: When you Google your name, does a “nobody home” sign come up?
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THE JEWISH HOME SEPTEMBER 24, 2015
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47 THE JEWISH HOME SEPTEMBER 24, 2015
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