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Oct. 23, 2020 • 5 Cheshvan 5781 • Noach
Vol 19, No 38
In the beginning
At HANC’s ECC, children last week crafted the days of creation. This week, it was on to Noach’s ark (see p. 14).
Living as a Jew in UAE FIRST PERSON
mIchELLE wALdmAN SARNA
The author attended HAFTR and Yeshiva University, is school psychologist at SAR in Riverdale, and lives with her husband, who is university chaplain at NYU and chief rabbi of the UAE, and children in Manhattan.
Courtesy Michelle Sama
ews around the world are celebrating the peace agreement between Israel and the UAE — and so are the Emiratis. In particular, Israelis are looking forward to visiting the United Arab Emirates once travel is again possible. As a Jew with close ties to the UAE, I have insights about what they’ll experience — a place they’ll surely find both familiar and challenging. Over the past two years, my husband, children and I have visited the UAE four times, most recently spending Rosh Hashana and Sukkot in Abu Dhabi. I am intrigued by some striking parallels to Israel, such as taking great pride in “making the desert bloom,” building a hub for global tourism, achieving remarkable advancements in
The Sarna family in the UAE. At left, the Etihad Towers complex in Abu Dhabi.
technology and maintaining the identity of a small nation with a huge impact. My husband Yehuda, now the Chief Rabbi of the UAE, has visited more than 20 times during the past decade as NYU’s university chaplain, working closely with NYU’s campus in Abu Dhabi, UAE representatives in the US, and the developing Jewish community of the Emirates. It is perhaps understandable — although not pardonable — that after decades of terrorism, tension and conflict with Islamic countries in the region, many See Jewish in the UAE on page 8
MOSER: Judaism’s most dangerous accusation hENRy ABRAmSON Touro college
gged on by a rabble-rouser who literally wore a political bumper sticker on his chest, a crowd of angry Boro Park Charedim
protested coronavirus restrictions during Chol Hamoed Sukkot, burning masks and denouncing government authorities. Police, wary of this summer’s Black Lives Matter protests but unaccustomed to angry mobs of Hasidim in their Yom Tov finery, were unprepared for the melee. Scenes of the demonstrations were widely circulated on social media, including sporadic episodes of shameful violence. In one notorious bit of cellphone footage, a Yiddish-inflect-
ed curse was repeatedly thrown at Jacob Kornbluh, a Hasidic reporter for Jewish Insider. With his back to a wall and surrounded by Hasidim, the threatening crowd chanted “moser, moser, moser!” as festive holiday music blared incongruously in the background. Barely protected by a handful of police officers, Kornbluh fled the scene, chased away by a surging mass of kaftans and stiff-brimmed black hats. What, exactly, is a moser?
The term “snitch” was also thrown at the hapless writer, but the translation doesn’t come close. Moser (also pronounced moiser) literally means “one who hands over,” in the sense of one who informs or turns over a Jew to the secular authorities. The term is laden with portent in Jewish law: roughly parallel to a rodef (“pursuer”), a moser is worthy of the See Moser on page 8 death penalty.
Orban rips Hungarian Jews over anti-Semitism By Cnaan Liphshiz, JTA Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, one of Europe’s most prominent nationalist and antiimmigrant leaders, has often faced accusations that he is too soft on far-right anti-Semitism. But now, in an unusual reversal, Orban is trying to level that same accusation at the country’s largest Jewish group, Mazsihisz. Orban recently criticized Mazsihisz, a nonpartisan federation of Jewish communities and groups, for being “indecisive and weak” in not speaking out loudly enough against the candidacy of Laszlo Biro, a member of the far-right Jobbik party who narrowly lost a bid for a parliamentary seat on Sunday and has a history of making anti-Semitic statements. Biro has written on social media that Orthodox Jewish tourists may be giving his dog fleas. In another post, he called for “disconnecting Jewish usury bank capital from the economy,” and in another he called Budapest “Judapest.” Mazsihisz “did and does condemn Laszlo Biro’s remarks,” the group told JTA. The unprecedented exchange reflects Orban’s growing willingness to make partisan use of Hungarian Jewry as an unexpected alliance threatens his Fidesz party’s grip on power. Last year, liberal parties, including the Hungarian Socialist Party and the Democratic Coalition, agreed to form a bloc with Jobbik — a party accused of abetting racism and anti-Semitism in its past, and whose vice president in 2013 called for making a list of all Hungarian Jews — to mount a serious challenge to Orban and Fidesz. Since then, the left-wing parties have urged their supporters to vote for Jobbik candidates where they were likeliest to win, and vice versa. Although Biro is a well-known member of Jobbik, a party that the World Jewish Congress has called neo-Nazi, he was the agreed-upon candidate in a special election this week of all the opposition parties, including the center-left
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban speaks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, not pictured, during their meeting in Beijing, April 25, 2019. Parker Song/Kyodo News/Pool/Getty Images
Hungarian Socialist Party, which has many Jewish voters and members. The alliance strategy has helped the opposition narrowly unseat Fidesz from the office of the mayor of Budapest and wrestle from its hands 10 additional mayoral posts in large cities. But so far it has been more of a symbolic blow and has done little to shake the constitutional supermajority that Fidesz, which has been in power under Orban since 2010, has in parliament. However, this week’s election results show the alliance could be closer to a bigger impact. The vote Sunday was held for a seat in the national parliament representing the northeastern city of Szerencs. The city’s previous representative in parliament, Ferenc Koncz of Orban’s Fidesz party, died in a vehicular accident in July. His daughter, Zsófia Koncz, defeated Biro to keep the seat with Fidesz, but very narrowly, with 51% of the vote. If Koncz had lost, Fidesz’s coalition would have lost its two-thirds superma-
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jority in parliament, which gives the party wide powers, including the ability to make constitutional changes. During the decade that Orban has been in power, critics have alleged that he has pursued increasingly authoritarian, xenophobic and nationalist policies — among them a public campaign targeting George Soros, the Hungary-born Jewish billionaire and Holocaust survivor who funds left-leaning causes in his native country and features in many international anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. The Soros campaign, as well as Orban’s insistence on erecting a statue that critics say whitewashes Hungary’s collaboration in the Holocaust, has caused Mazsihisz to warn that Orban risks fomenting anti-Semitic hatred and Holocaust revisionism. But not all of Hungary’s Jewish groups share that criticism. EMIH, a Chabad-affiliated federation of Jewish communities, has rejected much of
Mazsihisz’s criticism, defending the government’s anti-immigration policy and dismissing allegations that its anti-Soros campaign is anti-Semitic. Mazsihisz has hit back at EMIH, claiming that it is beholden to the government and biased toward Fidesz because it receives funds and buildings from it. (Mazsihisz also receives millions of dollars in state subsidies from Orban’s government.) The two Jewish federations are also split on the Biro controversy. Mazsihisz’s response “has been weak,” Shlomo Koves, the head of EMIH, told JTA. “They have not only not spoken out against Jobbik and Biro in strong terms, but some of their representatives have personally participated in Jobbik election campaign events in the past. Unfortunately a group of lay leaders have seized this respectful community [and] hold their own political benefit before the Jewish interest,” he said. Debate over the left-Jobbik alliance erupted in 2018 when a local Jewish leader affiliated with Mazsihisz, Miklós Erdélyi, publicly endorsed a Jobbik candidate, Attila Kiss, running for election in the southern municipality of Hódmezővásárhely. Mazsihisz distanced itself from Erdélyi’s endorsement. In response to criticism it has received over the Biro affair, Mazsihisz emphasized it is a nonpartisan religious organization. It also cited news reports from August that it says proves it has been vocal about Biro’s anti-Semitism. Mazsihsz President Andras Heisler ”does not intend to get involved with party politics,” the group said. It also thanked the Orban government for its financial support of Jewish institutions throughout Hungary. Hungarian Jews’ relative “physical and religious safety is definitely thanks to the Hungarian government, which univocally condemns antiSemitic phenomena and consequently stands by the State of Israel,” Mazsihisz said.
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October 23, 2020 • 5 Cheshvan 5781 THE JEWISH STAR
By Josefin Dolsten, JTA Christian Goldenbaum is used to people doing a double take after he introduces himself. Almost every day while living abroad in New York, London and Jerusalem, the 28-year-old São Paulo native was asked “How come a guy named Goldenbaum gets a name like Christian?” Several times, religious Jews have expressed discomfort with his name — an Orthodox rabbi once insisted on calling him by his Hebrew name, Avraham, and his grandmother’s second husband would call him “the boy” growing up to avoid saying his first name. Another time, an elderly Israeli man demanded he change his name. “He was very obviously aggressive. He was basically saying, ‘You’re not one of us with this name’,” Goldenbaum recalled. Many who meet Goldenbaum are reacting to the apparent conflict in his full name — while his last name is stereotypically Jewish, his first name contains the name of the founder of Christianity. That combination is rare, but he’s not alone. Fox News host Chris Wallace is perhaps the most famous example of a Jew with a traditionally Christian name. Wallace’s Jewish parents decided to name their son Christopher after he was born on Columbus Day, according to a New York Times profile of him. Wallace, born in 1947, was named at a time when American Jewish naming practices were undergoing a shift. Though the earliest American Jews were likely to give their children biblical names, it wasn’t long before Jews started trying to fit into American naming conventions, according to historian Gary Zola, who said that in the 19th century it wasn’t rare to find Jews named after George Washington and other prominent American leaders. With time, Jews started increasingly gravitating towards more general American names. “They might give their kid a name like James or Isidore, which is more Americanized [than] Israel. Instead of Shalom or Shmuel, you become Seymour or Sy, and then you use the Hebrew name that you’re given in the synagogue,” said Zola, who is executive director of the Jacob Rader Center of the American Jewish Archives and a professor of at the Hebrew Union CollegeJewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, a Reform school. This trend continued until the middle of the 20th century, when names seen as further from the tradition started entering the community. In some cases, non-religious Jews liked a certain name — like Christopher — and didn’t view it as necessarily having ties to another religion. Intermarriage or conversions also mean that a Jewish convention — honoring deceased relatives when naming children — can cause names that originated in other religions to be passed down. Hannah Christianson, a 20-year-old student at Barnard College in New York, got her last name from her non-Jewish father, who has Norwegian roots. At times, she said, she feels she has to “overcompensate” for people to know that she is Jewish. At the end of her first year of college, she met a friend who worked as a recruiter for Birthright Israel through a Hillel event. The friend didn’t try to get Christianson to sign up for an Israel trip, which Birthright makes free for Jews ages
18 to 26, because she assumed based on Christianson’s name that she was not Jewish. At times, Christianson feels self-conscious talking about Judaism because she worries how her comments will be perceived by those who assume she is not Jewish. That is the case in a course she is taking this semester about Judaism. “I would sometimes speak in it and it has the
name pop up in the corner because it’s on Zoom, and I just remembered after talking feeling really weird because I realized that the people in the class don’t know I’m Jewish, so it kind of sounds like I’m making assumptions about the Jewish community that I’m not qualified to make,” she said. In certain contexts, she has found that it offers some benefit to be able to pass as not Jewish. “In very leftist and anti-Zionist spaces, I would feel a little bit uncomfortable talking about my Judaism, and so I don’t say anything,” Christianson said. The story behind Goldenbaum’s name is this: His maternal grandparents are Jews from Germany who fled to Brazil before World War II and wanted their grandchild to have a Germansounding name as a nod to their heritage. His paternal grandparents, on the other hand, came from Egypt and fled their home country in the 1950s, when tens of thousands of Jews were driven out. (His paternal grandfather’s family was originally from Europe, hence the name Goldenbaum.) That trauma left his father especially wanting his son to have a name that would allow him to pass as a non-Jew. Thus, the family settled on Christian. Goldenbaum says the name has less overtly Christian connotations in his native Brazil — in Portuguese the word for a Christian person is “cristão.” In Brazil, “when I say my name people don’t usually think about, ‘This guy is a Jewish person named Christian.’ They don’t even realize that,” he said. In Canada, Justin Christopher Tobin’s name has “certainly raised some eyebrows,” he said. Though he doesn’t usually introduce himself with his middle name, the 23-year-old student at the Memorial University of Newfoundland faced challenges when he tried entering Israel as a participant and later staffer on Birthright trips a few years ago. At the airport he was questioned by El Al agents about how a Jew could be named Christopher. “It almost hurt to hear that I wasn’t Jewish enough or somehow I was an impostor, even though I knew that I wasn’t and I knew I had every — literally — birthright to be there. It can be intimidating,” recalled Tobin, who is named after his Irish Catholic father. “I’m pretty proud of my name,” he said. “It’s one of those things that I don’t like when it comes up and someone makes a deal of it, but at the same time it’s a chance to educate and it’s a chance to share with someone, ‘Hey, just because you’re from a fully Jewish background, I’m not, and that’s OK’.”
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Merrick vet holds flag for those left behind By Michael Hinman, Riverdale Press Ninety-year-old Irving Liebowitz isn’t exactly fond of change. In fact, the few times he’s endured it was only because life gave him little choice. He’s lived the last 58 years in Merrick, raising his three children, and creating a home with his wife, Claire. But kids grow up, friends and family grow older, and sometimes life deals the most difficult moments, like Claire’s passing more than a decade ago from breast cancer. Liebowitz found a way to persevere. But 2020 presented its own challenges. First, Liebowitz found himself taking up temporary residence in the Hebrew Home of Riverdale’s RiverWalk community, while recovering from a broken hip. And then, when the coronavirus invaded, residents were cut off from their routines and prevented from spending time with family and friends. “For three months, we were like prisoners,” Liebowitz said. “We had everything we needed in our apartments, but we couldn’t leave. There were all these precautions beginning in March because no one was quite sure what to do. So the safest thing we could do was stay inside.” But as the world learned how to better battle COVID-19, and the air outside warmed, it became safer for Liebowitz and other residents to at least venture outside. Yet it wasn’t majestic views of the Hudson River or the Palisades that had Liebowitz’s attention. Instead, it was the flagpole where America’s stars and stripes proudly waved over the Hebrew Home. Having served his country during the Korean War, this was a sight he certainly relished after months of being cooped up inside. Only there was something missing. And Liebowitz felt it was his mission to ensure that by the time he returned to Merrick, the Hebrew Home would be flying a POW/MIA flag.
When Irving Liebowitz realized the Hebrew Home at Riverdale flagpole had no POW/MIA flag, he called on his friends at the Jewish War Veterans post in Merrick to help change that in time for Veterans Day.
“I’m pretty active with the Jewish War Veterans post on Long Island, and I think of veterans — and the respect that all of us Americans have had for veterans,” Liebowitz said. “This flag represents the veterans that didn’t make it back. They should be remembered, and this is a way to remember them.” The POW/MIA flag was designed in the early 1970s by the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia. While the idea to create the flag was a result of the Vietnam War, which was raging at the time, it’s a flag that covers all conflicts — including the Korean War, where more than 7,800 American soldiers still remain unaccounted for, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. Liebowitz was raised near Bensonhurst in Brooklyn,
and after graduating from high school in 1948, worked with his father selling floor coverings like linoleum and tile — “but not carpet,” he said. In 1951, he was already engaged to Claire when a letter arrived in the mail. Irving Liebowitz had been drafted into the US Army. “I wasn’t surprised,” he said. “The mail was sent to me, it came, and I went. Uncle Sam is calling you, and you have to answer that call.” Liebowitz was sent to Fort Dix near Trenton, New Jersey, in the middle of summer. “I was never in hell,” he said, “But Fort Dix is probably a very close number two.” But Liebowitz never got to ship out with his unit. His commanding officer noticed the young soldier had developed a serious rash, and fearing it might be contagious, sent him to the medical unit. By the time he was cleared to return to duty, Liebowitz’s unit had left him behind for Korea, and he was reassigned. Not to Asia, but instead to Europe. “I ended up going to France to serve in a supporting unit for NATO countries,” Liebowitz said. “When people think of war, they think of the infantry men on the front lines. But for every infantry man, there are 17 supporting soldiers that are needed to do other jobs, to make sure that infantry man has everything that he needs.” Liebowitz was responsible for distributing weapons through a quartermaster base, and didn’t see battle himself. “I know I should thank G-d because I don’t think I would have survived at that particular time,” Liebowitz said. “We were sending our troops overseas, and a lot of them never got home.” Every day, he and Claire would exchange letters. And after two years of service, Liebowitz returned home. They stayed in Brooklyn for a few years as they started their family, but eventually relocated to MerSee Merrick on page 18
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October 23, 2020 • 5 Cheshvan 5781 THE JEWISH STAR
Jewish in the UAE…
Continued from page 1 Jews in Israel and Diaspora communities speak in generalizations and express fear and resentment toward our Muslim cousins. But after developing close personal relationships, my children have a hard time understanding that perspective. It has been heartwarming to observe how eager Jewish people worldwide are to embrace their Arab Muslim Emirati friends. he Islamic faith is interlaced throughout the culture of the UAE: The airports have ablution rooms for prayer preparation, the amusement parks interrupt their stream of music with calls for prayer and hotel rooms provide Qurans and prayer mats. I’m constantly awed by the way secular and religious practices support each other, something that I strive for in my own life but sometimes find is hard in a society that isn’t oriented that way. On our trips, we were often observed by local people with guarded curiosity. We have felt the looks of others who likely have never seen an Orthodox Jew in person before. During one trip to the Dubai Mall, a security guard began following us, apparently because he was intrigued by our presence. But I’ve never felt like my family couldn’t practice our religion freely. My sons donned kippot and tzitzit and my children openly prayed in public spaces when necessary. They davened Mincha in the airport and carried seven lulavim and etrogim on our recent journey. As an Orthodox woman, I felt as comfortable covering my hair and wearing modest clothing as my Jewish friends in jean shorts and short sleeves did. The women pictured on billboards and depicted in museum exhibits reflect the full range of garb, from hijab and burqa to more secular and westernized wardrobes. To be sure, the UAE has struggled with the challenges of developing fair labor prac-
tices, counteracting the sex tourism industry and extending thorough religious inclusion to all. Yet it is progressively moving in the right direction. The UAE has also published new textbooks acknowledging the state of Israel and praising the peace agreement, distributing them widely two weeks after the signing of the peace pact. This rapid and genuine shift invites us to consider how Jews can fully embrace this historic moment to ensure that non-Jewish visitors in our own spaces, from Israel to our Diaspora communities around the world, are treated with respect, tolerance and dignity. n a recent summer trip to Israel, we encountered an Islamic tour group of young professionals from London in Ben Gurion Airport. This group was detained for hours in Israel for unexplained security checks. Our close friend, who works as a chaplain at NYU with my husband and served as the Islamic chaplain of the NYPD, was also detained for hours during his first visit to Israel. How is Israel preparing for its new visitors from the UAE, who may be wearing traditional Islamic garb? Checkpoints, intelligence and scrupulous security are integral to Israel’s safety and existence. But can we strive to simultaneously protect Israel’s borders while working to welcome people of all faiths with dignity and respect? Approximately 12 to 20 percent of the people who live in the UAE are native Emirati citizens. The majority of the country is comprised of immigrants from all over the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa, including India, Pakistan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Iran and Iraq. I am told that the majority of teachers of the Arabic language in elementary schools are Palestinian.
Continued from page 1 aimonides wrote in the 12th century that “an informer may be slain anywhere, even at the present time when Jewish courts do not try capital cases. It is permissible to slay him before he has informed … it is a religious duty to slay him; whoever hastens to kill him attains merit.” There should be no misunderstanding here: Maimonides was writing in a particular social context, prevalent for much of the past two millennia, when Jews constituted a tiny Diasporic minority subject to the whim of often hostile, capricious and brutal governments. Halachic authorities like Rabbi Herschel Schachter, head of school at Yeshiva University’s REITS seminary, have been quick to declare that this law does not apply in modern, democratic societies. Reporting criminal behavior to police, or even tax evasion to the IRS, does not make one a hated moser. Maimonides’ ruling is more comprehensible in the context of Nazi Germany, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq or perhaps Stalin’s Russia. The distinction between “informant” and “slanderer” is unimportant — the simple act of delivering a fellow Jew into the hands of an anti-Semitic autocratic regime is a crime in and of itself. Jewish history is unfortunately well-populated with contemptible individuals who seek self-promotion by slandering the Jewish community in more public forums. From Nicholas Donin in the 13th century, who initiated literally centuries of anti-Semitic fodder when he denounced the Talmud before Pope Gregory IX, to Jacob Brafman, whose salacious 1869 “Book of the Kahal” outlined anti-Jewish themes that would be exploited by the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and even Hitler himself, there have always been Jews whose personal careers were built on putative, tendentious “exposes” of Jewish society.
A 13th century Belgian Manuscript illustrating the dialogue between the Jew “Moyses” and the Christian “Petrus.” Public Domain/JTA Montage
o wonder the term moser is perhaps the most hated epithet one can apply to a Jew — part traitor, part informant, wholly despicable. But it is hard to understand the ugly events of Brooklyn last week in terms that would even approach the threshold of rendering anyone a moser. The actions of the state — in this case, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo — were clearly motivated by a desire to protect the Hasidic community, and the broader population, from a deadly virus that took the lives of tens of thousands of New Yorkers this spring. Their imposition of the New Cluster Action Initiative threatened economic, social and religious hardships for certain neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens (including, incidentally, my own), but only the most extreme opponents of the measure would argue it was more than heavy-handed governance.
I have heard that among the UAE’s noncitizens — even those from Western countries — there is still some anti-Semitism, albeit under the radar. It is for this reason that some in the Jewish community still choose to use a discreet tone when talking about their religious affiliations. I frequently remind my children of the responsibility and privilege we have to represent the Jewish people by engaging with our surrounding spaces and the people we encounter with respect and dignity. During the UAE Jewish community’s celebration of a euphoric tashlich during Rosh Hashana this year, many in the community wore kippot in public for the first time. As the Jewish residents feel increasingly more comfortable “coming out” with their religious identity in the UAE, this may be the first time that people from the region are meeting Jewish people as equals. We have the chance to shift assumptions and expectations through individual friendships, partnerships and initiatives. How many of us — especially those who identify as religiously observant — have close friends of other faiths? ur close friend Elli Kriel began the UAE’s first kosher catering company. (I’ve personally benefited from her culinary expertise, in both Dubai and in Manhattan, when she prepared her food for the NYC Kosher Food Festival and left us with the delicious leftovers.) Through her kosher blog, she has met several Emirati friends, who have since spent Shabbat meals with her family, and Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Sukkot with our community. Two of them have been studying Hebrew for a year — way before any
whisper of the peace agreement. An Emirati citizen named May, a self described “foodie,” knows more about Jewish and Israeli culture (she’s watched “Shtisel” religiously), music (she’s a big Omer Adam fan) and the food scene (she’s invited the owner of Philadelphia’s Zahav restaurant, Michael Solomonov, to open a branch in Dubai) than most Jews throughout the world. She shared with me that her parents — traditional and religious Emiratis who were born in Abu Dhabi and speak Arabic fluently — raised her to experience and enjoy different cultures, places, people and experiences, including Israel and the Jewish people. Shortly after the peace agreement, she read a beautiful welcome letter on Abu Dhabi TV to her new Israeli partners — in complex Hebrew. This was consistent with our experience in the airport as we were greeted with “shalom,” and with my children’s experience in the Atlantis water park, as they were serenaded with “Jerusalem” by Matisyahu. The billionaire owner of the magnificent Habtoor Palace hotel, which hosted the first ever open community Sukkot program, personally visited our community on Simchat Torah to welcome the community and embrace us warmly. ow can we balance our realistic fear of the Muslims who seek to destroy our people and homeland with openness toward those who are approaching us in peace — especially when it is not always easy to distinguish between the two? How can we in turn encourage our children to display genuine curiosity, generosity of spirit and openness to others, even those whom we’ve been taught to eye with suspicion? How can we feel confident that openness to others will not sacrifice our children’s deep immersion in Jewish life and halachic practice? How can we be honest about the recent historical tension and conflict while embracing the emerging opportunities for peaceful alliances? At an inspiring and emotional inaugural convening of Emirati and Israeli women organized by Jerusalem’s Deputy Mayor, Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, the Emirati and Israeli women repeated the paradigm of being “reunited with family.” We were all eager to learn from each other and to grow together. At the end of a long meal, they eagerly offered us rides in their cars and invited us to their homes for meals and to family celebrations. There were really no words to describe the natural kinship, connection and genuine respect we felt towards each other. When we introduced ourselves, I discussed my own family’s close relationship with the Imam at NYU (who lives a floor above us) and his family. It was humbling to realize how rare those relationships are. Our children compare “fasting” accomplishments and discuss their shared biblical narratives, such as the story of Jonah, with their Muslim “cousins,” who call my husband “Abba.” Two of my teenage children are learning Arabic in a Modern Orthodox high school (thank you SAR!), and it has been heartwarming to observe how eager Jewish people worldwide are to embrace their Arab Muslim Emirati friends. The leadership and the citizens of the UAE and Israel are embracing each other with excitement, optimism and open hearts and minds. While there is much for the Emaratis to gain from a peaceful relationship with Israel, they have also risked their own alliances in the region by staunchly and thoroughly supporting a collaborative peace agreement. We must respond by showing — with passion and conviction — that the Jewish are invested in peace, friendship and mutual growth when offered the opportunity.
How can we balance our realistic fear of Muslims who seek to destroy us, with openness toward those approaching us in peace?
Even those who argue that the government measures are draconian and unnecessary would find it hard to justify the unlawful, physical attack on fellow Jews. If anything, the historical precedent was closer to that of early 19th century Russia, when Tsarist authorities imposed a major reform of the Jewish educational system. Liberal Enlightenment–oriented Jews like Max Lilienthal were convinced of the Tsar’s sincerity and supported the effort to bring the Jews into the modern era. Appointed a special adviser in Count Uvarov’s Ministry of Education, Lilienthal nevertheless faced withering opposition from traditionalist Jews who saw the plan as a thinly veiled attempt to convert Russia’s Jews to Christianity (they were not entirely wrong). Within five years, Lilienthal resigned his position and moved to Germany and then Cincinnati, where he served as a rabbi of a Reform congregation. y the turn of the 21st century, the slur of “moser” served primarily as a rallying cry and justification for those who intend extrajudicial violence and seek to silence legitimate opposition. When Yigal Amir, for example, gunned down Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, he called Rabin a moser for his peace efforts with the Palestinians. It’s used as a tool of intimidation against victims of sexual abuse who may be tempted to report their abusers to the authorities. Branding a Jew as a moser is, historically speaking, a dangerous charge with horrific, real-world implications. A crowd recklessly chanting “moser, moser, moser” is terrifying, especially in our era of cell phones, social media and WhatsApp. Yitzchok Kornbluh, father of the journalist under attack, painfully observed that the irresponsible application of the term moser is literally life-threatening: “All you need is one crazed person to take that ‘mitzva’ on board,” he wrote, ending with the Hebrew phrase “chas ve’sholom,” Heaven forbid. Chas ve’sholom indeed. Cedarhurst’s Henry Abramson, a specialist in Jewish history and thought, is a dean at the Touro College campus on Avenue J in Flatbush.
9 THE JEWISH STAR October 23, 2020 • 5 Cheshvan 5781
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October 23, 2020 • 5 Cheshvan 5781 THE JEWISH STAR
The JEWISH STAR
Wine & Dine
Spiced, stuffed, and skinless Jewish sausages By Rachel Myerson, The Nosser Every Jewish community has its answer to the ultimate Jewish sausage. From the Portuguese Alheira de Mirandela to Ashkenazi kishke to New York’s kosher hot dog, the origins of the following sausages are as diverse as their flavors. So what makes a sausage Jewish? Well, some were created by Jews, and some are so beloved by the Jewish kitchen that they were transformed beyond their original role. Either way, start taking notes for your next barbecue. Merguez Unlike most traditional non-Jewish sausages, merguez are made from lamb, not pork. As they lent themselves to Jewish dietary laws, merguez became a staple for Jews throughout North Africa. Merguez — typically broiled or grilled — are generously spiced with cumin and harissa or chili, which turn their interior a brick red. Flavorings vary slightly from country to country: some add fennel, sumac, corriander, or paprika. Tunisians go heavy on the garlic. Because of the influence in Israel of Jews of North African descent, merguez are very popular in Israel. Kishke This Ashkenazi delicacy is the real deal. A stick-to-your-guts sausage made from cow intestine (kishke comes from the Yiddish word for intestine) stuffed with a cheap grain or matzah meal, onions and carrots, and beef or chicken fat. Some versions add celery, garlic, or paprika, too. Traditionally, it is slow-cooked inside the Shabbat cholent. It’s hard to get your hands on the real deal these days; most versions use plastic casings, and many are pareve, skipping the meat altogether. Sadly, kishke is increasingly becoming a Jewish sausage of the past. Kosher Hot Dog Hot dogs could very well be Jews’ greatest claim to fame: German Jew Charles Feltman was responsible for stuffing a (not so kosher) pork and beef sausage (a close relative of the German Frankfurt sausage AKA frankfurter)
into soft buns and his former employee, a Polish Jew named Nathan Handwerker, turned the dogs into a fast food sensation. Handwerker stuffed his buns with beef “kosher-style” sausages (mainly to assure the public that they didn’t contain rumored horse or dog meat). These days, only Abeles & Heymann (A&H) hot dogs are considered kosher by most Orthodox Jews, but others considers Hebrew National to be kosher, too. Though it’s the most modern sausage on this list, the kosher hot dog is an undisputed classic. Karnatzlach Is it a skinless sausage? Is it a sausageshaped patty? It’s up for interpretation. Either way, the Jewish version of this Romanian “sausage” (karnatzlach is a Yiddish word)
doesn’t mess around. There’s no cheap meal or fillers — they’re almost pure meat, seasoned heavily with garlic and made juicy and springy with the addition of baking soda. Traditionally, they were grilled over charcoal — and still are in many Romanian restaurants in Israel today. But they can also be fried. Alheira During the Spanish Inquisition, Portuguese Jews were forced to hide their religion for their own safety. Sausages, specifically of the preserved pork, garlic, and breadcrumbs variety, proved a significant obstacle. In the northern town of Mirandela, the Portuguese hung these sausages from the rafters to nourish them throughout the winter. Pork wasn’t an option for the hidden Jewish community, so they invented a chicken-and-bread sausage,
which they named the Alheira de Mirandela, to fend off suspicious neighbors. These days, the alheira is no longer kosher, with (ironically) pork and game variations. Time to bring this Portuguese sausage back into the Jewish kitchen! Beef Salami Did Jews invent salami? No. But they did transform it into a signature comfort food and weeknight dinner staple: salami and eggs. Naturally, this dish — a staple for Ashkenazi Jews in the early to mid-20th century — was made with kosher beef salami. But salami extends beyond this nowspurned dish (blame the cholesterol). German Jews have a tradition to eat salami (which is hung to dry) on Purim to remember the hanging of Haman.
Bagel insults: Rainbows and a British challenge By Shannon Sarna, The Nosher I’m an avid fan of The Great British Baking Show, which is currently in its eighth season on Netflix. The show is such perfection, I can look past almost any minor flaw — like the constant changing of hosts or the way challah was snubbed during season five — because I just want to live in the British countryside forever, where carbs abound and all the contestants cheer each other on. But last week’s technical challenge was a true affront to one of my most beloved, and well-researched, carbs: the bagel. Or more specifically, a twisted rainbow bagel. Let’s do a short recap. Bagels migrated to the United States and Canada from Polish Jews fleeing from pogroms and seeking a better life. This peasant food took on new life in America where it eventually got paired with some cream cheese, lox, capers, onions, everything seasoning and blueberries — and was rainbow-ized too. While the bagel is originally Polish, it is most closely associated with New York (or fine, Montreal, too). There is another bagel tradition worth mentioning as part of this conversation: the London Beigel (pronounced bye-gull) which isn’t uniformly crusty the way New York-style bagels are, or sweet and chewy like the Montreal version. Piled high with salt beef and
mustard, they are another beloved version of bagels, which also traveled to the U.K. by way of Polish Jews. But you would be hard-pressed to find them in a rainbow version, so we can assume the Great British Baking Show was inspired by American-style bagels. Paul Hollywood, neither a New Yorker nor
Jewish, is a recognized expert in bread. But it was clear from this technical challenge that he has no idea how to make a proper New York bagel. At some point while tasting the results of the challenge, he even commented that a crispy exterior means that the bagel is overdone. I’m not sure he has ever visited New
York City, or even tasted a bagel. Making a great bagel is much more than just a recipe itself: it’s very much about the time and technique. One of the most important parts of a great, crusty-yet-chewy bagel is the amount of time the dough rises, or ferments. Almost no respectable bagel maker would allow the dough to rise less than 12 to 24 hours. A friend who makes great bagels in Brooklkyn lets his bagels sit for up to three days before boiling and baking. My own recipe calls for an overnight rise in the fridge of 12 to 18 hours. And so I knew that to make a bagel in the total allotted time of 2 hours and 45 minutes was just ridiculous. And the result of the bakers’ bagels proved that it was a disaster. High-gluten flour and diastatic malt barley powder, or malt barley syrup, are the two most important ingredients for making an authentic bagel. While Montreal-style bagels typically take a little bath in honey-infused water, New York-style bagels get dipped in water plus malt barley. You can see from Paul Hollywood’s recipe that neither malt barley nor honey are included either in the dough or the bath. Lastly, while rainbow bagels are fun and beautiful in a clown-like, Instagram-inspired sort of way, they are also an insult to the integrity of a good bagel.
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Try the unexpected: Delicious hummus pizza By Maddy Albert, The Nosher When we think of pizza, most of us think of a combination of marinara sauce, melty cheese and crispy crust. But not all pies need to include these ingredients. Enter: hummus pizza. Yes, it exists, and it’s kind of awesome. This innovation often includes the usual trappings of a Mediterranean veggie pizza, like olives, a rainbow of vegetables and doughy crust. But instead of adding cheese and sauce, you use hummus as a substitute. In other words, hummus pizza may look less like a traditional Italian American slice and more like an open-faced pita. Sounds weird? Maybe. But if you’ve ever tried salad pizza or other pizza varieties that add toppings after the dough has been baked, you’ll know that great pizza can sometimes exist outside of the conventional trappings of cheese or sauce. Vegan chef Tabitha Brown loves how hummus takes the place of cheese, suggesting red pepper hummus for extra flavor. Brown’s recipe also includes pineapple pieces for a sweet twist!
Vegan Heaven shares an example of hummus pizza with a similar Mediterranean flair, topping the pizza dough and hummus layer with “spinach, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, artichokes, olives and red onion.” The author also includes her recipe for a yummy homemade pizza crust. But not all hummus pizza is vegan. This veggie pizza recipe from allrecipes.com uses hummus only as a substitute for typical marinara sauce. While the recipe includes a sprinkling of cheese, you can always substitute vegan cheese or leave off the cheese entirely. I’m all about Slim G’s take (@videomeals), which includes spinach and a fried egg, and looks a little like shakshuka. Although I was initially skeptical of the idea of hummus pizza, I am starting it to see it as a beautiful example of the mix of America’s myriad food traditions. Because sharing food is so integral to sharing culture, this mix of Middle Eastern and European traditions is a perfect example of the sought after “melting pot” of American cultures. With globalization comes hummus pizza. And I’m here for it.
Hummus pizza. Yes, really.
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Keftes meatballs: Super Syrian crowd pleasers By Crystal Rivera, The Nosher When I’m in Brooklyn, I turn to Syrian Jewish cooking from my Syrian Italian extended family. I love making their traditional favorites: yebra (stuffed grape leaves draped in a sweettart tamarind sauce), sambousek stuffed with muenster cheese and dotted with sesame seeds, and these keftes. When I was introduced to them nine years ago, they were unlike anything I’d ever had. The keftes are seasoned with baharat or allspice and Aleppo pepper. While cooking, they plump up ever so slightly, like a dumpling, in a rich sauce of tamarind, tomato paste, fresh lemon juice, and spices. These sweet and tangy meatballs are served at almost every holiday table. This recipe is designed to feed a crowd, but can also be cut in half for a smaller portion. There are variations of keftes throughout the Middle East. Use more or less Aleppo pepper according to your spice tolerance. The amount of tamarind concentrate, lemon juice, and tomato paste varies from one family to the next. I recommend tasting the sauce as you go along the first time you make these. Ingredients For the meatballs: •2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, for frying •3 lb. ground beef •6 large eggs •1-1⁄2 to 2 cups toasted pine nuts •3⁄4 cup unsalted matzah meal, plus extra in a bowl for rolling •1-1⁄2 Tbsp. kosher salt •1 heaping Tbsp. baharat or allspice
•1 Tbsp. Aleppo pepper •1 cup fresh herbs (such as parsley, cilantro, dill, or mint), finely chopped For the sauce: •Olive oil •1⁄2 tsp. Aleppo pepper (or more for extra heat) •1⁄2 tsp. allspice •4 cups water •1⁄2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. good quality tamarind concentrate •4 oz or 1⁄2 cup tomato paste •Juice from 1 lemon, about 3 Tbsp. •Salt, to taste •Sugar, to taste (optional) Directions 1. Combine all the meatball ingredients minus the oil and, with wet hands, gently form walnut-sized balls. Place them on baking sheets. 2. Roll each meatball in matzah meal. 3.Over medium-high heat, add vegetable oil to a pan and brown the meatballs on all sides. Brown in batches so as to not overcrowd the pan. Set aside. 4. In a separate pot over medium heat, add a generous drizzle of olive oil and the Aleppo pepper. Once the oil has turned a reddish color, add the allspice and the rest of the sauce ingredients. Stir and let simmer for a few minutes. 5. Add the meatballs and simmer for about 30 minutes. Taste the sauce to see if it needs adjusting. The meatballs should plump up a little when done, and the sauce should thicken. 6. Serve with rice.
Zimmern’s super fluffy matzah ball soup secret By Andrew Zimmern, The Nosher A Passover and holiday staple, matzah ball soup is Jewish penicillin. Before I had a bottle in my mouth I was sipping on this soup, and it’s remained one of my top five favorite foods. This is the only recipe I’ve come across that measures up to my grandmother’s. Ingredients For the matzah balls: •5 large eggs, 3 separated •1/4 tsp. cream of tartar •1/2 tsp. garlic powder •1/2 tsp. onion powder •1/2 tsp. baking soda •1/2 tsp. baking powder •2-1/2 tsp. kosher salt •Pepper •1/4 cup schmaltz •1/4 cup minced onion •1-1/4 cups matzah meal •1 Tbsp. vegetable oil, for forming the matzah balls For the soup: •2 quarts chicken stock •1 3-lb. chicken •1 small onion, diced
•1 large carrot, thinly sliced •2 celery ribs, thinly sliced •1/3 lb. rutabaga, peeled and diced
•4 large parsley sprigs, plus more for garnish •4 large dill sprigs, plus more for garnish Directions 1. In a large bowl, beat the 3 egg whites and cream of tartar with an electric hand mixer until stiff peaks form. 2. In a separate bowl, combine the garlic powder, onion powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, 3 egg yolks, 2 whole eggs, and pepper. Whisk to incorporate. Add the schmaltz, minced onion, beaten egg whites, and matzah meal. Fold together until fully combined. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the batter and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 24 hours. 3. In a large pot, bring the chicken stock to a simmer. Add the whole chicken and return the stock to a simmer. Cover and cook for about an hour, or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken and let cool slightly, then shred the meat; discard the skin and bones. Reserve half of the chicken meat for another use. 4. Strain the soup into another pot set over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, rutabaga, chicken meat, parsley, and dill sprigs. Remove the matzah ball batter from the fridge. Using the vegetable oil to keep your hands moist and prevent the batter from sticking, roll golf ball sized matzah balls and gently place in the soup. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 25 minutes. 5. Serve, garnishing with chopped dill and parsley.
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October 23, 2020 • 5 Cheshvan 5781 THE JEWISH STAR
כוכב של שבת The JEWISH STAR’S
Fri Oct 23 / 5 Cheshvan Noach Candlelighting: 5:44 pm Havdalah: 6:51 pm
Jewish Star columnists: Rabbi Avi Billet of Anshei Chesed Congregation, Boynton Beach, Florida, mohel and Five Towns native; Rabbi David Etengoff of Magen David Yeshivah, Brooklyn; Rabbi Binny Freedman, rosh yeshiva of Orayta, Jerusalem. Contributing writers: Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks, emeritus chief rabbi of United Hebrew Congregations of British Commonwealth; Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, executive VP emeritus of the OU. Contact our columnists at: Columnist@TheJewishStar.com
Five Towns candlelighting times from White Shul
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Invitation to contribute: Orthodox rabbis in The Jewish Star’s coverage area are invited to submit Torah articles for publication to Publisher@TheJewishStar.com
Righteousness does not define leadership in backward and covered their father’s naked body. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father naked. (Gen. 9:20-23) The man of G-d has become a man of the soil. The upright man has become a drunkard. The man clothed in virtue now lies naked. The man he praise accorded to Noah is unparal- who saved his family from the Flood is now so leled in Tanach. He was, says the Torah, “a undignified that two of his sons are ashamed to righteous man, perfect in his generations; look at him. This is a tale of decline. Why? Noah is the classic case of someone who is Noah walked with G-d.” No such praise is given to Abraham or Moses or any of the prophets. righteous, but who is not a leader. In a disasThe only person in the Bible who comes close is trous age, when all has been corrupted, when Job, described as “blameless and upright (tam the world is filled with violence, when even ve-yashar); he feared G-d and shunned evil” G-d Himself — in the most poignant line in the (Job 1:1). Noah is in fact the only individual whole Torah — “regretted that He had made man on earth, and was pained to His very core,” that the Tanach describes as a tzaddik. Yet the Noah we see at the end of his life is Noah alone justifies G-d’s faith in humanity, the not the person we saw at the beginning. After faith that led Him to create humankind in the first place. That is an immense achievement, and the Flood: Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant nothing should detract from it. Noah is, after all, a vineyard. When he drank some of its wine, the man through whom G-d makes a covenant he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his with all humanity. Noah is to humanity what tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his fa- Abraham is to the Jewish people. Noah was a good man in a bad age. But his ther naked and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and influence on the life of his contemporaries was, laid it across their shoulders; then they walked apparently, non-existent. That is implicit in G-d’s statement, “You alone have I found righteous in this whole generation” (Gen. 7:1). It is implicit also in the fact that only Noah and his family, together with the animals, were saved. It is reasonable to assume that these two facts — Noah’s righteousness and his lack of influence on his contemporaries — are intimately related. Noah preserved his virtue by separating himself from his environment. That is how, in a world gone mad, he stayed sane. he famous debate among the Sages as to whether the phrase “perfect in his generations” (Gen. 6:9) is praise or criticism may well be related to this. Some said that “perfect in his generations” means that he was perfect only relative to the low standard then prevailing. Had he lived in the generation of Abraham, they said, he would have been Children at HANC’s Early Childhood Center in West Hempstead insignificant. Others said prepared for parshat Noach this week, fingerpainting a rainbow, the opposite: if in a wicked organizing animals for the teva, creating sink-and-float projects, generation Noah was righmunching on animal crackers, and enjoying a visit by a petting zoo. teous, how much greater he would have been in a
RabbI SIR JoNathaN SaCkS
Imagining Noach’s ark
generation with role models like Abraham. The argument, it seems to me, turns on whether Noah’s isolation was part of his character, or whether it was merely the necessary tactic in that time and place. If he were naturally a loner, he would not have gained by the presence of heroes like Abraham. He would have been impervious to influence, whether for good or bad. If he was not a loner by nature but merely by circumstance, then in another age he would have sought out kindred spirits and become greater still. Yet what exactly was Noah supposed to do? How could he have been an influence for good in a society bent on evil? Was he really meant to speak in an age when no one would listen? Sometimes people do not listen even to the voice of G-d Himself. We had an example of this just two chapters earlier, when G-d warned Cain of the danger of his violent feelings toward Abel (“Why are you so furious? Why are you depressed? … sin is crouching at the door. It lusts after you, but you can dominate it”) (Gen. 4:6-7). Yet Cain did not listen, and instead went on to murder his brother. If G-d speaks and people do not listen, how can we criticize Noah for not speaking when all the evidence suggests that they would not have listened to him anyway? The Talmud raises this very question in a different context, in another lawless age: the years leading to the Babylonian conquest and the destruction of the First Temple, another lawless age: Aha b. R. Hanina said: Never did a favorable word go forth from the mouth of the Holy One, blessed be He, of which He retracted for evil, except the following, where it is written, “And the L-rd said unto him: Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and cry for all the abominations that are being done in the midst thereof” (Ezek. 9:4). The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Gabriel, “Go and set a mark of ink on the foreheads of the righteous, that the destroying angels may have no power over them; and a mark of blood upon the foreheads of the wicked, that the destroying angels may have power over them.” Said the Attribute of Justice before the Holy One, blessed be He, “Sovereign of the Universe! How are these different from those?” “Those are completely righteous men, while these are completely wicked,” He replied. “Sovereign of the Universe!” said Justice, “They had the power to protest but did not.” Said G-d, “Had they protested, they would not have heeded them.” “Sovereign of the Universe!” said Justice,
Praying for the speedy recovery of Rabbi Sacks We join in praying for a speedy recovery by Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks, HaRav Ya’akov Zvi ben Liba, who has been diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing treatment. “He remains positive and upbeat, and will now spend a period of time focused on the treatment he is receiving from his excellent medical team,” a spokesman said. “He is looking forward to returning to his work as soon as possible.” “This was revealed to You, but was it revealed to them?” (Shabbat 55a) ccording to this passage, even the righteous in Jerusalem were punished at the time of the destruction of the Temple because they did not protest the actions of their contemporaries. G-d objects to the claim of Justice: Why punish them for their failure to protest when it was clear that had they done so, no one would have listened? Justice replies: This may be clear to you or to the angels – meaning, this may be clear in hindsight – but at the time, no human could have been sure that their words would have no impact. Justice asks: How can you be sure you will fail if you never try? The Talmud notes that G-d reluctantly agreed with Justice. Hence the strong principle: When bad things are happening in society, when corruption, violence and injustice prevail, it is our duty to register a protest, even if it seems likely that it will have no effect. Why? Because that is what moral integrity demands. Silence may be taken as acceptance. And besides, we can never be sure that no one will listen. Morality demands that we ignore probability and focus on possibility. Perhaps someone will take notice and change their ways – and that “perhaps” is enough. This idea did not suddenly appear for the first time in the Talmud. It is stated explicitly in the book of Ezekiel. This is what G-d says to the prophet: “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against Me; they and their ancestors have been in See Sacks on page 18
G-d is telling the prophet to speak, regardless of whether people will listen.
Rabbi dR. tzvi heRsh weinReb Orthodox Union
here are many words in the English language that originally had great power but were watered down over the years to the point of meaninglessness. One such word is “survivor.” Another is “trauma.” When I think back to my early adult life, I remember the word “survivor” being reserved for those who endured a severe crisis but, either because of their exceptional skills or good fortune, emerged from it with minimal physical harm. They resumed relatively normal lives but had to cope with a variety of practical and emotional challenges. Nowadays, the word “survivor” is applied freely even to those who have experienced the normal and expected daily difficulties which all human beings face and who have simply gone on living. “Survivor” has thus become a term that easily fits all of us.
A similar observation could be made about the word “trauma.” It was originally used to describe catastrophic conditions of great suffering, such as war, life-threatening illness, and natural disasters. Nowadays, the term is freely used to describe far lesser events. So much so that I recently overheard an ardent sports fans refer to her favorite team’s loss of several consecutive ball games as a “recurring trauma.” ast week, we began to reread the Chumash. This week, we read Noach, the second of a year-long series of weekly Torah portions. Throughout the coming year, we will search for the common themes of all of these readings. There is one theme which, I suggest, pervades not only the Chumash, but the entire Jewish Bible. Indeed, it pervades all of Jewish history, down to this very day. This theme is the story of the “survivor,” the person who lives through trauma and who copes, one way or another, with life as a survivor, with life after trauma.
One such person is the hero of this week’s Torah portion, Noah. Noah survived the destruction of all of civilization. In the words of our sages, he lived to see “a built-up world, a destroyed world, and a rebuilt world.” Noah was a “survivor of trauma,” no doubt about it. There are many other candidates in the Bible who merit the term “survivor of trauma,” Adam and Eve suffered trauma. They lived in paradise. But they lost it. That’s trauma. They survived and went on to make lives for themselves. That’s survival. King David suffered trauma and was a survivor. So was Job, Jeremiah. and Jonah. Names of survivors in the long history of our people come readily to mind and include rabbinic sages such as Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai, Rabbi Akiva, and Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. Maimonides suffered trauma and survived mightily, as did Rabbi Isaac Abarbanel, who writes at length about the several traumas that he lived through and survived.
Truth is not synonymous with reality. Reality is what is, truth is what can be.
Finally, the horrific Holocaust, the ultimate trauma, left numerous survivors, some of whose memoirs are world famous, such as Victor Frankel, Primo Levy, and Eli Wiesel. I, for one, and many of the readers of this column, have known quite a few survivors. In a sense, we are all survivors. Who can teach us the skills of survival? hat can we learn from this week’s Torah reading about the way Noah, the archetypal survivor, coped with the challenges of survival in the wake of the world’s nearly total destruction? You know the story. Noah and the members of his immediate family find refuge in the Ark from the Great Flood. The flood ends, the waters recede, and finally the Almighty speaks to Noah and says, “Come out of the ark, together with your wife, your sons, and your sons’ wives.” They exit the ark. They survive the trauma. But then, what does Noah do? What are his first actions as a survivor? He starts off on the proverbial right foot. “Noah built an altar to the Lord. … He offered burnt offerings on the altar.” Noah expresses his gratitude to the Almighty. See Weinreb on page 18
As we read parsha, consider: Who was Noach? Rabbi david etengoff
Jewish Star columnist
he penultimate verses of Parashat Bereishit present us with dire foreboding: And the L-rd saw that the evil of man was great in the earth, and every imagination of his heart was only evil all the time. And the L-rd regretted that He had made man upon the earth, and He became grieved in His heart. And the L-rd said, “I will blot out man, whom I created, from upon the face of the earth, from man to cattle to creeping thing, to the fowl of the heavens, for I regret that I made them.” (6:5-7) The final pasuk, however, offers us a ray of hope: “v’Noach matza chane b’einai Hashem (But Noah found favor in the eyes of the L-rd).” The first verse in our parasha explains why he found favor: “Noah was a righteous man, perfect in his generations … Noah walked with G-d.” Rashi cites the well-known argument regard-
ing Noach’s true persona, in his generations: “Some of our Sages interpret it [b’dorotav] favorably: How much more so if he had lived in a generation of righteous people, he would have been even more righteous. Others interpret it derogatorily: In comparison with his generation he was righteous, but if he had been in Abraham’s generation, he would not have been considered of any importance.” The positive approach focuses on who Noach was in an absolute sense, rather than who he was in comparison to others. As many commentators note, his name is comprised of the Hebrew letters nun and chet which, when reversed, spell the word “chane” (grace). In other words, in his very being, Noach was an ish tzaddik. In stark contrast, the oft-quoted negative approach suggests that Noach was essentially “a nobody,” and that only in the darkness and depravity of his time did he appear righteous.
ike Rashi, the Ramban analyzes the expression b’dorotav, in his generations. After citing Rashi’s words, he suggests his own interpretation: “In my view, the most satisfying explanation, according to the simple meaning, is that he [Noach] was hatzadik b’dorot hahame (the only righteous person in those generations). Thus, there was no one else was worthy of being saved in that generation. It appears that the Rambam is adopting the “chane hypothesis” as cited above, namely, that Noach was an authentic tzadik and tamim in his own right. This is borne out by his earlier comment on Noach ish tzadik haya: The verse mentions that Noah was zakkai v’shalame b’tzidko (free of guilt and complete in his righteousness), to let us know that he deserved to be saved from the deluge because he didn’t deserve any punishment at all, for he was tamim b’tzedek (perfect in righteousness). The word “tzadik” refers to someone
Was Noach good in an absolute sense, or only in comparison to others?
who is righteous in judgment, the opposite of “rasha,” an evil individual. In sum, the portrait of Noach that emerges from the Ramban’s presentation is a person who was tamim b’tzedek in every sense of the term. As such, he was the ideal person to continue the human race in the coming postdiluvian world. Closer to our own time, Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch, in his Commentary on the Torah, examines the expression matza chane b’einai Hashem in a manner that complements the Ramban’s presentation: A person who has found favor in the eyes of Hashem has achieved the highest level of perfection — for such an individual is able to [intellectually and spiritually] come close before Hashem. av Hirsch equates Noach with Moshe and the Jewish people: The expression, “matza chane” is found solely in regard to those whom Hashem has graced with extraordinary virtues and unique abilities so that they may achieve the most lofty and exceptional of all goals. We find this in reference to Moshe and the Jewish people. As the text states: “matza chane See Etendgoff on page 18
Unity’s no goal when not everyone’s the same Rabbi avi billet Jewish Star columnist
This column is reprinted from 2008. eading the story of the dispersion at the beginning of chapter 11, it is hard to see where the people went wrong. In the words of Targum Yonatan, they spoke one language and had the same mindset. Their achdut (communal unity) should be a model for all! The Talmud (Sanhedrin 109a) has a few suggestions as to what the “dor hapalaga” had in mind when building their tower. The first suggestion, that they were trying to make a hole in the sky to create a constant flow of water, is quickly rejected. But then the Talmud explains that there were three groups. The first wanted to live in the heavens, the second wanted to worship idols on top of the tower and the third wanted to wage war. The latter group may have wanted to use their position as a command center from which they could fight off attackers or, according to a dif-
ferent opinion, as a means to reach heaven to fight G-d. None of these explanations are evident from the text. The only indication the text gives us is that they were looking for collective glory, to avoid becoming dispersed (11:4). Rabbi Menachem Leibtag, of the Tanach Study Center (tanach.org), uses his “Migdal Bavel vort” as a primary base for teaching about Judaism’s mission in the world. They wanted to “make a name for ourselves,” (11:4) while Abraham went out of his way to “call in the name of G-d.” (12:8, 13:4. 21:33) They placed themselves at the center of their universe, while Abraham put G-d at the center of his universe. It is possible that they were building a tower to be prepared in case of a future flood. It is possible that they wanted to make a onebuilding city in which everyone would live together. It is possible that they wanted to create a standard under which everyone would live, and a society in which everyone would be doing the exact same thing.
To their credit, they all participated in the effort. To their credit, they seemed to share the same ideals. To their credit, they knew that when you want to live a certain lifestyle, you need to work hard to achieve that goal. And yet they were worthy of punishment, a punishment in which their unified language changed and they could no longer understand each other. Rabbeinu Bachya says their unity caused G-d to merely disperse them instead of destroy them as He destroyed the generation of the flood. But, he says, they sinned with their speech, in the sentiments they expressed about building a city and making themselves a name, and so they were punished with their speech. erhaps their greatest sin was not in their admirable unity, but in their insistence that everyone be the same. We live in a world of many colors and stripes, in which there is room for differences of opinion. People are free to choose how they want to live
Perhaps their greatest sin was in their insistence that everyone be the same.
their lives, and must be flexible in “allowing” others to be free to make their own choices. Just as the rainbow has different colors which all equally contribute to the beauty of its whole, we have to train ourselves to see that people who do not look or think exactly as we do have a right to express an opinion and be heard. This applies, most currently, in the election campaign, but has repercussions in every way in which we live our lives. There is one major difference, however, between the Jewish community and the generally “free” society. We have a unifying language, Hebrew, and a guidebook with rules we are committed to following. There are different interpretations for some of these rules, but there is a general uniformity among the children of Abraham who seek to “call in the name of G-d.” We have to remember that it is never about us. When we make it about “us” and “our way of life” instead of “for G-d and the Torah” (and some people have a difficulty discerning between the two), we are as guilty as the generation of the dispersion, who were spread across the globe because of their misguided principles.
THE JEWISH STAR October 23, 2020 • 5 Cheshvan 5781
Noach’s story and the survivors of trauma
16 October 23, 2020 • 5 Cheshvan 5781 THE JEWISH STAR
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I used to think that anti-Semitism was history. Then I became Jewish. KyLIE ORA LOBELL
t wasn’t until I started converting to Judaism that I realized that anti-Semitism is very much alive and well — and it’s only getting worse. Last year saw the most anti-Semitic incidents in 40 years, according to the Anti-Defamation League. And yet, when I talk to my family about anti-Semitism and why I don’t feel safe here in America anymore, they don’t quite understand. I don’t expect them to. If you have never been discriminated against for your identity, then it’s extremely difficult to comprehend how it could happen to others. You don’t know how scary and powerless you feel when people say they hate you. Growing up in a white home in a predominantly white neighborhood in Baltimore, I never once faced racism or any form of discrimination. My family and I pretty much looked like everyone else. We could blend in and there were no differences between the people in our community and us. On the other hand, in high school, when my mom moved us to Pikesville, a predominantly Orthodox Jewish neighborhood, I noticed that they looked different from us right away. Mostly, I’d see them on Saturdays, wearing all black and pushing baby strollers. The only thoughts that crossed my mind were, “Wow, Jewish people walk a lot,” and “They must be really hot in that dark clothing.” Unlike my mom and I, they couldn’t hide who they were. Today, I’m one of those Jews walking on Shabbat around my neighborhood, which is a little frightening nowadays. But, ironically,
the few times I experienced real anti-Semitism occurred when I wasn’t easily identifiable as an Orthodox Jew. Like the time my landlord told me her father used to “Jew people down,” or when my Uber driver said Jews control the world and like to make little children into matzoh ball soup (really!). The topic came up because we were driving through a predominantly Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Los Angeles and he spotted some haredi Jews. The first incident was offensive, and the latter was horrifying. I shared these stories online and with my family, because the only way non-Jews can slightly understand what is going on is if we tell our stories and show them our lived reality. t took me a while to get to this place, though. I didn’t want to comment on anti-Semitism because I didn’t want to seem like I was being dramatic. One thing that anti-Semites say online is that anti-Semitism doesn’t actually exist, and Jews make it up or are exaggerating it. I gave into that for a little bit, sadly because I didn’t want to face harassment online. But we must speak up. This summer, I witnessed #JewishPrivilege shift from an anti-Semitic hashtag on Twitter to one where Jews were sharing their anti-Semitic trauma. I shared the landlord and Uber stories, and also posted, “#JewishPrivilege is when a Hollywood agent yelled at my husband, a comedian, for taking off Jewish holidays because ‘You can’t do that in this business’!” and “#JewishPrivilege is having to hire an armed guard for our synagogue because Jews were massacred in Pittsburgh and Poway.” I received more engagement than I’ve ever achieved on the platform. One person told me “F— Israel” and another called me a “heathen” for converting. But overall, I found support from non-Jews and Jews alike, with many retweeting me and agreeing with what
#JewishPrivilege is having to hire an armed guard for our synagogue because Jews were massacred in Pittsburgh and Poway.
Visitors look at items well-wishers have left behind along the fence at the Tree of Life Synagogue on Oct. 27, 2019, the first anniversary of the attack in Pittsburgh. Jeff Swensen/Getty Images
I had said. It empowered me to keep tweeting about anti-Semitism. We must continue to speak up, show our vulnerability and humanity and help the non-Jewish community understand. Black Lives Matter is very effective at showing people outside of the Black community their pain and trauma and has gained a huge following, with people of all different races and backgrounds supporting them. Anti-Semitism and its effects should be understood and rejected just as firmly as racism. Unfortunately, a lot of non-Jews think that antiSemitism is a thing of the past that died with the Holocaust and that society has advanced since then. I certainly did before I converted. But when talking about anti-Semitism in the classroom, it has to go way beyond the Holocaust so people can very much realize it’s alive and well today. Recently, a teenager asked my husband
to take off his hat so he could see if he had horns. Maybe if that teen had gotten a better education on anti-Semitism, he would have thought twice before saying that. When I talk to my family about how America is quickly becoming like Europe before the Holocaust and how I want to move to Israel one day, they say “Really?” and find it hard to believe. “Why would you move so far away?” they ask. I tell them I want to survive. I send them news articles to back up my claims. I hope they’re beginning to understand. I hope they see that Pittsburgh and Poway were not isolated incidents but indicative of a bigger issue going on. If our collective chorus gets louder and louder, and we tell our non-Jewish friends and family about anti-Semitism, they may just start to understand — and become valuable allies in the process.
I talk to my family about how America is becoming like Europe before the Holocaust and how I want to move to Israel one day. They find it hard to believe.
stEpHEN M. FlatOw
ure, it’s ironic that a Palestinian leader who accused Israel of spreading the coronavirus checked himself into an Israeli hospital when he was afflicted with it. But the implications of this episode are much more significant than another chuckle over Palestinian hypocrisy. This week’s two-face is Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the PLO executive committee. He served as the PLO’s representative to various negotiations, and as Yasser Arafat’s spokesman to the foreign news media. Among the blood libels Erekat spread against Israel was his loudly publicized claim in 2002 that Israel “massacred” more than 500 Palestinian Arabs in Jenin. The actual number was 53, and they were terrorists who were killed in battle. A more recent anti-Israel slander from Erekat was his announcement, in the official Palestinian Authority newspaper Al-Hayat AlJadida on March 20, that Israelis were “spitting on Palestinian cars and property in order to transfer the corona disease to them”
(translation by Palestinian Media Watch). When Erekat himself came down with the disease last week, he had many Palestinian Arab hospitals from which to choose. He could have opted to be treated at the hospital closest to his home, which is the Jericho Government Hospital. Or he could have gone to one of the 15 hospitals in other PA-occupied areas, such as the Martyr Yasser Arafat Government Hospital in Salfit. Or one of the five hospitals in predominantly Arab neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem. But no, Erekat insisted on being taken to Hadassah Hospital in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ein Kerem. And the kind folks at Hadassah took him in, despite all the Jewish blood on his hands from all those years of terrorist attacks perpetrated by the organization of which he was, and is, a senior representative. am sure that was a wise decision by Erekat, from a medical point of view. No doubt any Israeli hospital is better equipped than any of the PA’s hospitals. If you have COVID-19, Jerusalem (or Tel Aviv or Haifa) is the place to go,
not Ramallah. But the question is: Why? It’s not because Israel prohibits the PA from training doctors. It doesn’t. And it’s not because some Israeli blockade prevents the PA from importing medical equipment. There’s no such blockade. Rather, it’s because the PA prefers to spend its money on guns, not butter. Or, in this case, guns and terrorists’ salaries, not ventilators. The PA has one of the largest per-capita security forces in the world. The Palestinian Arab Shehab news agency reported last year that the PA has “65,000 troops” — that is, policemen and various “security” units that function as a de facto army. The PA spent more than $1-billion on those forces in 2018, according to Shehab. What in the world does the PA need 65,000 troops for? It’s not like the PA has ever fought any wars, or is threatened by any country in the region. According to the Oslo accords, the PA’s security forces are supposed to apprehend terrorists, but they have never taken
Imagine how many Arab lives might have been saved if money had been spent on medicine instead of weapons.
that obligation seriously, which is why the Israeli army has to keep going into PA areas, to capture the terrorists whom the PA security forces leave untouched. Exact percentages are difficult to come by, but according to a February 2015 PA Ministry of Finance report, “budget allocations to the security services in Palestine’s 2014 general budget amounted to 28 percent” of the total budget. And that figure might actually have been even higher. Hassan Khreisheh, vice president of the PA’s Legislative Council, told the Arab media outlet Al-Monitor last year that “the security expenditures are much higher, reaching 35 percent of the public budget.” Another big chunk of the PA’s annual budget is used to pay imprisoned terrorists and the families of dead terrorists. Even the Washington Post, which is strongly sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, acknowledged that in 2017, the PA paid $160 million to terrorists in Israeli prisons, and another $183 million to terrorists’ families. That’s a total investment of $343 million in the PA’s “pay to slay” terror program. Imagine how many Palestinian Arab lives might have been saved if the PA had spent even part of that money on medicine and equipment to combat the coronavirus. Why, even Saeb Erekat might have agreed to be treated in a PA hospital!
Will France leagally confront its anti-Semites? BEN COHEN
ho is more effective in the fight against resurgent anti-Semitism: Facebook or the French judiciary? I’m asking this because of two separate developments over the last week that, when taken together, suggest that the social-media neophytes in the private sector are far betterequipped for the task of combating anti-Jewish agitation than the venerable legal system of a leading EU member state and world power. Last Monday, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced a 180-degree policy reversal: henceforth, the denial of the Holocaust is a lie that Facebook will no longer tolerate on its platform. In an interview two years ago, Zuckerberg ruled out a ban on Holocaust denial, arguing that the best way to fight “bad speech” was with “good speech.” Now, he is no longer so convinced. “I’ve struggled with the tension between standing for free expression and the harm caused by minimizing or denying the horror of the Holocaust,” he wrote in a blog post. “My own thinking has evolved as I’ve seen data showing an increase in anti-Semitic violence, as have our wider policies on hate speech.” There were other factors in Zuckerberg’s evolution, not least the concerns voiced by advertisers about hate speech and fake news more broadly on Facebook. But the fact remains that Zuckerberg’s view on this matter has evolved in recognition of changing circumstances, which is more than can be said for state prosecutors and judges in France. wo days before Zuckerberg declared his shift on Holocaust denial, there was a creepy reminder of the danger it poses on full display along the celebrated rue de Rivoli in Paris. The columns of one of the his-
toric buildings lining the street had been vandalized with giant swastikas in red paint, 20 of them altogether. France’s interior minister and the mayor of Paris were among the politicians who rushed to condemn the outrage, noting that it was yet another sign of menacing anti-Semitism that the country’s political establishment has pledged to stamp out. The alleged vandal, a 31-year-old man from the Republic of Georgia, was captured by police on Sunday. The following day, he was sent for a psychiatric evaluation, which determined that he was not suffering from mental illness, and from there back into the custody of the police. On Wednesday, the Paris prosecutor’s office announced that the man was being charged with causing damage to private property. The greater crime — an offense aggravated by racial or religious hatred — was absent from the charge sheet. Why? Because, as the newspaper Le Figaro explained, the prosecutor reasoned that since the vandalized building did not have any historic Jewish associations and was not owned by Jews, the act of spraying the main symbol of Nazism on its exterior could not be construed as a hate crime targeting the Jewish community. One of the lawyers for LICRA, a civic organization that counters anti-Semitism and racism, expressed herself “stupefied” by the prosecutors’ decision, a reaction shared by CRIF, the body representing French Jews, along with the French Jewish student association, UEJF. In the sense that judicial officials in a country that has been plagued by anti-Semitic violence for nearly 20 years fail to connect the swastika with hatred directed at Jews, it is indeed stupefying — and frankly insulting. But perhaps because we are talking about France, it isn’t necessarily surprising. After all, the Islamist anti-Semite who cruelly murdered Sarah Halimi, a 65-year-old Jewish woman, in her Paris apartment in April 2017 has been excused from a criminal trial on the grounds that his intake of cannabis on the
Courts are the acid test of a country’s commitment to protecting its minority communities and punishing those who attack them.
The exterior of the Palais de Justice in Paris, France.
night of the killing rendered him delirious, and therefore, not criminally responsible. f course, the Halimi case is far more serious than the swastika vandalism, as an elderly woman’s life was savagely taken, but both examples speak to a pattern. French Jews are targeted, attacked and vilified, French politicians jostle to be the first to condemn the latest outrage, but when the offenders come before the courts, the anti-Semitic hatred that motivated their acts is treated as an irrelevant distraction by the judiciary. And yet, at the same time, French Jews have made visible progress this year in the fight against anti-Semitism. For more than a decade, an ostensible comedian named Dieudonne M’bala M’bala established himself as France’s most obnoxious and high-profile anti-Semite, mocking the Holocaust in order to deny it in his live shows and broadcasts. But back in June, YouTube closed down Dieudonne’s channel, cutting him off from 400,000 followers overnight. Facebook and the Facebook-owned Instagram followed suit in August, pointing to the “dehumanizing terms about Jews” employed by Dieudonne in his posts. Moreover, similar penalties have been applied by social-media companies to lesser-known anti-Semites, including Dieudonne’s closest comrade, a two-bit thug named Alain Soral who fancies himself as a nationalist intellectual.
These blows against Dieudonne and Soral were particularly satisfying, given their lengthy records of appearing before French courts for Holocaust-denial offenses and leaving with just a small fine or a suspended sentence. It cannot escape notice that again the decisive moves here came from social-media companies who are relatively new to the challenges involved with identifying and countering antiSemitism. Meanwhile, the French judiciary continues to gaze in the opposite direction. These developments are not restricted to France. In other countries, including this one, economic and political pressures mean that the social-media behemoths are no longer able to disown the content they distribute; instead, they must increasingly police it. But similar pressure has failed to move the judiciary in France, which treats each instance of anti-Semitism as if it were unrelated to previous ones—a convenient approach if you want to carry on denying the crisis that is right in front of you. The battle against anti-Semitism cannot be waged on social media alone, especially in Europe. Jewish communities need recourse to the courts, and the courts are the acid test of how committed a country is to protecting its minority communities and punishing those who attack them. In this respect, France is sorely lacking — and those who argue that this defect will always be there may, sadly, be right.
THE JEWISH STAR October 23, 2020 • 5 Cheshvan 5781
P’stinians continue to choose guns over butter
‘Meditations at Twilight’ Sacks... Kosher Bookworm
AlAn JAy GerBer
Jewish Star columnist
abbi Moshe Sokolow, professor of Jewish Education at Yeshiva University, had this to say about “Meditations at Twilight on Genesis” by Rabbi Melvin Granatstein: “When the Sages advised turning the Torah ‘over and over again’ to reveal new facets, they had Meditations at Twilight on Genesis in mind. Rabbi Granatsteins’s studies of the weekly parashah combine deep philosophical and literary insights, written in a lucid style that make them a pleasure to read.” Rabbi Granatstein book presents a unique narrative for all of the major narratives in Genesis. It captures both the religious and
Merrick... Continued from page 6 rick, hoping to raise their children in the best environment they could. Liebowitz worked a series of jobs to support his family while attending school at night, eventually earning a degree in mechanical engineering. This helped him work at many of the defense manufacturers that dominated Long Island in those days. When those manufacturers left the island, Liebowitz decided to go into business himself, selling Snap-on tools to car repair shops and gas stations. Through all of that, he stayed active in veterans causes, primarily with the Jewish War Vet-
moral underpinnings of the biblical narrative and text. The essays contained in this work demonstrates to us that the Torah narrative is far more than just a listing of simple tales. Thus, thru this method we gain a special appreciation of the true value of the biblical text reflecting its value as a religious based text for us to accept. This text exposes readers to the informed insights of the classical commentators of the Chumash in the traditional mode. Readers who are familiar with traditional study methods will gain a fresh perspective from the author’s style of scholarship. Rabbi Granatstein was ordained at YU and served for close to four decades at the Green Road Synagogue in Cleveland, Ohio suburb of Beachwood. He was among the founders of the Mizrachi School in Cleveland and was head of its Vaad Hachinuch for many years, directing its educational programs. erans post in Merrick. In fact, when Liebowitz needed a POW/MIA flag for the Hebrew Home, the post was the first call he made. They shipped a flag over right away, and Liebowitz plans to raise it above the Hebrew Home for the first time on Veterans Day, Nov. 11. Then hopefully, not long after, Liebowitz can get home himself. Being at the Hebrew Home has allowed him to be close to one of his daughters, who lives in New Rochelle. His oldest daughter lives in Jerusalem, while his son and his wife retired to Arizona. They have expanded the family with grandchildren, and just two months ago, Liebowitz welcomed his first great-grandson, Cole. “I’m ready to go home,” Liebowitz said. “It’s not that I’m not happy to be here. It’s a beautiful place. But there’s nowhere like home.”
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Weinreb... Continued from page 15 The Almighty responds in kind. He says, “Never again will I doom the earth because of man. … Nor will I ever again destroy every living being, as I have done.” The Almighty goes on to bless Noah and his sons and He establishes an everlasting covenant with them. So far, so good. But we abruptly learn of Noah’s weakness. We read: “Noah, the tiller of the soil, was the first to plant a vineyard. He drank of the wine and became drunk and he uncovered himself within his tent. Noah resorts to drink to deal with the challenges that face every subsequent survivor of trauma. He was the first survivor to resort to intoxicating substances to cope with the aftereffects of trauma, but he certainly was not the last. Is intoxication the only coping method available to survivors? It is here that I’d like to bring an insight of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch into play. He notes that the Hebrew word in our verse for “became drunk” is vayishkar. The root letters of this word are sh-kh-r. Rav Hirsch notes that there are several other words in Hebrew with similar root letters. Two of them are sh-y-r, song or poem, and sh-k-r, falsehood. He proceeds to explain that these three terms represent three different modes of relationship between truth and reality. or Rav Hirsch, truth is not synonymous with reality. Reality is what is, whereas truth is what can be. The person who uses sh-y-r, the poetic imagination, knows that he can transform the truth which often lies hidden in the present into a new future reality. He need not live forever in a condition of post-traumatic stress. He can use the truth of his poetic imagination, of his hopes and
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Continued from page 14 revolt against Me to this very day. The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign L-rd says.’ And whether they listen or fail to listen — for they are a rebellious people — they will know that a prophet has been among them.” (Ezek. 2:3-5) G-d is telling the prophet to speak, regardless of whether people will listen. o, one way of reading the story of Noah is as an example of lack of leadership. Noah was righteous but not a leader. He was a good man who had no influence on his environment. There are, to be sure, other ways of reading the story, but this seems to me the most straightforward. If so, then Noah is the third case in a series of failures of responsibility. As we saw last week, Adam and Eve failed to take personal responsibility for their actions (“It wasn’t me”). Cain refused to take moral responsibility (“Am I my brother’s keeper?”). Noah failed the test of collective responsibility. This way of interpreting the story, if correct, entails a strong conclusion. We know that Judaism involves collective responsibility, for it teaches that Kol Yisrael arevim ze bazeh (All Israel are responsible for one another) (Shavuot
October 23, 2020 • 5 Cheshvan 5781 THE JEWISH STAR
Continued from page 15 ba’midbar (they found grace in the desert).” (Sefer Yirmiyahu 31:1) This is the case, as well, regarding Noach, whose entire generation destroyed its proper path and was judged for complete destruction; yet, he was fitting in the eyes of Hashem to be utilized as the foundation for all future salvation. [In sum,] everything that Hashem’s “heart” sought to find in mankind was inherent in Noach. [As a result, the Almighty] tasked him with saving all life that was good and bringing it forth into the future. For Rav Hirsch, Noach, like Moshe and the Jewish people, was graced by Hashem “with
39a). But it may be that simply being human also involves collective responsibility. Not only are Jews responsible for one another. So are we all, regardless of our faith or religious affiliations. So, at any rate, Maimonides argued, though Nahmanides disagreed. The Hassidim had a simple way of making this point. They called Noah a tzaddik im peltz (a righteous man in a fur coat). There are essentially two ways of keeping warm on a cold night. You can wear a thick coat, or you can light a fire. Wear a coat and you warm only yourself. Light a fire and you can warm others too. We are supposed to light a fire. Noah was a good man who was not a leader. Was he, after the Flood, haunted by guilt? Did he think of the lives he might have saved if only he had spoken out, whether to his contemporaries or to G-d? We cannot be sure. The text is suggestive but not conclusive. It seems, though, that the Torah sets a high standard for the moral life. It is not enough to be righteous if that means turning our backs on a society that is guilty of wrongdoing. We must take a stand. We must protest. We must register dissent even if the probability of changing minds is small. That is because the moral life is a life we share with others. We are, in some sense, responsible for the society of which we are a part. It is not enough to be good. We must encourage others to be good. There are times when each of us must lead. dreams, to construct a new and better reality. This is the preferred mode for the survivor of trauma. Noah, however, chose a different mode entirely. He chose sh-kh-r, drink. Faced with a traumatic reality, he creates for himself a fantasy reality, stimulated by intoxicating substances. He opts for a reality distorted by drink, an artificial reality, an illusion which fades rapidly with time. This is not a solution to the problem of post-traumatic survival. Then there is a third mode, the mode of sh-kr, of falsehood. This mode comes in many varieties. We now have a vocabulary for those varieties: denial, false ideologies, alternate facts, fictitious memories. These mechanisms will not dissipate the pernicious effects of traumatic experiences. Clearly, Rav Hirsch recommends the method of sh-y-r, the cultivation of the positive processes which we all possess, but of which we are seldom aware: Creative imagination, enlisting the cooperation of others, courage, and above all hope. As Rabbi Jonathan Sacks is wont to explain, “Hope is not optimism and optimism is not hope. Optimism is the conviction that things will be better. Hope is the conviction that we can make things better.” The survivor who effectively deals with the traumas of his or her past strives to make things better, and in the process not only survives but thrives, transcends the painful memories of the past, and painstakingly constructs a better future. Noah failed as a survivor. Perhaps that is perhaps the essential distinction between him and the hero of next week’s Torah parsha, Abraham. He too survived traumas, ten trials by the count of our rabbis, but he was able to employ the mode of sh-y-r, not sh-kh-r and not sh-k-r. He utilized truth to create a new reality, the reality of monotheism and, eventually, the reality of the Jewish people. extraordinary virtues and unique abilities” that provided him with the potential to be “the foundation for all future salvation.” Moreover, “everything that Hashem’s ‘heart’ sought to find in mankind was inherent in Noach.” In my estimation, this concept is inspiring beyond words, for we are the descendants of Noach and his children and thereby carry the potential for greatness of spirit and action. As David HaMelech beautifully said, “What is man that You should remember him, and the son of man that You should be mindful of him? You have made him slightly less than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and majesty.” (Tehillim 8:6) With Hashem’s help may we ever use our potential “l’takane ha’olam b’malchut Sha-dai (to perfect the world under the kingship of the Almighty).” (Aleinu) V’chane yihi ratzon.
caroline glick Israel Hayom
lmost all the polls say that President Donald Trump is heading towards defeat next month at the hands of his Democrat challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden. But Robert Cahaly, who heads the Trafalgar Group polling firm, disagrees. Cahaly was the only major pollster that accurately called the 2016 presidential race. In an interview with The Political Trade podcast last week, Cahaly said his data show Trump headed for another upset victory on Nov. 3. Cahaly said that today, as in 2016, the disparity between his numbers and the marquis polling firms’ numbers owes to the latter’s systematic neglect of what he calls the “Shy Trump Voter Effect.” From the time Hillary Clinton referred to Trump’s supporters as “deplorables” through today as Democrats demonize them as racists and fascists, Cahaly explains that a significant and growing segment of Trump voters will not admit their support for him. Fearing social and professional repercussions, the Shy Trump Voter lies to pollsters and anyone else who asks him what he thinks of Trump. Cahaly said that he goes to great lengths to correct for the Shy Trump Voter Effect in his polls, and that the other polling firms ignore the phenomenon. The Shy Trump Voter makes intuitive sense for anyone watching the cancel culture in America grow more menacing by the day. One of the communities where it likely plays a role is the American Jewish community. The Jewish community has been one of the most intolerant towards Trump supporters. After the Tree of Life massacre two years ago, leading Jewish intellectuals called for synagogues to ban Trump voters from entering their prayer halls. The day that the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed peace agreements with Israel at the White House, the Jewish Democratic Council of America ran an ad comparing Trump to Hitler. For the past year, the goal of the Jewish arm of the Democrat Party has been to portray Trump as the gravest threat to the American Jewish community. And it isn’t just Jewish notables propagating hatred and fear of Trump and his supporters. The old quip that Reform Judaism is simply the Democratic Party with Jewish holidays rings truer today than ever. In many Reform and Conservative synagogues, Judaism is portrayed as a synonym for progressive politics. Jewish Trump supporters who belong to these congregations are unlikely to share their views with their fellow congregants. So it’s safe to assume that the Shy Trump Voter Effect is alive and kicking in the American Jewish community today. And this brings us to Florida. ccording to the Real Clear Politics average of polls, Biden is leading Trump in the critical swing state by 2.7 percent. Cahaly’s polls place Trump at a two-point advantage. In 2016, Trump won Florida by a 1.5 percent margin over Clinton. Jews make up around 3.5 percent of Florida’s population and an even larger percentage of Florida voters. Consequently, the Jewish vote is critical for winning the state. Cahaly said his polls show “support for Trump in the Jewish community is skyrocketing.” If Trump wins an historic level of support among American Jews, it will be a testament
President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee former Vice President Joe Biden at the first presidential debate on Sept. 29. Screenshot
to the wisdom of an unprecedented percentage of American Jews. For American Jewry this year’s presidential election is without question the most critical one ever. Over the past four years, anti-Semitism has become an undeniable and central characteristic of the Democrat Party to which the vast majority of American Jews have pledged their loyalty for the better part of the past hundred years, while antiSemitism in the Republican Party has dropped to historic lows. Democratic anti-Semitism may seem to have appeared out of the blue but in truth, the party has been on a largely onelane road to radicalization for the past 50 years. It’s just that the path turned into a highway over the past four years with the rise of open anti-Semites like Rashida Tlaib, Linda Sarsour, Andre Carson, Keith Ellison and Ilhan Omar to commanding positions in the party. Anti-Semitism runs through Democrat politics, policies and behavior across a spectrum of issues. In foreign policy, hating Israel has become the most passionate position of the progressive grassroots. Biden announced early on that if elected, he will restore the US’s commitment to the Iran nuclear deal he forged with Barack Obama. That means that a Biden administration will cancel the economic sanctions on Iran, ensuring the survival of the regime. It means a Biden administration will enable the cessation of the UN arms embargo enabling Iran to purchase whatever advanced weapons systems it wants. It also means a regime pledged to annihilate the largest Jewish community in the world — Israel — will have an open path to a nuclear arsenal. iden has agreed to restore the Palestinians to center stage. This isn’t a pro-peace position. After all, the Abraham Accords are the result of Trump marginalizing the Palestinians. The purpose of a Palestinian-centric policy is it is to delegitimize Israel, justify a US foreign policy hostile to Israel and a domestic policy hostile to Israel’s supporters in America. Then there is anti-Semitism itself. The good news is that like Trump, Biden can be expected to take on white supremacists. The bad news is that in stark contrast to Trump, Biden can be expected to turn a blind eye to the growing anti-Semitism in his own political camp. The JDCA announced its campaign demonizing Trump as the gravest threat to the American Jewish community the day Trump signed
It’s safe to assume that the ‘Shy Trump Voter Effect’ is alive and kicking in the American Jewish community today.
an executive order extending Title IX protection under the US Civil Rights Act to Jews on campuses. The executive order specified that when considering anti-Semitic discrimination, the definition of anti-Semitism reached by the International Holocaust Remembrance Association (IHRA) should be used as a guidepost. The IHRA definition stipulates that antiZionism is anti-Semitism and that rejecting Israel’s right to exist, comparing it to Nazi Germany or apartheid South Africa, are forms of anti-Semitic actions. On Oct. 1, New York University reached a settlement with the US Department of Education’s Civil Rights Division over a complaint filed by a former student alleging antiSemitic discrimination by university authorities. The complaint was filed following Trump’s executive order. In the settlement, NYU agreed to apply the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism to its actions to protect Jewish students from discrimination. The NYU case shows how critical Trump’s executive order is to the protection of the civil rights of American Jews. On campuses the most common form of anti-Semitic harassment flows from anti-Zionism. Hostility to Jewish students and faculty has grown as campus authorities have refused to acknowledge that anti-Zionism is antiSemitism. NYU’s leadership allowed their campus to become a hostile environment for Jews where the slightest expression of support for Israel found Jewish students attacked and ostracized. So long as Trump’s executive order remains in effect and enforced, Jews can turn to the Department of Education for protection. The future of the executive order, not to mention its enforcement, will be very much in doubt in a Biden administration. For eight years, the Obama-Biden administration abjectly refused to protect Jewish students from discrimination rooted in anti-Zionism. And as a result, the discrimination increased steeply from semester to semester. nti-Semitism of course isn’t limited to anti-Zionism. There is also traditional anti-Semitism that involves scapegoating and assaulting Jews simply for being Jews. There’s a lot of that going on in Democrat circles these days. On Oct. 5, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo held a press conference where he di-
rectly threatened the state’s Orthodox Jewish community. In the middle of the Sukkot festival, Cuomo said, “I have to say to the Orthodox community … ‘If you’re not willing to live with these rules [of limiting participation in prayers due to the pandemic], then I’m going to close the synagogues.” It would be one thing to single out Orthodox Jews if they were the only ones rejecting the limitations on religious gatherings. But they aren’t. Not even close. As Daniel Greenfield reported at Frontpage online magazine, the day before Cuomo threatened the Orthodox community, thousands of Shi’ite Muslim men gathered without masks and with no social distancing in Queens to hold an Arba’een procession. Cuomo didn’t mention them. He also didn’t mention them in August when they held a Muharram procession in Manhattan, with no masks and no social distancing, even though the next day, Cuomo threatened to ban Jewish weddings. To justify his singling out of Orthodox Jews, Cuomo held up a photograph of a massive Chassidic funeral. Cuomo failed to note the photo was of a funeral that took place in 2006. Last week, Cuomo sent state workers to weld shut the entrance to a Jewish cemetery in Rockland County ahead of the memorial of a Chassidic leader that thousands of followers regularly attend. Across the street from the Jewish cemetery is a non-Jewish cemetery and as the Jews were barred from entering their grounds, hundreds of non-Jews gathered at their cemetery without social distancing and in at least some cases without masks, and with no law enforcement officers around to disperse them. The outpouring of wrath against Orthodox Jews by the likes of Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio since the outset of the coronavirus pandemic follows in the wake of a year and a half of ever-escalating assaults against Orthodox Jews in the New York metropolitan area. Those attacks culminated with the massacre of Jews in Jersey City and the attempted massacre of Jews in Monsey last November and December. Rather than take aggressive steps to protect the Jewish communities in neighborhoods like Crown Heights and Williamsburg from the perpetrators, who overwhelmingly hail from the African American and Muslim communities, Cuomo and de Blasio ignored them. Infamously, while making light of the assaults and harassment, de Blasio blamed the attacks on white nationalists. With a record like the one Cuomo has racked up in New York, and with the Democrat House majority incapable of condemning anti-Semitism when it emanates from its own members, it strains credulity to believe a Biden administration will protect the civil rights of Jews. This is especially true in the growing number of cases where the antiSemites are either progressives or members of privileged communities within the progressive camp, and the victims are either Zionist Jews or Orthodox Jews. A Jerusalem Post poll this week claimed that 70 percent of American Jews intend to vote for Biden. Twenty-five percent intend to vote for Trump. If the numbers are true, Trump is already enjoying a larger percentage of the Jewish vote than any Republican candidate since Ronald Reagan. If Cahaly’s models are as accurate in 2020 as they were in 2016, it is likely that Shy Trump Voters in the Jewish community will give Trump more Jewish votes than any Republican has received in history.
Rather than take aggressive steps to protect the Jewish communities in Crown Heights and Williamsburg, de Blasio blamed the attacks on white nationalists.
It strains credulity to believe a Biden administration will protect the civil rights of Jews.
THE JEWISH STAR October 23, 2020 • 5 Cheshvan 5781
Nov. 3 will be fateful day for American Jewry
New IDF unit could revolutionize battlefields By Yaakov Lappin, JNS In the summer of 2019, the Israel Defense Forces formed a new elite unit, and many of the details surrounding its activities remain unknown. What is known, however, is that this Multi-Dimensional Unit does not rely on a preexisting military model. Its personnel must be able to operate in every kind of combat arena, with its central mission being the rapid identification, tracking down and destruction of enemy targets. The unit is part of the new, multi-year plan, dubbed Momentum, introduced by the IDF Chief of General Staff, Lt. Col. Aviv Kochavi. Despite severe budgetary constraints and uncertainty driven by ongoing political paralysis, Kochavi continued to work to upgrade the IDF’s ground maneuver capability. One of the central pillars of the Momentum program relates to the IDF’s ground maneuvering capabilities, which the program envisions becoming significantly more lethal. Momentum calls for a major expansion of the ammunition stockpiles available to ground forces and an expansion of the ground vehicle fleets (with an emphasis on producing more state-of-the-art Merkava 4 tanks and modern armored personnel carriers, all of which have active defense systems onboard). The ground forces’ ability to detect and quickly strike enemy targets is a key aspect of the plan. According to the new perspective, for a ground maneuver to be successful it must be a multi-branch affair, capable of combining air power, cyber capabilities, precise firepower, and an ability to act in the electromagnetic spectrum and be backed by efficient logistics. All of these aspects are designed to come together to destroy enemy capabilities and reduce the adversary’s combat effectiveness. While all ground forces are undergoing changes in line with this vision, the Multi-Dimensional
IDF soldiers from the new Multi-Dimensional Unit in a training exercise in July 2020.
Unit takes that concept and encapsulates it into a single unit. This is first visible from its very makeup: The unit consists of soldiers from various elite reconnaissance battalions from the Paratroopers, Golani and Nahal, infantry brigades, alongside elite reconnaissance companies from the Armored Corps. These are joined by soldiers from the Yahalom elite combat engineering corps, Duvdevan special forces and the Oketz canine special forces unit. In addition, pilots and personnel from the Israel Air Force’s Headquarters have joined the mix. “The unit’s personnel will know how to operate in all combat arenas with its uniqueness lying in its ability to expose, locate, attack and destroy the enemy in all sectors and domains. In addition, the unit is designed to develop knowledge that will influence on the structure and organization of other sections of the military, and which will lead to other learning
IDF Spokesperson’s Unit
processes,” the IDF said, in describing the unit. Personnel first started arriving at the unit in January this year, reporting for duty under the command of a lieutenant colonel, who will head up the unit. Its personnel will use weapons developed specifically for the Multi-Dimensional Unit, though further details remain classified. The unit’s formation is so important to the Chief of General Staff that Kochavi took it upon himself, along with nine other projects related to the Momentum Plan, because he believes that it will lead to real organizational innovation in the military as it develops. The Multi-Dimensional Unit will be fed new combat doctrines from the Shiloah [launching] Department, a new section formed in the General Staff, which develops new combat concepts based on studying academic and industrial processes.
In July, one year after its founding, the MultiDimensional Unit completed its first exercise. The IDF described the drill as “a significant step towards making the unit operational. As part of the exercise, the unit’s soldiers trained and operated new multi-branch and multi-domain fighting methods. All methods were developed within the unit, in cooperation with different branches and units in the IDF, among them the IAF, units in the Intelligence Directorate, units in the Cyber Defense Directorate and various firepower units. “The soldiers activated groundbreaking abilities that were developed within the defense industries. These abilities and methods will be deployed by the maneuvering units of the IDF.” During the exercise, the unit worked very closely with F-16 fighter jet squadrons and a variety of drones. The drill was visited by Kochavi, who was shown a new technique that was developed in the unit for attacking targets; it includes attacking targets with a fighter jet that is activated by the soldiers on the battlefield in real time. In the exercise, the soldiers also activated an Apache AH-64 190th helicopter Squadron. An additional series of exercises is planned for the future, and in each exercise, the unit will add operational capabilities to its existing capabilities, the military stated. Brig. Gen. Yaron Finkelman, Commanding Officer of the 98th Division under which the MultiDimensional Unit operates, said after the drill that “during the past year, commanders have worked very hard to ensure the unit fulfills its purpose.” He added that the unit marks the arrival “of new advanced operational methods and abilities alongside coordination between ground, air, intelligence and cyber forces. The 98th Division is proud to take part, and lead the establishment and operative steps of the unit, as part of the effort to improve the ground forces’ readiness for the next war.”
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Borat mocks COVID antiJew conspiracy theories By Gabe Friedman, JTA Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest appearance in character as Borat satirized conspiracy theories that target Jews. On Jimmy Kimmel Live on Monday night, Cohen showed up as Borat — the anti-Semitic, misogynist journalist from Kazakhstan who starred in a blockbuster 2006 film and is set to star in a sequel out this week. Right away, Borat said the coronavirus comes from “a place called Wuhan, which is in Israel.” “It is no surprise, they are spreading everything,” he said. When Jimmy Kimmel asked if he really thought that the virus originated in Israel, Borat said “Yes, it spread from the you-know-who’s’,” making a gesture that mimicked having a long nose. Cohen’s upcoming film, which premieres on Amazon Prime on Friday, tackles anti-Semitism and a range of other hot-button topics, in the same way that the original Borat movie did — by tricking real people into making incriminating comments. Cohen reportedly interviewed a real Holocaust survivor for the new film in order to mock Holocaust deniers. (After filming, the now late survivor’s family claimed that she was “horrified” with the end result.) Anti-Semitism was a central theme of the original Borat film as well; some scenes, including the fake “Running of the Jew” event, have become some of the zeitgeist’s most memorable parodies of Jew hatred. The Anti-Defamation League criticized Cohen in 2006 for perpetuating anti-Semitic stereotypes in pop culture, regardless of his intentions. But Cohen repaired that relationship and last year received an award from the ADL for his efforts to fight disinformation. In his acceptance speech, Cohen called social media the “greatest propaganda machine in history,” and he has since grown only more outspoken in his criticism of Facebook and other social media companies for their role in facilitating the spread of false and
dangerous information. He has focused much of his satirical energy to mocking conspiracy theories about topics ranging from the coronavirus to George Soros, the right-wing bogeyman who features in many false and anti-Semitic narratives. He pilloried those ideas on Kimmel’s show, when, as Borat, he subjected the host to a fake medical questionnaire and asked if he had been in the presence of any Jews “for more than 15 minutes” in the past week. Kimmel said “Yes, all of our writers and none of our camera guys are Jews.” The theory that Jews were the source of the coronavirus pandemic has gained momentum in far-right circles, most notably in France and Germany. Some German protesters have also used Holocaust language and imagery to rail against their government’s strict coronavirus lockdown protocols. But Borat didn’t stop at coronavirus antiSemitism. In the questionnaire, he also asked Kimmel: “As a member of Hollywood elite, have you recently drunk any unpasteurized children’s blood?” When Kimmel said no, Borat added “Really? Not in any pizza parlors recently?” Cohen hit on three different conspiracy theories: the term “Hollywood elite,” which has been tossed around in everything from decades-old anti-Semitism about Jews in the media to the more recent QAnon theory; the concept of drinking the blood of children, part of the centuries-old blood libel that accuses Jews of killing Christian children for their blood; and the 2016 “Pizzagate” theory, which had some believing that Hillary Clinton and other highranking Democratic officials were involved in a sex trafficking ring at a pizza parlor. The Kimmel appearance made headlines for an off-color Cohen that led up to one last anti-Semitic trope: “Normally it is the Jew who controls the media, now it is the Kazakh who controls the late-night host!
THE JEWISH STAR October 23, 2020 â€¢ 5 Cheshvan 5781
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