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 Irvine Local Makes Aliyah
LOCAL 6 JFFS Changes Leadership to Prepare for the Future 7 Former TVT Staffer Named CIJE West Coast Technology Specialist 8 Olam Montessori Schedules Summer Activity 9 Temple Beth Sholom Comes Home 10 Rabbi Amittai Steindler Joins Irvine Hebrew Day School as Jewish Studies Director and Educator
Israel 18 Former Ambassador Discusses His Book and the Complicated Relationship Between America and Israel 20 Jonathan Pollard, Long-Imprisoned Jewish Spy, to Be Released Nov. 20 21 Berenbaum Discusses Judaism and Israel
Opinion 26 How Can We Fix the Flaws in the Iran Agreement? 27 Exploring the Many Cultures of the Golan
12 Temple Beth El Announces Prospective Member Shabbat 13 Jewish Events in Orange County
How to Reach Us
14 The 15th of Av
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Feeling of Belonging
Irvine Local Makes Aliyah By Sara Gold
When David Girsault arrived at Ben Gurion Airport on July 14, ready to make Israel his home, he was amazed by the festivities that greeted him and the other 220 immigrants making Aliyah. “There is nothing like getting out of the bus after several exhausting days of packing and traveling, to be welcomed by hundreds of Israelis, wildly dancing to the beats of Jewish music,” said Girsault, 36. “I immediately felt that I was back where I belonged.” Born in France, Girsault had taken several trips to Israel with his family during his childhood. At the age of 15, he decided that his dream was to make Aliyah and live in Israel permanently.
“It became self-evident that living in Israel is a Torah commandment and that a sincere, fulfilling, intellectually 4
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honest Jewish life can only be lived in the land of Israel,” he said. “It took me a few years of hard work until I was finally able to make that dream come true.” In 2002 he moved from France to Irvine, where he worked as a computer engineer. His favorite pastimes in Orange County included kayaking in Newport Harbor, watching movies at the Irvine Spectrum and taking improv classes at South Coast Repertory. Girsault was also involved with Beth Jacob Congregation of Irvine, Orange County Sephardic Community of Irvine, Young Israel of Orange County and Chabad at UCI. In March, Girsault started his Aliyah application through Nefesh B’Nefesh, a nonprofit organization that works with the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency for Israel to enable people worldwide to immigrate to the Jewish homeland. Rabbi Zevi Tenenbaum, co-director of Chabad at UCI, helped Girsault secure the required proof of Judaism and provided him with emotional support. After passing an interview at the Jewish Federation in Los Angeles, Girsault was officially approved to immigrate to Israel. He is now living in a Jerusalem apartment with his
mother, who was already living in Israel before his arrival. Between now and October, when he will move to Haifa to study at an ulpan, Girsault plans to travel around Israel, including visiting Tzfat and spending time at the beach in Tel Aviv. “To me, living in Israel means being surrounded by an environment that matches my lifestyle,” Girsault said. “I can walk on the street and see a pregnant woman reading some Tehillim before getting inside her car, or a man studying Gemara while waiting for the bus. I can go shopping at the farmer’s market and only see kosher food. I can try any of the dozens of synagogues that are only a few minutes away from my house.” He urges other Orange County Jews to join him in making Aliyah. “The feeling of belonging that I get here, compared to the U.S. or anywhere else in the world, is significant,” Girsault said. “Follow God’s commandment to Avraham Avinu: don’t just go to Israel, but hurry to Israel.” For more information on Nefesh B’Nefesh, visit nbn.org.il
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Time of Transition
JFFS Changes Leadership to Prepare for the Future By Ilene Schneider
Lauren Gavshon, interim CEO of Jewish Federation & Family Services.
Jewish Federation & Family Services Orange County (JFFS) announced on July 22 that Shalom Elcott was moving into an advisory role and Dr. Lauren Gavshon, who had served as JFFS’ current director of clinical services, was named as interim president and chief executive officer. While the move surprised some community members, it was described as part of a strategic plan. “This move is part of a long-term strategy to equip and position JFFS for the next decade in its service to the Jewish community of OC, the broader community, and in its ties to Israel,” according to a JFFS spokesperson. “It is time to begin a new era of leadership, something that successful organizations often do, to prepare for their future.” Elcott’s 10-year tenure – representing 20 percent of JFFS’s 50-year history – was marked by innovation and growth, particularly significant in view of the tumultuous challenges of a financial downturn in the US economy and the student environment at UCI. He was described as a visionary leader who fundamentally transformed JFFS into the robust and diverse organization it is today.He will be assisting with the transition and serving as strategic adviser to the chair of the board for the 6
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next several months. “Shalom leaves JFFS with a solid foundation, having developed and led a series of successful initiatives such as Solomon Society, the SKILLSETnpo® leadership program, the Family Philanthropy Venture Fund, and many other programs that are today pillars of the Jewish community. Of particular note is the JFFS/Jewish Community Foundation/Harold Grinspoon Foundation partnership to build legacy support, a project that flourished under Shalom’s guidance,” said Daniel J. Koblin, chair of the JFFS Board of Directors.
demonstrated sound and innovative leadership.” He described her as “a natural bridge builder with an outstanding track record, and we are delighted she has agreed to serve in this capacity.”
Koblin added, “Shalom further cemented our strong ties with Israel, connected our community to the rich history of global Jewish life, and energized an entirely new generation of community leaders. He continued this trend of building bridges, one of which resulted in the JFFS Rose Project, a pioneering initiative to support Jewish life on OC campuses. Today, with the addition of the Jewish Campus Leadership Institute, all three OC universities have benefited greatly, in particular the University of California Irvine which now has a Department of Jewish Studies headed by a full-time professor.”
Prior to her 2011 appointment as JFFS director of clinical services, Dr. Gavshon held top leadership positions at the John Henry Foundation and Miramar Health, Inc., where she spearheaded significant growth in the organization’s programs, services and partnerships. Among her achievements at JFFS, Dr. Gavshon has: built and opened Mandel House, the first Jewish residential home in Orange County for adults with special needs; built strong partnerships with JFFS Community Partners and affiliates including Tarbut V’Torah Community Day School, the Bureau of Jewish Education, the Merage Jewish Community Center of Orange County, the Orange County Board of Rabbis, Children’s Hospital of Orange County, Mission Hospital, Mariners Church and Hoag Hospital; and created and streamlined procedures for all JFFS Family Services programs, including the transition to an Electronic Health Records System to create greater operating efficiency and to increase revenue.
Of Dr. Gavshon, Koblin said that she is “well-positioned to take on this expanded role,” having “repeatedly
As interim president and chief executive officer, Dr. Gavshon will work with the JFFS executive
Former TVT Staffer Named CIJE West Coast Technology Specialist By Kosher OC Staff
team to facilitate a smooth transition of leadership while overseeing the foundational elements of the organization including operational oversight, community engagement, philanthropic involvement, grant making, and involvement with Israel and overseas communities. According to the spokesperson, “She has the support and complete confidence of the JFFS Board and staff. The responses shared with us have been overwhelmingly positive regarding the JFFS board’s choice of Dr. Gavshon.” The JFFS board will be working with a national search firm to review options for a permanent CEO. According to recruiters, this kind of search can take six months or more. The spokesperson concluded, “We look forward to strengthening our team internally, and to strengthening JFFS’ partnerships with a host of community organizations. We are excited about JFFS’ future.”
The Center for Initiatives in Jewish Education (www.thecije.org), which partners with Jewish day schools to provide engaging curricula, teacher training and advanced technology, has named STEM educator Yossef “Yossie” Frankel as a technology specialist in its West Coast school program. In this newly-created position, Frankel will work with teachers and students at many of the California schools on STEM curriculum. The CIJE program helps students to acquire reasoning skills, creativity and engineering fundamentals. He will also act as CIJE’s technology expert on new hardware and educational software nationwide and will be part of the CIJE programming development team. Prior to joining CIJE, Yossie was director of the Consortium for Information and Academic Technologies, a multi-school, International, consortium that helps Jewish day schools effectively integrate 21st Century Educational Philosophy. Since 2009, he has also served as IT director at Shalhevet High School, in Los Angeles. Prior to that, Yossie was director of academic technology at Tarbut V’ Torah (TVT) Community Day School, in Orange County, where he taught STEM robotics courses. TVT recently hosted a CIJE science fair.
In 2007, Frankel completed the instructors course from the worldrenowned Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute. Earlier in his career, he was twice nominated as a Disney “Teacher of the Year” for his innovations in teaching middle school science. “Yossie’s passion is helping Jewish schools the world over discover what a 21st Century Education really means and how it affects our children — the future of the Jewish People,” says Jason Cury, CIJE president. “We look forward to his involvement in growing the CIJE program in California and ensuring excellence in California CIJE programs.” “I am so excited to be joining the CIJE team,” Frankel says. “CIJE offers an outstanding and unique curriculum that is similarly aligned with my longstanding vision and focus of experiential STEM education.” Frankel is a member of the International Society for Technology Education (ISTE) as well as numerous California teachers associations. In addition to his IT and education career, Frankel has worked as both a Mashgiach and a paramedic instructor trainer. Frankel, who received a BSc in Math from the University of Winnipeg, lives in the Pico-Robertson area of Los Angeles with his wife, Batsheva, and two children.
Kosher oc Magazine // August 2015
Olam Montessori Schedules Summer Activity By Ilene Schneider
Olam Montessori of Beth Jacob invites all children ages 2 to 6 from the community to participate in the August Summer Fun Days. On Sunday, August 9, the Summer Fun Day will feature a petting zoo and pony rides presented by Happy Hooves: http:// www.happyhoovesoc.com Because space is limited, organizers request that participants RSVP with names, ages and number of children who would like to participate. The cost is $20 per child including lunch. Please pay with cash or check (made out to Olam Jewish Montessori of Beth Jacob) on the day of the event. Please bring a change of clothes and apply sunscreen before coming! â€“ For questions or to RSVP (please include name of child, age and contact number) please email: summerfun@ olamjewishmontessori.com
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Temple Beth Sholom Comes Home By Ilene Schneider
“Return and Renewal: The Journey Back to Temple Beth Sholom” is rapidly becoming a reality. After a devastating fire and 18 months of being wandering Jews, with services and events held at various locations and day-to-day operations conducted out of a trailer, Orange County’s first Jewish congregation is coming home. The celebration of returning the Torah scrolls to the Ark and dedicating the sanctuary will take place on Sunday, August 30, at 4:30 p.m. at Temple Beth Sholom, 2625 North Tustin Avenue, Santa Ana. It will include a Torah processional, a mezuzah hanging, a sanctuary ceremony and a chance to get reacquainted with the building the congregation called home for so long and missed so much. Rabbi Heidi Cohen and Cantor David Reinwald will perform the service of dedication, accompanied by the adult choir and child singers. The event will be family-friendly for all ages and meaningful to many people who have been part of the congregation’s 72-year history. “It will be a chance for everybody to say, ‘Ah, we’re home,” said Michele Shugarman, vice president worship. While the building will feel like home, it will have many new features, including
a clean remodeled façade, a wall of Jerusalem stone with jeweled glass windows, an art gallery, a “living room” that acts as a greeting place and an administrative wing. The library, board room and gift shop will be enlarged and embellished.
She concluded, “People are aching to get back. It’s time for us to be home.”
The sanctuary is being remodeled in such a way as to call attention to the sacred space, improve the sound quality and offer accessibility throughout. There will be new upholstery, flooring and lighting, much of which keeps the flavor of the building as it was but makes it more dramatic, Shugarman said. The kitchen, where the fire started – and at first appeared to be contained – has undergone a complete modernization and revitalization. It should be ready for one of the congregation’s signature projects, Mitzvah Meals that feed hungry people all over the county, sometime in September. “I have a great passion for TBS, and seeing this project come to fruition is a dream come true,” Shugarman said. “The committee has worked nonstop to help us get back into the building by the High Holy Days, representing hundreds of hours of dedication.”
Kosher oc Magazine // August 2015
New Faculty at IHDS
Rabbi Amittai Steindler Joins Irvine Hebrew Day School as Jewish Studies Director and Educator By Ilene Schneider
“Moving back to Irvine was on our radar since we moved to New York five years ago,” said Rabbi Amittai Moshe Steindler, Irvine Hebrew Day School’s new Jewish studies director and educator. Rabbi Steindler grew up in Irvine, where his parents were founding members of Beth Jacob Congregation, and he attended Tarbut V’ Torah Community Day School. When he learned that IHDS was looking for an educator, he said, “Everything fell into place. I couldn’t ask for a better place to be, with likeminded people and the excitement of starting something new.” Rabbi Steindler believes that Orange County is a special place to be Jewish. For one thing, he said, it is a diverse community, “not ingrained in stereotypes.” To show how Torah is involved in every aspect of the world, he envisions holding a shacharit service on the beach and then going surfing with students. Secondly, he thinks this is a place “where we can build from scratch, and as in the motto of the school, establish new roots.” He wants to plant those roots in Torah and mitzvah observance “in this vibrant community and see them blossom in new ways.” For instance, Rabbi Steindler wants to teach young people how to pray, 10
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not merely how to read the siddur and go through the motions. “We have to teach kids to communicate with God in a meaningful way, to connect to the words in a personal way as a community,” he said. Starting from kindergarten, he wants to use a special, kid-friendly siddur that is “vibrant, beautiful, colorful and helps with essential questions.” When the children recite the modeh ani in the morning, they need to understand why they are thankful and what it means to be alive, he explained. Rabbi Steindler wants to take his creativity and experience and use it to help build “a learning community, not just a school of teachers and students.” He studied visual arts, geology and archaeology and spent two years studying Jewish Studies in the Old City of Jerusalem. In 2008 he graduated with a BS in anthropology and highest honors from UC Santa Cruz, where he wrote his senior thesis on the success of the Chabad movement in Northern California. Awarded the Demian Marx Travel Scholarship, he interned for an organization in Jerusalem that promotes interfaith dialogue, as well as a drop in center for at-risk youth. After two more years of study in Jerusalem at Ohr Someyach and David Shapell College of Jewish
Studies, he and his family moved to New York where he has been studying for rabbinical ordination at Yeshiva University. In 2014 after teaching Talmud and TaNaCh with a school fellowship at SAR High School in the Bronx, he graduated from YU’s Azrieli School of Jewish Education with an MS in Jewish Education. Most recently, he was finishing his rabbinical studies while teaching Talmud parttime in a fellowship program at Ramaz Upper School in Manhattan. “Education is one of the strongest Jewish values, and IHDS is looking to foster community learning that is strong in the Jewish tradition,” Rabbi Steindler said. He wants to go beyond the traditional four walls to offer parent-child classes, adult classes, classes in senior living homes and continuing education for teachers. Rabbi Steindler, who recently arrived in Irvine with his wife, Julianne, who is principal at Stein Rose Fine Art, dealing in contemporary art from Israel, and their children, Yaakov Leib (almost 5) and Temima Pesya (1), enjoys “expressing lofty ideas in the language of children, learning from them, inspiring them and watching them grow.” He concluded, “The innocence of childhood is inspiring. It shows that life at its core is very
simple and very sweet. I can’t wait to get into a classroom and be with the kids.” **** IHDS also welcomed “two of the most highly dedicated, passionate, creative and inspirational teachers to our educational team.” With more than 60 years of combined teaching experience, Debra Emerson and Ilene Mountain have joined the general studies teaching staff and the IHDS community. Kindergarten teacher Debra Emerson spent the past eight years teaching kindergarten and first grade. “Morah Debra” is known by all of her students and colleagues to bring her big smile and caring nature to school each day. She has extensive experience as a GATE teacher and in implementing Positive Discipline, Singapore Math, Lucy Calkins Workshop and FOSS science. Emerson has her Clear Multiple-Subject Teaching Credential, and her love of teaching shines through her daily interactions and relationships with both students and parents. She believes that children develop a love of learning through inquiry-based and experiential learning, meaningful projects, student collaboration and dramatic play.
Emerson enjoys spending her free time with her family, traveling to Africa and Mexico to volunteer. She loves animals, is an avid reader and has an extensive library of children’s literature that she generously shares with her students. One of Morah Debra’s favorite quotes is, “Write it in your heart that every day is the best day of the year” (Ralph Waldo Emerson). Ilene Mountain, first grade educator, is known in the educational world as a collaborative, creative, innovative 21st century teacher and lifelong learner. “Morah Ilene” has a true love of teaching that shines through in her warm and kind ability to connect with all students and parents. She is thrilled to be teaching at IHDS and looks forward to bringing her background in coding, next generation science, engineering and robotics to the classroom. Mountain holds an Elementary Teaching Credential, is a Language Development Specialist and GATE teacher. She has also worked as an English as a Second Language instructor, ACCESS and High School Diploma Lab teacher in all Core subjects, substitute teacher at Juvenile Hall and Summer Reading and Engineering Academy teacher.
in the public schools for more than eight years and also taught pre K –2nd grades for eighteen years at University Synagogue Religious School. In her free time, Morah Ilene enjoys volunteering at her synagogue, spending time with her daughter as a Mitzvah Maker and plans to learn Yiddish this coming year. **** Irvine Hebrew Day School is honored to have been awarded a Jewish Community Foundation of Orange County grant to support its new interactive Jewish educational arts program, Chagiga Shel Yitzerah (Celebration of Jewish Creativity). This program engages students in visual and performing arts, celebrating individual expression by using a variety of artistic media to convey Jewish texts, ideas and values. The school is grateful to the JCF for the opportunity to provide the community with this exciting program. For more information, contact Irvine Hebrew Day School, 3880 Michelson Drive Irvine; (949) 478-6818; http://www.irvinehebrewday.org
Mountain has taught grades K-2 Kosher oc Magazine // August 2015
Meet, Greet, and Eat
Temple Beth El Announces Prospective Member Shabbat By Ilene Schneider
When Temple Beth El of South Orange County holds its annual Prospective Member Shabbat, there will be many more established members than new ones. The event, slated for Friday, September 4, is “more like an end-ofsummer party where people can get reacquainted with temple programs, temple leaders and each other,” according to Bonni Pomush, executive director of the combined Reform and Conservative congregation in Aliso Viejo. At 5 p.m. Pomush expects that “our banquet hall will fill up with congregants – new, old and prospective — while they check out the different opportunities to get involved in the synagogue community. The event is a unique blend of appetizers and showcase as component organizations, such as Sisterhood, Men’s Club, BESTY Teens
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and others, offer food items while getting people acquainted with what they do. Then at 6 p.m. there will be a Reform Kabbalat Shabbat service and installation of the new board of trustees, which, according to the congregation’s website, “is composed of a tremendous group of congregants who voluntarily give their time, expertise and resources to ensure the continued strength and vitality of our congregation.” This year’s officers are: Michael Goldfader, President; Ross Klein, VP, Governance; Miriam Hillburn, VP, Finance; Leslie Tatel, VP, Judaism In Action; Stuart Wolfe, VP, Membership; Firuzeh Claar, VP Education; Brad Shapiro, Treasurer; and Rosemary Stevens, Secretary. The Prospective Member Shabbat will
be held on the same day as Shabbat Chai, the temple’s Shabbat-based religious school program, which takes place on the first and third Fridays of the month from 4 to 7 p.m. and encompasses community Shabbat Services from 6 to 7 p.m. In addition to Friday afternoons, the Shabbat Chai calendar includes programming for Jewish holidays and mitzvah opportunities. Rabbi Peter Levi, Rabbi Rachel Kort, Rabbi Kvod Wieder and Cantor Natalie Young are the clergy at Temple Beth El. For more information, call or visit Temple Beth El at 2A Liberty, Aliso Viejo, California 92656; phone: (949) 362-3999; http://www.tbesoc.org.
Jewish Events in Orange County Plan your month with our August 2015 events calendar of the best activities, including free things to do, festivals and our favorite picks. — Thursday, August 6 - 10:30 a.m. Meditation and You with Cantor Sue Deutsch Ezra Center/Temple Beth Emet. email@example.com
Thursday, August 6 - 7 p.m. Olam Montessori Welcome Evening
Private home. firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, August 10 - 11 a.m. What Is a GMO and Why Should I care with Monique Lawee Ezra Center/Temple Beth Emet. email@example.com
Monday, August 10 - 7 p.m. Herod’s Jerusalem from Elite Urban Mansions to the Second Temple with Jodi Magness Samueli Jewish Campus Free CSP members/$10 guests/$18 at the door Community Scholar Program. firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, August 13 - 10:30 a.m. Seeing America by RV with Mary Ann Malkoff Ezra Center/Temple Beth Emet. email@example.com
SPECIAL SERIES: Elie Kaunfer 13th Annual CSP Summer Scholar A New Approach to Understanding Prayer August 23-26, 2015 $10.00 per person for each event or $36 for all four Free to CSP $180+ Members with RSVP before August 18 Special rates for CBI, TBY & SHM members Who By Fire? The Most Controversial Prayer in Jewish Life Sunday, August 23, 2015 from 7:15 – 8:30 PM Temple Bat Yahm [Newport Beach] When Who Wrote the Prayer Matters: The Deeper Meaning of “Avinu Malkenu” Monday, August 24, 2015 from 12:15 – 1:15 PM Congregation Shir Ha-Ma’a lot [Irvine] How Can I Pray What I Don’t Believe? A Case Study Tuesday, August 25, 2015 from 7:15 – 8:30 PM Congregation B’nai Israel [Tustin] The Mourner’s Kaddish – A New Interpretation Wednesday, August 26, 2015 from 12:15- 1:15 PM Congregation Shir Ha-Ma’a lot [Irvine]
Sunday, August 16 - 4 p.m. An Enchanted Afternoon of Swingin’ Jazz with the Jerry Mandel Trio Private home $40 members/$48 guests Atid Hadassah. firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, August 23 - 1:30 p.m. Sensitive Subjects: What to Reveal, What to Conceal with Jane Neff Rollins Temple Bat Yahm, 1011 Camelback, Newport Beach Orange County Jewish Genealogical Society email@example.com
Monday, August 24 - 11 a.m. My Broadway Memories with Corey Sylvester Ezra Center/Temple Beth Emet. firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, August 30 - 4:30 p.m. Return and Renewal
Temple Beth Sholom. email@example.com
Monday, August 31 - 11 a.m. Exploring the Fall Holidays with Rabbi Stephen Einstein Ezra Center/Temple Beth Emet. firstname.lastname@example.org
Kosher oc Magazine // August 2015
Love and Rebirth
The 15th of Av By Chabad.org
The 15th of Av is undoubtedly the most mysterious day of the Jewish calendar. A search of the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) reveals no observances or customs for this date, except for the instruction that the tachanun (confession of sins) and similar portions should be omitted from the daily prayers (as is the case with all festive dates), and that beginning on the 15th of Av one should increase one’s study of Torah, since at this time of the year the nights begin to grow longer, and “the night was created
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for study.” And the Talmud tells us that many years ago the “daughters of Jerusalem would go dance in the vineyards” on the 15th of Av, and “whoever did not have a wife would go there” to find himself a bride. And this is the day which the Talmud considers the greatest festival of the year, with Yom Kippur (!) a close second! Indeed, the 15th of Av cannot but be a mystery. As the “full moon” of the
tragic month of Av, it is the festival of the future redemption, and thus a day whose essence, by definition, is unknowable to our unredeemed selves.
Kosher oc Magazine // August 2015
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Michael Oren’s Journey
Former Ambassador Discusses His Book and the Complicated Relationship Between America and Israel By Iene Schneider
There were several differences between the first and second time I heard Michael Oren speak. In 2010 he was Israel’s ambassador to the United States, he was at UCI and he was constantly interrupted by a group of Muslim students. On July 2 he was a former ambassador and present member of Israel’s Knesset who had just written a juicy memoir, he was at The Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace in Yorba Linda and the capacity crowd could not have been happier. Oren discussed Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide, a memoir of his time as Israel’s ambassador to the United States during a period of transformative change for America and a time of violent upheaval throughout the Middle East, with David Wolpe, rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. The former ambassador said that the New York Times best seller had been slated for an October-November time frame. Believing that the US was on the verge of a bad deal with Iran, Oren pressured Random House to release the book sooner. “It was designed to get precisely this reaction of furor even before it came out,” he explained. While Oren needed great restraint and diplomacy to be an ambassador 18
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and a great deal of winnowing to write books as a historian, he went through “an agonizing process to write this book,” he said. He “had to detox’ from his experience as ambassador from 2009 to 2013 before he began. He had never before written in the first person, and he was afraid to betray anyone, but he wanted to find the “nuggets” to provide “a frank, fascinating look inside the special relationship between America and its closest ally in the Middle East.” An American by birth and an Israeli by choice, Oren is exquisitely sensitive to the differences between the two cultures. “For instance,” he said, “Americans salute the rank and not the person. In Israel we don’t salute anybody.” He added, “Americans are nice until they’re not. (President Barack) Obama and (Vice President Joe) Biden smile in their pictures, while Israelis are scowling. Americans can afford to smile. Israelis live in a tough neighborhood.” The book has spicy language, because “Washington is big on fourletter words.” In Hebrew there are no curse words, so when President Obama called Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu an expletive,
there was no equivalent. In terms of Iran, Oren said that Israelis have looked at the data and come to the conclusion that “the margin for error is zero.” While he believes the Obama administration thinks the “Iranian regime is rational and can reconcile Sunni and Shia differences, Iran wants to wipe Israel off the map and not use the money to build roads.” He also believes that Iran has “gained legitimacy in the world, made strides toward being a primary power and gained immensely by not signing the treaty. Meanwhile, (President) Obama is on a roll from his victories on domestic issues and will ride that to get his way with the Iran deal.” When Rabbi Wolpe asked Oren why Obama sees Israel the way he does, Oren replied, “An ambassador’s duty is to understand how the President thinks. Before I became the ambassador, I read everything he said on the Middle East and Israel and what he wrote in his memoir. The administration was decentralized and had more professors than any administration since that of John F. Kennedy. America did not see itself as the world’s policeman and was not keen on using military force. Obama wanted to engage with the Muslims, but there was unprecedented support
Israel for the Palestinians, as well as support for the Iranians to have nuclear power.” In terms of why Oren thinks most American Jews support Obama, he said, “Sometimes when Israel needed the US, Obama was there for us. Seventy-eight percent of the Jews voted for him in 2008 and seventy percent in 2012. It has a lot to do with the composition of the Supreme Court – social issues, Jewish liberal issues.” However, he said, if people are disconnected from the Jewish faith, it is easier for BDS (boycotts, divestments and sanctions) to take hold. He believes that Israel has to allocate more resources to fighting BDS and being proactive in the peace process. Meanwhile, the “red line” involving Iran is “complicated and technical,” with 10 years of intrusive inspections and then “sunset to the arsenal.”
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What can we expect? “If Israel has to stand alone, it will,” Oren said. “The Knesset agrees that we have to do something if necessary, but it’s immensely complicated. While (President George W.) Bush always made the case that we are not at war with Islam, Obama saw himself as the bridge between the US and the Muslim world.” He concluded, “You have to know who your allies are and not squander them. Israel has no ally like the US, and the US has no ally like Israel. Israel is only one of a few democracies, and it’s unabashedly pro-American.”
Kosher oc Magazine // August 2015
Jonathan Pollard, Long-Imprisoned Jewish Spy, to Be Released Nov. 20 By JNS
Jonathan Pollard, the Jewish spy who has been incarcerated for three decades over a conviction for giving Israel classified information on America, will be released on Nov. 20. Pollard was formally eligible for parole on Nov. 21, but the U.S. Parole Commission granted his release a day earlier because the aforementioned date coincides with Shabbat, Israel’s Channel 2 reported. Pollard’s attorneys said in a statement on Tuesday, “The decision to grant parole was made unanimously by the three members of the Parole Commission, who make their decisions independently of any other U.S. government agency. The decision is not connected to recent developments in the Middle East. Had parole been denied, Mr. Pollard would have been required to serve an additional fifteen years in prison.” Given that Pollard is the only person in U.S. history to receive a life sentence in prison for spying for an American ally, advocates for his release have long argued that he should be freed because his punishment has been disproportionately severe. Additionally, the 60-year-old Pollard’s failing health has been widely cited as an argument for his release on humanitarian grounds. While those two factors have traditionally been the basis of arguments for Pollard’s release, 20
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including among many high-profile former U.S. intelligence and security officials familiar with his case, some recent rumors have centered on his impending freedom being connected to the Israeli government’s anger over the U.S.-brokered nuclear deal with Iran. “We have long sought this decision and we believe this action is long overdue with Pollard serving a longer sentence than anyone charged with a comparable crime,” said Stephen Greenberg, chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman and CEO, of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, an umbrella group with 50 member organizations and five adjunct members. “In addition, we do not believe that there is any connection to the nuclear agreement with Iran. The parole date was set at the time of his sentencing and the current parole process proceeded the negotiations with Iran. These are separate and unrelated issues that should not be linked. We are grateful that he will soon have the opportunity to rebuild his life with his wife and address his medical concerns.” The U.S. Parole Commission’s decision follows a July 7 parole hearing for Pollard, according to his attorneys, who said he was denied parole at a previous hearing in July 2014.
A Notice of Action granting Pollard’s release requires that he remain in the U.S. for five years. Through his attorneys, Pollard expressed thanks to “the many thousands of well-wishers in the United States, in Israel, and throughout the world, who provided grassroots support by attending rallies, sending letters, making phone calls to elected officials, and saying prayers for his welfare.” More specifically, Pollard thanked “his longstanding pro bono lawyers Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman, and their law firm Curtis, MalletPrevost, Colt & Mosle LLP, who stood by him for so many years, and whose perseverance, creativity, and forceful advocacy were instrumental in securing his release on parole;” “the National Council of Young Israel, especially Rabbi Pesach Lerner, who worked tirelessly for many years on Mr. Pollard’s behalf, as well as Farley Weiss, President of the National Council of Young Israel, for his ongoing dedication and support;” and “David Nyer, Kenneth Lasson, and George Leighton, for their work on his behalf in the United States; and Larry Dub, Nitsana Dirshan-Leitner, Effi Lahav, Asher Mivtari, and Adi Ginsburg for their work on his behalf in Israel.”
Berenbaum Discusses Judaism and Israel By Robin Silver-Zwiren
The 100 or so people attending the Community Scholar Program (CSP) lunch-time lecture were extremely lucky that Michael Berenbaum, American scholar, professor, rabbi, writer, and academy award winning filmmaker, who specializes in the study of the Holocaust, made time in his busy schedule to join us. Whether we all agreed with him on every point or not he certainly gave us a lot to contemplate. An expert on the Holocaust as well as Jewish knowledge and culture, Berenbaum is the director of the Sigi Ziering Institute and a professor of Jewish Studies at American Jewish University where his focus is in Holocaust Studies. He has authored and edited 20 books plus served as an executive editor of the Second Edition of the Encyclopedia Judaica. He was a project director for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and also the president and CEO of the Shoah Visual History Foundation which has already taken 52,000 testimonies of Holocaust survivors. Berenbaum mentioned The Protocols of Zion, saying everyone knows about it but he was probably the only one in the room to read it. (Actually, I have as well.) While blood libel is a JudeoChristian issue and not a Muslim one, giving groups who already hate Jews and Israel any other slanderous works to add to their collection does not really help us. The United States has laws against anti-Semitic crimes. Berenbaum commented that if a swastika was painted on synagogue walls, the rabbi would be joined by at least one area
mayor, state and federal legislatures and area Catholic and Muslim clergy in a protest. Where are these people during Israeli pride programs and antiIsrael protests? In other countries laws against anti-Semitism are enforced. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement was on everyone’s minds. Berenbaum says the movement will fail, because it is outright anti-Semitism and because there is a large amount of Jewish monies being invested in our universities. Our investors need to put some limits on their funding. Berenbaum mentioned how no one blames Israel for the Malaysian Air Line disaster. Yet who knows when people will. If members of Congress veto the President’s vote to make a deal with Iran, why should Israel and U.S. Jewish citizens be to blame? Berenbaum believes it will be seen as too much power of the Jews that will cause retribution. It is not only Jews who are against the Iran deal. The Christian Right and other groups who voted for a majority Republican coalition in the House and Senate were more than just Jews. The bigger issue may not be the Jews who vote against the deal but those who vote alongside the Democratic President, which means Israel will surely be attacked. With Obama pushing to side with Iran, will he stand by Israel when (not if) Israel attacks Iran? I am proud to say that Canadian PM Steven Harper will. A question directed to Berenbaum was, in fact, if it is actually a deal with
Iran or a treaty? Follow FB, read the news and that brings up the lawsuit being brought against the President on this matter. The U.S. Secretary of Defense was just in Israel and wanted to make some deals with Bibi Netanyahu. That the Israeli Prime Minister may be frustrated with the U.S. Government should be understood. What will the U.S. give? Berenbaum said that there may need to be a security treaty between the U.S. and Israel. Does that mean the U.S. will support Israel if Iran attacks first or will the U.S. side with Iran? Berenbaum said how a segment of the population was against Obama because of his skin color. Obviously, it did not matter as he was elected twice. He is actually biracial.That he wants to deny the heritage is what scared me. The more left-leaning Jews seem to agree that Michael Oren did not write truths in his book. They do not think Sheldon Adelson was correct in saying that “The Bible says nothing about democracy in Israel,” which outraged Abe Foxman. Abe replied that the “founders of Israel wanted a Democratic state as much as a Jewish one.” Michael Berenbaum believes both have valid points. That Jews always adapted to the societies where they lived. However, when Berenbaum stated that the one-state solution is the only way Israel can be a democracy is another story. How many times has Israel given up land for peace yet then be shut down by Palestinian Arab Leaders? Jews adapted to their societies, yet Kosher oc Magazine // August 2015
throughout history have been tortured wherever they lived. We should not forget the ancient map of Israel where Judea and Samaria are. The maps with Israel and Judea are clearly marked. What right do Palestinian Arabs have to those lands, especially when so many making demands were not landowners but tenant farmers? Trans-Jordan, which is now Jordan, is their homeland, not Modern Israel. So the one-state solution lives only in the dreams of those who deny that the Arab League wants the land of Israel from sea to sea. Of course, that Israel is the most modern and advanced is enough reason. The radical Muslims will turn it into anything but a democracy. Iran once was, but when the Shah was out, and the Ayatollah took hold, women were ensconced in clothing that covered them, forbidden to drive and treated as less than second class. That, as Berenbaum said, Obama made a mistake by not visiting Israel but did make a stop in Egypt is real. His Egyptian speech clarified his alliances. He went to visit Nazi death camps with Elie Wiesel, and others can’t erase that. That German Chancellor Angela Merkel sets higher standards against anti-Semitic, anti- Israel and pro BDS issues is impressive. Muslim terror has reached every corner of Europe. That Merkel’s Germany reviews immigration documents closely is something more nations should learn. That so many French Jews are moving to Israel was not just because of the Charlie Hebdo incident. That they are getting permission to take their buried ancestors to Israel has not ended. In fact, more and more French Jews have already made Aliyah or are in the process of doing so. Berenbaum mentioned that Israel is not as safe as so many believe. In fact, more Jews have been killed in Israel in the last 15 years than anywhere else in the world, so groups should not be telling people how safe Israel is. Well understood but what have these people died for? They died to protect our Jewish Homeland. 22
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Several Orange County children have joined the IDF. Soon my own son will be drafted too. We are proud of their Zionist sentiment and their accomplishments. When Sahar Elbaz was honored, we felt the same pride as his parents. Two of my children already made Aliyah, and soon we hope to follow. I just returned from visiting them. I feel safer there than I do here because I know who my enemies are. I also know that if the U.S. aligns with Iran, none of us are safe anywhere. Jews come out of the ashes and somehow revive themselves. Their children learn to understand that education is the key to a better future. That is why there are so many Jewish Noble Prize Winners. That is why Israel has the second highest rate of University educated (Canada not the U.S. tops the list). Even in Communist Russia, although they could not speak about religion, there were many Jews given high levels of education. Many of them have now brought their expertise to Israel. From technology to pharmaceuticals to water desalination Israel has so much to offer. In an article Michael Berenbaum reviewed, he mentioned how 88 contributors from 16 countries wrote essays. The first and second generation of children from Shoah families are all accomplished writers, artists, politicians, judges, professors, scholars, rabbis and cantors — that Tom Lantos (z’l), a survivor himself, could become a U.S. Member of Congress and would surely vote “no” on a deal with Iran if he were still alive. Look at people like Abe Foxman, born in Poland, and Elie Weisel, who survived the death camps. Look at our own Henry Samueli who is a child of survivors and has accomplished so much and given so much. We have risen out of the ashes with a will to survive like no other nation. Berenbaum mentioned how the U.S. put Native Americans onto reservations, so the whites could have their lands. Canada did the same to its natives, although now they have their own official territory. The Blacks in the U.S. still believe they should
be entitled to welfare, food stamps and handouts for what their ancestors suffered from slavery. Amazing that the Japanese Americans interred during WWII have, like the Jews, have a desire to be educated. Israeli Jews are following the path while the Palestinian Arabs expect handouts and then use the monies to attack the hand that feeds them. Which group of citizens will rise above and contribute to the society? Michael Berenbaum believes that the American Jewish community is fighting the wrong battles. Maybe we are but we are fighting for our survival. If it is true, a Birnbaum Sayid, “Those who fight the last war often lose the next.” Then I certainly hope that there will be a change in U.S. government along with the terrorist extremist Arab League. I pray for Israel, because our land and people deserves some peace after a lifetime of struggles. For more information please visit www. occsp.org.
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Making Sense of Mayhem
How Can We Fix the Flaws in the Iran Agreement? By Ilene Schneider
Why is the Iran deal so scary? Why does it pose not only an existential threat to Israel but a potential shift in the world order as we know it, later if not sooner? Why have there been demonstrations in Los Angeles, New York and elsewhere? Take it from people all over the political spectrum – people who care deeply about Israel but who may not always agree with one another: Iran has to provide more assurances, and world powers have to impose more sanctions. According to Ido Aharoni, Consul General of Israel in New York, “The most significant problem with this agreement, which is discussed far too little, is that it does nothing to address, much less curb, Iran’s expansionist, anti-Israel, anti-American motivations. Every security expert will tell you that in order for your enemy to succeed, three preconditions have to exist: First, the enemy has to have the desire to attack; second, the enemy must have the capabilities to carry out the attack; finally, the enemy has to have the opportunity to attack.” “The deal needs to fix the painfully large holes in the inspection regime. It means getting Iran to accept the ‘anytime, anywhere’ principle on inspections,” said Ben Cohen, senior editor of TheTower.org and The Tower 26
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Magazine, in his weekly column for JNS.org. “It means getting absolute clarification on the existence of concealed nuclear facilities. Most importantly, it means a candid and honest account of Iran’s past nuclear activities—chiefly, the military aspects of such work.” Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, writing in The Algemeiner, said, “It is frightening that, in addition to failing to dismantle Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons; failing to end Iran’s worldwide support for terrorist attacks on Americans, Jews and others; and giving Iran sanctions relief and economic windfalls now estimated to reach $700 billion, which will drastically intensify Iran’s worldwide terror operations, the JCPOA appears to be written in such a way as to avoid imposing any real, binding, enforceable obligations on the Islamic Republic of Iran. Ha’aretz’s Ari Shavit cautioned, “This means that the international community is not only enabling, but actually ensuring the establishment of a new Iranian nuclear program, which will be immeasurably more powerful and dangerous than its predecessor. In fact the Iranians are giving up an outdated, anachronistic deployment in order to build an innovative legitimate
one, with the world’s permission and authority. The (current agreement) will lead to Iran becoming in 2025 a muscular nuclear tiger ready to spring forward, with an ability to produce dozens of nuclear bombs.” From my perspective, the deal creates more loopholes than it solves. Not only is Iran getting a huge amount of money with which it can fund terrorists and a chance to build up its nuclear capabilities with no effective way to stop it, but its leaders are already saying that they have no intention of cooperating with inspections. As committed Jews, committed Americans and caring citizens of the world, we must implore Congress not to be duped by this agreement. Write letters to members of Congress, sign petitions, attend demonstrations and do anything meaningful and moral to let our government know that this deal is wrong. Previous generations watched as diplomatic naive
The Safe Side of the Road
Exploring the Many Cultures of the Golan By Robin Silver-Zwiren
More Red Alert Sirens went off. The Syrians are making life for the Druze difficult, but on the Israeli side of the border, their cousins prosper. Driving up to Majdal Shams in the daytime is quite different from driving in the evening with clouds of enemy fire overhead. We drove the winding roads, bypassing villages and towns. We saw lush landscape, vineyards and animals grazing. We witnessed how peoples of other faiths can live together in peace. Druze are not Muslims but more a Unitarian Movement. They are monotheistic, against polygamy and divorce and loyal to the country in which they live. That also means that many serve in the Israeli Defense Forces. Last November Druze Sgt. Major Zidan Seif was killed during a terrorist attack at a Har Nof synagogue. Unfortunately, he was not the first, and will likely not be the last, to die protecting Israel.
— something they would no longer have living under Sharia Law.
In places like Syria the Druze are called heretics, which is why fundamentalist groups like ISIS want them exterminated. When the wars were fought in Israel, the Druze populations crossed over the Mt. Hermon area and settled in Syria. Decades later, they are trying to cross back into where they are safer. Living in Israel, Druze women have the rights of their home country and their religion
In the sprawling center of Majdal Shams is an impressive statue. It actually commemorates the Druze uprising against French colonization in the 1920s. Sultan al-Atrash is depicted with a sword in his hands. He would probably be very pleased to see the land and people prospering in the region.
Driving through friendly villages, we were not harassed, and, of course, I needed to stop to photograph the sights. I was amazed by the villas sprouting up against ancient buildings no longer used. Shopping malls and restaurants were spotted. There were families out for a Sunday stroll, as well as teenage boys playing together in a park. We stopped by a roadside stand to buy some of the most delicious cherries ever. During the shmittah year, it is not as easy to get such fresh fruit, but as the Druze in the area own their own land, we were thrilled to fill our bags. The vendor filled our hands with samples that we were excited to taste. The elderly couple sitting on the deck above the highway stand nodded when I said hello — salaam. If only life could only be so peaceful.
Majdal Shams and Kiryat Shemona
have much in common, being border towns in countries with so much unrest. Yet Israel grows and prospers while across the borders, the soil is not rich, the trees are not growing and villages are not protected by horrific occupying forces. Only in Israel can all religions live and work side by side. It is so unfortunate that there are those who call Israel the terrorists, the occupiers, because the lands of Judah and Israel were in our hands long before. Nimrod’s Castle and Fortress was built by Al-Aziz Utham, a Muslim, who wanted to protect his territory from the Crusaders. Wars and an earthquake caused much damage to the impressive structure that is now looked after by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. This castle is actually seen in the movie “Beaufort,” because that particular castle, on which the book and movie are based, is in Southern Lebanon. As someone who spent time in Israel during the 1982 Lebanon War, this particular story is extremely meaningful. Banias is an ancient site in Caesarea Phillipi and is actually a source to the River Jordan. A shrine to the Greek god, Pan, was discovered at the site. During the Hellenistic Period, a battle was fought in the area as early as 200 Kosher oc Magazine // August 2015
Opinion BCE. Extensive excavations show how before the Hellenistic Period, it was called Ba’al Gad, or Ba’al Hermon, by Semitic peoples. The area was ruled by many, including ancient leaders and then Muslim and Christian Crusaders. On June 10, 1967, the last day of the war, the Golani Brigade captured the village of Banias. The waterfalls and limestone pools are well worth seeing. Kiryat Shemona, the Town of Eight representing those brave men who died fighting for Tel Hai during the 1920 Arab revolt against the French, is Israel’s most northern city. Although once within the borders of Lebanon, since 1948 it has been part of Israel. The proximity to Lebanon does mean it is often attacked by the PLO, Hezbollah and whoever else decides to fire at the residents. One of its sister cities is Hampstead (Montreal) Quebec. Further south is Ayelet haShachar, the first kibbutz founded in Israel in 1892 by the Jewish Colonization Association. The Tel Hazor/Hatzor Museum is located on the kibbutz. The actual archeological site is the largest in Israel, but a lot of the discoveries are now stored in the museum. It is mentioned in the Books of Joshua and Judges as a Canaanite city; however, reference is made to King Jabin and General Sisera, who are in the Song of Deborah. Further references to
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its being within the borders of the tribe of Naftali and fortified by King Solomon are also known. In 732 BC the town was captured by Assyrians. The inhabitants were deported and the town burned. There are hundreds of years of history and none being by Muslim rulers! The ancient town of Katzrin is mentioned in the Talmud. After the Six Day War when a team of archeologists began to excavate the site, an amazing cache was discovered. The roving Bedouins living there had rather fine old homes to give them shelter — homes dating back to Byzantine times. The Hebrew and Aramean inscriptions prove that it was a Hebrew town although the Synagogue remains are further evidence. The homes of Rabbi Abun and of someone named Uzi still stand. The Rabbi’s home is larger than expected from the time period, meaning that the village was prosperous. There are several rooms with heating ovens. A ladder leads to a second story loft, which was probably used for sleeping. It appears that besides the cooking area, there is a long room well used for study as the rabbi probably had many students. Being without refrigeration, the people used a large underground cave-like area for storage. Uzi’s home also has several levels as if the home had an addition,
possibly when the family grew and his construction business prospered. Just viewing the buildings gives one a sense of life during this period. Parts of the old synagogue still stand with its ornate Ionic columns. Much of the building has been reconstructed, but there are other large stones in another area of the park that show more inscriptions. Off to the side is the village with stones marking off each shop and walkway. That the buildings are made of stone is why they still stand thousands of years after being built, just like the Pyramids and store-cities our ancestors once built in Egypt. Katzrin is only one of a dozen or so Jewish villages discovered in the Golan region. Others are ones where Jesus and his disciples lived as well, such as Nazareth and Capernaum, so important to Christians. The Golan is filled with our shared histories. Only in the Middle East, in the land of Israel, are we able to share, experience and savor these joys. Nisiah Tova, happy travels!
Kosher oc Magazine // August 2015
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