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. It is our pleasure to serve this wonderful community.
Table of Contents FEATURED 4 Event Brings Community Together for a Great Cause 5 The Algemeiner Leads the Charge in Spreading the Truth About Israel
LOCAL 8 Temple Beth El Teens Honored at Shabbat Service
STUDENT VOICE 20 Poland-Israel: Part 1 - Children’s Forest 21 Poland-Israel: Part 2 - Connection and Excitement
ISRAEL 24 Jewish Organizations Unite to Show That Follow-Up Is Possible 26 Jewish Hoops Fairytale Falls Short as David Blatt’s Cavaliers Drop Game 6 27 Israel Remembers Fallen Soldiers of Operation Protective Edge
OPINION 30 It’s Time to Come Together 31 Israel Seeks to Keep All of Its Citizens and Visitors out of Harm’s Way 32 With Ally, Michael Oren Lifts the Veil on U.S.-Israel Relations 34 Jews Establish Connections in Unusual Places
9 Silver Gan Israel Is in High Gear 10 Graduations Galore 11 TVT Bike Israel Trip is Outgrowth of Weekly Bike Club 14 Three Women Talk About Coping with Challenges 15 Jewish Events in Orange County
JUDAISM 16 Tisha B’Av Reflection 18 Tisha B’Av, An Ode
How to Reach Us
19 The Three Weeks
KOSHER OC MAGAZINE
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• Gift Shop • Putting Green • Music Room • Pool & Spa • Synagogue • Cafe
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Walking for Rochel
Event Brings Community Together for a Great Cause By Ilene Schneider
June 21 was a picture-perfect California day – sunny, warm and slightly breezy – in the lush, verdant, open space of Mason Park in Irvine. Greeted by colorful balloon arches, brightly painted signs and pictures of a very pretty little girl, more than 500 people came together as a community to do a mitzvah. Some had beards, some had long skirts, many walked with strollers or young children in tow and most sported the attire of the day – a white shirt with purple lettering, a purple bracelet and a purple backpack. It was Father’s Day, and these people could have been in many different places, but they chose to be here where they could walk for a great cause, engage in and teach their children about many mitzvot, eat kosher barbecue and feel like part of a community. It was all part of the festive but purposeful atmosphere of Rochel’s Walk for a Mitzvah. Rochel, the protagonist of this powerful event, was not there to witness it, because she was being treated for cancer. On March 10, Rochel Andrusier, a 4-year-old girl in the community, was diagnosed with a tumor. Her road to recovery is long and expensive, but, as organizers of the event said, “We are optimistic that, with the help of G-d and all the mitzvot 4
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being done on her behalf, she will merit a complete recovery in the near future.” Unfortunately, the Andrusier family has been down this road before. Four and a half years ago, their older daughter, Mushky, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. She has made a full recovery from this terrible disease. Rochel was born three months into Mushky’s treatment, a bright ray of sunshine for the Andruiser family during this time. She is a spunky, outgoing and very affectionate child who will be undergoing heavy treatment for approximately one year.
a whole afternoon of things to do – barbecue by OC Kosher, Mountain Valley water, popsicles from Natural Choice, a candle lighting game, a find the mezuzah game, writing letters to soldiers and many mitzvah stations. “As a community, we want to do something both spiritual and physical to help the Andrusier family during this difficult period in their lives,” Dimant explained. “This event gave everybody a chance to learn, enjoy, explore and help raise funds.” Enjoy they did, and raise funds they did. There was a goal of $100,000. At press time the total was about $112,000, and organizers were hoping for more. For anyone who missed the walk, it’s not too late to make a donation. Visit www.mitzvahwalk.com for more information.
Organizers, led by Lisa Dimant, decided to bring people together to do mitzvot and raise money for the Andrusier Family in honor of a speedy and complete recovery for Rochel. In addition to walking around the lake at Mason Park, there was
Avalanche of Information
The Algemeiner Leads the Charge in Spreading the Truth About Israel By Ilene Schneider
“The Internet is a tool for organizing movements that can bring down companies or countries, but it can be used for good too,” said Dovid Efune, editor-in-chief of The Algemeiner, the fastest growing Jewish newspaper in America, and the director of its parent non-profit, the Gershon Jacobson Foundation. The Algemeiner, which delivers news and commentary from Israel, the Middle East and worldwide Jewish communities, is “leading the charge for truth about Israel,” he said last month at Beth Jacob Congregation of Irvine. It was the only publication to which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu granted an interview when he visited the United States this year. The Algemeiner, a 40-year-old publication, has gone digital in the last few years. Efune, who is credited with transforming The Algemeiner from a Yiddish-language newspaper to a major destination for worldwide Jewish news, began his talk with an anecdote: Three men were captured by Hezbollah and given a last request. The CNN reporter requested food from McDonald’s. The BBC reporter asked for an interview with the Hezbollah leader. Each was granted his request. The IDF soldier asked to be kicked in the rear end. He grabbed his captor, got his gun, killed him, found
a getaway car and rescued all of the captives. When the BBC and CNN reporters asked him why he had asked to be kicked, he replied, “I didn’t want you guys to report that I started it.” “Big media bury or hide important stories, because they think it can be a matter of life and death,” Efune explained. “Terrorists blame their actions on the death of children in Gaza when the Israelis are only doing what any other country would do, even aborting missions to protect civilians. Martin Peretz, the former editor of The New Republic, has called this phenomenon a ‘journalistic pogrom.’” Efune described the Zionist mission as defending Israel in the public sphere, and he is optimistic because the media environment is changing rapidly. “We’ve turned it on its head, with the democratization of information,” he explained. “It used to be that a few editors on top decided what was covered, and many caved to financial pressures. Today, young people go to social media, especially Facebook, to get their news. Today’s media rely on people to share information. People can demand to be heard or that information is shared. This gives us a huge opportunity to spread the information we feel is important. We can put the Zionist agenda forward.”
As an example of the power of social media, Efune related that when Mohammed Morsi was president of Egypt and referred to Israelis as “children of apes and pigs,” The Algemeiner published it in 47 minutes, something the print media could not or would not do. “Forbes got hold of it, the New York Times ran the story eight days later and finally the White House condemned it.” He added, “What we’re seeing today is the opportunity and responsibility to reach people in a different way. An article about media bias on Tablet, another online Jewish publication, got 70,000 Facebook hits. With the average person on Facebook having 1,000 friends, 7 million people saw it.” Efune said that everybody is editor-inchief of his own Facebook page, and it becomes a matter of responsibility to disseminate the right news in the right way. He quoted Elie Wiesel as saying, “When a Jewish journalist writes, he has the responsibility to write in the context of behaving as a Jewish person with Jewish sensitivity.” “Misinformation is coming from the other side,” Efune said. “In political theory the collective common sense takes over. Everybody is allowed KOSHER OC MAGAZINE // JULY 2015
to vote, but structures are in place, so that we don’t have to worry that somebody in office will destroy democracy.” Similarly, he believes that the Internet provides the potential for delivering the truth. With 60 to 70 percent of Americans being pro-Israel and about $13 billion being raised by Jewish charities going to Israel annually, the sentiments seem clear, and the negative comments online will be exposed for what they are. Still, he said, “There is a lot of ignorance.” What Efune hopes to do is “create an avalanche of information to combat that ignorance.” He believes that people who follow the news on Israel support it more. In terms of vetting the information on social media, he
said that media outlets such as The Algemeiner look at who is creating the content and then spread the word accordingly. Efune explained that there are ways to verify users on social media, so that people can monitor and filter accounts and rely on trusted sources “We have to understand what it means to be Jewish and how people apply those values to their work,” Efune said. “It was always a minority of the people who carried Judaism forward. Don’t worry about people who aren’t interested. Just think about what we can do.” Efune concluded, “The Israeli government now understands the media war. Activists and journalists can take something and run with it.
In every era the biggest influencers have been journalists like Herzl and Jabotinsky. The Palestinian Authority has a guidebook on language that casts Israel in the worst possible light. Now The Algemeiner is writing a style guide of its own.”
Tzedakah and More
Temple Beth El Teens Honored at Shabbat Service By Sara Gold
Temple Beth El in Aliso Viejo recognized more than 70 teen leaders during a Shabbat service and recognition ceremony June 5.
and David Rotter earned Leadership Builder Awards, with Jamie Kern receiving the Outstanding Leadership Award.
The night started with a Shabbat service during which graduating seniors Bryan Ruef and Josh Marr gave speeches in lieu of the traditional rabbi’s sermon.
The eighth-grade Tzedakah Board, named for the Hebrew word for “righteous behavior,” gave a presentation on the process of selecting nonprofits to receive grants.
“My four years with BESTY (Temple Beth El’s teen youth group) were great. It made me feel like a part of the community,” said Marr.
Between the students’ individual donations and fundraising efforts at the temple’s Purim carnival, the students raised more than $3,000, which temple donors matched to generate a total of more than $6,000 for the Tzedakah Board’s grant fund.
“I would like to thank my parents…and all of the rabbis, teachers, staff and youth group advisors for everything you have taught me over the years,” said Ruef, whose temple involvement includes serving on the BESTY board and teaching religious school students through the temple’s Madrikhim program. “Temple Beth El has truly been a safe haven for me and a place I call home.” Following the service, the temple hosted a leadership dinner and ceremony for the teens and their families. High schoolers Maddie Horowitz, Madi Gubner, Jack Fleitman, Adam Faskowitz, Bryan Ruef and Seth 8
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Temple Beth El’s eighth-grade Tzedakah Board donated a sum of more than $6,000 to three different charities.
The 16 students then had to conduct research and consider grant proposals from seven organizations, six of which visited the temple to make
presentations to the students. “According to the great rabbi and philosopher, Moses Maimonides, the best kind of tzedakah is when a project helps its participants and recipients become more self-supporting,” said eighth-grader Ashley Bussell. “Jewish sources also say that the charity has to respect the dignity and power of each of the recipients. We also evaluated organizations’ budgets and looked at whether their solutions were short-term fixes to the problem or aimed for getting rid of the problem altogether.” The students ultimately gifted a total of $6,080 to three different nonprofits: Chai Lifeline ($3,000), German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County ($1,280), and Jubilee USA Network ($1,800). Chai Lifeline, an organization that provides services and support for children with severe illnesses, will use the money to pay for 10 children’s cross-country trips to attend Camp Simcha in New York. German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County will use the grant money to purchase 80 low-flow feeding bowls designed to protect dogs from healththreatening bloat.
Silver Gan Israel Is in High Gear By Kosher OC Staff
Jubilee USA Network will support two rabbis touring New York, advocating legislation against the state’s “vulture fund” practices that exploit third-world countries. “We are excited at the potential of being part of something historic and impacting millions of people all over the world,” said eighth-grader Ally Neufeld.
Silver Gan Israel Day Camp has a well earned reputation of consistently being on the cutting edge of cool. This year the camp is proud to continue that tradition. In addition to the previous fun-packed programs SGI has secured yet another human hamster ball, a new Game Kart and a huge BAM (Balance and Movement) area featuring rockboards, stilts, unicycles, scooters, pogo sticks, flash riders and more. Because innovations are always complimented by great programming, the new cooking classes and weekly library visits are sure to leave kids with valuable new information.
new skills, but will enjoy a well deserved boost in self-confidence and self-esteem.” The camp program runs through Friday, August 21. Every day will be packed with activities including archery, laser tag, swimming, ageappropriate field trips, hamster ball, arts and crafts, water sliding, sports and much more. Parents will be happy to know that their children are in a safe environment. They will come home daily with new lessons, and they will make new friends, build skills and learn spirited camp songs. The highly trained and experienced counselors are positive role models and exude a special warmth. Transportation and flexible enrollment options are an added feature that makes the camp unique. Camp SGI has been accredited by the American Camp Association for nearly 50 years. ACA accreditation is the best evidence of a camp’s commitment to the highest standard of safe and thoughtful programming.
“Summer camps are designed to teach children to take healthy risks in a safe and nurturing environment,” said Sender Engel, the camp director. “With our new Balance and Movement program, children will not only build
Parents can learn more, request a camp tour and register by visiting www.CampSGI.com or by contacting Sender at (949) 381-5610 x 101 or email@example.com.
KOSHER OC MAGAZINE // JULY 2015
Celebrating in the Jewish Universe
Graduations Galore By Kosher OC Staff
Hebrew Academy held its 38th annual graduation ceremony on June 16. Addressing the graduates were Mayor Jill Hardy of Huntington Beach and Mayor Tri Ta of Westminster. Academic Honors were awarded to Miriam Geisinsky, the Judaic Award was given to Masha Rivka Marcus and the Principal’s Award went to Menucha Rivka Newman. Teachers of the Year were Marjan Jahanfard and Rochie Popack.
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Irvine Hebrew Day School held its first graduation on June 19 with five excited kindergarteners talking about what they learned and what it meant to them, followed by a presentation of certificates. “This has been such an incredible year of learning, friendship, and growth,” said Tammy Keces, M.A., principal and lead secular educator. The graduates and their families celebrated with a falafel lunch and then at a special graduation Shabbat at Congregation Beth Jacob the following day.
Tarbut V’Torah celebrated the promotions of fifth graders to middle school and eighth graders to upper school. June 11 marked the promotion of the eighth graders while on June 10 the fifth grade promotion was observed with singing and celebrating.
Olam Jewish Montessori held its graduation ceremony in June. These youngsters also participated in the graduation Shabbat at Beth Jacob.
TVT Bike Israel Trip is Outgrowth of Weekly Bike Club By Ilene Schneider
Tarbut V’Torah Community Day School (TVT) brings biking enthusiasts of all ages together every Sunday and lets them choose from two different kinds of rides. The TVT Bike Club’s activities culminated in a trip to Israel, Bike Israel 2015, from April 25 to May 4. Bike Israel featured nine days of sightseeing and bike riding in Israel. The bike rides included biking from Tzfat area to Kibbutz Menara; biking in Golan Heights (optional), then Mas’ade to Har Bental to Artists Village at Aniam; Kinar Galil Hotel by the Kinneret, circling the east side of the lake, stopping at Kibbutz Degania, then continuing to Bet Shean; biking from Bet Alfa, climbing Mt. Gilboa, vistas, Afula, Tel Megiddo, Daliat-alCarmel, Nahsholim resort; biking from Rehovot to Kibbutz Tzuba; biking from Herzliya to Jaffa and back along Tel Aviv Tayelet; biking from north end of Dead Sea to Masada; and biking from Sde Boker to near Sderot. “Our Bike Israel adventure was magnificent,” said Dr. Jeffrey Davis, TVT’s head of school and a bike enthusiast. “To experience Israel by bike is unique and unforgettable… a lifetime experience. Traveling with a remarkable group of 12 served to further enhance the experience.”
Added Len Meyers, “The people in the group who went to Israel are a fun loving, cycling crazy, independently minded, worldly and mature bunch of educational, business and medical professionals. They all displayed a high level of care, compassion and empathy towards each other, resulting in a higher level of added value and quality to the success of the group. The eight-day bike ride far exceeded my expectations and was a totally successful tour. Seeing Israel from the saddle of a bike gives one a very different perspective and feeling of the countryside. In addition, visiting the various interesting, educational, historical and biblical sites was a unique opportunity and a most memorable once-in-a-lifetime experience.” “Bike Israel 2015 was an unqualified success,” added Mark Berman, one of the participants. “I was very happy to be part of this group, and happy to be able to create and strengthen friendships along the way.” Back home, every Sunday TVT folks (and their friends) get together to ride. The youngest member of the group is in 4th grade, and the oldest – who went on the Israel trip – is in his 70s.
“Recently, 23 individuals showed up for either the beginning or intermediate trek.” Meyers talked about the appeal of the group: “Road bike cycling for me is the nearest one can get to total freedom of movement. With the wind in your face, legs pumping, moving as fast or slow as you want, up hills or down hills, one feels like a bird traveling at ground level, at the same time enjoying the various sites, sounds, smells and vistas of the countryside. According to Dr. Davis, the TVT Bike Club is open to novice and advanced riders. There are two rides to choose from every Sunday. One ride is an easy pace (12 to 15 miles per hour) for 15 miles around the Back Bay; the second ride, for the more adventurous rider, is a 30-mile ride at a moderate pace (15 to 18 miles per hour). Both rides begin at 8:30 a.m. from Starbucks Fashion Island, next to Neiman Marcus. A bike helmet is required along with a road bike in good working condition. Minors must be accompanied by parent or guardian.
“The club is growing,” said Dr. Davis. KOSHER OC MAGAZINE // JULY 2015
OUR HEARTS WERE BROKEN
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 www.rebuild.tbsoc.com 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 www.rebuild.tbsoc.com 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 ________________________
A Day of Inspiration
Three Women Talk About Coping with Challenges By Ilene Schneider
Sometimes life throws you curve balls. Three distinguished and inspiring women talked about how they handled it at “A Day of Inspiration,” an event for Beth Jacob Women and friends. Rochelle Gelman, Holocaust survivor, wife of Irving Gelman and author of a book about her experiences, talked about how she got through harrowing days of hiding during World War II. In a talk called “Miracles Happen,” Gelman related that she was born in Eastern Poland in 1924. While some of the Poles disliked Jews and were eager to help the Nazis, others risked their lives and the lives of their families to help Jews. After her parents were killed, she hid with relatives. “When the Nazis instituted Judenrein, a policy of wiping out Jews, the only way to stay alive was to find a farmer who would allow Jews to hide on his property,” she explained. “When my family found such a farmer, there was not enough room for me to stay. Eventually, I ended up with the family of Irving Gelman in a 16- by 5- by 4-foot space where the five of us couldn’t all stand or sleep at the same time.” As Gelman said, “The farmer’s wife got up very early to cook for us. She brought out the food while it was still dark, so no one would get suspicious. She took a great risk, but said ‘God will pay me back.’ Even when the farmer had a change of heart, the 14
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farmer’s wife convinced him to let us stay and still took care of us.” After the war, the Gelmans had a chance to reconnect with the farmer’s wife. For 10 years, she was unable to have a baby, but then she became pregnant. “That was her miracle; she was ours,” Gelman related. Beth Krom, Irvine city council member and former mayor, spoke on “Navigating the Twists and Turns.” She related that it had been the sixth anniversary of losing her son one week before he was supposed to graduate from college. As she put it, “While nothing can compare to hearing that news, I had grieved before when my husband was diagnosed with a neurological disease at the age of 41. I managed to use my reserve to keep all the plates spinning. I did not have the time to think. I just dipped into the well.” Krom, who never hesitates to say that she honed her leadership skills in the Jewish community, knew she needed to take the time to breathe and grieve properly. Encouraged by her daughter to get therapy, she said it “taught her how I became what I was.” She added, “It’s strange when those we give birth to give us a lot of wisdom.” She summarized, “I learned the value of being present and the need for selfcare. It took Noah’s death to humble me and show me that life is a precious
gift.” Shana Segall, who organized the highly successful Challah Bake at the Shabbos Project last fall, spoke on the topic, “Life Is a Journey. Live It.” As she said, “Some things are in our control, and some are not. There are many routes, and each has obstacles. We re-invent ourselves along the journey, and it’s best to surround yourself with people who see your potential. You’re only as happy as your unhappiest child.” Segall related that she had learned valuable lessons from the community and had seen heart, compassion, kindness and support. For instance, the Challah Bake was an experience in “light, joy, community and soul.” She offered the following pointers: be generous to yourself, look after your body, find a method you can live by, control your thoughts, meditate, control your stress devil, focus on what you would want to spend energy on, know whether you will contribute to or contaminate a situation, be nice, know that freedom lies between stimulus and response, invest in yourself, set manageable goals, be present, spend time in nature, face your fears, look for clarity, search for the truth and know your excuses. “If you feel like something is missing in your life, it’s probably you,” she concluded.
Jewish Events in Orange County Plan your month with our July 2015 events calendar of the best activities, including free things to do, festivals and our favorite picks. Celebrate the 4th of July at Ezra Center See the movie, Yankee Doodle Dandy, followed by lunch fit for all patriots. Thursday, July 2 - 10 a.m. Temple Beth Emet. (714) 776-1103
Rosh Chodesh Av Thursday, July 16 – Sundown — Community Scholar Program: A.S. 2.0 The New Anti-Semitism with Michael Berenbaum, American scholar, professor, rabbi, writer, and Academy Award-winning filmmaker, who specializes in the study of the Holocaust. Thursday, July 23 – 12:15 p.m. Jewish Federation Campus. (949) 682-4040 or www. occsp.org
Merage JCC trip to the Getty Center Take a tour of The Getty Museum, gardens, architecture and exhibition highlights or explore at your leisure. Friday, July 10 – 9 a.m. Meet at Jewish Community Center. (949) 435-3400×303 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Tisha B’Av Saturday, July 25 – Sundown
KOSHER OC MAGAZINE // JULY 2015
Tisha B’av Reflection By Robin Silver-Zwiren
The Temple was no longer ours. First there were the Babylonians, then the Romans under command of Titus. Jerusalem was like no other city at that time. Built high on a hill overlooking a kingdom, a gateway to other lands, the city was filled with riches of gold, silver and gems of every color. Most of all, it was filled with people of what we would now call Jewish affiliations. There were those strictly law abiding and intolerant living amongst the Jewish sect of Christianity. Like every city inhabited by thousands, some were wealthy, and some not. With wealth often comes depravity and greed. With poverty oven comes jealousy and lust. Jerusalem had it all, thus making it resemble Sodom and Gemorrah, cities that had been previously destroyed for their wickedness. Maybe that is why Hashem, our G-d, believed that once again we no longer deserved this blessed fortress. We had forgotten to heed His Commandments and somehow had to suffer the consequences for our actions. The Commandments were given to Moses and the Hebrews. An ancient monotheistic religion was founded by our father, Abraham. His son, Yitzchak or Isaac, continued on in the traditions of his parents. Abraham had 16
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another son, Ishmael, and from this branch comes the Muslims. Of course, where we claim rights to be called the Chosen People, the descendants of Ishmael claim the same. That is one reason why our nations seem unable to find peace — two brothers constantly fighting for what they believe is rightfully theirs. Although we can hope that these brothers grow up and realize that they could live together in peace, we have also seen over the past few weeks that this is not to be. In 1967 our tiny nation of people finally gained entrance to the ancient city of Jerusalem once again. When Commander Motta Gur called out, “The Temple Mount is in our hands,” Jews cried. When IDF Rabbi Shlomo Goren sounded the shofar at the Temple Wall, the sounds echoed throughout the land into our own homes worldwide. Imagine if there had only been Facebook in 1967! For the first time, the gates of the Old City were open to Jews from every land. To pray at the last remaining wall of the ancient Temple, the Kotel, is an experience like no other. To feel like you are standing with your ancestors who died during the Spanish Inquisition, Russian pogroms and the Holocaust is surreal. Yet, we are not
the only nation flocking through the gates. Christians can now walk the path Jesus took and pray in churches holy to them. In Muslim hands the city was cut off to others. It was looted, desecrated and ruined even more. Together we can ensure that we don’t lose the rites to the Temple site once again. We must unite as a nation. Whether Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, Democrat or Republican, we must stand together as so many of us did at the Pro-Israel Rally the other evening. We must show the world that we stand for Israel. Our enemies want us to fail. They want our infighting to break us down, but we can’t let that happen. Some of our own children have joined the IDF to help ensure that the State of Israel remains ours. We must do this for our children and future generations. Israel is our safe haven, so that the words “Never Again” ring true forever. This Tisha B’Av, take a moment to remember your Bar/Bat Mitzvah, your first trip to Israel, your personal thoughts on being a Jew. Say a prayer for the land so many of our children are fighting for. It is a day of mourning for what we have lost. Let us also pray it is a day to give thanks for what we have gained. Am Yisroel Chai
KOSHER OC MAGAZINE // JULY 2015
Tisha B’Av, An Ode By Ari Heller
Grave problems happened today, Both of them made it impossible to stay. In our homeland in which we love, Crushed by the Roman Babylonian iron glove. All of their great halls, Were destroyed and left one grand wall.
What were we to do, with our nation defeated? It wasn’t a game, but we were surely mistreated. And now with Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar, Our actions are limited, and it can’t get more bizarre. He has already exiled thousands of Jews, We must stop him before he continues to abuse.
Year Four of Solomon, he went on Mount Moriah, It was so vast from the top I could see ya. He decided to lay down his brick, Along with his mortar so thick. But had he thought about it at first? A building so grand would have to lead to the worst.
Years later, seventy-two that is, A Second Temple built like the First one, gee whiz. Somehow, again, the Temple was destroyed, This time by Titus, the mighty Romanoid. First one, now two, have been taken down, But by Mashiach’s time, to the third one we will not frown.
The First Temple began on year two-nine-two-eight, During opening ceremony when the first stone was laid. And then thirteen years later by year two-nine-three-five, The last stone positioned, and the Jews came alive. However, nearly half a millennium later with the Babylonians coming nearer, The Temple broke some bones, and shattered like a mirror.
And in our lives, to remember that day, The sorrow, the misery, and not one partay. We have a day-long fast and read the book of Lamentations, For the loss of glory and freedom of our nation.
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The Three Weeks By Kosher OC Staff & Chabad.org
The Three Weeks is an annual mourning period that occurs in the summer. This is when we mourn the destruction of the Holy Temple and our launch into a still-ongoing exile. The period begins on the 17th of the Hebrew month of Tammuz, a fast day that marks the day when the walls of Jerusalem were breached by the Romans in 69 CE. It reaches its climax and concludes with the fast of the 9th of Av, the date when both Holy Temples were set aflame. This is the saddest day of the Jewish calendar, and it is also the date of other tragedies spanning our nation’s history. Other calamities associated with Tisha B’Av: • The episode of the Golden calf (17th of Tammuz) in which the Hebrews, after their exodus from Egypt, reintroduced idolatry as a form of spirituality. • The First Crusade officially commenced on August 15, 1096 (Av 24, AM 4856), killing 10,000 Jews in its first month and destroying Jewish communities in France and the Rhineland. 1.2 million Jews were killed by this crusade that started on the 9th of Av.
• The Jews were expelled from England on July 18, 1290 (Av 9, AM 5050).
killing 85 and injuring 300 on 18 July 1994; 10 Av, AM 5754.
• The Jews were expelled from France on July 22, 1306 (Av 10, AM 5066).
• Israel’s unilateral disengagement plan, also known as the “Disengagement plan”, “Gaza expulsion plan”, or Hitnatkut, began 10 Av, AM 5765; 15 August 2005.
• The Jews were expelled from Spain on July 31, 1492 (Av 7, AM 5252). • Germany entered World War I on August 1–2, 1914 (Av 9-10, AM 5674), which caused massive upheaval in European Jewry and whose aftermath led to the Holocaust. • On August 2, 1941 (Av 9, AM 5701), SS commander Heinrich Himmler formally received approval from the Nazi Party for “The Final Solution”. As a result, the Holocaust began, during which almost one third of the world’s Jewish population perished. • On July 23, 1942 (Av 9, AM 5702) began the mass deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto, en route to Treblinka. • Most religious communities use Tisha B’Av to mourn the 6,000,000 Jews who perished in the Holocaust, including special kinnot composed for this purpose (see the main kinnot article) (in addition to, or instead of, the secular Holocaust Memorial Days.)
On the 10th of Av the following events took place: • AMIA bombing of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, KOSHER OC MAGAZINE // JULY 2015
Poland-Israel Trip: Part 1
Children’s Forest By Matana Zwiren
We walked into the Children’s Forest knowing where we were. All the people who have older siblings who have been on the TVT Poland-Israel trip said this would be the hardest part. Our parents wrote letters for us to read at the children’s forest. We were there, looking at the zigzag blue fence. Underneath the grass and flowers was where children are buried after being murdered by the terrible Nazis. I had not cried the whole trip, but at this moment I couldn’t help but cry. We were given butterfly stickers to put on the fence. Mine was purple. I put it next to a T-Shirt. The T-Shirt stuck out to me, because it said “Nachman Tuvia,” which is the name of my adopted nephew. He’s only a few months old, and seeing those two names together broke my heart. Chas V’ Shalom, but that could have been a kid his age. I opened the letter my mother wrote me. She’s an amazing writer, so obviously it got to me so much that I used up almost two packets of tissues. The best part of her letter was when she put in pictures of people in my class from preschool to third grade. I finished the letter and looked over to see my two best friends since preschool together. I walked over to Etan and Ariel to show them 20
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the pictures of all of us. While they were looking at them, I noticed how everyone was hugging someone else. My grade, which is like a family, was even more of a family now. Everyone was yad b’yad, arm in arm, hugging each other tight and crying together. We came together as a group to sing songs. The children in the grave next to us weren’t able to sing as we are. We get to grow up; they didn’t. Imagine the lives they could have had if someone hadn’t taken the chance away from them? We sang “Hamalach H’Goel,” the song you sing at night to ask Hashem to protect you from evil. I babysit a lot of kids, and I always sing this song with them before they go to sleep. When I started singing this song, I thought of all the kids I’ve watched who are so young. This could have happened to them and me. We’re so lucky and should be thankful for the lives we have. We should live life to the fullest, because these children didn’t get to. When you see
your younger sibling, cousin, friend, daughter, son and other loved ones, give them hugs. Try not to do anything you’ll regret, because you’re giving them opportunities some kids didn’t get. I’m writing this in Poland, even though every time I went to write something, I would cry. My school takes us on such an amazing trip; we get to experience Poland and Israel. From destruction to rebirth. This trip has been hard and confusing. So many more emotions have gone through each and every one’s head. We are so thankful to have these chances though. Thank you, TVT and everyone who worked so hard to make this trip possible.
Poland-Israel Trip: Part 2
Connection and Excitement By Matana Zwiren
The day has come. We’ve arrived in the holiest of lands. The land of Israel! Finally, after a week of sadness and destruction, we have come to the place that gave so many people hope. After the Holocaust there was a Diaspora between the Jewish people. Luckily, a lot of people went to Israel, even though it was still Palestine then. They knew that it was Israel, not Palestine though. We got into Ben Gurion Airport at 3:30 a.m. Shockingly, I wasn’t tired. I knew in about 3 hours I’d be reunited with my siblings after a year of separation. We got ready at the airport and freshened up. Then, we took a bus to the Tayelet. There we just looked at the beautiful view of Jerusalem. We were here, standing in a spot where 6 million Jews couldn’t stand. We were lucky; they weren’t as much. As we sat by the Tayelet before the sprinklers came on, we all sang together. One of our tour guides, Akiva, brought his guitar and as he strummed his guitar, we all put our hands around each other and sang, unified once again. Many people in my class hadn’t seen the Kotel, so the excitement grew bigger as we walked down from the Jewish Quarter. Finally, we went through security and we were there. I turned to my left to see my two
siblings, Atara and Ari, sitting and waving. I ran towards them with tears in my eyes, not just from seeing them but for finally being home again. Yes, Irvine is my home, but my heart and neshama belong in Israel. We prayed our hearts out, touching the Kotel and crying to it. We put letters we were given from parents, friends and family members into the spaces in the wall. I’ve never seen the people in my grade as connected as they were at that moment. After we went to check into our hostel, whose location was a 15 minute walk from the Kotel, we rested up for a couple of hours then woke up to go on a “water hike.”. We got to Ir David and walked through the tunnels that he built that were uncovered. Later, they found out Jews used those exact tunnels to hide out. I’ve been through the caves before, but this time it was more meaningful. We walked through and in the middle they told us to turn off all of the flash lights. It was pitch black, and our tour guide just started to sing, and we all joined in. You could hear the echoes from our voices and the unity in them. It was a little scary considering you never knew when you’d have to duck, but you had your friends guiding you through the darkness. When we were
reaching the end of the cave, we were all singing so loud that I think the people on the other side of Jerusalem heard us. The cave was such a cool experience, to be able to sing at the top of your lungs with your school family. We were guiding each other from the darkness to light. The first day in Israel was one I’ll never forget. The togetherness of the grade I’m in shocks me every day on this trip. Everyone is there for each other, I think we’re the closest grade that TVT has had. You can count on anyone, and anyone can count on you. Being in Jerusalem gives me personal inspiration, but being with my grade and being able to see my siblings makes this one of the best trips of my life. I can’t wait to see what else this trip has to offer. Even though we’re in Jerusalem, we can’t forget what happened. We were in Poland yesterday, but now we’re in Jerusalem. We can never forget or move on, because what happened was tragic. We will never forget, because if not, it may happen again.
KOSHER OC MAGAZINE // JULY 2015
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The Solution to the Birthright Dilemma
Jewish Organizations Unite to Show That Follow-Up Is Possible By Gavriel Horan
After this summer, more than 500,000 young Jews from around the world will have participated in Birthright over the past 15 years. Although Birthright successfully increases Jewish identity and pride, only a small percentage of the 43,000 participants each year actually continue to become more connected to Judaism or Israel after the initial excitement of their trip fades. Across the board, providers struggle to sustain alumni engagement in Jewish life post Birthright, and, according to a 2009 Brandeis University study, follow-up efforts were only able to engage 4 percent of participants in five or more Jewish programs after their trip. To date, Jewish organizations have searched for a viable followup plan, but nothing truly impactful and scalable has been achieved to leverage the estimated $1.5 billion already spent on Birthright. A recent groundbreaking partnership of a dozen international Jewish organizations from across the spectrum, however, may have changed the game. The key ingredient — according to program organizer, Rabbi David Markowitz, chief operating officer of Bring Israel Home, a project of Aish NY — is Jewish unity. Recently, the Bring Israel Home program brought together these high 24
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impact Jewish organizations with 11 Birthright groups, including 65 Israeli participants, to prove that effective Birthright follow-up is possible. Located in Camp Lavi in eastern Pennsylvania, the alumni and Israelis came to experience the reunion of a lifetime with their Birthright groups that included paintball, swimming, canoeing, a bungee trampoline and assorted sports, as well as lavish Shabbat meals, under the stars singing, a pre-Shabbat and havdallah concert featuring the Pey Dalid band and a midnight barbecue complete with fireworks over the lake. Most important, however, were the round-robin informational sessions with 10 follow-up organizations in the U.S. and Israel, including Masa Israel Journey, the Jewish National Fund (JNF), Our Soldiers Speak, OneTable, Hasbara Fellowships and The Alumni Community. Each organization presented its core opportunities and gave participants a chance to sign up for more information. Ninety-six of participants signed up for upcoming programs such as Masa Israel’s semester abroad or JNF community service internships in Israel. No previous efforts have come anywhere near these results. “Bring Israel Home is revolutionizing
Birthright follow-up,” Jessica Bernstein-Danino, the interim North American Director of Masa Israel, said. “We’re so happy to partner with an organization that is doing an amazing job at keeping young Jewish adults involved in the Jewish community, and we hope many of these participants will stay engaged and will return to Israel on an additional program in the near future.” The reunion was all a part of the innovative Bring Israel Home program, developed by Aish NY through a breakthrough partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), the Orthodox Union (OU) and others. Over the past three years, Bring Israel Home has successfully engaged more than 3,500 participants in meaningful Jewish experiences after Birthright. Bring Israel Home’s 100 Point Challenge engages returning Birthrighters to partake in a certain amount of Jewish activities in the three months following their trip. Participants can choose from a list of activities covering Jewish education, Israel activism and Shabbat and holiday observance. Buses with 75 percent successful completion win a megareunion with the Israeli participants from their trip flown in for the occasion. To date, more than 24,000 Jewish activities have been completed,
ISRAEL including 4,328 Shabbat celebrations and 7,398 pro-Israel activities. “By combining Jewish education, Israel advocacy and action seamlessly into an online platform that spans countries and time zones, IDF service and college classes, Bring Israel Home is taking important and significant steps to more strongly link Jews around the world and build a more unified Jewish People,” Lisa Barzilai-Lieberman of URJ said. “It’s the only program that I know of that really engages Birthright participants immediately after their return, so we catch them when they’re really excited about Israel and their Jewish journey. The 100 Point Challenge empowers participants to create their own journey – making it that much more successful and more long-lasting. I think the percentage who will continue on a Jewish journey and stay connected to Israel is very high.”
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“It’s a groundbreaking opportunity, Daniel Klein, area director, Israel advocacy and education at Jewish National Fund, said. “Through Bring Israel Home we were able to extend Birthright for an extra 3 to 6 months with a lot of engagement and cap it off with this incredible weekend. I can’t believe we haven’t been doing something like this since the beginning of Birthright.” Klein explained that after a similar JNF presentation on a college campus, the organization may get one or two signups and a few others who express interest in receiving information sometime in the future. During the retreat alone, however, JNF had more than 50 participants sign up. “You can’t even put the value into words,” he said. According to Klein, the message of the weekend was the power of Jewish unity. “The only way we can succeed is by uniting diverse Jewish organizations together in this way. Together we are unbeatable.” To donate to Bring Israel Home or to join as partner, please contact David Markowitz at (212) 921.9090. KOSHER OC MAGAZINE // JULY 2015
Jewish Hoops Fairytale Falls Short as David Blatt’s Cavaliers Drop Game 6 By Jacob Kamaras / JNS
A fairytale ending to Jewish basketball coach David Blatt’s first season in the National Basketball Association (NBA) was not meant to be, as the Blatt-led Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night dropped Game 6 of the NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors, 105-97, to lose the best-of-seven series 4-2. Blatt, who just last year coached Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv franchise to a European basketball championship, failed to finish a second straight hoops season on top. But after the Cavaliers began the NBA season 19-20, Blatt
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engineered a significant turnaround that saw the team end the regular season 53-29 and make its secondever NBA Finals. In the photo below, taken by Bob Jacob of the Cleveland Jewish News, Blatt addresses the media after Game 6.
Israel Remembers Fallen Soldiers of Operation Protective Edge By Kosher OC Staff & JNS
…And so they stand, the light on their faces, and the Lord alone passes among them, with tears in His eyes He kisses their wounds, and He says in a trembling voice to the white angels: “These are my sons, these are my sons.” - The Parade of The Fallen / Hayim Hefer
Israel on Monday, July 6, held a ceremony marking one year since last summer’s Operation Protective Edge against Hamas in Gaza at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem. “It was a moral and just campaign
undertaken by a sovereign state to defend its citizens,” Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said at the ceremony. “Men, women, children, and the elderly were exposed to the terror of death and the shock waves that follow,” said Rivlin. During the 50-day conflict with Hamas, 66 IDF soldiers and six Israeli civilians were killed. Attending the ceremony were bereaved family members and IDF soldiers who fought in the Gaza war. The commander of the Golani Brigade’s 12th Battalion, Lt. Col.
Shay Siman Tov, who sustained serious injuries in the operation, read the mourner’s kaddish from his wheelchair. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted that Israeli commanders last summer kept the letters children wrote to them on the walls of their command center, saying that it “gave the IDF soldiers the extra strength to fight our enemies. They did so with utmost regard for the laws of war and the IDF’s value of purity of arms.” May their memory be blessed.
KOSHER OC MAGAZINE // JULY 2015
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It’s Time to Come Together By Ilene Schneider
The most recent iteration of the Pew Study revealed that Orthodox Jews are a small but growing segment of the American Jewish population, Reform and Conservative Jews are losing numbers and the fastest growing segment of the Jewish population is unaffiliated. Should we be worried? “More of the Jewish tradition is vanishing in present conditions of security and prosperity than ever vanished in past conditions of oppression and poverty,” wrote Leon Wieseltier in Tablet. “Speaking strictly, what we are celebrating in America is not Judaism and the Jewish tradition and the Jewish difference, but what is left of Judaism and the Jewish tradition and the Jewish difference.” What Wieseltier is saying is that even among Jews who consider themselves to be affiliated, many are segmented into narrow interests without delving into the bigger picture. “Religious Jews know almost nothing of our secular traditions and secular Jews know almost nothing of our religious traditions,” he went on to say. “Everybody, in sum, appropriates only what suits them, what tickles them, what affirms them, without any sense of obligation toward the totality of our resources, without any appetite for the work that would be required by a 30
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more comprehensive fidelity, without any sensation of responsibility for the legacies of Jews who are not like themselves.” How can we bring people together and keep them in the fold? In my humble opinion, it is both a matter of communicating a sense of substance and creating a feeling of community. For much of the time that they have been in America, Jews have been interested in showing that they are just like anyone else. Free of quotas and other restrictions that existed in other eras, Jews can live, work and be educated anywhere they choose. While freedom and fitting in are good things, Jews need to understand what makes them different as well. Without a concept of our own religious practices, Jews may indeed feel too much like everyone else. Then there is the feeling of community. Do we extend ourselves to get acquainted with members of our congregations and Jewish organizations? Do we go beyond our own affiliations to understand the broader Jewish community? Are we willing to drive a few miles to hear the lecture or attend the class being offered by another congregation or an organization to which we might not
belong? Statistics are only helpful if we take the appropriate actions to work toward the desired outcome. Commitment, compassion and authenticity will pave the way to a more engaging and enthusiastic American Jewish population.
The Safe Side of the Road
Israel Seeks to Keep All of Its Citizens and Visitors out of Harmâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Way By Robin Silver-Zwiren
Israel is the safe side, but the other day the forces were mobilizing. In Katzrin, and surrounding areas, we lost our WiFi-Internet power. We were blacked out for several hours which in this day and age seemed like forever. Needing to do something, and, of course, being a bit curious, we took a drive. Heading north from Katzrin, we drove through suspicious low black clouds. Of course, they were actually blasts from the Syrian side, which was not too far away. Syrian President Bashar Assad organized his army to fire on military posts now controlled by rebels. The city of Khadar is not far away from the rebel outpost and control. These are rebels who kill Druze Christians for refusing to accept their extreme Muslim beliefs. We saw the IDF and Israeli police gathering. They were closing off sections but most importantly doing whatever possible to protect Israeli citizens, regardless of whether they are Jewish, Christian or Muslim. Of course, we drove on. Alonei haBashan and Ein Zivun were quiet. With some protexia, we drove into the U.N.-secured area. Only two guards were at the gate to stop us. They said they did not know about
anything going out, but returning to the main road we saw several U.N. vehicles traveling north. I guess they were not permitted to talk, and with the blackout, we did not have access to the news. Majdal Shams is a Druze village within the Israeli borders. The residents live at peace with their Jewish neighbors. In fact, so do the Muslims who live in many Israeli cities. Muslims are free to roam the many Jewish-built malls. Muslim women can sit in cafes and on buses with their friends without the male chaperones that would be a requirement in the Arab world. Across the border, in the Syrian city of Quneitra, even the Druze are terrorized by Muslim neighbors. There is no peace in these lands; yet the countries on Israelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s borders think they can rule peacefully. We drove as far north as we could before being turned back. Be aware the trouble was not on the Israeli side. Yet there was a code red on this side of the border as a precaution from Syrian rebels, from people murdering innocent Druze. If the Druze on the Israeli side want to stand up against what is happening to their brethren, who can blame them? Thanks to the IDF and Israeli police who are protecting all their citizens. KOSHER OC MAGAZINE // JULY 2015
With ‘Ally,’ Michael Oren Lifts the Veil on U.S.-Israel relations By Ben Cohen / JNS
It’s safe to say that in the coming weeks, you’ll be reading a great deal about the forthcoming memoir, “Ally,” authored by Israel’s former ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren. Oren spent the years 2009-13 as Israel’s envoy in Washington. Once a dual national of both the U.S. and Israel, the New Jersey-raised Oren had to surrender his U.S. passport at the American Embassy in Tel Aviv before taking up his ambassadorial post—an emotionally wrenching episode that he describes in detail. Oren’s complicated identity as an American and an Israeli is a theme that runs throughout the book, and his treatment of this subject is a welcome tonic to the dreary and rather smelly charges of “dual loyalty” that too often accompany examinations of the relationship that Jews in the diaspora have with the Jewish state. The main attraction of the book, of course, is its account of the Obama administration’s Middle East policies, and Oren’s candor has already gotten him into trouble. Dan Shapiro, the current U.S. ambassador in Israel, who makes several appearances in Oren’s memoir, this week told Israel’s Army Radio that “Ally” is “an imaginary account of what happened,” going on 32
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to belittle Oren for having, as a mere ambassador, a “limited point of view into ongoing efforts. What he wrote does not reflect the truth.” This is a serious charge, and it remains to be seen if Shapiro will attempt to substantiate it. In the meantime, it should be pointed out that what makes “Ally” such a fascinating read is that it provides, from Oren’s perspective, a detailed sense of the bitter atmosphere in both Washington and Jerusalem that underlay diplomatic efforts on the issues we are all intimately familiar with, from the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program to the stalled IsraeliPalestinian peace process. Unlike other diplomats, Oren didn’t wait 20 years to publish his story—most of the key individuals in his book, most obviously President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, are still in power, and the bilateral tensions which Oren agonizingly explains haven’t been lessened since his departure from Israel’s Washington embassy. Diplomats aren’t supposed to be this transparent, which is why Oren will be regarded in many circles as a man who broke “omerta,” the code of silence which ensures that us ordinary mortals are kept in the dark about what our leaders are saying in private.
While it’s true that Obama comes in for heavy criticism, Oren rubbishes the claim that the president is “antiIsrael.” The reality is more complex; as Oren writes, “the Israel [Obama] cared about was also the Israel whose interests he believed he understood better than its own citizens.” One might add that this paternalistic approach has informed Obama’s stance on the entire region, resulting in a sly policy that presents itself to Americans as a much-desired withdrawal from the Middle East’s endless bloodshed while, at the same time, fundamentally redistributing the region’s balance of power in favor of Iran, whose rulers have spent almost 40 years chanting “Death to America.” The reader is struck, reading Oren’s analysis of Obama’s policy speeches, by how often the president has used the phrase “I’m not naive”—surely a case, as Shakespeare might have put it, of “our elected leader doth protest too much.” On a visit to Turkey in April 2009—his first visit abroad—Obama emphasized his personal regard for that country’s irascible leader, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, pointedly adding “I’m not naive.” He reached for this formulation again in an address to the U.N. General Assembly the following September, in
OPINION which he articulated the demand for a “contiguous” Palestinian state. “I’m not naive,” Oren quotes the president saying, “but all of us must decide whether we are serious about peace or whether we will lend it lip service.” “All of us,” as Oren’s book makes clear, was really code for “Israel,” and, specifically, Netanyahu. The fork-tongued Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, never experienced the same degree of diplomatic pressure from the Americans, and nor was he subjected to the kind of ugly whispering campaigns that have targeted Netanyahu. Ironically, though, Obama’s zeal to resolve the Palestinian question by insisting on the 1967 lines as the border between two sovereign states actually boxed in the Palestinian leader. Despite Abbas’s apparent willingness “to concede parts of the West Bank and East Jerusalem to Israel,” Oren says, “the White House continued to condemn Israeli construction in some of the very areas that Abbas offered to forgo.” Obama’s visceral opposition to settlements also placed Abbas in an awkward position when it came to other potential concessions from the Palestinian side. “Mahmoud Abbas,” Oren memorably writes, “could not be less Palestinian than Obama.” On Iran—the source of a truly existential threat to Israel—Oren’s book offers little in the way of comfort. Oren recalls hearing Israel’s late prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, warning in the early 1990s that Iran “was covertly working to produce nuclear bombs”—a deadly prospect that has been kept alive in the ongoing negotiations with Tehran. In Obama’s eyes, though, this reality has been inverted. “When I came into office, Iran was united and the world was divided,” Oren quotes the president asserting. “And now what we have is a united international community that is saying to Iran, you’ve got to change your ways.” Somehow, somewhere along the line, the successive U.N. Security Council resolutions demanding an end to
Iran’s enrichment activities must have disappeared. Since none of the problems described in “Ally” have been resolved—if anything, they have been exacerbated—the book can be regarded as an important reality check for those readers who still believe that the current administration has Israel’s back. Oren recalls a “fuming” Susan Rice, who now serves as Obama’s national security adviser, telling him, “If you don’t appreciate the fact that we defend you night and day, tell us. We have other important things to do.” The contemptuous tone isn’t the most worrying aspect of this remark; rather, it’s the absurd implication that the security relationship between the U.S. and Israel flows in one direction only. The vital fact that Israel fights its own wars and doesn’t require American troops to risk their lives for its security again appears to have been overlooked. As we head towards the ostensible climax of the Iran negotiations on June 30—which will likely be accompanied by a renewed assault on Israel’s legitimacy stemming from the publication of the U.N.’s biased report on the Gaza conflict of July and August 2014—the timing of Oren’s book couldn’t be better. My modest advice, then, is to ignore the background noise, read the book, and decide for yourselves whether or not the smothering “chibbuk” (Hebrew for hug) in which the U.S., under Obama, has placed Israel is in the best interests of the world’s only Jewish state.
KOSHER OC MAGAZINE // JULY 2015
Six Degrees of Separation
Jews Establish Connections in Unusual Places By Robin Silver-Zwiren
“Six Degrees” is what we are led to believe is the separation between peoples. If you meet someone at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and start to chat, eventually you will find someone you both know. Six degrees is fine for the mass population, but somehow it never seems to take that long for Jews to connect — sometimes in places you would never believe possible. I flew Aeroflot to Israel (which is an experience in itself). Sitting on a plane with about 500 other passengers, lots of Russians and Armenians, I mentioned to the gentleman sitting next to me how I wonder about the number of languages being spoken on board. He informed me he speaks seven. We got to chatting about how this was common with pre- WWII Europeans who were so used to their home countries being overthrown and borders changing that they learned to speak the languages of neighboring ones. He gave me a bit of Russian history — that when the entire land mass was the USSR, people learned to speak more than one language. He speaks both Russian and Ukrainian, as well as some common European languages and English. With the job he did, he certainly needed many. It was a long flight with lots of opportunities to chat. 34
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Then the six degrees were forgotten when he asked me if I was Jewish. It is not something I readily discuss on flights, especially one flying to Russia. I do not cover my hair and, in fact, was wearing pants, so it was not as if I looked like the typical Orthodox Jew. Yet he knew. How? Because he is Jewish too. In fact his grandfather was a rabbi. He admits it did not help him when working for the Soviet government but is proud of his heritage. We are flying the Arctic route which means straight north from LA and over Canada. I mentioned that I am from Montreal. He told me he visited relatives there once. Suddenly it clicks: I know his Montreal relatives. He shows me his passport and very Jewish sounding name. The last name is different than the original one he first mentioned, because that was his maternal side. No worries: I know the paternal cousins too. I joke that if we go any further, we may even be related. Actually, I think a distant cousin’s wife is related to them. I will have to ask my father, who I know will be very happy to share everything he knows about Lev’s Montreal relatives. Forget the six degrees of separation, because we live in a small (Jewish) world after all. - Bon Voyage
KOSHER OC MAGAZINE // JULY 2015
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