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Oct. 22, 2021 • 16 Cheshvan 5782 • Vayera
Vol 20, No 37
Editor@TheJewishStar.com • 516-350-0771
The Holocaust happened. There’s nothing to debate. JoNATHAN S. TobIN
ome Jewish liberals say that they saw this coming, that the movement to stop the teaching of critical race theory in the schools was bound to negatively impact teaching about the Holocaust. They claim that those fears were vindicated by the comments of a Texas educator in Southlake, Texas, who was taped telling this to teachers in a training session: “Make sure that if … you have a book on the Holocaust, that you have one that has opposing, that has other perspectives.” The context for this absurd suggestion was how to abide by a law recently passed in Texas that said “a teacher may not be compelled to discuss a particular event or widely debated and currently controversial issue of public policy or social affairs” and that those who do so “shall, to the best of the teachers’ ability, strive to explorer the topic from diverse and contending perspectives without giving difference to any one perspective.” While critical race theory has been defended as merely teaching about America’s troubled racial past, it goes much further; ir seeks to enshrine race consciousness at the heart of every discussion and to make us view people solely through their skin color or origin rather than as individuals. Linked to the fallacious narratives of the New York Times’ 1619 Project, it treats America as an irredeemably racist nation populated by people who are defined as either privileged or unprivileged, and amounts to a dangerous historical revisionism that undermines the teaching of civics and puts in its place a biased political doctrine. [For more on the 1619 Project, see historian Gil Troy’s analysis on page 6.] The attempt to link Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism to a movement seeking to push back against the teaching of critical race theory has a lot more to do with the polarization of American society along partisan lines than anything else. The problem here is not so much one about vaguely worded laws as it is a contest between teaching historical facts and teaching theories about history. The Holocaust is a historical fact. Denying that it happened is not a legitimate point of view or scholarly school of thought. Those who claim that the truth about the murder of 6 million Jews by See Tobin on page 4
Masada at sunrise is a good moment to reflect on the thousands-year-long indigenousness of the Jewish people in the land of Israel. With liars getting louder and historical ignorance common, columnists Jonathan Tobin and James Sinkinson on p. 1, Sarah Levin on p. 18, and Melanie Phillips on p. 19 (and the AJC’s Alyssa Weiner at TheJewishStar.com) argue it’s time to call out those who would deny the truths of Jewish history.
Speak up when you hear anti-Israel hate JAMES SINKINSoN FLAME
magine: The vice president of the United States visits a college campus and fields questions from students. One student stands up and defiantly says, “I don’t understand why our country is favoring Black people in so many of its policies, when we know how terribly Black people abuse the welfare system.” The vice president smiles warmly and supportively replies, “I hear you. Your experience is real. No one should stop you from telling your truth.” Imagine further: Within days of the incident, the vice president is censured unanimously by the US Congress for her racism and figuratively torn limb by limb for months by every news outlet in the country. Back to reality: What happens when Jews are
SKA’s freshman retreat It’s a clear sign of autumn when new classes embark on
their freshman retreats. SKA’s newest class posed on the
beautiful Camp Kaylie campgrounds, where their retreat
maligned by a student telling outright lies, and the vice president encourages her to spread them? That’s exactly what occurred when Vice President Kamala Harris was visiting a political science class at George Mason University to honor national voter registration day. Harris took questions from three students, including one who slandered the State of Israel in a lengthy diatribe. The student, who described herself as a YemeniIranian, said what Israel is doing is “an ethnic genocide and a displacement of people — the same that happened in America.” More reality: Israel, the world’s only Jewish state, does not and has not committed any form of genocide — ever. Two million Arab citizens of Israel are free, thriving and multiplying. The population of four million Palestinian Arabs outside Israel, while ruled by oppressive dictators, also continues to multiply uninhibited. What’s more, Israel has never intentionally targeted or killed innocent Palestinians. It defends itself See Sinkinson on page 4
featured divrei Torah, fun activities, meals and fellowship. The girls created a time-capsule of sorts, writing memos to their twelfth grade selves in
which they outlined what they hoped to achieve during their high school years; the letters would be opened during their senior year.
Past time to fess up: Qatar didn’t work out stephen M. Flatow
atar’s foreign minister last week declared that his country will not normalize relations with Israel. And yet, not long ago, a number of American Jewish leaders visited Qatar and announced that the Qataris were becoming moderate and would soon seek relations with Israel. So, what went wrong? It all began in late 2017 when several leaders of American Jewish and Zionist organizations secretly accepted invitations for all-expensepaid trips to meet with the Emir of Qatar in his oil-rich Gulf kingdom. It was curious that the travelers tried to keep their visits secret from the media, the Jewish community and even from their own members. I doubt that it was the Emir who wanted the visits kept secret since his whole point in inviting them was to improve Qatar’s public-relations image. Perhaps the Jewish officials kept the visit secret because they were concerned that many American Jews would be uncomfortable with their actions. After all, Qatar is the world’s leading funder of Hamas terrorists. Qatar is also hosts and sponsors the world’s largest anti-Semitic media network, Al Jazeera. A few months later, some journalists found out about the visits. They reported that registered foreign agents of Qatar in the United States had used the lavish visits as a part of what the Jewish Telegraphic Agency called “intensive lobbying of the U.S. Jewish community.” Their strategy of cultivating relations with prominent American Jews even included spreading some cash around. Some of the Jewish leaders claimed that Israel approved of their visits to Qatar. But Act-
President Trump meets Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani hotel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 21, 2017. File photo/Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty
ing Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said that the spectacle of “self-appointed members of the Jewish community running to Qatar is an exercise of pure ego.” According to Hotovely, “They never checked with anyone in the Israeli government. Qatar is responsible for the funding of Hamas and other terrorist groups that target us and our children. We are baffled by this development.” he Jewish leaders also defended their trips by claiming that Qatar was becoming more moderate. But the Qataris’ own statements and actions in the months to follow kept blowing up that statement. •A report by the Anti-Defamation League found that the official Qatari government media was continuing to publish editorial cartoons that “blatantly demonize Jews” and “draw on the
worst kind of anti-Semitic themes.” •A review by MEMRI of textbooks prepared by Qatar’s Ministry of Education and used in its schools found that they “feature anti-Semitic motifs, presenting Jews as treacherous, dishonest and crafty, and at the same time as weak, wretched and cowardly.” •The international book fair in Qatar’s capital, Doha, featured anti-Semitic books such as The Myth of the Nazi Gas Chambers and Lies Spread by the Jews, and an Arabic translation of Awakening to Jewish Influence in the United States of America by white supremacist leader (and former Ku Klux Klansman) David Duke. •Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Al-Thani declared: “Al Jazeera follows the professional standards. We are not questioning the
content of Al Jazeera.” (According to CAMERA’s analysis, Al Jazeera’s coverage of Israel and Jewish affairs is a veritable “junkyard of inaccurate statements [as well as] bias and misinformation.”) •The London Sunday Telegraph revealed that Qatar recently contributed $34 million to an Iraqi Shia terrorist group that has murdered many American soldiers in southern Iraq and sent $68 million to Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force. •American victims of Palestinian terrorism filed suit against three major Qatari financial institutions because they were laundering millions of dollars to the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists. •The German weekly news outlet Die Zeit reported that funds were being sent by “several rich Qataris and exiled Lebanese people from Doha (Qatar’s capital) to Hezbollah … with the knowledge of influential government officials through a charity organization in Doha.” Now we have the latest development, the new announcement by Qatari foreign minister Al-Thani: “We see that the core of the issue is the occupation. So as long as there is no prospect for ending that occupation and having a fair and just solution, I don’t see Qatar taking such a step for normalization.” So, according to the “moderate” Qataris, Israel has to first retreat to the indefensible ninemiles-wide borders of 1967, including the surrender of the “occupied” Old City of Jerusalem (where the Western Wall and Temple Mount are located), and only then Qatar will consider normalizing relations. So much for the “Qatar is becoming moderate” myth. True leaders acknowledge when they have made mistakes. It’s time for the American Jewish leaders who visited and praised Qatar to admit they were wrong. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
October 22, 2021 • 16 Cheshvan 5782 THE JEWISH STAR
3 THE JEWISH STAR October 22, 2021 • 16 Cheshvan 5782
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Continued from page 1 the Nazis and their collaborators is a matter of debate are anti-Semitic liars whose only motive is a desire to erase the record of Jewish suffering so as to justify or rationalize contemporary hatred of the Jews. Similarly, slavery and the facts about the role that despicable practice and its defenders played in American history, in addition to the way Jim Crow laws perpetuated its legacy after the Civil War, is not up for debate. Unfor tunately, modern American primary and secondary education have to some extent discarded the traditional teaching of history. In its place, we now have educational experiences that talk more about concepts and ways of thinking about the past while downplaying supposedly unimportant facts and dates. Learning to think critically about history or any field of study is vital, but that can only succeed if it is based on a solid factual foundation — something that is often left out of contemporary schooling. (That’s the only reasonable explanation for the fact that surveys consistently show that most Americans, especially those under 45, have an abysmal lack of knowledge about the history of their own country.)
Nor is the teaching of the Holocaust exempt from this problem. Some 38 states, including Texas, have passed laws mandating some form of Holocaust education. But many courses designed to comply with those mandates tend to emphasize concepts that seek to universalize the lessons of the events in question instead of sticking to the facts about the attempt to exterminate the Jews of Europe. This has helped create a general belief in American society that the Holocaust is more a metaphor for anything or anyone that people think is awful than a reference to a particular set of events. In this way, inappropriate Holocaust analogies have proliferated, as, for example, right-wingers demonizing vaccine mandates and leftwingers comparing former President Donald Trump to the Nazis. Both sides of the political spectrum condemn their opponents’ misuse of the past while remaining blind to their own mistakes. nother layer to the problem is the general contempt for the idea of objectivity in studying either the past or the present that has come into fashion. On college campuses, freedom of speech and scholarship is considered less important than enforcing bans on saying or teaching that offends sensitivities about controversial subjects. With respect to journalism,
What that Texas educator said helps explain why Americans seem so confused about the past or even what is going on today.
Holocaust Remembrance Day tribute.
there is a popular movement among many in the profession — linked to their support of critical race theory — that claims that attempting to tell both sides of a political dispute is an inherently misguided effort that serves only to prop up an allegedly allpowerful edifice of white supremacy that still dominates American life. The resemblance between this didactic approach to both scholarship and journalism to traditional Marxist dialectics about history is no coincidence. In that context, a defense of objective study and the rejection of onesided narratives in both journalism and
history are not defensible, but a necessary response to these troubling trends. None of this excuses what that Texas educator said, but it does help explain why Americans seem so confused about the past or even what is going on today. The correct response to that idiotic comment that set off outrage across the Jewish world is not an effort to discredit those who oppose critical race theory. Due to its links to intersectionality and the labeling of Israel and its supporters as possessors of “white privilege,” that idea continues to grant a permission slip to anti-Semitism. That
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Continued from page 1 only against attackers. This fact is not “our” truth — it is the truth. ere’s another truth: Attempts to delegitimize the Jewish state by demonizing it is antiSemitism, a form of racism. Yet rather than condemning the student’s libel and providing a robust defense of one of America’s greatest allies, Kamala Harris demurred. The vice president seemingly congratulated and validated the student’s outrageous remarks, stating, “your voice, your perspective, your experience, your truth should not be suppressed and it must be heard, right?” It’s clear that Harris is not an anti-Semite or anti-Israel. Indeed, she has a strong record of siding with Israel, at least up until the recent election, when she moved sharply to the left. Last week, in a meeting with Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Harris said the US-Israel relationship is “unwavering, a relationship that is based on shared values, shared history, and a shared concern for the mutual safety and security of the people of our two countries.” But it’s easy to mouth flowery rhetoric about the importance of respectful relations in a friendly meeting with your ally. It’s far more difficult — and takes more guts — to repeat that in a room full of your political supporters who are moving into more and more dangerously into anti-Semitic territory. As commentator Gil Troy aptly noted in the Wall Street Journal about Harris’s comments: “Her reaction is a weathervane, indicating where the Democrats’ conversation might be heading. … This is subtler anti-Semitism, teaching us to tolerate the intolerable.” This is called the “paradox of tolerance” — meaning that if there is a tolerance of all views, this will eventually be exploited by the intolerant. The more frequently we allow comments like those of the student at George Mason University to stand — let alone give them credence as a legiti-
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October 22, 2021 • 16 Cheshvan 5782 THE JEWISH STAR
remains true even if some Jews on the left ignore it because they prioritize solidarity with political allies over the security of their own community. Instead, we should be focusing on a return to a more rigorous approach to the teaching of history. That a growing number of Americans, including some teachers, continue not to know the difference between a historical fact like the Holocaust and a toxic idea like critical race theory is the real problem. As long as this is true, we’re probably doomed to continued confusion and more troubling statements about both the Holocaust and racism.
mate “voice” or “perspective” — the more acceptable Jew-hatred will become. s noted, it’s unthinkable that Harris would legitimize hateful comments about any other nation or group. Unfortunately, as in many arenas these days, there is one rule for the Jews or the Jewish state and one for all other peoples, races, religions and communities. Even those who criticize Israel’s control over Judea and Samaria saw the hypocrisy inherent in Harris’s reaction to the student. “A voice that is based on lies is not a legitimate voice. It is a voice that causes damage,” wrote Uri Misgav, a writer for Israel’s leftist Haaretz newspaper. The crux of the matter: Dangerous anti-Semitic trends on the American and global left must be opposed, halted and reversed. People leading these trends — like “the Squad” in the US House of Representatives and the Corbynites in the United Kingdom — will only seek to further radicalize people against Israel and Jews. The pushback must come from those in the center of American politics and on the moderate left, who must become engaged and stand up to the haters and bullies, even if it costs them politically. We must promote a zero-tolerance policy for anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. Every single comment that fits in to these categories — like accusing Israel of genocide or apartheid — should be condemned, argued against and defeated with truth. Hateful movements — like the Nazi movement — did not emerge from nowhere. They first tested the waters with increasingly more radical comments and actions, especially about Jews. When the general public did not object, even though some may have found their views and actions objectionable, they upped the ante. Their hate grew to the maelstrom of the Holocaust, aided by complicity — active and passive — of millions. We don’t compare the current climate of antiSemitism acceptance in the United States to the Holocaust. But showing an extreme outcome can demonstrate a principle. It is time good people ceased to do nothing in the face of increasing antiSemitism and anti-Israel libels. If we don’t stop it now, evil will win.
FORMER AMBASSADOR AMBASSADOR TO TO ISRAEL ISRAEL FORMER
DAVID FRIEDMAN FRIEDMAN ENDORSES ENDORSES DAVID FORMER AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL REPUBLICAN BRUCE BLAKEMAN REPUBLICAN BRUCE BLAKEMAN AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL FOR COUNTY COUNTY EXECUTIVE! EXECUTIVE! DAVIDFORMER FRIEDMAN ENDORSES FOR DAVID FRIEDMAN REPUBLICAN BRUCEENDORSES BLAKEMAN
5 THE JEWISH STAR October 22, 2021 • 16 Cheshvan 5782
REPUBLICAN BRUCE BLAKEMAN FOR COUNTY EXECUTIVE! FOR COUNTY EXECUTIVE!
Dear Friends, Dear Friends,
AMBASSADOR (RET.) DAVID FRIEDMAN AMBASSADOR (RET.) DAVID FRIEDMAN JERUSALEM, ISRAEL JERUSALEM, ISRAEL
AMBASSADOR (RET.) DAVID FRIEDMAN AMBASSADOR (RET.) DAVID FRIEDMAN Since leaving office in January, 2021, I have continued to dedicate my efforts as ISRAEL JERUSALEM, ISRAEL Since leaving office in January,JERUSALEM, 2021, I have continued to dedicate my efforts as a private citizen to advancing and strengthening the US-Israel relationship. aDear private citizen to advancing and strengthening the US-Israel relationship. Friends, Dear Friends, Occasionally, I will support a candidate for public office whose values align with Occasionally, I will support a candidate for public office whose values align with mine, even when the candidate is running for a position in local government. mine, even whenoffice thein in candidate is running for a position in local government. Since leaving January, 2021, IAmerica have dedicate efforts as Since leaving January, 2021, havecontinued continued to dedicate my efforts Indeed, localoffice governments across oftentoplay an my essential role asin Indeed, local governments across oftenthethe play an essential role in a private citizen toadvancing advancing and America strengthening US-Israel relationship. asupporting private citizen to and strengthening US-Israel relationship. Israel and combatting anti-Semitism. Occasionally, I will support candidate for whose values alignalign with with supporting Israel and combatting anti-Semitism. Occasionally, I will support aacandidate forpublic publicoffice office whose values mine, when thecandidate candidate running for in Blakeman local government. I want to even tell you why I'm supporting Republican Bruce for Nassau even when the isis running fora aposition position in local government. Imine, want to tell you why I'm supporting Republican Bruce Blakeman for Nassau Indeed, local governments across America often play an essential role in been County Executive. I have known BruceAmerica Blakeman for over 30 years. He has Indeed, local governments across often play an essential role in County Executive. I have known Bruce Blakeman for over 30 years. He has been supporting Israel and combatting anti-Semitism. a staunch and loyal supporter of Israel and the Jewish people. Bruce has led the Israel and combatting anti-Semitism. asupporting staunch and loyal supporter of Israel and the Jewish people. Bruce has led the to tell whymovement I'm supporting Bruce Blakeman forgovernments Nassau fightI want against theyou BDS and Republican authored legislation to ban fight against the BDS movement and authored legislation to ban governments I from want to tell you why I'mknown supporting Republican Bruce forbeen Nassau County Executive. I have Bruce Blakeman for over 30 Blakeman years. HeBlakeman has doing business with organizations that boycott Israel. Bruce also from doing business with organizations that boycott Israel. Bruce Blakeman also County Executive. I have known Bruce for between over 30Bruce years. Heled has been staunch andlegislation loyal supporter of Israel and thetown" Jewish people. has the hasasponsored to create aBlakeman "twin Hempstead and an has sponsored legislation to create a "twin town" between Hempstead and an fighttown against the BDS movement and authored legislation to ban governments aIsraeli staunch andinloyal supporter of Israel and the Jewish people. Bruce has led the the Shomron. Israeli town inthe the Shomron. doing business with organizations that boycott Israel. Bruce Blakeman also fightfrom against BDS movement and authored legislation to ban governments has sponsored legislation createpro-Israel a "twin town" between Hempstead and an also Bruce has been honored byto many organizations, from doing business with organizations that boycott Israel. Bruce Blakeman Bruce has town beeninhonored by many pro-Israel organizations, Israeli the and Shomron. including Hatzalah Ateret Cohanim, and has between Hempstead and an has sponsored legislation to create a "twin including Hatzalah and Ateret Cohanim, andtown" has helped many Jewish institutions throughout Nassau Israeli town in the Shomron. Bruce has been honored by many pro-Israel organizations, helped many Jewish institutions throughout Nassau County to help build and a strong vibrant community. including Hatzalah Ateretand Cohanim, and has County to help build a strong and vibrant community. Bruce has been honored by many pro-Israel organizations, helped many Jewish institutions throughout Nassau ThisCounty year Hatzalah vote for my friend, Bruce Blakeman, including and Cohanim, and has to help aAteret strong and vibrant community. This year vote for build my friend, Bruce Blakeman, for Nassau need him! helped manyCounty Jewish Executive. institutionsWe throughout for Nassau need him!Nassau This yearCounty vote forExecutive. my friend, We Bruce Blakeman, County to helpCounty build aExecutive. strong and vibrant community. for Nassau We need him! Thank you, Thank you, This year vote for my friend, Bruce Blakeman, Thank you, for Nassau County Executive. We need him! Ambassador (Ret.) David Friedman Ambassador Thank you, (Ret.) David Friedman Ambassador (Ret.) David Friedman
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Ambassador (Ret.) David Friedman
October 22, 2021 • 16 Cheshvan 5782 THE JEWISH STAR
Adding 1776, 1865, 1940, ’64 and ’80 to 1619, to consider the good years as well as the bad GIL TRoy Historian
he public conversation about American history has been deadlocked for more than two years. As America becomes impasse-ville, many influential voices have imposed a false all-or-nothing historical choice on us. Some say America is slaveryland, a country defined by the slave ship of 1619, a country teeming with racism, division and hate. Others insist America is freedom-land, the nation of 1776, a nation bringing liberty, prosperity and progress. In August 2019, the New York Times launched the 1619 Project, pivoting American history around racism’s evils, starting with the first slave ship’s arrival in August 1619. Leading historians critiqued the project’s distortions, with one historian noting that the Times invited her to fact-check the main article, then ignored her correction that the American Revolution was not fought to advance slavery. The few corrective tweaks that resulted were eclipsed by a massive PR campaign peddling this historical interpretation as if it were the new American Gospel. It seemed that America’s most influential newspaper was changing its slogan saluting objectivity, “all the news that’s fit to print,” into one promising heavy-handedness, “only our views with a critical-race-theory tint.” The next summer, then-President
o one date can define a nation. It’s like turning a nine-inning baseball game into a do-or-die home-run derby. Nevertheless, this historical dating game has proven both popular and incendiary. It has helped frame the debate about how central slavery was to America’s founding, the extent to which racism continues to haunt America and how America — or any country — progresses. But the debate’s binary nature invites all-or-nothing answers; America is not all greed or all good—no country is. It’s not irredeemably racist nor fully redeemed from its racist past—nor will it ever be. History classrooms are not courtrooms. Historical narratives should neither be bills of indictment nor a defense attorney’s briefs. The fact that the study of history has become so partisan reflects America’s epidemic of polarization and politicization. Citizens, and especially historians, should seek to bypass this impasse rather than doubling down on positions that become increasingly rigid and ridiculous. Just as mathematicians need three points in space to map out three dimensions, adding one more date into the mix might break this 1619 versus 1776 stalemate. The first candidate would be 1865, which the progressive historian Charles Beard deemed the start of the “second American Revolution.” After four bloody years, the Union won the ugly, yet necessary, Civil War in April of that year. Just days later, Abraham Lincoln’s martyrdom finally vindicated and united the Northerners who had squabbled throughout the conflict. The Thirteenth Amendment ratified that December abolished slavery, although racism and too many other humiliations for African-Americans lingered. This addition to the Constitution suggests a Hegelian formula: from the unfreedom of 1619 to the freedoms of 1776, a new American synthesis emerged as the Civil War ended. A more creative candidate would be 1880 when the great Eastern and Southern European immigration began. As 20 million new Americans arrived over the next 40 years, they changed the face of America. They also changed America’s selfimage, as the ideal of the multicultural salad bowl competed with the monolithic melting pot, and as the staid, often conformist White Anglo-Saxon Protestant nation became the forever changing, updating, evolving Immigration Nation. By 1880, the United States was well on its way to becoming an industrial behemoth, a capitalist innovator and the breadbasket of the world, as well as its idea-factory. On Dec. 17 of that year, Thomas Edison established the Edison Illuminating Company. The entire world would soon be glowing in artificial light, defeating the darkness of millennia, and encouraging even more technological wizardry. America’s low-profile president, Rutherford B. Hayes, became the first president to cross the Rockies, on a 71-day road trip, representing the unit-
Truth-seeking historians should see America’s strengths and its flaws. Those who only see greed and bigotry produce a flat, guiltridden, demoralizing history. Those who see America as only good produce an equally flat caricature that is far too Disneyfied. Donald Trump blasted the project, deifying 1776 instead, brooking no criticism of the American experiment. Once Trump bullied his way into the debate, weaponizing America’s founding narrative and ideals, reasonable liberals and centrists fled. Only Trump’s single-minded fans wanted to associate with America’s Prevaricator-in-Chief. In the ensuing shouting match, all nuance was lost. The fight became about identity, not history, about today’s politics not yesterday’s stories, about red versus blue, not the true, multi-dimensional story of the red, white and blue.
The New York Times’ 1619 Project advanced a narrow view of American history, ignoring other pivotal dates.
ing of America, as what had been called these United States increasingly became known as The United States. lunging into the twentieth century, modern historians must get right with Franklin D. Roosevelt. Zeroing in on 1940 highlights how FDR transitioned from his role as Dr. New Deal, who overcame the Great Depression and launched America’s welfare state, to Dr. Win the War, 11 months before America entered World War II. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms Speech that year told both stories. He championed Freedom of Speech and of Worship, from Want and from Fear, not just in America, but “everywhere in the world.” To this day, that speech offers an ideal model of liberal nationalism — building up our democracy while reaching out to others, not building walls or demeaning others. Roosevelt was in the fight of his life against the many American isolationists wary of becoming mired in yet another European conflict. But just as he succeeded in making Americans take responsibility for their “forgotten” neighbors, for the neglected elderly, for the once-overlooked poor, FDR helped Americans start accepting responsibility for countries threatened by fascism thousands of miles away. Eventually, the Four Freedoms became the great rallying cry that defeated totalitarianism and launched the postwar Pax Americana. As the consumer revolution both financed and mainstreamed Roosevelt’s revolution, America became the world’s first mass middle-class civilization. The mischievous Bugs Bunny made his cartoon debut in 1940, while the first McDonald’s hamburger restaurant opened in America’s land of tomorrow, Southern California. Even though LBJ was no FDR, some could make a strong case for highlighting 1964 as a defining American year too. From the White House, Lyndon Johnson launched the War on Poverty and the Great Society, winning a reelection landslide that teed him up for one of the most productive bursts of
lawmaking in American history. At the same time, in the streets — and in America’s hearts and minds — 1964 was a turning point in the Civil Rights movement, the anti-war movement, and the start of that ongoing series of values and lifestyle revolutions called the 1960s. Most dramatic was Congress’s passing of the Civil Rights Act. It not only advanced the legal framework for desegregating America, but the segregationist legislators who mischievously added “sex” to Title VII’s ban on employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin were the most backdoor revolutionaries in American history. Hoping to mock the whole initiative, they ended up advancing women’s equality as a core civil right too. Beyond that, it was a year when Martin Luther King won the Nobel Peace Prize, 12 New Yorkers burned their draft cards, the Beatles first invaded America, student protesters demanded free speech at Berkeley and Betty Friedan sold over one million copies of “The Feminine Mystique.” Sam Cooke’s 1964 hit seemed spot-on: “A Change is Gonna Come.” odern conservatives, of course, would propose 1981 as a breakthrough year, celebrating Ronald Reagan’s inauguration, promising to bring peace, patriotism and prosperity. Adding the Reagan Revolution raises the question of how capitalism and mass middle-class prosperity facilitated progress overall, including the expansion of civil rights and the improvement of most Americans’ living standards. It also raises deeper questions of whether American life barely improved (as radical critics claimed), steadily improved, oscillated back and forth, or experienced occasional bursts of progress. Reagan’s patriotic optimism was irrepressible — and a tonic for today’s despair, too. Not everyone may agree with his famous inaugural utterance that “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” But few Americans have been able to re-
sist his indomitable faith in America as that “shining city on a hill.” Most Americans want their country to be “the exemplar of freedom and a beacon of hope for those who do not now have freedom.” The more dates you consider and the more you then overlook, the more you realize that no one date does the trick — not even three dates properly tell America’s story. History is a puzzle. Some pieces are more striking, or more essential to the portrait. No one piece covers enough. That’s why historians periodize, carving up chunks of time into artificial packages with opening and closing dates. Admittedly, periodization often emphasizes change more than continuity. The 1619 Project was helpful in raising questions about continuity: how much are we stuck in past sins, our parents’ blind spots, the world we inherited, not the world we dream of building? Still, by mapping out historical epochs, periodization incorporates many more puzzle pieces, while giving a sense of historical flow. Reducing American history to a 1619-versus-1776 showdown highlights the oversimplifications distorting our increasingly polarized debate. Those who only see American greed and bigotry overriding any good accomplished produce a flat, guilt-ridden, demoralizing history that is far too dark. Those who only see America as good produce an equally flat caricature that is far too Disneyfied, in technicolor. As the number of history majors hits new lows, this dating duel risks offering more excuses to ignore our past. Yet the reductionist version of history that today’s polarized partisans peddle shows why more citizens and politicians should study history calmly, not polemically. A subtle, multi-dimensional, pointillist portrait of America, packaged into interesting, understandable historical periods, refutes both extremes. It warns the xenophobic right that you’re missing too much if you see anyone not like yourself as the enemy, or only worship some idyllic golden past that never existed. It also warns the woke left that you’re similarly myopic if you always see yourself as the enemy. Both extremes miss the important civic lessons to be drawn from history, ranging from how we work together to how we improve together. Americans, left to right, have long shared this everrenewable faith in their country’s ability to be ever-renewed. Like the magic beans in Jack’s mythical beanstalk, this confidence is the only way America could grow so far, so fast, so well. “This union may never be perfect,” Barack Obama admitted in 2008, “but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected.” Thought-provoking, truth-seeking historians should be honest enough to see America’s strengths and its flaws. Teaching with integrity and perspective should help mold citizens bold enough to imagine how to build on those strengths to correct those flaws. Professor Gil Troy is the author of nine books on presidential history including “Why Moderates Make the Best Presidents: From George Washington to Barack Obama.” His latest book, written with Natan Sharansky, is “Never Alone: Prison, Politics, and My People.” This article was first published in Jewish Journal.
7 THE JEWISH STAR October 22, 2021 • 16 Cheshvan 5782
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October 22, 2021 • 16 Cheshvan 5782 THE JEWISH STAR
WINE AND DINE It’s fall. Let’s do apples, all kinds of apples. Kosher Kitchen
JoNI SChoCKEtt Jewish Star columnist
clearly remember the first time we took our daughter apple picking because it was my first time also. (I must have missed those school trips.) She was about 2-1/2, so she naturally picked up the apples that had fallen on the ground and wanted to eat all of them. The day was beautiful, a pure Indian summer afternoon in early October, and the sweet, spicy apple smell wafted through the air and made me hungry for crunchy fresh apples, apple pies and cider. I think I was more excited than our daughter was and, as a result, I filled many more bags than a family of three needed. We had Baldwins and MacIntosh, Cortlands and others. I made enough applesauce to fill a bathtub and pies, cakes and cookies that I gave to anyone who would take them. For weeks my kitchen smelled like an apple orchard as we ate our way through the bags and bags I had taken home. From that day forward, I never looked at apples in the supermarket the same way again. I became an apple snob and each year made trips to orchards near and far to pick the best that nature had to offer. I began to learn a lot about apple trees and crops and why some years produce better apples than others. Too much rain, or too little rain, hurts the crops, as do temperatures that stay too hot into September. Did you know that apples are sweeter near the flower end of the fruit than at the stem end? More sugar develops near the flower to attract bees to pollinate the fruit. Apples are among the oldest fruits on earth and there and hundreds of kinds of apples throughout the world. China produces half of the world’s apples; America is second with 6 percent, Turkey is third. My new favorite is Honeycrisp and we just picked a bushel a few weeks ago. Over the years, the apples in the supermarkets have improved dramatically, but they cannot compare to a fresh-picked apple from an orchard. So, before it’s too late, go apple picking. Or, at the very least go to your local farm stand and buy them there. We have all winter to buy stored apples.
Apples, Carrots and Yams (Pareve or Dairy)
This is such a forgiving recipe that you can add anything to it. Try some butternut squash or any other squash and/or fresh cranberries. You can even add some a splash of bourbon and/or some apple cider instead of orange juice. • 6 to 8 large carrots, peeled and thinly sliced • 2 to 4 large Garnet yams, peeled and thinly sliced • 1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice • 1/4 cup firmly packed golden brown sugar • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg • 1/2 to 1 tsp. ground cinnamon • 1 tsp. cornstarch • 2 tsp. water • 4 to 6 large apples a mix of Cortland, Granny Smith, Northern Spy, or other pie apples • 1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts • 3 Tbsp. pareve trans-fat-free margarine or butter, melted • 4 Tbsp. dark brown sugar Grease a 3-quart baking dish and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Peel and slice the carrots using the thinnest slicing disc of a food processor. Peel the yams and cut in half lengthwise. Process them using the thinnest blade of the food processor. Pour the yams and the carrots into a large bowl, add the lemon juice, toss and pour into the prepared baking dish. Cover tightly with foil and bake for about 20 minutes or until the veggies are barely fork tender. Remove from the oven and let cool. Mix the brown sugar, orange juice, nutmeg and cinnamon in a small bowl and mix to blend. Mix the cornstarch and the water together, add to the orange juice mixture and mix well. Peel the apples and cut them in half. Remove the core and cut the apple into thin slices, about one-quarter inch thick. Place the apples over and under the carrot mixture. Pour the juice mixture evenly over the casserole. Mix the nuts with the sugar and melted butter. Pour evenly over the top and place in the oven. Bake until bubbly and the veggies are softened, but not mushy, about 35 to 45 minutes. If the nuts get too dark, cover the dish loosely with foil. Serves 6 to 10 (depends on how many carrots yams, etc., you use).
Chicken Apple Skillet (Meat)
This is a delicious, fairly quick dinner. • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts • 1 large onion, thinly sliced • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed through a garlic press • 1/2 tsp. onion powder • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme • 1/2 tsp. salt • Freshly cracked black pepper • 2 to 3 Tbsp. unbleached flour • 3 Tbsp. canola oil • 2 large apples, cored and sliced into rounds (Honey crisp, Granny Smith, Northern Spy, or any other firm apple. • 1 to 1-1/2 cups apple cider, all-natural and unfiltered • 1-1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar Place each chicken breast between two sheets of waxed paper and pound with a mallet until even thickness of about 3/4 inch. Peel and thinly slice the onion and set aside. Finely mince the garlic and set aside. In a large, flat bowl, mix the onion powder, thyme, salt, pepper and flour together. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the oil. Quickly dredge a chicken breast in the flour mixture and place in the hot oil. Repeat until all four pieces are in the skillet. Brown on each side about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate. Add a bit more oil to the skillet if needed. Add the onion slices and sauté the onions until deep golden brown, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another 30 seconds, until fragrant. Move the onions to the side and add the apple slices. Cook until lightly browned then gently turn the apples and brown the other side. Add the apple cider and bring to a boil. Scrape up any browned bits with a wooden spoon. Let simmer for about 5 minutes to thicken and reduce the sauce. Add the apple cider vinegar and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Add the chicken back to the pan, nestling it between the onions and apples so they are more on top of the chicken pieces. Cook for about 10 to 12 minutes, turning once. If the sauce is too thick, add a bit more cider. Transfer the chicken to a platter and pour the onions and apples over the chicken. This is great over some aromatic rice, such as jasmine or Basmati. Serves 4.
Rosemary and Cinnamon Applesauce (Pareve)
The rosemary adds a nice depth of flavor to the applesauce. Make sure to remove it or the flavor may become bitter. • 3 cups natural apple cider • Pinch salt • 3 (4-inch) fresh rosemary sprigs • 2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks • 3-1/2 to 4 lb. any tart-sweet apples, peeled, cored and cut
into 1-inch chunks • Sugar or pure maple syrup to taste Place the cider, salt, rosemary and cinnamon sticks in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until the juice is reduced by about half, about 7 to 9 minutes. You can remove the rosemary sprigs at this point to wait for another step to add more rosemary flavor. Add the apples to the cider and stir. Cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes and remove the rosemary sprigs if you haven’t yet done so. Cover and cook for another 10 to 25 minutes or until apples are very soft and fall apart when stirred. Taste and add sugar mixing well and waiting a minute or two between tastes. Remove the cinnamon sticks and use an immersion blender to mix the applesauce until you get your desired consistency from very smooth to chunky. Makes about 2 quarts.
Apple Kugel (Dairy) I made a version of this when I first got married. Now I make it for grandchildren. Rich with apples, cinnamon and just a hint of maple syrup flavor, it is a favorite hot or cold. • 1/2 cup cornflake crumbs • 1/2 lb. fine noodles, cooked and drained • 1/2 cup butter or Pareve margarine • 6 apples (a mix of Cortland, HoneyCrisp) peeled and thinly sliced • 3 extra-large beaten eggs • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar • 1/4 cup granulated sugar • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup grade A, Dark Amber • 1 tsp. cinnamon • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice • 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice • OPTIONAL: 1 cup raisins TOPPING: • 4 cups corn flakes, slightly crushed • 2/3 cup sugar, less, to taste • 1/2 to 1 cinnamon • 1 stick butter or pareve margarine OPTIONAL: 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts Grease a 9x13 glass Pyrex-type pan. Sprinkle the cornflake crumbs on the bottom of the pan and shake to cover evenly. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook the noodles according to instructions, Drain and add to a large bowl. Add the butter in pieces and mix until melted. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Mix the topping ingredients together and sprinkle evenly over the top. Bake at 350 for 35 to 45 minutes but check frequently. If the topping begins to burn, cover lightly with foil and continue to bake. Serve hot or cold.
9 THE JEWISH STAR October 22, 2021 • 16 Cheshvan 5782
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October 22, 2021 • 16 Cheshvan 5782 THE JEWISH STAR
TRAVEL Strolling down Tel Aviv’s famous Rothschild Blvd By Sol Gruffy, Israel 21c From pastoral bike paths, cultural institutions and classic Bauhaus architecture to chic cafés, top-notch restaurants and charming kiosks — Rothschild Boulevard offers the perfect Tel Aviv experience. Rothschild is not only Tel Aviv’s very first boulevard, but also the cultural center of the city. This picturesque boulevard stretches from Habima Theater to the Neveh Tzedek neighborhood and is shaded by ficus and poinciana trees with pleasant benches scattered at their feet. Edmond James de Rothschild, “the Known Benefactor,” was a French member of the Rothschild banking family and known for his support of art, science and the Jewish homeland. Respect for him in the Holy Land was so great, that in 1910 it was decided to name one of the first four streets in Tel Aviv after the baron: Sderot (Boulevard) Rothschild. Over the years, Rothschild Boulevard became the center of a neighborhood where numerous national leaders once lived and many historic events took place, including the Israeli declaration of independence in 1948. Rothschild attracts a large and diverse public, from local families and hip businesspeople to young couples enjoying a romantic stroll, and elderly Tel Avivians seeking a spontaneous game of pétanque (a type of lawn bowling). Check out our guide to Tel Aviv’s most beloved boulevard.
Statue of Tel Aviv’s first mayor, Meir Dizengoff, on his horse outside Independence Hall on Rothschild Boulevard. Nicky Blackburn
Rothschild Boulevard is one of Tel Aviv’s most famous streets, and with good reason.
Dizengoff House, or as it is known today, Independence Hall, is located at 16 Rothschild Boulevard. The building was home to Meir Dizengoff, the first mayor of Tel Aviv. After Dizengoff’s death, the house was transformed into an art museum. This is where David Ben-Gurion signed Israel’s declaration of independence on May 14, 1948. Independence Hall is closed for renovations until 2023. The beautiful Founders Monument and Fountain, located opposite Independence Hall, were established in 1949 on the 40th anniversary of Tel Aviv.
Restaurants, cafés, nightlife
Tel Aviv’s first food kiosk was built on Rothschild Boulevard in 1910. Soon, a small pavilion was added at the end of each section of the boulevard. Today, the charming kiosks scattered along Rothschild Boulevard are one of the most magical attractions of this neighborhood. Aside from the tiny kiosks selling fantastic coffee, pastries and sandwiches to go, you can find an abundance of top-notch culinary institutions. (Many restaurants here are not kosher, so check kosher status carefully.) Rothschild’s nightlife scene is no less vibrant. As soon as the streetlights are turned on along the romantic road, it becomes one of the liveliest attractions in the city that never stops.
Rothschild Boulevard at dusk.
A stately Bauhaus building on Rothschild Boulevard.
“Uprise” by sculptor and artist Menashe Kadishman.
Riki Ramen, Tel Aviv Municipality
Stanislav Samoylik, Shutterstock
Among the prominent nightlife spots around the boulevard, you will find the fabulous rooftop bar Speakeasy, stylish lounge bar Jimmy Who, after-hours dance club Breakfast Club and cozy outdoor bar Polly.
and painter Menashe Kadishman, is probably the most famous one. This sculpture, consisting of three metal circles, stands in front of Israel’s national theater, Habima. The iconic Habima Square also houses the Charles Bronfman Auditorium cultural center, Helena Rubinstein Pavilion for Contemporary Art and the charming Yaakov Garden. The complex is built in a way that connects several main streets of great importance in the urban structure of Tel Aviv. In 2007, the multimillion-dollar Habima renovation project began under the direction of artist Dani Karavan. The theater’s original six pillars were exposed and a lighting system in the shape of an umbrella was installed on top, with 10 meters of transparent glass surrounding the building.
General Bank (owned by the Rothschild family). The tower, designed by the architect Arie Freiberger, stands out thanks to its shape that creates “forks” with blue glass windows separating the tines. First International Bank Tower is a 32-story skyscraper inspired by the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong, representing sophistication and economic power.
It’s all about the Bauhaus
A major reason Rothschild Boulevard attracts many visitors is its abundance of buildings in the International architectural style, otherwise known as Bauhaus. The Bauhaus movement was established in 1930s Germany and implemented in about 4,000 buildings in the heart of Tel Aviv — hence the origin of its nickname, the “White City.” Bauhaus-style buildings can be recognized by their asymmetrical structure with small rectangular or round windows, and the white and rounded facades of the houses and balconies. One of the most prominent structures built in the Bauhaus spirit of the “White City” is the Engel House, located on 84 Rothschild Boulevard and the corner of Mazeh Street. This iconic building was designed by architect Ze’ev Rechter and is the first house in the city built on pillars.
Arts and theater
Engel House, built in Bauhaus style by architect Ze’ev Rechter. Miriam Alster/FLASH90
Uprise by sculptor and artist Menashe Kadishman at Habima Square. Photo by Stanislav Samoylik, Shutterstock Various sculptures and works of art are scattered along the beautiful boulevard and function as a kind of an outdoor museum. “Uprise,” by renowned Israeli sculptor
Tel Aviv financial center
Rothschild Boulevard is not only Tel Aviv’s most expensive street; it is also one of Israel’s largest and most prominent business centers. One of the many impressive sites located along the boulevard is the 29-story Rothschild 22. It houses a hotel and the Facebook Israel offices. Meier on Rothschild is a skyscraper located on 36 Rothschild Boulevard, near the UBank Tower. At a height of 158 meters, this is the second tallest building in Israel used for residential purposes only. The U-Bank Tower is one of the first highrise office buildings in the city and was established under the bank’s previous name,
Rest your head The Rothschild Hotel was designed as a tribute to the vision and Zionist activities of Baron Edmund de Rothschild. Scattered throughout the hotel are subtle hints that are a design and experiential interpretation of his character. The hotel is housed in an eclectic historic building that is one of the most beautiful in Tel Aviv. Rothschild 22 Hotel is a prestigious and unique boutique hotel in the heart of the bustling Rothschild Boulevard. This beautiful hotel has been meticulously designed and combines a modern and elegant style that blends perfectly with the pastoral boulevard. The hotel’s 156 rooms are decorated in an up-to-date style and provides a peaceful and intimate atmosphere. 65 Hotel is built in the shape of a round glass cylinder, a modern site in the middle of the picturesque boulevard. The charm of the hotel lies in the combination of post-colonial images from the beginning of the 21st century and local touches. At its entrance, you will find Café 65 serving one of the best breakfasts in Tel Aviv.
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THE JEWISH STAR October 22, 2021 • 16 Cheshvan 5782
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At Sunday’s Rachel’s Children Reclamation Foundation event in Manhattan Beach (from left): NYU Judaic Studies Professor Lawrence H. Schiffman; Master of Ceremonies, Dr. Paul Brody; keynote speaker Harav Mayer Alter Horowitz, Bostoner Rebbe of Har Nof; Rabbi Akiva Eisenstadt, rosh kollel of Congregation Shaarey Torah in Manhattan Beach, and NYPD Deputy Inspector Richie Taylor. Deborah Scop
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The Rachel’s Children Reclamation Foundation commemorated the yarzheit of Rochel Imeinu on Sunday, 11 Cheshvan. The 27th Annual Yarzheit Dinner took place in two locations — in Brooklyn’s Manhattan Beach Jewish Center and in Jerusalem’s Baka neighborhood, near Kever Rachel. Foundation Founder and President Evelyn Haies, who made aliyah with her husband Jay on July 4th, conduced in the Jerusalem event. Harav Mayer Alter Horowitz SHLITA, the Bostoner Rebbe of Har Nof, delivered the keynote address in Manhattan Beach. Honored guests included Rabbi Akiva
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Eisenstadt, who helped establish the Manhattan Beach Community Kollel; NYU Judaic Studies Professor Lawrence H. Schiffman, a Dead Sea Scrolls authority; Manhattan Beach native Robin (Fayge Raizel) Ticker, and Deputy Inspector Richie Taylor, the NYPD’s highest ranking Orthodox police officer. The master of ceremonies, Dr. Paul Brody of Great Neck, sang the Star Spangled Banner and Hatikva. Haies’ 12-year-old grandson, Shmuel Haies, made his speaking debut at the dinner, enlightened the guests about the Jewish history of Beit Lechem.
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THE JEWISH STAR October 22, 2021 • 16 Cheshvan 5782
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October 22, 2021 • 16 Cheshvan 5782 THE JEWISH STAR
Salt formations on the Dead Sea shore in 2020.
A lesser factor is the mineral-extraction industries in Israel and Jordan. Potassium chloride and magnesium chloride are mined in large quantities by Dead Sea Works and the Arab Potash Company at the southern end of the Dead Sea. The evaporation ponds used in this process are responsible for about 35 percent of the depletion of the Dead Sea. Are there solutions? Gertman says that one idea was to connect the Dead and Mediterranean seas, sending runoff from the Med to the Dead and building power plants along the way. But this is not feasible economically or logistically. About 10 years ago, another idea was floated: Building a channel from the Red Sea in Eilat to the Dead Sea, bringing desalinated water mainly to Jordan and sending the end desal product, brine, to the Dead Sea. The addition of brine could slow the rate of decrease in water level and thereby post-
pone the development of related problems. However, it’s doubtful the project will go forward due to economic and political considerations. Many Israeli scientists agree with Gertman that it may be better to build desal plants on the northern Mediterranean coast that would replenish the Kinneret with freshwater and at least partially restore the natural flow from the Kinneret to the Jordan to the Dead Sea. Clive Lipchin, director of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies’ Center for Transboundary Water Management, believes the Dead Sea could never again be adequately fed by the Jordan River because the water is needed by people on both sides of the border. “This is a water-scarce region. Even with 100 more desalination plants, freshwater will always be the most sought-after resource,” he says. Contrary to popular belief, research indicates that the Dead Sea will never dry up entirely, says
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Gidon Baer of the Geological Survey of Israel. “The rate at which the level is dropping will lessen and eventually it will stabilize. The Dead Sea will not disappear,” he says. The consequences of the shrinkage will continue causing economic and environmental impacts, not all of them bad. “When the water level drops it exposes new land at the shoreline, more salt is deposited and sinkholes form,” he says. “These features have both negative and positive aspects.” For tourists, one negative result is that the sinkholes have destroyed several Dead Sea beaches and make it difficult to reach the waterline of surviving beaches. This could be managed by finding or building alternative routes, Baer suggests. On the other hand, tourism could benefit from the situation. “The features exposed have never been seen before, and the beauty of the Dead Sea is even enhanced,” says Baer. “Before the 1980s, salt wasn’t deposited along the shoreline in such variety and quantity, and now you see it both on the shoreline and in the water. People can take advantage of that by bringing tourists to see those features.” At least for now, with no sure solution in sight for the Dead Sea’s woes, we may have to view the situation the way we are starting to view the Covid pandemic: learn to live with it. That’s the opinion of Jiwchar Ganor, a professor of Earth and environmental sciences at BenGurion University of the Negev, and former dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences. “The decrease in sea level is of course human caused, but people need to drink and eat,” he says. “There is a huge population in Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. These areas are starving for water. They use all the available water, and the result is a drop in the Dead Sea level.” The reality, says Ganor, is that the problems cannot be solved completely. “The Dead Sea will shrink but not disappear,” he concludes.
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By Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel 21c Hundreds of people undressed and painted themselves white for a nude photo shoot last week to bring attention to the Dead Sea (Salt Sea in Hebrew), the deepest hypersaline lake in the world, 27 times denser than Utah’s Great Salt Lake, that rests 1,380 feet below sea level. Tourists and Israelis alike love bobbing in the mineral-rich water, slathering on its healing mud and using cosmetics made from its extracts. The water and even the ambient air have proven health benefits for everything from asthma to psoriasis. The problem is that the Dead Sea has been shrinking at an alarming pace, losing more than a meter (some 40 inches) of water per year for a total of 25 meters since the 1990s, according to EcoPeace Middle East. Giant sinkholes have swallowed up several beaches. The photo shoot by the Dead Sea Revival Project was intended to spur action and celebrate the opening of a virtual Dead Sea Museum meant as a forerunner to an actual museum in nearby Arad. Israel21c asked several experts to explain the Dead Sea’s troubles and what can be done to ensure the beloved lake won’t disappear. Spoiler alert: The Dead Sea surely is shrinking but it is not dying. “The main problem is a lack of freshwater coming into the Dead Sea, in which natural evaporation is strong,” explains Isaac Gertman, a senior researcher at the National Institute of Oceanography at the Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research in Haifa. This happened because the landlocked Dead Sea primarily depends on the lower Jordan River, which in turn depends on the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret), to get replenished. Much of this freshwater has been diverted to provide for drinking, farming and industry in Israel and Jordan. About 700 million cubic meters of water would be needed to restore the sea level to where it was in 1900, says Gertman, who has studied the Dead Sea since 1994.
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THE JEWISH STAR October 22, 2021 • 16 Cheshvan 5782
Dead Sea is shrinking but it’s not exactly dying
October 22, 2021 • 16 Cheshvan 5782 THE JEWISH STAR
כוכב של שבת Jewish Star Torah columnists: •Rabbi Avi Billet of Anshei Chesed Congregation, Boynton Beach, FL, 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 zt”l, former chief rabbi of United Hebrew Congregations of the 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 the the White Shul, Far Rockaway, NY
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Analyzing the binding of Isaac: 4 problems rabbi Sir JonaThan SaCkS zt”l
ne of the most famous episodes in the Torah is also one of the most morally problematic. “Take your son, your only son, the one you love — Isaac — and go to the land of Moriah. Offer him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” (Gen. 22:2) The conventional reading of this passage is that Abraham was being asked to show that his love for G-d was supreme. He would show this by being willing to sacrifice the son for whom he had spent a lifetime waiting. Why did G-d need to “test” Abraham, given that He knows the human heart better than we know it ourselves? Maimonides answers that G-d did not need Abraham to prove his love for Him. Rather the test was meant to establish for all time how far the fear and love of G-d must go. On this principle there was little argument. The story is about the awe and love of G-d. Kierkegaard wrote about it and made the point that ethics is universal. It consists of general rules. But the love of G-d is particular. It is an I-Thou personal relationship. What Abraham underwent during the trial was, says Kierkegaard, a “teleological suspension of the ethical,” that is, a willingness to let the I-Thou love of G-d overrule the universal principles that bind humans to one another. Rav Soloveitchik explained the Binding of Isaac episode in terms of his own well-known characterization of the religious life as a dialectic between victory and defeat, majesty and humility, man-the-creative-master and man-the-obedientservant. There are times when “G-d tells man to withdraw from whatever man desires the most.” We must experience defeat as well as victory. Thus the Binding of Isaac was not a once-only episode but rather a paradigm for the religious life as a whole. Wherever we have passionate desire — eating, drinking, physical relationship — there the Torah places limits on the satisfaction of desire. Precisely because we pride ourselves on the power of reason, the Torah includes chukim, statutes, that are impenetrable to reason. hese are the conventional readings and they represent the mainstream of tradition. However, since there are “seventy faces to the Torah,” I want to argue for a different interpretation. The reason I do so is that one test of the validity of an interpretation is whether it coheres with the rest of the Torah, Tanach, and Judaism as a whole. There are four problems with the conventional reading: 1. We know from Tanach and independent evidence that the willingness to offer up your child as a sacrifice was not rare in the ancient world. It was commonplace. Tanach mentions that Mesha, King of Moab, did so. So did Yiftah, the least admirable leader in the book of Judges. Two of Tanach’s most wicked Kings, Ahaz and Manashe, introduced the practice into Judah, for which they were con-
demned. There is archeological evidence — the bones of thousands of young children — that child sacrifice was widespread in Carthage and other Phoenician sites. It was a pagan practice. 2. Child sacrifice is regarded with horror throughout Tanach. Micah asks rhetorically, “Shall I give my firstborn for my sin, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” (Mic. 6:7), and replies, “He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your G-d.” (Mic. 6:8) How could Abraham serve as a role model if what he was prepared to do is what his descendants were commanded not to do? 3. Specifically, Abraham was chosen to be a role model as a parent. G-d says of him, “For I have chosen him so that he will instruct his childrenand his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just.” How could he serve as a model father if he was willing to sacrifice his child? To the contrary, he should have said to G-d: “If you want me to prove to You how much I love You, then take me as a sacrifice, not my child.” 4. As Jews — indeed as humans — we must reject Kierkegaard’s principle of the “teleological suspension of the ethical.” This is an idea that gives carte blancheto religious fanatics to commit crimes in the name of G-d. It is the logic of the Inquisition and the suicide bomber. It is not the logic of Judaism rightly understood. G-d does not ask us to be unethical. We may not always understand ethics from G-d’s perspective but we believe that “He is the Rock, His works are perfect; all His ways are just” (Deut. 32:4). o understand the Binding of Isaac we have to realize that much of the Torah, Genesis in particular, is a polemic against worldviews the Torah considers pagan, inhuman and wrong. One institution to which Genesis is opposed is the ancient family as described by Fustel de Coulanges and recently restated by Larry Siedentop in Inventing the Individual. Before the emergence of the first cities and civilizations, the fundamental social and religious unit was the family. As Coulanges puts it, in ancient times there was an intrinsic connection between three things: the domestic religion, the family and the right of property. Each family had its own gods, among them the spirits of dead ancestors, from whom it sought protection and to whom it offered sacrifices. The authority of the head of the family, the paterfamilias, was absolute. He had power of life and death over his wife and children. Authority
invariably passed, on the death of the father, to his firstborn son. Meanwhile, as long as the father lived, children had the status of property rather than persons in their own right. This idea persisted even beyond the biblical era in the Roman law principle of patria potestas. Torah is opposed to every element of this worldview. As anthropologist Mary Douglas notes, one of the most striking features of the Torah is that it includes no sacrifices to dead ancestors. Seeking the spirits of the dead is explicitly forbidden. Equally noteworthy is the fact that in the early narratives, succession does not pass to the firstborn: not to Ishmael but Isaac, not to Esau but Jacob, not to the tribe of Reuben but to Levi (priesthood) and Judah (kingship), not to Aaron but to Moses. The principle to which the story of Isaac, from birth to binding, is opposed is the idea that a child is the property of the father. First, Isaac’s birth is miraculous. Sarah is already post-menopausal when she conceives. In this respect the Isaac story is parallel to that of the birth of Samuel to Hannah who, like Sarah, also is unable naturally to conceive. That is why, when Samuel is born Hannah says, “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” (I Sam. 1:27) This passage is the key to understanding the message from heaven telling Abraham to stop: “Now I know that you fear G-d, because you have not withheld from Me your son, your only son” (the statement appears twice, in Gen. 22:12 and 16). The test was not whether Abraham would sacrifice his son but whether he would give him over to G-d. The same principle recurs in the book of Exodus. First, Moses’ survival is semi-miraculous since he was born at a time when Pharaoh had decreed that every male Israelite child should be killed. Secondly, during the tenth plague when every firstborn Egyptian child died, the Israelite firstborn were miraculously saved. “Consecrate to me every firstborn male. The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to Me, whether human or animal.” The firstborns were originally designated to serve G-d as Priests, but they lost this role after the sin of the Golden Calf. Nonetheless, a memory of this original role still persists in the ceremony of Pidyon HaBen, redemption of a firstborn son. hat G-d was doing when He asked Abraham to offer up his son was not requesting a child sacrifice but something quite dif-
G-d was not requesting a child sacrifice but that Abraham renounce ownership of his son. This established a principle of Jewish law: children are not the property of their parents.
ferent. He wanted Abraham to renounce ownership of his son. He wanted to establish as a nonnegotiable principle of Jewish law that children are not the property of their parents. That is why three of the four matriarchs found themselves unable to conceive other than by a miracle. The Torah wants us to know that the children they bore were the children of G-d rather than the natural outcome of a biological process. Eventually, the entire nation of Israel would be called the children of G-d. A related idea is conveyed by the fact that G-d chose as His spokesperson Moses, who was “not a man of words” (Ex. 4:10) He was a stammerer. Moses became G-d’s spokesman because people knew that the words he spoke were not his own but those placed in his mouth by G-d. Evidence for this interpretation is given at the birth of the very first human child. When she first gives birth, Eve says: “With the help of the Lord I have acquired [kaniti] a man.” That child, whose name comes from the verb “to acquire,” was Cain, who became the first murderer. If you seek to own your children, your children may rebel into violence. If the analysis of Fustel de Colanges and Larry Siedentop is correct, it follows that something fundamental was at stake. As long as parents believed they owned their children, the concept of the individual could not yet be born. The fundamental unit was the family. The Torah represents the birth of the individual as the central figure in the moral life. Because children — all children — belong to G-d, parenthood is not ownership but guardianship. As soon as they reach the age of maturity (traditionally, twelve for girls, thirteen for boys) children become independent moral agents with their own dignity and freedom. Sigmund Freud famously had something to say about this too. He held that a fundamental driver of human identity is the Oedipus Complex, the conflict between fathers and sons as exemplified in Aeschylus’ tragedy. By creating moral space between fathers and sons, Judaism offers a non-tragic resolution to this tension. If Freud had taken his psychology from the Torah rather than from Greek myth, he might have arrived at a more hopeful view of the human condition. Why then did G-d say to Abraham about Isaac: “Offer him up as a burnt offering”? So as to make clear to all future generations that the reason Jews condemn child sacrifice is not because they lack the courage to do so. Abraham is the proof that they do not lack the courage. The reason they do not do so is because G-d is the G-d of life, not death. In Judaism, as the laws of purity and the rite of the Red Heifer show, death is not sacred. Death defiles. The Torah is revolutionary not only in relation to society but also in relation to the family. To be sure, the Torah’s revolution was not fully completed in the course of the biblical age. Slavery had not yet been abolished. The rights of women had not yet been fully actualized. But the birth of the individual — the integrity of each of us as a moral agent in our own right — was one of the great moral revolutions in history.
Rabbi dR. tzvi heRsh WeinReb Orthodox Union
here was a coffee shop in the town in which I once lived. It was part of a national chain, so that all kinds of people gathered there for their morning coffee and doughnuts. This particular shop was under strict kosher supervision so that many of those who frequented it were from the Orthodox community and the nearby yeshiva. There was one gentleman there who never missed a morning. He dressed in the clothes of a laborer: overalls, flannel shirt and rubber boots. His head was covered by a baseball cap, which he removed as soon as he entered the café. Generally, we nodded good morning to each other, but that was the extent of our relationship. One day, he broke the ice. Beckoning to me, he pointed to the seat across from him, and I hesitantly accepted his invitation. He spoke to me in a heavily accented English, and thus began a memorable relationship. He said, “I am greater than Abraham!” I could not determine whether he was teasing
or being provocative. It even crossed my mind that he might be delusional, perhaps psychotic. I decided to take his comment at face value and simply responded, “What do you mean?” He replied, “Abraham is praised in our tradition because he successfully withstood ten trials. I withstood many more trials than ten, before I succumbed.” Until that morning, it had never occurred to me that he was Jewish, let alone knowledgeable about Jewish tradition. Over the course of that morning’s conversation, and the many mornings that followed, I learned much about him. He was a Hungarian Jew and born to a devout family. He was considered a prize Talmud student and attended a yeshiva during his teenage years. I had heard of his yeshiva and its prestigious dean, and I knew that the dean, the entire faculty, and most of the student body were killed in the furnaces of Birkenau. I was face-to-face with a survivor. In due time, he told me more of his story. He left the yeshiva, hid for a while in a dozen places,
and eventually joined a partisan resistance militia. He was betrayed to the Gestapo by one of his fellow partisans. Because of his physical appearance and obvious strength, he was directed to a series of work camps and ultimately to Auschwitz. He witnessed the deportations of thousands of Jews and was forced to cooperate in the incineration of bodies removed from the gas chambers. Interviewing some of those Jews before their deaths, he learned the horrid details of the murder of his family, of his fellow students, and of the rabbis with whom he had studied. “My faith was tested ten times or more daily. But I persisted in my faith, prayed, and even studied in the small Mishnayos that I kept hidden with me. Eventually, my faith dissipated. It was a slow process, a gradual descent into a pit of despair and anger. I finally became convinced that I had to renounce everything I was taught to believe. Even Abraham himself was tested but ten times, I was tested a thousand times. That was too much for any man!”
The one place on Earth where there are no nisyonos, no challenges, no trials is, course, the cemetery.
tell this story not because it has a happy ending. Shortly after I moved away from that town, I learned that my coffee-shop companion had died, had requested that his body be cremated, and left a brief will in which he expressed his stubborn adherence to his faithlessness. Of course, none of us can sit in judgment of such a person. But to this day, and especially in the days before we read this week’s Torah portion, Vayera (Genesis 18:1-22:24), I vividly recollect this gentleman and the conversations that we had. I struggle with many questions, not the least of which is the question, «What am I to learn from this man and the many like him?» If one studies the Torah portions of this week and last and familiarizes oneself with the Abraham narrative, one cannot help but call to mind the passage in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers), which reads: “Abraham our father was tested with ten trials and he withstood all of them, to make known how deep was our father Abraham’s love of G-d.” Some of you may even have attempted to list the ten trials and have discovered that even the greatest rabbis do not agree upon the exact identity of all ten. But even if you can conclude that there were several more trials that Abraham exSee Weinreb on page 22
The Akedah’s real challenge to Avraham avinu torah
Rabbi david etengoff
Jewish Star columnist
he Akedah represents the ultimate trial that any parent could possibly bear. It must have been exceedingly difficult for Avraham Avinu, who was the personification of gemilut chasadim. With his four-door tent perpetually open to passing wayfarers, his pleas to Hashem on behalf of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, and countless other deeds, Avraham was the embodiment of chesed in action. As such, Hashem’s direct command to him to bring his son as a korban olah appears astonishing. Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (the Rav) explained the Akedah from the perspective of sacrifice in the service of Hashem, “the idea of sacrifice is a cornerstone of Judaism, and the Akedah has inevitably introduced sacrificial action as part of our historical drama.” An analysis of this aspect of avodat Hashem is essential to understanding humankind’s rela-
tionship with the Almighty. The Rav interpreted avodat Hashem as “service awareness,” that is, our entire being is under Hashem’s control. The Rav urges us to recognize the Almighty’s total mastery over the universe and ourselves: “G-d from time to time calls upon man to return to Him whatever is His. He demands that man give not a part but the whole of himself. He requires of man to return divine property to its rightful owner.” In light of this last point, we can gain an important insight as to why Hashem commanded Avraham to bring Yitzchak as a korban olah: Avraham was returning to G-d that which was always His. hen analyzing the Akedah, it is crucial to remember that the Almighty’s commandment to Avraham to sacrifice Yitzchak was absolute and unequivocal. Although a direct reading of Bereishit 22:1-2 leaves no doubt that Avraham was commanded to offer Yitzchak
as a korban olah, toward the end of our narrative, Hashem, through His malach, commands Avraham to refrain from harming Yitzchak and to offer the ram He provided in his place. Although one might think authentic sacrifice can only be achieved if we fulfill the literal meaning of this term, the Rav teaches us that there are two ways in which this can be realized — physical and experiential. Therefore, in his view Avraham did indeed sacrifice Yitzchak; the sacrifice, however, was not physical but experiential. As such, the Rav states, it took place in the innermost “recesses of his personality.” For all intents and purposes, then, Yitzchak, in the persona of Avraham’s son, ceased to exist. True, the physical form of Yitzchak remained; nonetheless his experience had transformed him so profoundly that he was now kulu l’Hashem (totally and completely Hashem’s). Moreover, since this
We, too, are presented with challenges. What should our response be?
change was spiritual and experiential, rather than physical, the Rav opines that it took place before Avraham ever arrived at Mount Moriah: “Abraham implemented the sacrifice of Isaac not on Mount Moriah but in the depths of his heart. He gave up Isaac the very instant G-d addressed Himself to him and asked him to return his most precious possession to its legitimate master and owner. Immediatedly, with no arguing or pleading, Abraham surrendered Isaac.” We are not the Avot and the Emahot, yet, we, too, are presented with untold challenges in our lives. What should our response ideally be? Long ago, Dovid HaMelech said it best when he proclaimed: “I shall raise my eyes to the mountains, from where will my help come? My help is from the L-rd, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to falter; Your Guardian will not slumber.” (Tehillim 121:1-3) Just as our ancestor, Avraham, “lifted up his eyes” and saw the ram Hashem had provided, so, too, may we raise our eyes and recognize that the Almighty is watching over us, and is ever our Protector. V’chane yihi ratzon.
Binding our children to Israel’s eternal chain Parsha of the Week
Rabbi avi billet Jewish Star columnist
he “Binding of Isaac” is a defining chapter in the story of the Jewish people, inspiring much of our liturgy. In some respects it represents what it means to sacrifice for one’s children. In some of the darker annals of Jewish history, some took it as the inspiration to literally sacrifice their children as Jews to avoid death. It is not for us to judge those who chose the latter path, but it is noteworthy that they viewed Avraham’s “sacrifice” as inspiration for such choices, even though Avraham did not ultimately harm his son. The Akedah has inspired countless of hours of study and discussion. Rashi notes that Avraham was never told to slaughter his son; he was told “to raise” him. Is the purpose of the test to see how far Avraham will go before being told to stop? It is hard to stomach the idea that G-d “tested” Avraham through a riddle. What took so long for an angel to stop him, calling his name twice to tell him, “Don’t send
your hand to the lad?” How did it even get that far, especially when just about every interpretation (following the line of “through Yitzchak you will be said to have offspring” (21:12) understands that G-d never intended for Avraham to kill his son (Talmud Taanit 4a)? The study of any Biblical subject as deep as the Akedah is incomplete without reading Abravanel’s commentary. Here he poses 25 questions, which he answers in a lengthy analysis. Some of his thoughts are summarized here as a conversation opener, not so much to understand what Avraham’s test was, but what the task was meant to teach father and son. “None of Avraham’s ‘tests’ are introduced as tests. They were ‘tasks,’ and they were only derived to be ‘tests’ later. Borrowing money from a friend, for example, is a request that may indirectly test friendship.
“The ‘Lekh Lekha’ missive’s goal was to get Avraham to the Holy Land, to establish roots there, and to become a model to all. Avraham’s dedication in the Akedah strongly affirms his inspiring role. “The Torah opens the segment by saying, ‘After all these things (22:1) and G-d [having] tested Avraham…’ — all of the preceding tales had been G-d testing Avraham. He has already passed with flying colors.” “This nisayon was not a ‘test’ for G-d to see if Avraham could pass muster. Nisah is from the word nes, as in “raise up (nisah) over us the light of Your countenance.” (Tehillim 4:7) Avraham’s doing G-d’s will is raised as a banner for the nations to look to for inspiration. For us, it is a charge to serve G-d with all our heart and soul as did Avraham. “Rav Yonah the Grammarian notes the vague command “v’ha’a’layhu sham l’olah,” which could be understood as “raise him as an offering.”
G-d will never ask us to sacrifice our children. But we must be prepared to bring them along and to bind them to our way of life.
“The lamed prefix in l’olah could also mean “in place of,” as if to say “he’ll be considered an olah offering [in place of one] even though he won’t actually be an olah offering.” “G-d purposely led Avraham to believe that He wanted Yitzchak to be an offering so that Avraham would dedicate his heart and soul to the task. Thus he literally binds Yitzchak and full-heartedly reaches for the knife. The actions Avraham does before being stopped, are considered before G-d ‘as if’ he has actually brought the sacrifice. This elevates Yitzchak spiritually — it confirms his uniqueness and readiness to be the sole “line” of Avraham that carries the promise of G-d. “Therefore, G-d did not ‘change His mind,’ as it were, because He never commanded him to slaughter his son in the first place. And Avraham did not make a mistake or misunderstand, for it was G-d Himself who was purposely vague.” Abravanel rejects a notion presented by the Ralbag (which must be read in context), that the entire episode of the Akedah is meant to be a “chinuch experience” of father teaching son important life lessons. But it is nonetheless noteworthy that this tale contains the only interaction of Avraham and Yitzchak in the Torah, where father and son See Billet on page 22
THE JEWISH STAR October 22, 2021 • 16 Cheshvan 5782
The trials and tribulations that form our lives
18 October 22, 2021 • 16 Cheshvan 5782 THE JEWISH STAR
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Restating a truth: Jews are indiginous to Israel SArAH LEviN JiMENA
narrative cartoon in Jewish Currents called “When Settler Becomes Native” included a cartoon image of myself with a quote from a JTA article I wrote about my efforts to ensure Jewish history was included in California’s ethnic-studies program. I asserted that, thanks to new material from my organization, JIMENA: Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa, “Students will not be taught the lie that Jews are somehow foreign interlopers in our ancestral homeland. Instead, students will learn that all Jews are indigenous to Israel.” The Jewish Currents piece, which seeks to deny Jewish indigeneity to the land of Israel, has only deepened my commitment to continue asserting Jewish indigeneity to the land of Israel and the larger Middle East in a variety of contexts. The piece ignored Jewish and Middle Eastern history from the days of the Bible through World War II. Instead, it asserted that Mizrahi Jews — who have lived continuously in the region for more than 2,500 years — and organizations like JIMENA have “mythologized” a Jewish link to the land of Israel. The article was filled with contradictions, mischaracterizations and cherry-picked definitions of indigeneity, motivated solely by a desire to exclude Jews and Jewish history. My history. Our history. Issues around indigeneity as a whole are certainly complex. Still, there are specific historical, cultural, geographical and spiritual truths that need to be taken into consideration when exploring Jewish indigeneity to the land of Israel and issues of Middle Eastern indigeneity as a whole. or thousands of years, the Middle East has been one of the most ethnically and racially diverse corners of the world and is home to a multitude of indigenous communities, including Jews, Bedouin, Copts, Kurds, Shabaks, Tabaris, Samaritans, Assyrians, Yezidis, Chaldeans (the list goes on). The indigeneity of any one of these communities does not negate the indigeneity of another.
Unfortunately, imperialism and colonialism have had a devastating effect on the religious and ethnic diversity of the region. Luckily, many Middle Eastern diaspora communities, like the Jewish people, have clung tightly to their heritages, practices and ways of living that indelibly root them to land and place. For Jews, it is this rootedness — not vague and ephemeral “ties,” but concrete, ongoing, unbroken practice — that connects us directly to the land of Israel and the Middle East. To deny this is to render it nearly impossible to have an honest conversation on Jewish and Middle Eastern indigeneity. The Jewish Currents piece, however, arbitrarily defines the term “indigenous” as only applying to those colonized after the 15th century. This is at odds with well-established descriptions and definitions used by the United Nations, Amnesty International and a host of non-profit organizations working on indigenous-rights issues. The US does not delineate indigenous groups based on time in a region or when their land was colonized, but instead uses this description: “Indigenous peoples are the holders of unique languages, knowledge systems and beliefs and possess invaluable knowledge of practices for the sustainable management of natural resources. They have a special relation to and use of their traditional land. Their ancestral land has a fundamental importance for their collective physical and cultural survival as peoples.” As we all know, the common language of the Jewish people is Hebrew, passed down to Jewish children from generation to generation as part of their shared patrimony and link to Jewish peoplehood. It is no quirk or historical triviality that young Jews, as part of their rite of initiation into Jewish adulthood, learn Hebrew for their bar and bat mitzvahs. Hebrew, a Semitic language from the land of Israel closely related to Arabic and Aramaic, dates back to the second millennium BCE, and has remained the Jewish liturgical language for more than 2,500 years in the Diaspora, regardless of the foreign lands we’ve lived in. Our language is rooted not only in prayer, but in the actual land of Israel, where our Jewish faith was built upon our ancestors’ ecological knowledge of the region.
Rootedness, not vague and ephemeral ‘ties’ but concrete, ongoing, unbroken practice, connects us directly to the land of Israel and the Middle East.
There is no better testament to the eternal connection of the Jewish people to the land of Israel than the ancient Passover ritual of ending the seder with these words: “Next year in Jerusalem.” Adobe
n so many conversations around Jewish indigeneity, we fail to mention that at its root, Judaism is an earth-based practice that is grounded in strict laws created in Israel to govern agriculture, land-management, environmental stewardship and food security. The three Jewish pilgrimage holidays of Sukkot, Pesach and Shavuot are not just relics of our collective memories — for thousands of years, they have embodied and sustained the core of Jewish practice and ritual and have kept us deeply connected to the land of Israel and to each other. We would do well to acknowledge and learn how our Jewish ancestors observed these specific holidays as agricultural festivals that celebrated the harvests and natural elements of the land of ancient Israel. As “wandering Jews,” we’ve rightfully defined ourselves as a people in diaspora, dispersed from our original homeland and yearning for our ingathering back to our ancestral land. There is no better testament to this then the ancient Passover ritual of echoing the words, “next year in Jerusalem.” This is not a construct of modern Zionism, but an embedded element of Jewish faith across race, ethnicity and location. It is our 2,500-yearold cry for freedom and self-determination. Sadly, like many other uprooted indigenous communities, Jews have been forced to live as “others” in lands around the world. In the face of threats ranging from forcible assimilation to violent genocide, we have adapted our earth-based practices to the environments we live in. We should be proud of these innovations and of the resilience we’ve displayed over generations of efforts to see our people destroyed. But does this mean we should not try to reclaim what’s
been lost and forgo our tie to Israel because our exile began before the 15th century? Do they really think that divorcing ourselves from Jewish peoplehood will help solve the Arab-Israeli conflict? What is most sad is that a Jewish publication seems intent on undermining Jewish self-determination (Zionism). The Jewish Currents piece was not even about affirming the rights of Palestinians; it was exclusively aimed at discrediting the claim that Jews are entitled to our right to self-determination. Whereas I proudly wrote that “students will not be taught the lie that Jews are somehow foreign interlopers in our ancestral homeland,” the Jewish Currents yearns for a day when students are taught exactly this — that Jews in Israel are invaders, outsiders, foreigners and, ultimately, expendable. The piece claims that indigeneity is about “naming power relationships in present-day conflicts.” If it is serious in this definition, then it must look at the Arab-Israeli conflict as a whole. Neither the status nor the history of Jews in the Middle East is reducible solely to a story of powerful Israelis and dispossessed Palestinians. Erasure and denigration (as “mythology” or as political opportunism) of the realities of Mizrahi history may make for catchy cartoon punchlines, but they betray a fundamental disrespect for the full diversity of the global Jewish community. Our history, our rootedness to the land and our indelible ties to Israel are neither mythology nor opportunism, and we will not stand silent when libeled as foreigners and invaders in the lands that nourished us. For Jews, like most indigenous groups, the spiritual is political and also ecological, and we See Levin on page 22
ould a politician who positively identifies as Jewish and expresses pro-Israel sympathies ever be elected as head of state in a European country? The question is still a hypothetical one. In spite of the large number of proudly Jewish politicians elected to legislatures in Europe in the post-World War II period, along with those who have served as cabinet ministers and prominent judges, none of them seriously entertained the possibility of winning the post of president or prime minister in an election. But that’s not been the case with Jewish politicians whose families left Judaism for another religion — like Laurent Fabius, a French prime minister in the 1980s who was raised as a Catholic — or, far more disturbingly, those Jews who denounced Jewish identity and the State of Israel as they ascended the ladder of power. An obvious example of the latter was the late, longest-serving Chancellor of Austria, Bruno Kreisky, who was in office between 1970 and 1983. A scourge of Jewish organizations and the Israeli government at the time for his anti-Semitic utterances and his ostentatious friendship with PLO leader Yasser Arafat, Kreisky, who died in 1990, isn’t spoken of much these days. Nonetheless, he remains the
model of a European politician who comes from a Jewish family and yet scorns his community, its history and its aspirations to ingratiate himself with the voters at large. Kreisky’s legacy is relevant once again because of developments in France, where a TV pundit named Eric Zemmour, who also comes from a Jewish family, is being widely tipped as the far-right’s candidate in the French presidential election in April 2022. True, Kreisky was a proud Socialist, whereas Zemmour, a household name in France for his strident anti-immigrant stance, is an outspoken representative of the ultra-nationalist right; in other important respects, however, the political similarities between the two are uncanny. Take the attitudes of both to the Holocaust, a defining event in Europe’s history that remains the subject of emotive, politically charged disputes even today. Kreisky himself lived through this period, spending most of the war in Sweden, where he escaped following the incorporation of Austria into the Nazi Third Reich in 1938. Yet for reasons that have puzzled psychologists and historians alike, the Holocaust appeared to make Kreisky even more hostile to his fellow Jews. In 1970, he formed a coalition government with the right-wing Freedom Party, whose leader, Friedrich Peter, had served as a senior officer in an SS unit responsible for the mass shootings of Jews, Roma and others under Nazi occupation. An additional four cabinet members also had Nazi backgrounds. When the Nazi provenance of Kreisky’s gov-
When it comes to antiSemitic barbs and dog whistles, the overlaps between the two men who denounced their Jewish identity are apparent.
Eric Zemmour, French political journalist, writer, essayist, columnist and polemicist, in Nice to promote his latest book. Macri Roland/Shutterstock
ernment was exposed by Simon Wiesenthal, the famed investigator who actively pursued Nazi war criminals, Kreisky responded viciously. He falsely accused Wiesenthal, a Holocaust survivor, of having been a Gestapo agent and charged him with stirring up anti-Semitism in Austria. At one point in the row, Kreisky clarified that he was “no longer a Jew” — a clue, perhaps, as to why the constant talk of his Nazi colleagues left him so enraged. f Kreisky was willing to burnish the reputations of still-living Nazis, Eric Zemmour has done the same with dead ones — specifically, the collaborators of the Vichy regime who ruled France following the Nazi invasion in 1940. In his several bestsellers published in France, Zem-
mour has depicted the Vichy authorities as doing their utmost to save French-born Jews while sacrificing the foreign-born to the Germans. This assertion fits neatly with Zemmour’s nationalist revisionism, but it’s patently false, as the bald facts show. For example, of the 4,000 children among the more than 13,000 Jews deported to Auschwitz during the notorious Vel d’Hiv roundup of July 1942, 80 percent were born in France. Moreover, the anti-Jewish laws and regulations introduced by the Vichy regime from late 1940 onwards applied to all Jews, not just the foreign-born, who at their peak composed no more than 13 percent of
See Cohen on page 22
Why liberals support an odious P’stinian agenda mElaNiE pHillips
ichael Oren, Israel’s former ambassador to the United States who is now a candidate to head the Jewish Agency, has rightly said that the decline in support for Israel among American Jews has reached a crisis point. The Jewish Agency, he said, “needs to bring young American Jews back from the brink.” However, the Jewish Agency won’t address this problem by simply tackling American Jews. The roots of this crisis are broader and deeper. At a conference at the Al Quds University in Ramallah in June, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas delivered a recorded speech with the title, “The Zionist Narrative: Between Reversal and Cancellation.” In a piece for the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs, Brig. Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser wrote that Abbas “proudly noted” in this speech that international public opinion had recently undergone a gradual shift towards accepting the Palestinian narrative. This “narrative,” Kuperwasser explained, is a tissue of demonstrable and idiotic lies designed to promulgate the fiction that the Palestinian Arabs are the true inheritors of the land of Israel rather than the Jews. But as Kuperwasser also observes, the Palestinian position is that the Jews of Israel must return to the places from where they allegedly came — not the land of Israel, their actual original homeland, but Europe, where they were scattered in exile, persecuted and murdered in great number. “The narrative,” he writes, “also emphasizes that the Palestinian struggle is national and Is-
lamic at the same time and ultimately states that in light of all this, all of Palestine is included, and Israel should not be recognized in any way as the nation-state of the Jewish people, which, at any rate, does not exist. At most, it is possible to temporarily accept the existence of an ‘Israeli people’ which is a new concept referring to Israel as the state of all its citizens.” And this narrative also holds that no one has the right to object to the Palestinians’ use of terrorism to achieve their aim of annihilating Israel and driving the Jews out. So the claim made by the Palestinians’ supporters that they are backing a state of Palestine side by side with Israel is totally contradicted by the Palestinians’ own exterminatory narrative. hy do Western liberals in general can support such an obviously odious, bigoted and murderous Palestinian agenda? The latest such useful idiot is the bestselling novelist, Sally Rooney. She has refused to have her new novel published by Modan, the Hebrewlanguage Israeli publisher of her first two books, because she supports a cultural boycott of Israel. Rooney happens to be Irish; and the Irish Republic — one of the most anti-Israel countries in Europe — is a boiling cesspool of Jew-bashing. The dogged British anti-Semitism researcher David Collier has just published a 202-page report in which he chronicles horrific anti-Jewish attitudes in Ireland driven from the top down by Irish politicians and echoed by journalists, academics and other cultural leaders. There are many plausible explanations for
this Israel animus in Ireland and the West. Ireland sees itself as the victim of English colonialism and so identifies with the Palestinians’ false narrative of Jewish colonialism. Rooney is a self-confessed Marxist. Israel is being demonized through a perfect intellectual storm: a combination of Marxist identification of capitalism with oppression; liberal internationalist hostility to the Western concept of the nationstate; and the Palestinian propaganda program cooked up in the 1960s with the former Soviet Union to turn the Arab war of annihilation against Israel into Israel’s oppression of the newly-minted “Palestinians.” This propaganda narrative is now the signature cause of “progressive” folk who astoundingly make common cause with deeply regressive Islamists, who endorse throwing gay people off rooftops and stoning women to death. What actually binds these groups together, however, is a deadly animus against Judaism and the Jewish people. The Palestinians’ hatred of Israel is based on hatred of the Jews founded upon Islamic theological sources. Medieval and Nazi-style antiSemitism pour out of the PA in an unstoppable torrent. Even those Palestinian supporters who harbor no ill-will towards Jews as people therefore promote a Palestinian narrative that is based on Jew-hatred. So it’s no surprise that threaded through pro-Palestinian western discourse are unambiguous anti-Semitic tropes. The deeper question, though, is why it’s al-
What actually binds these groups is an incomprehensible animus against Judaism and the Jewish people.
ways the Jews who get it in the neck from so many different groups. No other people has ever had this experience. any decent folk in the West who know nothing about Judaism or Jewish history simply cannot understand why anti-Semitism, which they don’t understand at all, takes up so much global energy. Many Jews ask themselves the same question. In an anguished piece for Tablet, the Reform Rabbi Amiel Hirsch writes: “Of all the savageries in the sordid history of human affairs, what explains the singling out of the Jews for unique odium? … No other supremacist ideology is as singularly fixated on one group of people. It is not only the hatred of a Jew. Many antisemites have never met a Jew in their lives. It is the obsession with Jewry, the Jewish people” as “… the source of evil in the world.” Again, there are many obvious explanations. These include jealousy of the “chosen people,” a term that is widely misunderstood; cultural suspicions fueled by observant Jews keeping themselves apart; the Jew-hatred embedded in dominant interpretations of Christianity and Islam over the centuries. But the Jews were singled out long before Christianity and Islam. They have always been used as society’s scapegoats. The question is why? The point is that anti-Semitism isn’t just a form of prejudice or racism. Plenty of other people are victims of that. Anti-Semitism is qualitatively different — and ultimately mysterious. For there is no other people which is obsessively demonized and delegitimized by double standards, systematic falsehoods and being airbrushed out of its own history. No other people has been subjected to the repeated aim of eradicating it from the face of the earth, to the general indifference of everyone else. No other group See Phillips on page 22
THE JEWISH STAR October 22, 2021 • 16 Cheshvan 5782
Is France’s Eric Zemmour a new Bruno Kreisky?
October 22, 2021 • 16 Cheshvan 5782 THE JEWISH STAR
The old-new diplomacy of Lapid and Bennett caroline glick Israel Hayom
ast week’s diplomatic calendar highlighted the difference between this year’s foreign policies and last year’s. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid hosted outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Jerusalem for a farewell visit. Although Israel’s media and foreign policy elites have long presented Merkel as a friend of Israel, for much of her 16-year tenure in office she has advanced anti-Israel and even anti-Jewish policies. Under her leadership, Germany has given more money to anti-Israel political groups, including groups involved in boycotting Israel, than any other EU-member government. With Merkel’s support and diplomatic protection, an illegal settlement was established in Judea. Khan al-Ahmar, an illegal Bedouin encampment, was built on state land at a strategic chokepoint which directly threatens both Israel’s Highway 1 and the community of Kfar Adumim. But even Israel’s all-powerful Supreme Court justices, who ordered Khan alAhmar’s dismantlement more than two years ago, were no match for Merkel. Furthermore, with Merkel at the helm Germany has voted in lockstep with the Palestinians on virtually every anti-Israel measure at the United Nations. Then there is Iran. Since she entered office in 2005, Merkel has assiduously maintained Germany’s position as Iran’s largest trading partner in Europe. She has opposed sanctions and backed her colleagues as they made light of Iran’s human rights violations, its nuclear proliferation and sponsorship of terrorism. She has been an indomitable supporter of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, despite the fact that it provides Iran with an open road to a nuclear arsenal. She was unmoved by voluminous evidence of Iran’s bad-faith negotiations and systematic, material breaches of the limitations the 2015 deal placed on its nuclear activities. Merkel led the European Union’s opposition to then-President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the nuclear deal in 2018. She spent years undermining Washington’s strategy of “maximum pressure” on Iran. Arguably in breach of the law of nations, Merkel blocked the US effort to compel implementation of the so-called “snapback sanctions.” Under United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, which anchors the 2015 deal, the sanctions the Security Council placed on Iran in response to its breaches of the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty were suspended. Resolution 2231 stipulates that a party to the resolution could order the automatic reinstatement of the sanctions (“snapback”) if it found that Iran was violating the deal. Merkel led the EU-3 in arguing, absurdly, that the US withdrawal from the deal meant it lacked the authority to reinstate the sanctions. Even if this claim were true—which it was not—it begged the question: Why didn’t Germany reimpose the sanctions? The answer was obvious: Merkel didn’t mind Iran’s violations. espite Merkel’s commitment to policies that caused it strategic harm, Israel went out of its way to pretend she was a “friend.” The rationale was clear: A crisis in German-Israeli relations would harm Israel far more than it would harm Germany. Germany is Israel’s largest trading partner in Europe and the most powerful member of the European Union. An angered Berlin could devastate Israel’s economy and precipitate a brutal political and economic offensive from Brussels. So Israeli leaders cooed over our “friend Angela” each time she said something mournful about the Holocaust. But whereas putting a happy face on Merkel’s hostility made sense while she was in power, do-
Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Yair Lapid and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett during a plenum session in the Knesset on Aug. 2. YonatanSindel/Flash90
ing so now, when she is a lame duck, is hard to justify. Bennett advanced no discernable Israeli interest when he referred to Merkel’s Germany as “Europe’s moral compass.” Indeed, he harmed the country. By praising a woman who undermined and subverted Israel at every turn, Bennett signaled to her successors that they have only to gain from maltreating Israel. Merkel made a quick departure on Sunday night. And that made sense. She wouldn’t have wanted to be in Jerusalem on Monday, because on Monday Israel marked the first anniversary of the Abraham Accords. Merkel was one of the greatest opponents of the historic peace accords between Israel and the Arab states of Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Sudan. She and her EU colleagues could barely constrain their rage when Trump announced them. Berlin and Brussels both boycotted the Abraham Accords signing ceremony at the White House. In his remarks at the Knesset event marking the anniversary of the Abraham Accords, opposition leader and former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “So long as they said you can’t make peace with the Arab world without peace with the Palestinians, we couldn’t make peace. We broke the Palestinian veto and brought four historic peace agreements, the Abraham Accords.” Who were “they” who insisted on giving the Palestinians veto power over Arab-Israeli peace? Among others, “they” were Merkel and her colleagues in the European Union, as well as the Democrats, who also boycotted the White House signing ceremony. Their desire to maintain the “Palestinian veto” over Arab-Israeli peace was never a simple matter of priorities. It was a fundamental conviction grounded in anti-Semitism. n granting the Palestinians a veto over Israeli-Arab peace, Merkel and her colleagues effectively rejected Israel’s right to exist. All Palestinian leadership factions, from the PLO to Hamas, reject Israel’s right to exist. All are committed to Israel’s physical destruction. The Palestinians justify their genocidal position by denying that the Jews are a nation, as well as their historic ties to the Land of Israel. By placing the keys to peace in the hands
of anti-Semites sworn to the destruction of the Jewish state, Merkel and colleagues effectively said the Arab war against Israel is justified and should be maintained indefinitely. In other words, they said Israel has no right to exist. This brings us to Lapid and Bennett, who slobbered over Merkel on Sunday. The LapidBennett government has an uneasy relationship with the Abraham Accords for two reasons. First, they don’t like the deals because their nemesis Netanyahu made them. And second, most members of the government, which is controlled by leftists and the Muslim Brotherhood-aligned Islamist party, want to give the Palestinians their veto back. But for all their opposition to the Abraham Accords, Lapid, Bennett and their colleagues are stuck. As Israelis, they can’t oppose real peace with four Arab states. Since they came to power in June, Lapid, Bennett and their colleagues have dealt with their Abraham Accords quandary by denying the strategic significance of the peace with the Arab states of Africa and the Persian Gulf, while effectively restoring Israel’s pre-Abraham Accords appeasement-based foreign policy. In Bennett’s case, this has meant reaching out to Jordan. Israel’s relations with Jordan have been wretched for years. The crisis in relations is a function of King Abdullah’s animosity and Netanyahu’s refusal to kowtow to him. In stark contrast to his father, the late King Hussein, Abdullah has embraced the PLO. Abdullah supports Palestinian terrorism and shelters Palestinian terrorists. He is PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas’ full partner in waging political war against Israel on the international stage. And like Abbas, Abdullah has filled Jordan’s media, which he controls, with anti-Semitic incitement. Abdullah did everything he could to scuttle and subvert the Abraham Accords. He even denied Netanyahu’s request to fly through Amman for an official visit to the UAE earlier this year. Then there is Iran. In recent years, Abdullah has been coyly cozying up to Iran, while enjoying US military protection. Last week, Abdullah’s regime media played up his foreign minister’s phone call with his Iranian counterpart. Bennett’s outreach to Abdullah is entirely
Last year Israel had a reality-based foreign policy, but now Jerusalem seems bent on reinstating the Palestinian veto and glorifying the Jewish state’s enemies.
devoid of pressure on the Hashemite monarch to reverse his anti-Israel course. Bennett hasn’t urged Israel’s ostensible peace partner to follow in the footsteps of the Abraham Accords member nations and normalize Jordan’s relations with Israel. He hasn’t demanded that Abdullah honor the US request to extradite Sbarro pizzeria bomber Ahlam Tamimi. Tamimi, who has made a career out of gloating over her murder of 15 people, including eight children, at the suicide bombing she orchestrated in Israel 20 years ago, is living the good life in Amman under King Abdullah’s protection. Bennett also hasn’t demanded that Abdullah stop wooing Iran. Ignoring all of Abdullah’s hostile actions, Bennett has blamed the crisis in Jordan-Israel relations on Netanyahu. By blaming Netanyahu, Bennett has made “fixing” Israel’s ties with Jordan a simple matter of bowing to every Jordanian demand. Last Tuesday, Bennett’s government praised a “historic” breakthrough in ties: Israel agreed to double the quantity of water it gives Jordan, at cost, from the Sea of Galilee. This brings us to Lapid and his weird visit to Washington. hile Iran was ostensibly the focus of Lapid’s visit, the Biden administration made clear that it has no intention of reconsidering its commitment to maintaining its nuclear appeasement policy towards Tehran. Then there are the Palestinians. Ahead of Lapid’s arrival, the administration used the anniversary of the Abraham Accords, (which it refuses to call by their name), to underline that they are with Merkel in their hatred of the peace deals and their determination to reinstate the Palestinian veto over ArabIsraeli peace. “The Biden administration has started out with a clear commitment to the two-state solution…. We continue to welcome the economic cooperation between Israel and all countries in the region. We hope that normalization can be leverage to advance progress on the Israel-Palestinian tracks,” an anonymous State Department spokesman said. Lapid papered over Israel’s concern with regard to the administration’s pro-Iranian stance and its diminution of the historic peace. And this makes sense. Just as Bennett ignores Abdullah’s hostility and blames Netanyahu for bad relations with Jordan, so Lapid scapegoats Netanyahu as the cause of Democrat antagonism towards Israel. In the interest of castigating Netanyahu, Lapid has long ignored both the radicalization of the Democrat Party and the rapid spread of anti-Semitism through the American left over the past decade. Lapid met with Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday, heaping praise on her just two weeks after she praised a student who accused Israel of committing genocide. Harris, he said, is “one of Israel’s best friends in Washington. A leader who always stands with us in all the important struggles and who we can always count on in difficult moments.” In Lapid’s follow-up, he didn’t simply ignore what Harris had just done. He indirectly justified her behavior. In his write-up of the meeting on his Twitter feed, Lapid said that in addition to discussing Iran’s nuclear program, he and Harris spoke about how to “strengthen the bipartisan connection with the next generation of Americans.” Lapid didn’t express concern over galloping anti-Semitism on campuses. He heaped praise on younger Americans. “They aren’t just busy with wars and confrontations but also with the climate crisis, the global immigration crisis and with questions of identity,” he cooed. Last year Israel had a reality-based foreign policy. It was predicated on the basic truth that the justice of Israel’s existence and power is immutable. That foreign policy ended the Palestinian veto and brought four robust peace agreements with Arab states. Now Israel has a reality-denying foreign policy which is reinstating the Palestinian veto and glorifying Israel’s enemies.
21 THE JEWISH STAR October 22, 2021 • 16 Cheshvan 5782
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Continued from page 17 relate to one another and converse. [Their conversation is worthy of its own analysis.] G-d will never ask us straight up or vaguely to sacrifice our children. But for us to have any notion of success with them, we must be prepared to bring them along, to show them what we do, to engage them in conversation, and to bind them — in a sense — to our way of life. Abravanel suggests that Yitzchak did not struggle as his father bound him because he thought his father was demonstrating how an olah is prepared, almost like they were playing charades. Maybe if we play charades with our children, they will have the best opportunity to learn from us, to understand why we do the things we do as Jews, as they become bound to the eternal chain that is the lifeblood of our people. A version of this column was published in 2012.
Continued from page 17 perienced, you must agree, or at least sympathize, with my coffee-shop companion’s contention that he suffered many more trials than Abraham did. Personally, I have found it meaningful to remember my companion whenever I read the Abraham narrative at this time of year, but especially on Rosh Hashana when we read of the most dramatic of those trials. For one thing, I find myself counting my own blessings in the realization that I have been spared the kinds of trials that Abraham experienced with enhanced faith, and certainly the trials which my unnamed companion suffered and lost his faith. But I also find myself realizing that we all are faced with trials, hopefully far less traumatic than those of my Holocaust survivor-friend, but trials nonetheless. especially recall, and contemplate repeatedly, the lesson I learned from one of the last surviving yeshiva deans of the previous generation. I had consulted him for advice when I was offered a particularly challenging, but extremely prestigious, rabbinic position. On the one hand, I was tempted to accept the position. But on the other hand, I knew that I would have to compromise some of my religious standards in the process. I sought out the counsel of this yeshiva dean. He encouraged me to take the position and even offered to stand by me throughout my tenure in the position with his support and guidance. Neveftheless, I ignored his counsel and turned down the position. Several weeks later, he asked me what had happened. I told him that I had concluded that the position entailed too many nisyonot, too many challenges, too many trials. His retort still resounds in my ears: “Too many nisyonot?! Too many challenges?! Heshele (his pet name for me), there is only one place on Earth where there are no nisyonos, no challenges, no trials! And you don’t want to go there!” He was referring, of course, to the cemetery. We cannot avoid challenges. Perhaps this is the
Continued from page 18 should not be afraid to lean into deep connections to the land of Israel. We can do so and also uphold the dignity and rights of Palestinians and all other indigenous Middle Eastern peoples. As so many of us continue to support and identify with the decolonization of Israeli Jews, we should build relationships with other indigenous Middle Eastern communities and support them as they strive for land-rights, cultural survival and self-determination. The lessons learned from our successes and failures as a dispersed indigenous group that has been successful in our quest for self-determination can help the world find equitable solutions for oppressed indigenous peoples on every continent, while simultaneously strengthening our collective ability to care for and protect our fragile planet. Sarah Levin is executive director of JIMENA: Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa, an advocacy and education institution advancing the rights and heritage of Jewish refugees from Arab countries and Iran.
Continued from page 19 France’s pre-war Jewish population of 340,000. Not content with distorting the Holocaust in
France, Zemmour has also assailed the reputation of Capt. Alfred Dreyfus, the French army officer falsely convicted of espionage in 1894, amid a wave of anti-Semitism that convinced Theodor Herzl, among others, of the need for a sovereign Jewish state. According to Zemmour, we will never know whether Dreyfus was a spy, but the army at the time had good reason to suspect him because of his alleged German connections. When it comes to anti-Semitic barbs and dog whistles, the overlaps between Kreisky and Zemmour are again all too apparent. “If the Jews are a people, then they are an ugly people,” Kreisky once remarked, while frequently denouncing Israel as a “semi-fascist,” “clerical,” and, of course, “apartheid” state. Zemmour, a veteran TV commentator and newspaper columnist, is not quite so blatant, but he draws from the same well. Last week, he denounced the prominent French Jewish intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy as a “traitor” and a “cosmopolitan” — language that, as the former French Prime Minister Manuel Valls pointed out, echoed the rhetoric of French anti-Semites before the war. And in September, Zemmour opined that the victims of the gun massacre carried out by an Islamist at a Jewish school in Toulouse in 2012 — Rabbi Jonathan Sandler; his two young sons, 6-yearold Arieh and 3-year-old Gabriel; and a little girl, 8-year-old Miriam Monsonégo — had been buried in Israel because they were not truly French. “They were foreigners above all and wanted to stay that way even beyond death,” he said. Zemmour has not yet announced his intention to run, but the talk of his candidacy has been bolstered by a recent poll showed him coming second in the election. Marine Le Pen, the other far-right candidate who was roundly defeated by Emmanuel Macron in the second round of the 2017 election, is eyeing Zemmour nervously. Certainly, Zemmour’s message extolling traditional French and Christian values increasingly resonate in a country sharply divided on immigration, on the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, on Europe and much else besides. From a Jewish perspective, though, the ques-
tion persists as to why European Jews who shun their own communities can entertain hope of the highest political offices — with Kreisky setting the precedent — while those who embrace them have to calibrate their expectations accordingly. Should Eric Zemmour decide that he wants to be the president of France, he will doubtless provide us with some answers along the way, as unpalatable as those are likely be.
Phillips… Continued from page 19 has been the victim of a mindset that ascribes to people who form some 0.2 percent of the global population the malign power of a conspiracy to manipulate the world. And it’s this uniquely deranged, paranoid and incomprehensible mindset that’s been given rocket fuel by the Palestinian narrative. For people don’t care about the Palestinians. What does animate a terrifying number of their supporters is a deep desire for the Jews to vanish from their world. Palestinianism is not just about the eradication of Israel. It has weaponized Israel against the Jewish people. Many Jews are frightened of acknowledging the uniqueness of Jewish suffering. Partly, this comes from a principled concern not to denigrate the suffering of others. Partly, lining up Jewish suffering alongside that of others is a panicky attempt to prevent the world from abandoning the Jews once again. Mainly, though, it comes from a deep reluctance to acknowledge the uniqueness of the Jewish people out of fear that this will increase anti-Semitism. The result is now all around us. For without acknowledging the uniqueness of the Jews and the uniquely unhinged animus against them, there is scant chance of increasing public understanding of Judaism, anti-Semitism and the State of Israel. This is the nettle, however difficult and painful, that the Jewish Agency should now grasp.
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most important life lesson that Abraham taught us. We are all presented with trials, some ten like Abraham, some less, and some many more. But we must rise to challenges, cope with these nisyonos, withstand these tests, and overcome these trials with our faith intact. This lesson is explicitly and eloquently taught to us by the great eighteenth century mystic and ethicist, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato, in his masterpiece Mesilat Yesharim (The Path of the Upright). This is what he writes near the very beginning of this book: The Holy One, blessed be He, has placed man in a world where there are many things that keep him distant from G-d. If a man follows the promptings of his physical desires, he gradually departs from the true good and soon finds himself engaged in a desperate battle. Man’s circumstances, whether fortunate or unfortunate, are a source of trial. This is true of poverty and also true of wealth. “Lest I be full and deny, and say, ‘Who is the L-rd?,’ or lest I be poor and steal, and take the name of my G-d” (Proverbs 30:9). Tempted both by prosperity and by adversity, man is in a sore predicament! We must all be prepared for the trials of life. They are part and parcel of the human condition and cannot be avoided. Abraham taught us this, and Rashi on verse 22:12 envisions the L-rd Himself proclaiming with satisfaction, “Now I am able to answer Satan and the nations of the world who wonder why I love you, Abraham. Now they can see for themselves what a G-d-fearing person you are!” Abraham resolved the sore predicament. And so can we.
October 22, 2021 • 16 Cheshvan 5782 THE JEWISH STAR
THE JEWISH STAR October 22, 2021 • 16 Cheshvan 5782
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