May 2015

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Message From Kosher OC Magazine Kosher OC is here to give the Orange County Jewish community news when it happens, here and around the world. We combine the best of modern media and dedicated journalism to give you timely and interesting stories about the movers and shakers of the community and the great events they hold. We also talk about Jewish trends and trendmakers in Israel and throughout the globe with interesting ideas about celebrating holidays and celebrating each other. Join us for a window into the world of Judaism, and let us have your insight and input.

STUDENT VOICE 32 NCSY Students Make Their Marks 33 Shabbat in Prague


It is our pleasure to serve this wonderful community.

34 Israeli and Jewish Groups on Frontline of Nepal Earthquake Relief Efforts

Table of Contents

36 Gold on the Galilee: Israeli Kayaker Comes to Age, Eyes Olympics


37 Arab-Israeli Journalist Lucy Aharish Lights Independence Day Torchlight 38 BDS Activists Connect Baltimore Riots to Palestinians

4 Kosher OC’s Top 3 Moms in the Bible 5 iFest: Celebrating Israel at UC Irvine, a Recap

JUDAISM 6 What is Lag B’Omer? 8 Lag B’Omer, It’s Time to Party!

OPINION 39 Jews Are First Responders, Appreciated or Not 40 Freedoms: What Is the Intention of the First Amendment? 42 The Gift of Rest by Joseph Lieberman

10 Shavuot, the Giving of the Torah 14 Shavuot, a Mother’s Day Story

LOCAL 16 Temple Beth Tikvah Celebrates 50 Years 18 Eric Gutman Brings Biopic to Merage JCC 20 Say “Hello” to Rabbi Cantor Marcia Tilchin 21 The Golden Dreidle Has Judaica for All Seasons 24 TVT Spirit Wins at Moot beit Din 25 Hebrew Academy Students Run to Do a Mitzvah 26 Hadassah Presents: Day of Health Care for Women 27 OC Young Adults Celebrate Israel’s Birthday

How to Reach Us

28 ADL Presents 2015 Jurisprudence Award



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Kosher OC’s Top 3 Moms in the Bible By Sara Gold

In honor of Mother’s Day, we are paying tribute to three important moms in the Bible. Sarah – Sarah, the wife of Abraham, is the first Jewish mother in the Bible. Sarah was certainly a devoted wife, as she was willing to uproot herself from her homeland to relocate with Abraham when God instructed him to move to Canaan. She was also a patient woman, having waited until the age of 90 to give birth to her only biological child, Isaac, whom she loved fiercely. In addition, Sarah was taken captive twice, once in Genesis 11 and once in Genesis 20. The fact that she endured these traumas and then went on to give birth and raise a child in her old age is a clear testament to Sarah’s strength and resilience. Yocheved – Her son, Moses, has gone down in history as a hero of the Jewish people for freeing the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and leading them to the Promised Land. We cannot forget that the victories we celebrate every Passover would not have been possible had Yocheved not saved her child from being put to death, per the Pharaoh’s decree. 4


She risked her own life by hiding her baby boy from the Egyptians for three months, in defiance of the Pharaoh’s order. Moreover, even when she could no longer hide her baby, her commitment to saving her child was so strong that she came up with a new plan to protect her son’s life. By setting her baby afloat in a basket on the Nile River, where he was discovered by the Pharaoh’s daughter and raised as an Egyptian, Moses probably would not have survived to accomplish his great feats that liberated the Jewish people. Naomi – Naomi exemplifies how Mother’s Day is an occasion when we should appreciate all the different types of mothers in our lives, including stepmothers and mothers-in-law. In the Book of Ruth, Naomi was married to Elimelech, and the couple had two sons. The family moved from Bethlehem to the country of Moab, where the two sons married Orpah and Ruth, respectively. Eventually, Naomi’s husband and sons died, and Naomi decided to move back to Bethlehem. Despite being a childless widow, Naomi initially refused to allow either of her daughters-in-law to accompany her, as she wanted

them to be able to stay with their own families. This was an act of selflessness in which Naomi placed her daughters’ livelihood and comfort above her own safety and security travelling through the lands. Even though Ruth ultimately insisted on travelling with her mother-in-law, Naomi’s selfless instinct and care for her daughters-in-law should not be underestimated. These three Bible moms embody the amazing qualities that we should recognize and praise in our own mothers. Sarah was a loyal wife, as seen when she left her home to go with Abraham to Canaan, and a positive person, as seen by her perseverance in spite of adversity. Yocheved, like most mothers, would do anything to protect her child, even risking death by defying the Pharaoh’s orders. Naomi exemplifies how even though a good mother will place her child’s needs before her own, the mother-daughter bond is one that can never be broken. Happy Mother’s Day!


iFest: Celebrating Israel at UC Irvine, a Recap By Sharon Shaoulian

The Israel Festival (iFEST) 2015 has made history on campus as the first time in a long time where the Jewish students of other organizations truly stepped out of the shadows and stood proud and stood strong in their support of Israel. On Wednesday, April 22nd Anteaters For Israel organized a memorial to honor fallen Israeli soldiers. At this memorial, student leaders from Hillel, Chabad, AEPi, and AEPhi gathered to say a few words and each read a fallen soldier’s story. At the end of the event, which was well attended by members of the Jewish community and by the students at UC Irvine, students and supporters also sent 40 letters of appreciation to current soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces​. The next day, on Thursday, Anteaters For Israel had their 8th annual “iFEST” festival, which drew considerable support from the larger pro-Israel community. This year’s theme, “Explore Israel,” and came to life through the vision of organizing festival booths and programs around specific cities. This way, students were able to learn a little bit about Israel’s cities, history, and culture, while also enjoying themselves. At noon on the dot, students from the Muslim Student Union and Students For Justice In Palestine came to disrupt the event. Forming a human blockade with a

huge banner that read “Death to apartheid,” they chanted in unison and spewed hateful anti-Zionist slander. They stayed for two hours. Yet, because this occurrence is one that happens every single year at iFEST, the students of Anteaters For Israel were left both unaffected and too busy with their festivities to care.

(ZOA), Stand With Us, and Hasbara, students also got information on internships to ensure that AFI’s legacy of strong Israel advocacy at UCI will continue for next year.

With the help of the campus Chabad and its Rabbi Zevi and Rebbetzin Miriam Tennenbaum, students found time in between managing the booths that lined both sides of Ring Road, to dance and sing, in spite of the disruptive display of the MSU. AFI organized a beautiful event where students enjoyed falafel and BBQ, learned about Israel and won prizes, painted and created art for charity, raised money for Save A Child’s Heart, ​ and collected 170 signatures for a “Solidarity Letter with Israel.” The event was supported by many varied student groups, like the Irvine Queers and Bahai Club, and student morale was high, as AFI united students from all over the political and religious spectrum. On Friday, at AFI’s iFEST Israelithemed Shabbat, over 85 students sat down together all under one roof, making it an even larger Shabbat than the past two iFESTs. With guests from the Zionist Organization of America KOSHER OC MAGAZINE // APRIL 2015 |



What is Lag B’Omer? By

Lag B’Omer, the 33rd day of the Omer count, is a festive day on the Jewish calendar. It is celebrated with outings (on which the children traditionally play with bows and arrows), bonfires, and other joyous events. Many visit the resting place (in Meron, northern Israel) of the great sage and mystic Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, the anniversary of whose passing is on this day. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who lived in the second century of the common era, was the first to publicly teach the mystical dimension of the Torah known as the “Kabbalah,” and is the author of the basic work of Kabbalah, the Zohar. On the day of his passing, Rabbi



Shimon instructed his disciples to mark the date as “the day of my joy.” The Chassidic masters explain that the final day of a righteous person’s earthly life marks the point at which “all his deeds, teachings and work” achieve their culminating perfection and the zenith of their impact upon our lives. So each Lag BaOmer, we celebrate Rabbi Shimon’s life and the revelation of the esoteric soul of Torah. Lag B’Omer also commemorates another joyous event. The Talmud relates that in the weeks between the Jewish holidays of Passover and Shavuot, a plague raged amongst the disciples of the great sage Rabbi

Akiva, “because they did not act respectfully towards each other.” These weeks are therefore observed as a period of mourning, with various joyous activities proscribed by law and custom. On Lag B’Omer the deaths ceased. Thus, Lag B’Omer also carries the theme of the imperative to love and respect one’s fellow (ahavat yisrael).


Lag B’Omer, It’s Time to Party! By Zach Miller

Orange County is full of bounty and joy—at least that’s what the weather man keeps telling us, and I doubt we disagree too much… except with those Santa Ana winds… and earthquakes… and fires, and mudslides, and… oh stop looking at the glass half empty. On Lag B’Omer, we have another reason to celebrate. As the 33rd day of the Omer—wait, the Omer, you mean the time of mourning? Yeah, even during the counting of the bittersweet Omer where we can’t get out hair cut, watch movies, or go out partying, there are times to be happy—so… get a haircut? Lag B’Omer is often celebrated with outdoor activities, like archery, hiking, even camping. All in all, it’s a very social time marked by barbeques and getting some fresh air with Jewish unity being key. But the big finale that every Lag B’Omer must have is a giant bonfire. Like hipsters at the beach, a bonfire is a total must. Why? Well,



Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai was a great rabbi who first introduced the mystic teachings we now call Kabalah. Sadly, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai passed on this very day, 33rd day of the Omer. So, to commemorate Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, whose teachings were illuminating, we too illuminate the night—with a festive bonfire. In fact, it was said that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai’s house was filled with such an immense light that you couldn’t even look directly at his home. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai gives us another, lesser-known Lag B’Omer tradition—eating carobs, or that chocolate that’s not so chocolate. When Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his son were fugitives under the Roman regime for thirteen years, the two hid in a cave. Miraculously, at the mouth of the cave, a carob tree grew, which both shielded the two from Romans, but also gave sustenance.

One more fun fact, in fact it’s a Rabbi Akiva fun fact. Got your attention now, don’t I (oh, don’t be snarky, now…). It is said that a plague, well, plagued the students of Rabbi Akiva because of how disrespectful they were to each other, even during the Omer. In fact, his students were dying—quite the plague. Yet, on Lag B’Omer, the deaths stopped. So, eat up, light up, and have fun (for tonight)…

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Shavuot, the Giving of the Torah By Zach Miller

It’s said that on our Exodus out of bondage in slavery from Egypt all thanks to the mighty hand of Hashem towards the Promised Land, we ate bugs in the dessert. Treif! Well, almost, but no… not at all. One explanation is that there was a type of kosher bug that no longer exists, and that’s that. Yeah, maybe. Regardless, a more consistent reason is that the laws of kashrut, of what was and was not kosher, was not given to us at Mount Sinai just yet. In other words, there was nothing treif or not kosher, because there wasn’t anything that was kosher—yet. Shavuot is the festival of weeks that celebrates the giving of the Torah. It’s what we’re counting up to during the Omer with crazy anticipation! In fact, we’re not completely out of bondage until Shavuot, because Passover is the time of our physical release from bondage, but Shavuot is the spiritual release, all thanks to the giving of the Torah. Now, because we didn’t have laws of kashrut just yet, we traditionally eat lots of dairy products—from ice cream to cheesecake—as a way to 10


showcase the non-meat foods of kashrut that we are permitted to eat. Then, after Shavuot, after the giving of the Torah, as a way to show how we have received the laws of kashrut, we go back to eating meat…lots of meat. Yeah, no room for vegans here, I’m afraid. All the dairy is also to parallel the whole milk and honey concept of Israel. Fun fact, the honey in that phrase does not refer to bees—there are no bees native to Israel. Instead, the “honey” refers to the syrup of dates. Today, we call that silan, and Sephardic families often use silan during Passover for charoset. Another custom is to study Torah ALL NIGHT. Yup, it’s going to be an all nighter…


Holidays Texts Jewelry


Part of fire damage from Temple Beth Sholom blaze, February 15, 2014.

When fire ravaged the campus of the historic Temple Beth Sholom last year, it was so much more than just a kitchen fire. THE FIRE DAMAGED OR DESTROYED • Sacred Torah scrolls and mantles • Our daily and High Holy Days prayer books THE FIRE DESTROYED OUR BUILDINGS • The Temple Sanctuary • The Social Hall • Administrative Offices • The Gift Shop • The Boardroom • Our kitchen, where we prepare Mitzvah Meals for over 350 people every Sunday

WE NEED YOUR HELP. If you are willing and able to help with a donation of any amount, please visit or call us at 714-628-4600. Thank you.

2625 N. Tustin Avenue • Santa Ana, CA 92705

An Open Letter to Our Community From Rabbi Heidi Cohen, Temple Beth Sholom, Santa Ana Orange County’s First Synagogue, Founded 1943


n Saturday, February 15, 2014, a fire broke out in the kitchen of our beloved Temple Beth Sholom, in Santa Ana. The fire completely demolished the kitchen and did devastating damage to the Temple’s Sanctuary and Social Hall building as well as to most of its contents, including our sacred texts. All regular Temple activities, with the exception of education, have been moved either off-site or to temporary trailers, or they have been suspended until we are able to move back into our facilities. The Temple’s Mitzvah Meals program, which feeds hundreds of hungry Orange County homeless and displaced people, has been temporarily relocated to one of our generous congregant’s catering kitchen (Parties by Panache) in Brea. Unfortunately, insurance will only cover a portion of the funds needed to rebuild, refurbish and replace what we have lost. The balance must come from donations. So many members of our TBS family, as well as the Jewish and non-Jewish communities have been extremely generous with their financial support. And many have Help rebuild our beloved volunteered hundreds of hours of their time Temple Beth Sholom with and expertise to help us rebuild. Now, we are asking you to find it in your heart to help Orange County’s oldest synagogue with your financial support. Your generosity can truly make a difference in perpetuating our community’s Jewish future as we rebuild TBS for today—and for generations to come To make a donation, please visit or call me at 714-628-4600. On behalf of our entire Temple Beth Sholom Family, Thank You! Sincerely,

your generous donation. ❒ $18 ❒ $36 ❒ $118 ❒ $360 ❒ $540 ❒ $1018 ❒ $1800

❒ Other _________________________ Name___________________________ Phone __________________________ Address _________________________ ________________________________ City ____________________________ State & Zip_______________________ ❒ Check Enclosed ❒ Discover ❒ Visa ❒ Mastercard Card # __________________________ Signature _______________________

Rabbi Heidi Cohen

Exp. Date ________________________


Shavuot, a Mother’s Day Story By Robin Silver-Zwiren

There is no other Biblical story that is more heartwarming than the one we retell every Shavuot when we recite Megillat Ruth. Naomi lives with her two daughters-in-law Ruth and Orpah who happen to be Moabite princesses. When Elimelech and his sons Machlon and Kilion of the tribe of Benjamin pass away the three widows are devastated. Naomi decides she must return to the land of Judah and tells her daughters-in-law they can return to the their mother’s house in hopes of finding happiness once again. Orpah turns and heads for the tribe of her birth. Ruth turns to Naomi and says that, “Wherever you go I will go, where you live I will live, your people are my people, your G-d is my G-d.” What a commitment not only to Naomi but to the conversion the Moabite women had accepted on their marriage. Ruth thus proved that her acceptance of Judaism was sincere and strong. This also illustrates the devotion Ruth had for Naomi. How many daughters-in-law would follow their mothers-in-law to an unknown land? Naomi was truly an exemplary mother, a role model to those of us now. Megillat Ruth, the story of Ruth, is 14


read on Shavuot. It commemorates the weeks between Passover and Shavuot when our ancestors received the Ten Commandments. In actuality our ancestors spent years, not weeks, traveling in the desert. However we count the time Moshe climbed Har Sinai and we waited for our birthright to be delivered to our waiting nation. Many Egyptians followed B’nai Yisrael on this journey. Like Ruth they took on the traditions of our monotheistic religion that believes HaShem is the one true G-d. Ruth and Naomi end up in the community of Boaz who happens to be a kinsman of Naomi’s late husband Elimelech. They gather grain from the outer fields, which according to the laws of leket are left for the needy. Ruth toiled alongside many men but refused their advances. Naomi was the one who told her when it was time to approach Boaz. This act was rather immodest and one that might not be sanctioned today. However according to Levirate marriage if a woman is left childless a relative of her late husband is obligated to marry her and Boaz was that person. Ruth bears a son named Oved. Oved has a son named Yishai and then

Yishai has a son named David. David who becomes our King of Israel. The great grandson of a convert to our ancient traditions becomes our greatest king. Rashi refers to Ruth as the “mother of royalty” and that she truly is. From this lineage will come the Messiah. It is said that Ruth lived long enough to see David on the throne and chances are he blessed her as often as she delighted in his accomplishments. Megillat Ruth is read on Shavuot to remember this heritage. In Pirkei Avot, the Ethics of the Fathers, we learn that the world stands on 3 things: Torah, prayer and loving kindness. It is also said that the Torah can only exist in a world characterized by the loving kindness behaviors Ruth, Naomi and Boaz exemplified. We merit our ancestral lands of Judea and Samaria that King David ruled when our Jewish roots are more important than our secular ones. When like Ruth we take on the laws of B’nai Yisrael and leave the Moabite idol worshipping customs behind us. However what does HaShem mean for us to follow? How stringent should we be? We live in a patriarchal society which has not evolved much over

time. Our matriarchs and Ruth were not fulfilled until they experienced motherhood. A woman without a child was barren, empty. Many of our Rabbis continue to follow these biased beliefs even though they are not in fact the halachah. In Talmud Brachot it says that “a woman may say grace on behalf of her husband because even she has the obligation to recite birkat hamazon.” In Talmud Megillah 4A Rabbi Joshua Ben Levi says “that women are obligated to read Megillah for they were included in the miracle”. Although this latter quote refers to Megillat Esther and Purim we have just as much a role in the story of Ruth read at Shavuot. This we could conclude that women should be permitted to recite the Megillot aloud. So why do most Orthodox Rabbis not allow women to recite Megillah?? Kibud Tzibor refers to the dignity of the community. Many believe that if a woman is given honors people will believe the men in the community are not learned enough. Many of these same Rabbis dignify their stance by saying that they are in fact protecting the women because according to the laws of kol isha their voices are immodest, distracting and sensual. I have heard the beautiful voices of many male chazzanim but sensual they are not. These voices can enhance spiritualism but that is where the line is drawn. If women are in fact capable of reading Torah then bless them for their advanced learning capabilities. Men and women left Egypt together in the tribes of B’nai Jacob. They crossed the Reed Sea together, stood waiting for Moshe to return to them together. They did not stand men on one side and women on another. We honor our matriarchs as much as our patriarchs. On Shavuot we remember the gift of the Torah and those who are true role models. We remember Moses, his mother Yocheved and sister Miriam as well as Naomi, Ruth and Boaz. Especially on Mother’s Day remember the positive role models in our lives and try to continue with the legacy they have blessed us with.




Temple Beth Tikvah Celebrates 50 Years By Sara Gold

Temple Beth Tikvah, a synagogue that has served North Orange County for the past five decades, will honor its history and begin “writing the next chapter” at its anniversary celebration May 2. More than 300 people are expected to attend “The Temple Beth Tikvah Golden Jubilee: Writing the Next Chapter,” which will include a video message from the Fullerton temple’s new rabbi, Nico Socolovsky. Socolovsky, an Argentinian-born Jew, will begin his duties this summer, replacing the current interim rabbi, Teri Appleby. The anniversary celebration also will honor current temple co-presidents Howard Brass and Cindy Jacobson, along with all past presidents. The following past presidents will be in attendance: Lila Pesner, Steve Belasco, Mark Filowitz, Benjamin Berkley, Michael Fisher, Greg Weitzman and David and Alyse Kirschen. Other congregants will be recognized by the decade that they joined the congregation. 16


step towards Judaism becoming a more visible and accepted part of the community.”

Howard Brass, Breanna Marks, Sophia Litt, Shari Rosen, Lisa Brass and Linda Urban make blankets at a TBT Mitzvah Day.

Temple Beth Tikvah, which now has about 240 families, was the brainchild of five women who gathered in the kitchen of a Fullerton home during the early 1960s. Valerie Sloane, one of the women, said that the group saw the need for a synagogue in the Fullerton community, as the closest Jewish congregations at that time were located in Anaheim and Santa Ana. She and her husband moved from Fullerton to Irvine in 2012 but are still TBT members. “The community back then was very different from what it is now,” said Sloane, 80. “There weren’t that many Jews in the area, and there wasn’t a lot of awareness about Judaism in the community. I think that the creation of Temple Beth Tikvah was an important

In 1964, 25 families gathered at the Fullerton YMCA to make an important decision for Temple Beth Tikvah’s future. Representatives from the Union of Reform Judaism and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism spoke to the families, who then voted to determine Temple Beth Tikvah’s denomination of affiliation. Reform Judaism won by a single vote. Temple Beth Tikvah started out at the Fullerton YMCA and temporarily relocated to Brea. In 1971 the congregation moved to its current building on Acacia Avenue in Fullerton. Miriam Van Raalte, administrator and director of education at TBT, was 12 years old when her family joined the synagogue in 1966, back when it was housed at the YMCA. Van Raalte, now 62, remembers the joy of having her bat mitzvah at age 18 in the sanctuary of Temple Beth Tikvah’s new permanent building. She primarily taught herself the Bat Mitzvah liturgy, with some assistance from Rabbi Haim Asa, Temple Beth Tikvah’s first

full-time rabbi. “As a child, I never would have considered having a Bat Mitzvah, as female bat mitzvahs were not as common in the ’70s, but Temple Beth Tikvah was such a open, warm place, so it was within reach to do,” Van Raalte said. “Rabbi Asa was also such a wonderful man and leader – he’s a big part of what makes Temple Beth Tikvah so special to me.” Asa, known for his interfaith activism and his leadership in several Jewish organizations, served as the temple’s rabbi for three decades before retiring in 1995. He died last year, and TBT recently launched an educational collaboration with Modern Orthodox synagogue Zemer HaZayit in Israel in his honor. Other past TBT rabbis include Ned Soltz and Kenneth Milhander. Temple Beth Tikvah merged with Adat Ari, a Conservative synagogue formerly based in Anaheim Hills, 15 years ago. In 2011, TBT opened its Asa Center for Lifelong Jewish Learning, a 15,000-square-foot facility that contains classrooms, offices, lounges, a computer lab and a theater. The building also has a Holocaust memorial with a “Garden of the Righteous” honoring people who defied the Nazis to help the Jews. “Over the years, Temple Beth Tikvah has had a profound impact on Fullerton,” Sloane said. “My husband and I have made our closest friends here, and it has been amazing to see the temple grow to become what it is now.”




An Actor and a Mensch

Eric Gutman Brings Biopic to Merage JCC By Ilene Schneider

Eric Gutman has been in theatre for as long as he can remember. He knows how lucky he is to “be able to do something that is embedded in my heart and soul. Gutman also understands his priorities. “My family was very supportive of this crazy thing called acting, but now it’s nice to tell my story and come home to my wife and two little girls,” he said. He has taken his amazing run as an actor, turned it into a biographical show and reveled in developing a new direction for his career. For almost three years, Gutman performed in the Tony and Grammy Award-winning sensation, Jersey Boys. During his run with this extraordinary show, he performed more than 1,200 shows in six different roles (including three of the Four Seasons). Now he has turned that experience into a hilarious one-man biopic musical, Eric Gutman: From Broadway to Obscurity. The show is 18


about one man’s struggle to get to the top of his game, and then the struggle to find his place once the game has ended. Gutman will take the audience on a journey through current musical theatre songs as well as a parody of lyrics to tell the story of an actor’s time in New York pursuing his dream. He will also share some amazing stories from behind the scenes of the four-time Tony and Grammy Award winning musical, Jersey Boys, and will showcase the dream of performing and then returning home to realize that having a family was his true dream. Gutman’s first taste of success was being cast in 1999 in the Gem/Century Theatre’s production of Forbidden Hollywood. In the 14 years that have followed, he became a resident company member of the Forbidden Family, performing in six different versions of Forbidden Broadway, Forbidden Hollywood and Forbidden Christmas (Off-Broadway and National

Tour). He thought that Jersey Boys was “an amazing script that spoke for itself, respectful that the characters were real people and portraying young kids from a tough neighborhood who came up with just the right music and just the right sound to succeed.” He was familiar with the Four Seasons, because he was raised with his father’s music from the 1960s and loved it, he said. Gutman auditioned for Jersey Boys in 2006. The first national tour lasted one year, and then he went to New York with the Broadway cast. He left when one of his daughters was born. He then spent six months in Chicago performing in Jersey Boys, followed by three years on tour with the musical. While it was an “incredible” experience to be part of a highly successful show, Gutman yearned for his home and family in the Detroit area. The West Bloomfield Jewish Community Center

commissioned From Broadway to Obscurity, and Gutman got to tell his story of struggling as an actor, being part of a hugely successful show and then stepping away from it. “Originally, it was going to be a cabaret show, but it was a bigger story than singing Frankie Valli songs,” he said. “I wrote it in 12 incarnations, and then the director, Brian Sage, fleshed it out. I’ve been performing it for the last year. It’s artistically fulfilling. I get to tell my own story, and I’m proud of what it’s become.” Gutman is pleased at how people relate on a personal level to the story. “Everybody can relate to it in one way or another,” he said. Gutman is also pleased to be able to be involved in the Jewish community. Last year he had a “profound, wonderful experience” when he got

involved in the JCC Maccabi Arts Fest in Detroit, and this summer he will fo it in Fort Lauderdale. What will be next for Gutman? He is going to continue to market the show, which will be in Winnipeg, Minnesota, and Michigan this summer. He wants to keep telling his story and letting people enjoy it. As for himself, Gutman wants “to create; learn, grow, enjoy, get involved, make connections, perform in the community and hope I always have the support of my loved ones.”

The OC Jewish Theatre is one of the only venues in Orange County for quality, Jewish entertainment. Popular events have included singer Matisyahu, comedienne Rita Rudner, child piano prodigy Ethan Bortnick, and more. Funding sources include the Doris H. & Milton J. Chasin Cultural Arts Endowment and the Merage JCC Cultural Arts Patron Circle.

FROM BROADWAY TO OBSCURITY OC Jewish Theatre at the Merage JCC Sunday, May 31, 4 p.m. Ticket Information: For tickets visit or call (949) 4353400. Tickets: $25 JCC members, $34 public, $18 under 17 years.




Milestone Many Years in the Making

Say “Hello” to Rabbi Cantor Marcia Tilchin By Ilene Schneider

“The greatest gift I was given was being born into a Jewish family,” Hazzan Marcia Tilchin of Congregation B’nai Israel said. “It’s always the primary identification I’ve carried with me that distinguished me from others and gave me a sense of purpose.” Now Tilchin will take her love of Judaism a step further – a step that was many years in the making. On May 19 she will be ordained as a rabbi at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles. Tilchin first considered a career in professional Judaism as a rabbi, but she reasoned that as a cantor, she could use her musical and theatrical talents. She obtained her Masters of Sacred Music and Diploma of Hazzan from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in May of 2000. By the time she received that degree, she had the equivalent of one full year of rabbinical school to her credit. Deciding that she “needed to know 20


Torah inside and out in order to be a master hazzan,” Tilchin continued her education at JTS in preparation for the rabbinate while serving as the parttime cantor for Congregation Sons of Israel in Upper Nyack, New York. In those two years, she took another year of rabbinical classes. Then in 2002, she became hazzan at Congregation B’nai Israel. She hoped to complete her studies at Ziegler, but life got in the way. In addition to her cantorial role and various interfaith projects, she and her husband, Scott Spitzer, are the proud parents of Avi, Sheindl and Yaira. She began taking one class per semester at Ziegler in 2005 and formally matriculated there in 2009. As she said, “The trip of a thousand miles begins with the first step…” Relating that “it took a village” to bring her to this milestone, Tilchin credits family, friends, colleagues and congregants for helping her to reach this milestone. As she said in The

Shofar, Congregation B’nai Israel’s newsletter, “Whenever we finish reading a book of the Torah, we recite a three-word formula indicating that all endings segue into new beginnings: ‘Hazak Hazak v’nithazeik – Have strength, be strong, and you shall be strengthened!’ As I begin my next thousand-mile journey as Rabbi Cantor Tilchin, I do so linked arm in arm with YOU.”


Weddings, Gifts and Much More

The Golden Dreidle Has Judaica for All Seasons By Ilene Schneider

A Jewish wedding is happy, holy and replete with artifacts. Some of those artifacts have evolved over time, and today’s bride and groom have many choices to make.

website that helps every couple to find the perfect ketubah, ranging in price from $65 to $600. We offer a price guarantee on every ketubah and take care of each client one-on-one.”

“The world of ketubot has exploded,” said Shahrokh Ghodsi, who, along with his wife Julie, owns The Golden Dreidle. The Irvine-based Judaica store offers a ketubah selection of 800 options on its website and 200 samples for couples to come in and view at the store. With more than 20 years of experience, The Golden Dreidle has something for everyone.

The best seller this year is a paper cut by Danny Azouly, an internationally known artist who works out of Israel and who used to do ceramic work, according to Ghodsi. More than 80 artists from the U.S. and Israel are among those whose ketubot are represented in the store and online.

Ghodsi said that there are many new ketubah designs and that the custom of having a hand-designed marriage certificate is growing in popularity. Thanks to word-of-mouth referrals, local clients come into the store to see the wide selection of ketubot, “including one couple from Utah whose parents live here,” Ghodsi said. “For people who live out of state, we have an easy-to-use, easy-to-navigate

Another interesting item in today’s Jewish wedding is the groom’s glass that he breaks under the chuppah. Today, those glasses come in many colors with “lots of wonderful options that make great keepsakes,” Ghodsi said. Many artists, including Mark Rosenbaum, incorporates the shards from the groom’s glass into candlesticks, kiddush cups, Lucite cubes, mezuzot and menorot.

seder plates, menorot and candlesticks — is always popular as a wedding gift. The “newest player” is Michael Aram, who provides goodquality, nickel-plated items that are reasonably priced and last for a long time, according to Ghodsi. While Aram sells his wares at department stores, The Golden Dreidle is the only place that carries his full line of Judaica. -For more information visit The Golden Dreidle at 2626 Dupont Drive #40, in Irvine or online at

Judaica for all occasions – including KOSHER OC MAGAZINE // APRIL 2015 |


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TVT Spirit Wins at Moot beit Din By Robin Silver-Zwiren

Congratulations to the TVT Moot beit Din Team for winning the Ruach Award at the recent Ravsak competition. Several hundred students from across the USA and Canada gathered for an amazing weekend sponsored by Milken and New Jewish High Schools of Los Angeles. The groups arrived on Thursday, and the celebration began as the excitement soared. Friends from past competitions reunited, and new friendships were made. On Friday they went to the Santa Monica Pier, where the California sunshine warmed them inside and out. Shabbat was an enriching and spiritual experience for everyone. On Sunday the actual trials took place, and the presentations were certainly thought provoking. The highlight was watching competitors cheering each other on, because friendships were more important than whose side you represented. In fact, when they gathered to announce the awards, the cheers and mazal tov congratulations were heard throughout the halls. 24


These high school students, along with a team from Israel that joined via SKYPE, are our future. Kol haKavod to our local team of Adam Cohen, Vivian Herscovitz, Gabi Nahum and Matana Zwiren under the guidance of teachers Lee Weissman and Jeremy Shine. Your oral presentation at the trial was well done. Your spirit during the entire weekend put you way above all the other teams. From the moment you walked in on Thursday and offered to help out, you distinguished yourselves above others. From leading song and dance to yoga, you impacted everyone around. For these attributes, you won the Ruach Award and have filled us with pride. Go Lions!


Jogging for Kids

Hebrew Academy Students Run to Do a Mitzvah By Ilene Schneider

Hebrew Academy celebrated Yom Ha-Atzma’ut with its third annual Jog-a-thon that promoted physical fitness, philanthropy, school pride and spirit, parent participation and involvement and staff involvement. “From the moment you walked out on the field this morning, you could feel the powerful energy of our parents pulling it all together and the tremendous excitement apparent in our children’s faces,” organizers said. Running to support the school and to help children in Israel gave the Hebrew Academy children a wonderful opportunity to literally “run to do a mitzvah.” It left a powerful impression upon each of the students and will be recalled for many years to come, according to the staff. The Jog-a-thon raised over $6,000. The school will donate a portion to Kidsforkids, which supports orphans in Israel.


Hadassah Presents: Day of Health Care for Women By Kosher OC Staff Learn about women’s health issues at Hadassah Southern California’s Spring Conference: A Day of Wellness on Wednesday, May 6, from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. The day will include top-tier speakers and a lunchtime dessert fair. C. Noel Bairey Merz, MD, the morning keynote speaker, is the director of the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center, the Linda Joy Pollin Women’s Heart Health Program and the Preventive and Rehabilitative Cardiac Center. She holds the Women’s Guild Chair in Women’s Health, is professor of medicine at CedarsSinai Medical Center and chairs the National Institutes of Health (NIH)sponsored WISE (Women’s Ischemic Syndrome Evaluation) initiative, which is investigating potential methods for more effective diagnosis and evaluation of coronary artery disease in women.



The afternoon keynote speaker, Ilana Cass, MD, vice chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Cedars-Sinai, has had a highly successful career at the forefront of reproductive medicine. She has played a critical role in aligning the goals of the medical center and nearly 120 medical staff, balancing her administrative responsibilities with a busy clinical practice and robust research agenda. “I alone need to educate myself so that I am aware of the warning signs and take action on my healthcare decisions,” said Sandra Sadikoff, president of Hadassah Southern California. “You too are responsible for yourself. By attending our upcoming Spring Conference and Wellness Day, each of us has the unique opportunity to listen, to learn and to be empowered to take action when necessary. We are coming together to help each other and to advocate for

women’s health – your health, and the health of all the women in your life.” Register online at southerncalifornia or by phone at (310) 276-0036. According to Hadassah’s website, “Hadassah believes in building a world where our Jewish values in action create strong community and an enduring Israel. With members in every congressional district in the US, Hadassah women are everywhere, working and learning together, building leaders, empowering women to effect change locally, nationally and internationally. Hadassah women are activists, fundraisers, visionaries, wives, sisters, daughters and mothers. They don’t just talk. Hadassah women do.”


OC Young Adults Celebrate Israel’s Birthday By Sara Gold

More than 50 young Jewish adults ages 21-35 celebrated Israel’s birthday April 26 at a BBQ at University Community Park in Irvine. Jews from as far north as Los Angeles and as far south as San Clemente came to this event honoring Yom Ha’atzmaut, which occurred earlier in April. Blue and white balloons adorned the section of the park where the young Jewish adults ate hot dogs and burgers, played games and socialized with friends. The BBQ was hosted by JewGlue, a program of the NextGen department of Jewish Federation & Family Services, Orange County.




ADL Presents 2015 Jurisprudence Award By Kosher OC Staff

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Orange County/Long Beach Region presented three outstanding attorneys and civil rights advocates with the organization’s prestigious 2015 Marcus Kaufman Jurisprudence Award. The dinner and awards ceremony was held on April 16 at the Island Hotel at Fashion Island in Newport Beach and was its most successful year to date, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars in support of ADL’s critical work to build a world without hate. Four hundred guests gathered to pay tribute to the honorees, who included: Marc J. Schneider, a business and securities litigation shareholder at Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth; Aimee S. Weisner, corporate vice president and general counsel at Edwards Lifesciences; and the late Robert E. Palmer, who was a litigation partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. The prize is named after Justice Marcus Kaufman, the 103rd Justice of the California Supreme Court and a champion for civil rights. The Kaufman award is given annually to attorneys who have made significant contributions to their communities and to the legal profession and who embody ADL’s mission to bring about a world without hate and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Schneider previously served as chair of ADL’s Orange County/Long Beach Region and is a recipient of the Daniel Ginsberg Award, presented on a nationwide basis to outstanding young leaders in the fight against anti-Semitism, racism and all forms of prejudice. Schneider was instrumental in the founding of the Center for Corporate Legal Leadership at the University of California, Irvine 28


School of Law, and currently serves on its Advisory Board and chairs the Litigation Workshop. He also played an important role in founding the OC Tech Alliance, which fosters growth and innovation in Orange County’s technology community. He currently serves on its Executive Board, as chair of the Legal Roundtable, and on the High Tech Awards Committee. With his wife Elena, Schneider currently co-chairs the “On Golden Wings” fundraising campaign for The Pegasus School. He also serves on the Executive Committee for the Sonenshine Pro Bono Reception and the Board of Trustees for Temple Bat Yahm. In 2014, he was in trial for more than four months on three significant matters. He won all three, including a complete defense win on behalf of a significant Orange County public company in a $120 million fraud case. Weisner has served as corporate vice president at Edwards Lifesciences since January 2011. Previously at Advanced Medical Optics, Inc. (AMO) she served as general counsel and then as executive vice president, administration, and secretary, responsible for legal, human resources, compliance and internal audit. Prior to that, Weisner was vice president, assistant general counsel and assistant secretary at Allergan. She also practiced in the corporate and securities group at O’Melveny & Myers LLP. Weisner currently serves as a board member for Glaukos Corporation, NeuroSigma, Inc., and the Orange County branch of the American Heart Association. She is a member of the Chapman Law School Business Emphasis Advisory Group and Public Law Center General Counsel Advisory Committee. She received the Orange County Business Journal’s General Counsel Award in 2014.

Palmer, who died on Sept. 4, 2014, was a sharp litigator and beloved philanthropist. He cultivated relationships with several community organizations, which eventually led to his serving as chair of the Board of Directors for the United Way, cochair of the Orange County Alexis de Tocqueville Society, and as a member of the Board of Directors of South Coast Repertory Theater. His community involvement also included service as a past president of the Association of Business Trial Lawyers, Orange County Chapter: the Federal Bar Association, Orange County Chapter; and the Constitutional Rights Foundation. He donated substantial time to the Public Law Center. The keynote speaker for the event was ADL’s Director of National Civil Rights Deborah Lauter. Lauter has published numerous op-eds and articles on issues at the forefront of civil rights and the American Jewish community, and has appeared on local, national and international radio and television news programs. Lauter spoke to group about the urgency of civil rights in our time, and the role that we each must play to ensure that all people are protected and included. Mike Rubin, ADL regional board chair and a senior partner with Rutan & Tucker, LLP, said, “Marc, Aimee and Robert serve as role models to attorneys who care about justice and fair treatment for all. They have not only been outstanding attorneys, but have set an example for pro bono service and commitment to the community and to civil rights. We were delighted with the large turnout to honor them at our Marcus Kaufman Jurisprudence Award Dinner, the proceeds of which will go to further ADL’s many programs aimed at bringing about a world without hate.”

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NCSY Students Make Their Marks By Matana Zwiren

For NCSY (National Conference of Synagogue Youth, the teen organization of the Orthodox Union), inspiring teens is nothing out of the ordinary. You may have heard about synagogue youth group programs, our weekly Lattes and Learning and even Jew Clubs in local public high schools, but NCSY is even more than all that. Teens throughout the West Coast have taken their inspiration from NCSY and made their own marks on repairing this world, Tikkun Olam. Three teen leaders in the San Diego Jewish community decided to come up with something that has never been done before. They took an application called Vine, which takes 6-second videos and uploads them to a profile, to start their soon-to-be success called Torah Vines. Marcus Loebenstein, Harel Amsalem and Fernando Sur took Vine and started to make their very own 6 seconds on Torah thoughts. Harel comments on how, “We knew it would be a creative way to use pop culture to teach Torah.” The three high schoolers started Torah Vines in their sophomore year of high school, starting from 0 to 1300 likes 32


in just one year. They began with the creative idea of social media and took it to the next level. “Also Torah Vines helped us realize that social media can be a great way to share thoughts of Torah.” Fernando shared how it not only affected them and opened their eyes but how it opened others. Not only is Torah Vines an interesting and exciting way to get your dose of Torah, but, as Marcus says, “Torah Vines is our way of making Judaism fun and relatable to anyone.” I personally enjoy watching Torah Vines and one can always find the time, even during the busiest days, for a short dose of Torah thoughts.

Canada, Israel and Australia have caught on. Our motivation for this blog was to help every woman find tznuit clothing in regular stores such as H&M, Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, the GAP and everywhere else we all tend to shop.

Torah Vines isn’t the only project a West Coast NCSY teen has started. Along with my friend, Rachel Leora Rosen, from New York, we started a tznuit fashion blog. Our blog, TStyles, is a website and Facebook page where females of all ages can go to find modest clothing and what it means to be tznuit. Our Facebook page was created in the beginning of September and along with our weekly actual blog, which was created just a couple months ago we have grown to be international. People in the US,

Even though I’ve only written about two NCSY projects that have been started, there are many more to come. Whether or not a teen runs his or her very own Lattes and Learning to engage teens in helping find their Jewish identity or practically runs a chapter full of students when there is no director, the students and teens that have gone through NCSY have each made a huge mark on this world and continue to inspire even after they graduate.

As our bio says, we are a “Fashion blog documenting modest fashion in the everyday world. We give the inside scoop on modest clothing and where to find it.” Our goal and mission has been succeeding rapidly, and we’re proud we were able to allow teens to feel comfortable shopping in the most modern-day stores.


Shabbat in Prague By Sara Weissman

“I must be crazy,” I thought to myself as I walked along Prague’s Vltava River in the fading light of a Friday evening. There I was, a towering 5”3, wandering alone in what I hoped was the right direction in a new city at night with no map, no money, no phone, and no key to my hostel. But I wasn’t crazy or wandering solo for kicks. I’m an Orthodox Jew, and this is how I need to travel on Friday nights and Saturdays. On Shabbat, I customarily don’t carry anything on me while on-the-go, unless there is an eruv, a special fence around the city. I also traditionally don’t use cars or public transportation, electrical appliances, or money for the duration of the day. At home in California, I don’t think twice about these restrictions. They’re an inseparable part of my life like breathing and I know how to navigate and explain the strange rules I follow at sundown each week. But during my semester abroad in Florence, Italy, keeping these laws gave me a certain amount of trepidation. I wanted to travel in Europe but, to avoid missing class, that meant weekend trips… which inevitably meant wandering alone in foreign cities trying to find synagogues with my notoriously Mr. McGoo-like navigation skills. Great. But when the chance to go to Prague presented itself I couldn’t help but go, and, I soon realized I wouldn’t want to travel any other way. That Friday night, after a fortyminute walk with Prague’s beautiful, gothic steeples in the distance (and confusedly asking directions only twice), I walked into the oldest active shul in Europe, the Stranova Synagogue. A hut-like building, the synagogue once hosted the famous Torah scholar the Maharal of Prague. Known in stories for raising

a mud-man, a golem, to life, little golem figurines are still sold along the cobblestone streets outside the synagogue. Prague’s small Jewish community quickly took me in. James, a fasttalking expat New Yorker in his 60s, immediately appointed himself as my personal guide after Shabbat dinner at Chabad. As we wove down Prague’s darkened streets, he excitedly pointed out the little details I’d missed: abandoned monasteries, old opera houses, architectural remnants of the 1920s art deco craze… As James brimmed with enthusiasm over every slant in Prague’s sidewalks — occasionally gleefully exclaiming, “Don’t you see?? Prague is as beautiful as Paris!” — I worried I’d maybe left Chabad with a mad man. But my self-made guide wasn’t crazy, just madly in love. James told me how he felt drawn to the city twenty-five years ago as it threw off the yolk of the Soviet Union. There he met his wife, a Czech native, whom he insisted I meet later that evening before showing me the way to my hostel. I met my second guide the following day after services. Verona, an older woman who had lived in the Czech Republic all her life, approached me as I nibbled on kiddush pretzels off to the side alongside other travelers. Excited to have an eager listener, Verona filled me in on Prague’s small Jewish community. We spoke for hours about her family history, from the devastating effects of the Holocaust to her childhood in a small Czech village under the Soviet Union. The daughter of Holocaust survivors, Verona told me all about how she had recently discovered remnants of her destroyed family in England and had just gotten in contact with them after years of separation. I told her one day I wanted to write her story. With a long hug we said goodbye after

Shabbat lunch and exchanged contact information. We’ve kept in touch, exchanging “chag sameach” emails and klezmer YouTube videos ever since. By the end of Shabbat, I realized the value of empty pockets. Keeping Shabbat hadn’t compromised my travel experience but ultimately enhanced it. By leaving my map and phone behind, I found other unexpected guides to help me, guides who ultimately overwhelmed me with their kindness. They gave the city a human face and, through them, I got to know Prague more intimately than I ever would have on my own. And just as Shabbat enhanced my experience in Prague, Prague enhanced my understanding of Shabbat. What I took away was this: There are all kinds of things we convince ourselves we need. (Lord knows, I’m practically Siamese twins with my cell phone.) But when traveling on Shabbat, we’re forced to let go. We simply have to trust that we’ll get from point A to point B without all the usual accouterments that accompany everyday life. Without these comforts and conveniences, we’re made vulnerable, but that vulnerability can liberate us, can open us up to whatever new experiences and people God sends our way, if only for 25 hours. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of taking precautions. Traveling safely is important. But by not carrying my safety blankets that weekend — and the many weekends that followed — I carried something far more valuable home with me, the empowering realization that I didn’t need them, that on Shabbat I could explore a place more deeply alone in the dark without a map.




Israeli and Jewish Groups on Frontline of Nepal Earthquake Relief Efforts By Sean Savage / Also sending rescue teams from Israel to Nepal were the humanitarian and emergency response organizations Magen David Adom (MDA), United Hatzalah, Zaka, F.I.R.S.T., IsraLife, IsraAID, and others, as well as the private insurance companies Harel and Phoenix.

After a devastating earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale hit the impoverished mountainous country of Nepal over the weekend, killing more than 4,000 people, Israeli and Jewish humanitarian and governmental organizations have assumed their traditional role on the frontline of relief efforts for a natural disaster. The 260-member Israeli government mission to Nepal includes an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) field hospital, a trained rescue team, and a security team, with the objectives of assisting the Nepalese people and evacuating Israeli citizens who are stranded in the country. Paul Hirschson, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, told JNS. org that the conditions on the ground in Nepal have been “very difficult.” “The rescue mission is headed up by the Israeli ambassador to Nepal and the foreign ministry’s deputy director general, who has already arrived in Kathmandu (Nepal’s capital) from Jerusalem,” Hirschson said Monday. “At present, this includes collecting information; providing shelter [for some 200 Israelis who are currently at the Jewish state’s Nepalese embassy]; 34


securing contact with Israelis, as there remain some 100 who are unaccounted for; extracting Israelis still stranded in outlying areas, where there remain some tens of Israelis; preparing for the arrival of the aid mission; arranging for the flights to land; and securing locations for the field hospitals,” added Hirschson. As of Tuesday, the number of Israelis who were unaccounted for was down to 50. “You are being sent on an important mission,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, addressing the Israeli relief team, headed by IDF Col. Yoram Laredo. “This is the true face of Israel—a country that offers aid over any distance at such moments.”

Ravit Martinez, a member of the delegation from MDA, told JNS.orgthat the organization’s main goal is to “help the injured Israelis and groups of disconnected Israelis,” but that MDA has also worked at a military hospital to treat Nepalese citizens at a military hospital who have sustained abdominal injuries, chest injuries, and broken legs and arms. The Israeli government and MDA has also started evacuating surrogate-born babies and their parents to Israel. Nepal is a major destination for Israeli families seeking surrogate mothers for their children, since surrogacy is illegal in Israel for same-sex couples. But due to the earthquake, Israel has waived the legal and bureaucratic hurdles to their return. Hirschson told that five babies have already been brought to Israel and that about 18 remain in Nepal, with efforts to bring them to Israel by Tuesday pending a medical assessment to determine if they can fly. “If there are any who are assessed not to be able to fly, they will be looked after at the Israeli field hospital, which will be functional in the hours subsequent to the aid mission arriving later Monday or Tuesday,” Hirschson said. MDA’s Martinez said there were six babies “that couldn’t be treated” in a hospital in Kathmandu who were evacuated on Sunday, and that there are eight more currently in the Israeli embassy, where they are being fed and cared for by MDA staff.

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), which has provided relief to dozens of natural disaster zones over the last century and currently works in more than 70 countries, said it is partnering with the IDF field hospital in Kathmandu through providing equipment such as neonatal incubators. JDC said that while it provides immediate aid, it is also laying the foundation for our longer-term relief efforts in Nepal. JDC’s director of communications, Michael Geller, told that reports on the ground in Nepal present a “dire situation” that has been exacerbated by Nepal’s challenging weather, difficult terrain, and deep poverty. “This is the worst earthquake of its kind in 80 years for Nepal, and it is happening in a country that has other challenges it was dealing with before the earthquake like poverty. So the combination of these factors can create a very harrowing situation on the ground,” said Geller. JDC’s main goal during the emergency stage, Geller said, is to “ensure that aid is given to the people as quickly as possible.” The personnel at the IDF field hospital, he said, have “proven that they are effectively able to get into disaster zones quickly and treat people.” In the longer-term, JDC’s mission the “restoration of livelihood,” which includes setting up schools, medical care, post-traumatic support, and disaster mitigation, according to Geller. “We work with local communities, municipalities, and volunteer organizations in the countries where the disaster has happened to help them help themselves and ensure that when the next disaster happens, they can organize an effective response,” he said.

Geller praised the American Jewish community for “coming together to support the people of Nepal,” noting the outpouring of support and inquiries about JDC’s relief operations. “I think that is one of the outstanding features of the Jewish community, its ability to come together and respond to crises and to show its dedication to tikkun olam (repairing the world),” he said. The Jewish Federations of North America is raising funds for relief efforts in Nepal, as it has done in the past for natural and manmade disasters in locations such as the Philippines, Haiti, Japan, South Asia, and elsewhere. While humanitarian groups gear up to provide both shortterm and long-term assistance, the Israeli government’s direct aid mission will last at least two to three weeks, according to the foreign ministry’s Hirschson. After that point, Israel will work on long-term relief with the international community. “This is what we specialize in and are known for,” Hirschson told “Beyond that [two-to-three week] time frame [for the initial aid mission] begins an entirely different phase of rehabilitation and reconstruction,” he said. “Israel will participate to the best of our abilities together with the international community. The foreign ministry has already had an initial internal discussion as to what contribution we will be able to make, and a team is working on that, but for now the focus is on saving lives.”




Gold on the Galilee: Israeli Kayaker Comes of Age, Eyes Olympics By Orit Arfa / and abs of an action star, with bright green eyes and brown skin that makes one think of The Hulk. Today, he stands at a towering 6-foot-3 and weighs 205 pounds. “She said to finish all that I started— not to give up, and to stay strong until the end,” Podpolnyy said, finally adding to Shaked’s story.

Three years ago, kayaking coach Roei Lev found aspiring Olympian Ilya Podpolnyy crying on the steps of the Jordan Valley Sprint Kayak Club overlooking the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). Podpolnyy, then 17 years old, had just been disqualified from the Israeli kayaking championship. He couldn’t survive the heats. He didn’t make the start line. He was devastated— and he had no one with whom to share his hopes, his dreams, and his disappointment. His divorced parents still live in Russia, and he has been estranged from his father since making aliyah at age 15. “I said to him, ‘You’re a young man. I just met you. I saw how you paddled. If you want support and a good family—if you want to get ahead—I recommend you come to the Jordan Valley,’” Lev recalled in an interview with at the kayak club’s lounge on April 18, shortly after this year’s Israeli kayaking championship. An hour earlier, dozens of young kayakers sat on those same steps, looking up to Podpolnyy, now 20, as he stood on the podium to receive five gold medals—those same youngsters who had enthusiastically cheered “Go Ilya!” like brothers at the edge of 36


the Kinneret as he won the individual 200-meter, 500-meter, 1,000-meter, and 6-kilometer races. “Today he decided he was going to win, and no less,” said Ronit Shaked, the secretary general of the Israel Canoe Association, who runs a medical sports therapy clinic and is also the Jordan Valley Sprint Kayak Club’s unofficial photographer. Always with a camera around her neck, she is documenting what she called Podpolynyy’s “road to the Olympics.” A mother figure, she had given Podpolnyy a pep talk that morning to ease his nerves. “He decided he was an athlete,” she said. “That’s it. A champion.” Lev and Shaked were eager to fill in the blanks when Podpolnyy was at a loss for words during the trio’s joint interview with Podpolnyy’s Hebrew is almost fluent, even though he didn’t speak a word of it when he stepped off the plane at Ben Gurion Airport in 2010 wearing a Russian coat and boots. He speaks mostly in single sentences, the way Sylvester Stallone speaks in the “Rocky” franchise—the tough guy with a stoic veneer whose drive overcomes hardship. Podpolnyy has the biceps

One of Israel’s top athletes, Podpolnyy started paddling at age 11 near the Caspian Sea. “I came with a friend just to check it out in the summer. I started to paddle. I saw the nature, and I loved it,” he said. He followed his sister in making aliyah with the “Na’ale” project, which brings teenagers to complete high school in Israel with the hope that their parents will follow. Upon completing boarding school near Netanya, he joined the Maccabi Zvulun Kayaking Club, where he didn’t receive the support he craved as a new recruit to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). That’s where Lev came in. “He knew there was a problem, and he said, ‘We’ll help you. With family. With everything,’” Podpolnyy recalled. Today, Podpolnyy lives in a small one-bedroom apartment in Kibbutz Degania, and Yuval Dagan, the kayak club’s general manager, has embraced him as a son—welcoming him for Friday night meals and family trips. Having been granted “Outstanding Athlete” status by the IDF, Podpolnyy is able to train at least four hours a day and compete abroad. “It’s a profession,” Shaked explained, although kayaking, unlike other sports, holds little promise of financial reward. Podpolnyy receives some support from the Israel Olympics Committee, but the club is admittedly going into debt investing in his Olympic potential.


Lev and Shaked both credit Podpolnyy for making the sport popular again in Israel. Kayaking, sailing, and judo are the only sports to bring the Jewish state Olympic medals, with Michael Kolganov taking the kayaking bronze in Sydney in 2000. While shy at an interview, Podpolnyy has a goofy and fun-loving side, which aside from his superior athleticism, magnetizes international teammates. This past winter, he revived the club’s status as a sought-after winter training destination after the Swiss, Finnish, Russian, and Danish kayaking champions accepted his personal

invitation to train on the Kinneret with the Jordan Valley Sprint Kayak Club. “He’s the diplomat,” Shaked said. “If we didn’t have Ilya, we wouldn’t have been in the world championships. If we didn’t have Ilya, we wouldn’t have made connections with these athletes. If we didn’t have Ilya, we wouldn’t have people finding us through Facebook.” Podpolnyy has his sights on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics because he has not clocked in enough world competitions to compete in the 2016 Rio Games.

He’ll make up for lost time this summer as he competes internationally in Slovakia, Germany, and at the World Championships in Milan. For every competition, he has requested that his canoe be colored blue and white—the colors of Israel’s flag. “I want to bring achievements for the country, the club, and all the trainers who worked hard,” Podpolnyy said, not shy anymore.

Arab-Israeli Journalist Lucy Aharish Lights Independence Day Torchlight By was “for our honor as human beings, this is our country and there is no other.” Aharish has worked as a journalist for several Israeli news outlets. She also works as an English-language anchor on thei24news international news network, which is based in Jaffa.

Arab-Israeli journalist Lucy Aharish lit a torch as part of a group of 14 Israelis honored in the official government ceremony marking Israel’s 67th Independence Day. In a short speech as she lit the torch, Aharish said in Hebrew that she was lighting it “for those we were but are no more, who fell victim to baseless hatred by those who have forgotten that we were all born in the image of

one God.” “For Sephardim and Ashkenazim, religious and secular, Arabs and Jews, sons of this motherland that reminds us that we have no other place, for us as Israel, for the honor of mankind and for the glory of the State of Israel,” she said, as translated by the Times of Israel. She added in Arabic that the lighting KOSHER OC MAGAZINE // APRIL 2015 |



BDS Activists Connect Baltimore Riots to Palestinians By Alina Sharon /

Anti-Israel activists promoting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement are hijacking the ongoing Baltimore riots in the latest attempt to connect such protests with the Palestinian cause, the blog Legal Insurrection reports. For example, pro-Hamas activist Max Blumenthal posted on Twitter, “I hope Baltimore PD doesn’t use he brutal fighting style it adopted from the Israeli army on #FreddieGray protestors.” Blumenthal claimed in a separate tweet that “a sound device used to disperse crowds in Baltimore, LRAD, was ‘tested on Palestinians.’” Legal Insurrection explains that Blumenthal’s source for this tweet is one of his own articles, in which he had acknowledged that LRAD is made in the U.S. “This is the same propaganda tactic used in Ferguson, where the fact that Ferguson and Israeli police used the same brand of American-made tear gas was used to try to blame Israel for Ferguson police actions,” Legal Insurrection wrote. 38


Another activist, Rania Khalek, tweeted that “like most US police depts, Baltimore police received training in Israel,” alleging that police brutality in Baltimore can be blamed on Israel because some Baltimore police officers had attended an antiterrorism seminar in Israel. Many other activists directly equated images of the Baltimore riots with images of rioting Palestinians. “It’s about inequity. #Palestine #Baltimore,” one activist tweeted.

These anti-Israel tweets fall in line

with a trend in other such cases of outbreaks of riots around the U.S., including during the Ferguson riots. In particular, the #blacklivesmatter movement has been used many times to highlight the Palestinian issue. Activists like Students for Justice in Palestine member Kristian Davis Bailey are openly advocating for the equation of mainstreaming the BDS movement in this manner. Bailey spoke at an “End the Occupation” conference as part of a panel focused on “Mainstreaming BDS & Connecting Struggles.”


Jews Are First Responders, Appreciated or Not By Ilene Schneider

Sunny California skies notwithstanding, today’s news is not pretty. Thousands of people have been killed by the earthquake in Nepal. People are rioting in Baltimore. A new chapter of negativity is coming to a campus near you next week. Anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise everywhere. Jewish people have a quick and predictable response to disasters. They rush in to help whenever and wherever possible, often before anyone else. Whether or not the rest of the world appreciates it, we do the right thing. Israelis were the first responders in Nepal, and American Jews have followed suit. “The 260-member Israeli government mission to Nepal includes an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) field hospital, a trained rescue team, and a security team, with the objectives of assisting the Nepalese people and evacuating Israeli citizens who are stranded in the country,” according to an article in (April 27, 2015). The article added that Joint Distribution Committee’s director

of communications, Michael Geller, “praised the American Jewish community for ‘coming together to support the people of Nepal,’ noting the outpouring of support and inquiries about JDC’s relief operations. ‘I think that is one of the outstanding features of the Jewish community, its ability to come together and respond to crises and to show its dedication to tikkun olam (repairing the world),’ he said.” The same article noted that “The Jewish Federations of North America is raising funds for relief efforts in Nepal, as it has done in the past for natural and manmade disasters in locations such as the Philippines, Haiti, Japan, South Asia, and elsewhere. While humanitarian groups gear up to provide both short-term and long-term assistance, the Israeli government’s direct aid mission will last at least two to three weeks. After that point, Israel will work on long-term relief with the international community.” While Jews take the high road in humanitarian efforts, world opinion seems to stay the same – or even

worse. The enormous humanitarian efforts in Nepal will do nothing to deter the Muslim Student Union (MSU) from bringing its annual week of antiIsrael speakers to the University of California, Irvine (UCI) to decry Israel as an apartheid state. What can we do? Jewish law is very specific about lashon hara (literally, evil of the tongue), making it very difficult to talk negatively about anyone. Even though lashon hara is true, we are not supposed to speak badly about anyone. We can objectively report on issues that pose threats to people, but most of us would rather believe that enough positive acts on our part will convince the rest of the world that Jews have a lot to offer. We need to continue our efforts to be at the forefront of good, while maintaining open eyes to objective reality. To paraphrase Hillel, we cannot be for ourselves alone, but we have to speak up for ourselves.




Freedoms: What Is the Intention of the First Amendment? By Robin Silver-Zwiren

The U.S. Constitution guarantees each of its citizens certain rights and freedoms. Nonetheless, there are lines that cannot be crossed. Yes, we have the right to bear arms; however, each state limits what is permissible and what is not. Imagine what a relaxing day at one of our glorious beaches would be like if everyone toted a gun? Just the other week, my homeowner’s association sent out yet another notice to remind those of us with dogs to keep them on a leash. I do know it is the cats (including my own), not dogs, using the sanded play area as a litter box, but people must adhere to the HOA rules. Anyone living in these SoCal communities knows that these rules are law, even if they limit some of our Constitutional rights. Freedom of speech, religion and assembly are others guaranteed by our Constitution. During the week of April 20, iFest, Israel Fest, was held



at UCI. It is a yearly event that takes place around Yom Ha’Atzma’ut, Israel Independence Day. On the 5th of Iyar, which was May 14, 1948, the modern State of Israel was born. For more than 2000 years, Jews continued to reside in these lands, no matter who ruled. The UN Resolutions, especially following the horrors of the Holocaust, gave new hope to Jews. The British Mandate of Palestine ended, and the State of Israel became reality. A two-state solution was offered in 1948, but Yasser Arafat, an Egyptian, refused to accept the offer. The Balfour Declaration of 1917 actually gave a large portion of the land to the Arabs. The area of Trans-Jordan, which they refused, is now Jordan. Many of the Arab Palestinian people continue to believe that the Jews do not have rights to the land, even though there are many Biblical accounts stating otherwise. Moses

led thousands of Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt to a new life in the “land of milk and honey.” King David ruled the land that his grandmother, Ruth, entered with her mother-in-law, Naomi. Even Jesus, a Jew, lived there. Meanwhile, the prophet Mohammed never lived in Israel or Judea, and it is never mentioned in the Koran. So why must Israel continue to give up land for peace? Before 1948 many Palestinian Jews, Muslims and Christians lived side by side quite harmoniously. There is no Biblical Palestinian nation. The Plishtim, who lived in Gaza, were invaders from Crete who were killed off, so adopting this as a historic start makes no sense. The “Palestinian” Arabs have no culture or language of their own. They are just like every other Middle East Arab group. More often than not, they come from other Arab lands and are in fact not even

refugees. In 1948 they left the lands where they labored, although seldom landowners themselves, and ran to neighboring areas. They thought that they would return when the Jews left. We have not and will not. Only the Jewish culture stands out in the area. Yet millions continue to believe that the Jewish State of Israel does not have the right to exist. In fact, many refer to refer to May 15, the day of Israel’s statehood, as “al Nakba,” the catastrophe. How can one make peace with those who want an end to not only the Jewish State but the Jewish people? IFest is a time for all Jewish clubs on campus to celebrate the birth of the modern State of Israel. Israel is sixty-seven years young, but the accomplishments of this proud nation are felt worldwide. Advances in technology, medicine and environmental causes are the norm. Israel boasts more college graduates than the U.S. and most other nations. In fact, where else in the region are women permitted to attend university freely? Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, the only nation where women and homosexuals have rights too. Israel is a guiding light in a bleak, terror-ridden area, but all too many see Israel as the terrorists. Loud voices were heard at UCI on how Israel murders innocents, but no Israeli has ever been a suicide bomber. The girl leading the rant was wearing tight jeans, which I know would be improper on the streets of Gaza. Another student raised a sign about being free and gay, but chances are that in Gaza she would be stoned for holding up one like that. How many of those chanting on Thursday have ever been to Israel? It is easy to condemn what you do not understand. The police watched from the iFest side. They told us that the proPalestinian faction was protected by free speech. However, when free speech incites hate, should they be stopped? What about freedom of assembly? The iFest coordinators needed to get permission to set up booths and run a program on

campus during a specific slot of time. Yet dozens of people were using megaphones and screaming for hours in protest. They made it nearly impossible for iFest attendees to hear what others were saying. I am quite certain that other students on campus also found the group of protesters bothersome. On several occasions golf carts would go by, carrying a handicapped person across campus. Even when the iFest side was crowded with people, a break would be made, allowing the cart to pass. We were taught to be respectful and to care for others. Yet, the group of hecklers stayed put. Security officers directed the carts to go around that crowd. Their excuse was that on the iFest (Jewish) side, there was no room to go around but the center area did. It was more as if they did not want to disrupt the annoying crowd. Maybe that is why these radicals continue to act so belligerently, because they get away with it. When will someone control them? In fact, why are students, some of whom may in fact not even be citizens, protected by our Constitution? Would I be protected if I were in Syria speaking against ISIS? When I was in college, there was a hunger strike held at the United Nations to protest the treatment of Jews in the Soviet Union. It was a peaceful assembly, but as the crowds grew, security was heightened. We joked that the foreigners were the ones standing on UN land, not the street, so safe from getting arrested. So why are college campuses so often disrupted today by those pushing the limits?

course, they never think to give the other perspective on how Arab leaders have continuously tossed Jews out of their lands. How many Jews were forced from their homes in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria? How many Jews were slaughtered like animals throughout history? The cost of printing Excalibur, like all student newspapers, is covered by tuition. That means that Jewish and Christian students are paying to publish this disgusting rhetoric. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement gains followers who do not truly understand the gist of the argument. At UCI we allow these groups to disrupt our daily life with their constant noisy and disturbing demonstrations. As residents of Irvine, we need to get more involved with campus life, whether our own children are at UCI or not. Students graduate from UCI and leave the community, but we remain. We need Irvine to continue to be one of the safest cities in the U.S., which it cannot be if these radicals are allowed free speech without limits. It is time to tighten the leash, maybe even to add a muzzle. The Muslim Student Union hosts AntiApartheid Week, also known as AntiIsrael Week, every year. The greater Irvine community must show solidarity for the Judeo-Christian beliefs upon which this nation was founded. During the first week of May, enter the world of UCI and show your support for democracy and Israel, the only nation in the Middle East that shares our beliefs and practices.

College campuses are supposed to educate our young. When will history lessons explain the truth, so these revisionist theories are squashed? It is bad enough that social media outlets spread these lies, but they are propagated in the classroom and lecture halls. At York University in Toronto, Canada, one student newspaper, Excalibur, is run by the Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA), and is extremely biased against Israel and the “occupation and colonization of Arab lands.” Of KOSHER OC MAGAZINE // APRIL 2015 |



The Gift of Rest by Joseph Lieberman By Robin Silver-Zwiren

“The Gift of Rest” by Joseph Lieberman is an enlightening book for everyone Jewish or not. The former US Senator gives an honest, eye ­opening explanation for why the Sabbath is not only special but essential. How important it is to set aside a day each week to not only remember our Creator but to spend with family and friends. We live in such a fast paced world that having the Sabbath nourishes and rejuvenates ­or as some say “reJewvinates” our soul. The Sabbath is a gift for all generations. Reading Joseph Lieberman’s account growing up brought some familiar memories to mind.Although he is older than I am and grew up in a different city we have shared a familiar path. I too attended Yeshiva University Torah Leadership Seminars (p. 42) and have remained friends with many that I met there. It was at these



seminars, and at NCSY events, that I came to understand how beautiful and engaging Torah experiences are. Suddenly my life had meaning outside of my public high school existence as well. Although at times in my life I was less observant I have always come back to being Modern Orthodox just like Lieberman. This attachment to our heritage shapes our path. Mine may not be as important as Lieberman’s but in Shul titles don’t matter. In Hashem’s eyes we are equals. Lieberman (p. 125) mentions a once common practice of the “Kiddish Club” that would meet while the Haftara was being read. In my Shul growing up it meant the Shul elders, often Board Members, would disappear through a back door and make a l’chaim with a shot of schnapps. I served on the Board when I was in my 20’s. I was the first “kid” to be elevated to this position. One Shabbat I followed the

men out during Haftara for my own shot. Needless to say they were not very welcoming ­nor did they serve me my own glass. The Rabbi and women in the congregation did get a chuckle out of this though. Most congregations no longer have a kiddish club. They wait until the Shul wide kiddish to have a drink. At the end of each chapter in the book Lieberman summarizes a few major points. Chapter One (p. 31) suggests doing small things during the week like buying a nice bottle of wine to have on Shabbat. In Chapter Two (p. 48) he suggests turning off cell phones, lighting candles or maybe just going outside to smell fresh air to experience Shabbat in a small way. Chapter Three (p.70) mentions blessing your children. The more traditional way is for the father to bless the children but in our home I do as well. Even though two of my children are in Israel I take

a moment to think of them, bless their well being and send a kiss across the miles. It is a way for me to reconnect and something I highly suggest for every parent. Reciting Modeh Ani every morning we thank G-­d for giving us another day. Whether we are US Senators or mothers (and writers) this prayer is a reminder that we are not alone. That it is Hashem our Creator who put us here on this earth and we have a purpose. It is up to us to make the most of our talents though. We can’t sit back and wait for good to happen we must each make the good happen. Lieberman discusses the Shema prayer (p. 94). Often the word “Shema” is said to mean “hear”. Instead, as Sir Rabbi Jonathan Sacks says, it should be “listen”. How often do we hear words but not really listen to them? During the Passover Seder we read the Haggadah. We are told to read it in a language we understand. It is not enough to just read but to understand each word telling us how we were once slaves, how it was our ancestors who traveled in the desert and received the Ten Commandments before entering the Holy Land of Israel. Not just to hear the words but to listen to them as we do when we recite Shema Yisroel Hashem our G-­d is one. Keeping Shabbat (p. 107) is not always easy. For one thing we all like to “fit in” with those around us. By taking off Saturday when many others believe Sunday to be the Sabbath automatically makes us different. By keeping kosher we further make a • • • • • •

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separation between ourselves and our co­workers. Lieberman is okay with being different. It did not stop him from running for Vice President. We are not a homogenous group. Some are politicians, some doctors and some artists. We have different likes and opinions. Keeping Saturday as a holy Sabbath is just another way for us to be different from others in society but “don’t knock it until you try it”. Jews were given the Torah (p. 114) and that sets us apart from other nations. Lieberman is happy that his children and grandchildren keep the laws. I am glad my children are doing the same. The Torah has weekly portions read everywhere. No matter where we live we all read the same each week. That is a tie that binds Jews everywhere as it has for thousands of years. With the rate of intermarriage and assimilation it is important for us to hold on to these traditions so that our descendants have the same experiences. Lieberman (p. 187) mentions the Shabbat of his daughter Hani’s Bat Mitzvah. After she shared her words of Torah a member of their New Haven Shul spoke. Although a Yale professor he was born in Germany. His family had escaped when he was young but he remembered the brutality under Nazi regime. He looked around the Lieberman living room and saw a group of teenage children being educated in Jewish day schools. Decades before he believed Judaism was dead but at this moment saw it alive and well. Six million were murdered during the

Shoah. Thousands more lost their lives during the Spanish Inquisition. Jews have lived in hiding as Marranos for hundreds of years until losing the tradition of their ancestors. If we keep diluting our heritage it will be lost. It is up to each and everyone of us to keep it alive. Judaism is an evolving, tolerant religion. Yes, there are those who are very stringent in their observances but most Modern Orthodox are not like that. We follow the principles of “Torah u­Madda”, Torah within the framework of everyday life. That is what Yeshiva University is all about when they teach Judaic and secular studies with the same enthusiasm and dedication. It is why we offer prayers for the sick whether someone is Jewish or not. The tradition of calling someone up by their mother’s Hebrew name when we say a mishebayrach prayer. However if someone is not Jewish we still say a prayer for them. Rabbi Soloveitchik (p.123) taught that if we know someone who is sick and don’t pray for them it is like passing who is ill on the street and not helping. If you saw an accident would you call 911 or continue on your way? Hashem is the ultimate 911 call. On Shabbat we do not strike a match or drive a car. Food is cooked in advance and many Orthodox homes have their crockpots going with a traditional stew. Eastern European Jews call it “cholent”, Mediterranean “hamim”. However if someone gets sick even the Shul Rabbi will call an ambulance. If a woman is in labor she need not walk to the hospital to

deliver either. In Joseph Lieberman’s (p. 165) case if there was a crucial vote in Senate on a Saturday it was his responsibility to be in the chamber. Whether it meant sleeping overnight in his office, or walking from home he attended. The public that voted him in expected it. Lieberman would not go out seeking votes on Shabbat but government emergencies was another matter. Often the security of the nation depended on it so this too went under the heading “pikuach nefesh”, to save a soul. However his political career never suffered because of his religious convictions as many people Jewish or Christian respect these beliefs. Voting on whether or not President Bush could send troops to fight Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces (p. 172) took place on Shabbat. After the vote was passed Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole called Lieberman to join him. Dole called the President to give the news. The President asked to speak to Lieberman. He could have refused to take the phone because it was Shabbat. However, especially as he was then a Democrat, it was more important for him to show support and respect to the Republican President. There is a precedent for how we act towards world leaders. If Pharaoh called Moshe Rabbeinu to his side on Shabbat he would have had to go. If Queen Elizabeth calls me with the news of her great granddaughter’s birth I too will pick up my phone! Havdallah is done at the end of Shabbat to herald in the everyday work week. Lieberman (p. 194) mentions one he experienced at Brandeis­Bardin Institute in the Similar Valley. Anyone who experienced those events as a BJE attendee knows how beautiful the experience is. The glow of the havdallah candle is not the only light. No pollution or smog just what



seems like hundreds of clear, bright stars fill the sky. The only other place I ever experienced such a sight was on my first trip to Israel when our group was at a field school in Eilat. On Friday night I joined the guys for Kabbalat Shabbat. The numbers of twinkling stars was such a beautiful sight. No scientist can ever tell me that something higher, that Hashem, could not have created these marvels. In Synagogue on Shabbat we are equals. Doctors are not in scrubs so are just like everyone else. Even the Rabbi or Chazzan is our equal. Whereas in Christianity and other religions the Priest, Bishop or Imam may be superior it is not so with Judaism. The only one above us is Hashem our G­d. Shabbat helps remind us that we don’t only have to answer to ourselves and our boss but to Him. Even though we are not supposed to plan our week during Shabbat it does give us the opportunity to think of how we are supposed to act. With religion should go moral and ethical behaviors. When Lieberman became Connecticut’s Attorney General (p.201), he told his staff about the “Front Page Rule”. The one where you had to think before you acted because the news would be made from this. We know how much quicker news is made now with the Internet so really have to think before we do something unethical. President Bill Clinton’s illicit affair became headline news few forget. Lieberman, condemned President Clinton’s affair (p.203) in 1998. He was the first Democrat to speak up against these immoral actions. He said that a President’s bad actions, even if in private, not only damage our country but the trust given by those who elected him into office. The Clinton’s Whitewater Real

Estate scandal as well as Hillary’s Benghazi faux pas, do not a President make either. I am quite certain Joseph Lieberman would agree (which may be why he is no longer a Democrat). Democrat, Republican or Independent our ethical values should not be blind sighted by those in power. To err is human­but we must trust our experts to rise above. Shabbat is a day to pray, reflect energize so we can better handle the days in between. Shabbat is the closest we can get to perfection in an imperfect world. It took Hashem 6 days to create the world and then He rested. We toil through workweek and also deserve our day of rest. In the Chapter Ten summary (p. 218) Lieberman asks how your daily work, act of service or worship aids G­d and community as well as how you can be a partner in Hashem creation. Our world is constantly evolving and there is always service to do and prayers to be said. Wishing you a week filled with blessings, spirituality surrounded by beloved family and dear friends.

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