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Community continues hunt for Weiss killer Page 3 PUBLISHER: Double dose of good news Page 4 JERUSALEM: Making choices and being chosen Page 5 KITCHEN: Summer on the homefront Page 9

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VOL 12, NO 24 Q JUNE 21, 2013 / 13 TAMMUZ 5773

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Belle Harbor ‘kids’ host Sandy concert Shul celebration heralds return By Malka Eisenberg Nine months after Hurricane Sandy, the “kids” of Belle Harbor have come back to host a fundraising and community unifying concert this Sunday, June 23, in the main sanctuary of Congregation Ohab Zedek. The event, headlining Benny Friedman, will feature Shlomie Dachs, Aryeh Kunstler and a surprise guest. Jason Berg returned from his home in Teaneck to rescue his parents from their home on one of the beach blocks in Belle Harbor the day after the storm. Berg grew up in Belle Harbor; he and Nachi Feit, whose wife grew up in the community near Rockaway’s west end, thought a concert would be a positive way to raise funds for the devastated area. They turned to another native son, Aryeh Kunstler, an es-

tablished Jewish musician now from Cedarhurst, to tend to the music side of the concert; Nachi and Jason organized the rest. “Water flooded the whole peninsula — the ocean met the bay,” recalled Barbara Berg, Jason’s mother. The Atlantic Ocean is separated from Jamaica Bay by less than four blocks in Belle Harbor. She said that she saw the water flow over the sea wall. “The water was so powerful that it picked up a granite island in the kitchen and threw it through the wall — everything went flying. In the morning it looked like a war zone.” “There was nothing that wasn’t destroyed,” Barbara Berg said. “It stank from sewage and water. Everyone left.” Sections of two blocks were destroyed by fire. “Things in Belle Harbor are still not back Continued on page 12

The main Ohab Zedek sanctuary, site of Sunday’s concert, pictured during recent bris for Rabbi and Mrs. Tsvi Selengut’s son.

Rambam Mesivta honors a Holocaust survivor By Malka Eisenberg

Photo by Susan Grieco

Jack Ratz and his grandson Brian Fine, at Monday’s Rambam Mesivta graduation in Lawrence.

The traditional Rambam Mesivta graduation ceremony is a rollicking affair interspersed with humorous skits, joking jibes and warm camaraderie in addition to awards for each student’s unique traits and scholarship in Jewish studies and Secular studies. But this year’s event also presented a first time award: an honorary high school diploma to a Holocaust survivor who managed to rise above the adversity and horrors of his teenage years to raise a family and teach others about his experiences. Jack Ratz, 86, sat alongside the seniors of Rambam’s graduating class on Monday night, at Congregation Beth Sholom in Lawrence, intently observing the antics of the seniors and the pride and warmth of the students and faculty as awards were handed out. When his award was announced, he

proudly walked to the stage and was helped author for inspiring and teaching so many. up and then down the steps by his grandson, From the flames of devastation he created a Brian Fine, who was himspark of Torah, education self a graduating senior and values that will enof the Rambam class of sure the continuity of our 2013. people. “ When Rosh Ha-MeFriedman stated that sivta Rabbi Zev Friedchazal (our sages) say man presented what that it is “mandatory to Ratz termed “a genuine pay respect to our elders” diploma,” the audience for their “life experience rose to their feet with … they have a lot to teach thunderous applause and us.” stood as Ratz kissed RabHe stressed the RABBI ZEV FRIEDMAN bi Friedman and shook miraculous nature of Rosh HaMesivta hands with the adminisRatz’s survival of the Hotrators. locaust, how he lost his Rabbi Friedman read family but had the mettle the document: “Rambam Mesivta is proud to raise his own family, write a book — “Endto present this honorary diploma to Mr. Jack less Miracles” — and lecture about his expeRatz, Holocaust survivor, noted lecturer and Continued on page 12

‘Good eventually triumphs, although it sometimes takes a whille.’

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The independent voice of Orthodox Jewry in the Five Towns ELECTION: Lu nin-Pack conc edes, Plaut w HIPPEST RAB ins Page 13 TO BI: Maybe ba RAH: Army se by, maybe no rvice and relig t Page 8 CEL ious life Page EBRATE ISRA 4 EL: Parade an d concert Page 10

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‘Prisoner of Zi on’ in 5

We’re adding more news coverage, $25K reward new features, in murder of Chaim Weiss and more columnists...

Rabbi Yosef Mendelevic paign for rel h, whose igi cam- bef repressive So ous freedom from wi ore emigrati thi vie ng to Israel of young Jew t Union inspired a gen n the eral public appearances — will make severation the s around the the Five Tow on Saturda n participa wo rld , will visit ns this Shabb Parade on Fif te in Sunday’s Celebrat y, and at. The former e Israel th Avenue in tained Torah Prisoner of Zion — Manhattan. Mendelevic he wh h, ma ile wh inose cou sur viving dis gulag of com munist prison 11 years in the in sident in the 1960s an rage as a Soviet d ’70s is de the book, “W s and labor scribed camps Be hen They Co Gone,� will speak at thr me For Us We’ll ee shuls, a private

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reception, and a Satur day night bo ing. ok signChaiâ€? (“O On Sunday, ur Father he will appea Livesâ€?) campa Religion on r on WABC the Line pro 77’s amon ign designed to stimula educational before joinin gram at 9:1 te Yiddishk g with city 5 a.m., lan g young Jews, organ dignitaries ofďŹ izer Gavriel eit d tol cia d The Jewish ls and other at the start GozSta of r. the parade. “Whether The Five Tow in ful ns l-time is the schools, or bi Mendele on college cam yeshivas, in day vich in a na ďŹ rst stop for Rabtoday face tionwide “O pu ses , you tough quest ng Jews d Avinu ions of ide ntity and Continued on page 7

By Alexand ra Spychalsk y After more tions, Nassa than 26 years of unan u County police have swered quescold case mu reopened the rabbinical stu rder of Chaim Weiss, a for informati dent, and offered a $2 Long Beach 5,000 reward on that leads der. to the arrest of the murWeiss, a 15 -year-old, thi dent at the rd-year rab Me in his dorm sivta of Long Beach, wa binical stuitory s fou “I am appea bedroom on Nov. 1, 19 nd slain information ling to you and urging 86. tha you, that an please contac t you feel the police y Weiss, Chaimt the police departmen might need, t,â€? sai ’s father. “Pl thing.â€? ease help do d Anton The Jewish the right Det. Lt. Joh and Cedarhu community of Law rence n Azzata, rst joined its the homicid commanding Monday to e mark Memo neighbors on Capece, alo squad, and Chief of De ofďŹ cer of pa rial Day wi rade up Ce ng th a joined Weiss with County Executiv tectives Rick emony in An darhurst Avenue and e Ed at a dre Ma cera pre ngano, w ss conferen Tuesday, wh “We are gra J. Parise park. ce in ere they ask teful this da ward with ed the publi Mineola on wh o y have put the for those any inform c to come for ir ation that the case. live ins s on the lin ure that ou could help e solve and secure,â€? r countr y is safe, protec to “We implo said Rabbi ted information re anyone out there Congregati wh to on Beth Sh Kenneth Hain of pers hotline,â€? please share it with ou o may have olo (to m p in Lawrence right). “We r Crime Sto Mangano sai rem ping a killer em d. “This is abo paid the uli ber those to justice.â€? ma wh ut bringever forget.â€? te sacriďŹ c — we can ne o ver, Continued on Photos by Ed Weintrob/Je page 2 wish

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‘It’s not a mesira issue — that is misguided’ By Malka Eisenberg The reopening of the 26-year old murder case of Chaim Weiss at the Mesivta of Long Beach — and an increase in the reward offered for information to $25,000 — was prompted by a routine review of cold cases, but some new tips have already been received. Anton Weiss, the father of Chaim Weiss, has maintained contact with police over the years, said Detective Kenneth Lack of the Nassau County Police Department, and in a conversation with Chief of Detectives Rick Capece and Sergeant Greg Quinn of Homicide, discussed the bizarre facts of the case. Chaim Weiss, a 15-year-old high school student, was brutally stabbed in the head as he slept in his dormitory room sometime between 1 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. on Nov. 1, 1986. This was Saturday morning — Shabbat; it was also the night of Halloween. When the death was discovered, the body had been moved to the floor, the feet were on the bed, a standard (not a memorial) candle was found lit in the room, and the window was open. The day after the murder, Sunday, a second candle was found lit in the room. “Someone knows a secret,” said Lack. “Someone could give us information to lead to the killer.” He said that no additional information led to the opening of the case. He emphasized that there is no statute of limitations on homicide cases. “People have been calling in,” he said. “There is definitely the possibility of solving it if we get the right information and someone comes forward. We have some physical evidence that if we get the murderer, we can link him to the case.” “The police would like the Jewish people to come out and know that it is ok to do so and that it is not against halacha,” said

Photo by Ron Manfredi

At a widely publicized media event left to right: Chaim’s father Anton Weiss, Detective Lt. John Azzata, Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, Chief of Detectives Rick Capece and Police Department Rabbi Barry Dov Schwartz. Rabbi Barry Dov Schwartz, a chaplain with the NCPD. He noted that the chief of homicide asked him to assist in the case “to help comfort and be with the family.” Schwartz said that some in the Jewish community had “reservations” about “discussing things in secular” court. Also, “the feeling is that maybe some boys had information they were afraid to make public, not wanting to hand over to public authorities. “The main hope is that students in the dorm at that time would come out and give some kind of a clue, no matter how insignificant, our police department could do something with it. That’s how so many cold cases have been solved — by someone coming out. If they don’t feel comfortable calling police, they can call me.” Rabbi Chaim Wakslak, the rav of the Young Israel of Long Beach, a licensed clinical psychologist, Ph.D., and clinical director of the Hebrew Academy of Special Children (HASC) in Borough Park, assisted after the murder. “I originally got there (Long Beach) in September and this happened in October. It was a traumatic experience, being that I was

a psychologist and not directly involved with the situation. The hanhala (administration) were very traumatized. I remember it very clearly. I was in shul and some of the Rabbanim came and asked me to come speak to the boys and calm things down. They called upon me to do counseling and consult with the bachurim (youth).” He recalled meeting with the parents who were reluctant to send the students back to the school. He said that they brought in Rabbi Moshe Sherer of Agudath Israel of America, as the school was affiliated with Agudah. “They decided that the boys would go home a couple of days and come back and resume regular yeshiva. The school had a police presence, they held interviews, interrogations and used a lie detector.” As far as the crime scene, Wakslak said, “I’m not a detective” but felt that the evidence “doesn’t compute.” He said the murderer may have left what was found at the crime scene or someone else, finding the murdered boy, may have felt the need to do something that they perceived as proper out of respect for the dead, not absorbing that a

crime scene should be left untouched or that lighting a candle for the dead does not override the laws of Shabbat and that on Shabbat nothing can halachically be done regarding the body. “It doesn’t compute on many levels. It’s bizarre. My impression is that it was an afterthought.” “The kids were very traumatized; it was exceptionally, extremely stressful.” He said that he held group sessions with the boys. “I made myself available. My recommendation was not to stay home any length of time, that the boys needed to support each other, to let them vent and express their feelings. It’s traditional for a traumatic situation like this.” His theory as to why no information came out after the event: “Kids don’t necessarily have the best judgment.” The hope now is that those boys, now men, have “matured, have families of their own, have greater self confidence. If they saw something unusual, they may be forthcoming. There is a certain temimous (purity) that age; they are not mosair (turning over) anybody. Talking about something they saw, especially in a murder case, shouldn’t be an issue. “Anyone who has information should be encouraged to come forward. It’s not a mesira (turning over) issue — that is misguided in this particular case.” He said that he is willing to speak with anyone who has information who might be more comfortable speaking with him than with the police. “I met with the family,” said Det. Lack. He said that he talked with the siblings who never knew their brother, and with the father. “He made me think of my own father. To hear the plea of the father was very touching.” Lack emphasized that all sources and information would remain anonymous. If you have information, contact Crime Stoppers ,800-244-TIPS, or Homicide, 516-5737788. To reach Rabbi Schwartz, 516 766-8230. To reach Rabbi Wakslak, 646 285-5301.

Edelman and Fragin win Lawrence trustee race By Jeff Bessen Incumbent Michael Fragin was the top vote-getter in Tuesday’s Village of Lawrence trustee election, winning along with Alex Edelman. They outpolled David Seidemann for two at-large seats. Fragin had 758 votes; Edelman, 567, and Seidemann, 558. Edelman and Seidemann ran together under the Unity Party banner. The terms are two years. It was the first contested election in Lawrence since 2010 and only the second in 10 years. “I think unfortunately though the campaign devolved into a very negative one we kept it positive and a more positive vision of the future prevailed,” Fragin said. Edelman, a businessman who has lived in Lawrence for the past 10 years, said he has a lot to offer through his experience in the healthcare, transportation and real

estate industries. His immediate focus will be to help get streetlights reconnected in the Harborview section and look into flood mitigation measures. Though he wished Seidemann also won, Edelman is looking forward to being a trustee. “I wish Mr. Fragin lots of luck and I look forward to working together in harmony. There is a lot of work that has to be done in the village,” he said. Fragin, a political consultant, ran for re-election because, he said, there is still much to get done from updating the village website to spending taxpayer dollars wisely and continuing with cost-effective improvements at the Lawrence Yacht & Country Club. There were eight write-in votes for Jeffrey Hirth. Hirth originally was going to run with Fragin under the Good Government Party banner, but withdrew his name from

MICHAEL FRAGIN

ALEX EDELMAN

LEE ISRAEL

the ballot prior to the May 14 deadline for candidate petitions to be submitted.

165 to 52 votes. Israel wants to update the way the village communicates with residents by creating a website and using social media. And, like his opponent, thinks Verizon’s FiOS service should be installed in Woodsburgh to give residents a choice in comparison to Cablevision.

In the trustee race, newcomer Jake Harman collected the most votes in the at-large race for two seats with 161. Incumbent Trustee Gary Goffner won re-election with 151, while sitting Trustee Carl Cayne received 64 votes. Jeff Bessen is editor of the Nassau Herald..

New mayor in Woodsburgh For the first time since 1994, the Village of Woodsburgh will have a new mayor as Trustee Lee Israel defeated Deputy Mayor Ed Mukamal,

THE JEWISH STAR June 21, 2013 • 13 TAMMUZ 5773

Revisiting 26-year old Weiss murder case

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June 21, 2013 • 13 TAMMUZ 5773 THE JEWISH STAR

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Double dose of good news

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If such a question needs to be asked today, here is joy in Mudville this week, with Jack Ratz’s work — which is now our work — two home runs at bat. Triumph over adversity, and the vic- is incomplete. ••• tory of good over evil, are recurring themes The lead story in this week’s Jewish Star is in the secular culture as well as in Judaism; we’re especially delighted when they play out about the comeback in Belle Harbor. The west Rockaway community, a quiclose to home. et enclave sandwiched between an ocean ••• On Monday night, as Lawrence’s Ram- beachfront and Jamaica Bay, eight miles from bam Mesivta presented an honorary degree the Five Towns, suffered massive destruction at the hands of Hurricane Sandy. to Holocaust survivor Jack Ratz, Homes were demolished by the fethe futility of the 20th century FROM THE rocious powers of both water and evil hatched by Hitler, yemach shPUBLISHER fire. emo, was evident, along with our Its largest Orthodox synaresponsibility to remind the world gogue, Ohab Zedek, was ravaged, that evil will always be overcome and it still suffers with unrepaired and that Am Israel will triumph. damage. Its yeshiva had to reloRatz’s early life, as a child of cate to Flatbush. Two sifrei Torah the Holocaust, was one of unmitiwere lost. gated distress; most of his family The people of Belle Harbor are was lost. After the war, he came a hearty bunch, blessed with both to America and restarted his life. emunah and spunk, and over the A Yehudi with a mission, he told years they produced some really his story to anyone who would good people, many of whom have listen, publishing a book, “Endless moved on to other communities Miracles.” Ed Weintrob with solid Orthodox foundations, Endless, indeed. including the Five Towns, FlatHe raised a new family in bush and Teaneck. America, sealing his triumph over In Sandy’s wake, the old homestead in the Nazis. This week, he received an honorary diploma at the same Rambam Mesivta Belle Harbor beckoned, and its sons and graduation ceremony where his grandson daughters heeded the call. As our editor MalBrian received his. Literally, in the Ratz fam- ka Eisenberg reports: The “kids” of Belle Harbor grew up and ily, Am Israel chai. While stories of the Holocaust will survive moved away but, in Barbara Berg’s words, its tellers, we should fear that something may they “still have sand in their shoes.” They all be lost in the translation. Will new genera- remember the small, warm cohesive commutions internalize the truth of what happened, nity, almost like a shtetl, where everyone knew everyone else. and join the cry of “Never Again”? This Sunday, the “kids” are coming home, Judy Fine of West Hempstead, Jack’s daughter and the mother of Jack’s graduat- hosting a benefit concert — which will heading grandson Brian, said that a TV reporter line Benny Friedman — in the beautiful who covered the Rambam Mesivta event was sanctuary of Ohab Zedek. The Belle Harbor perplexed as to why Jack never went to high congregation is a Kiddush H’ashem; may Sunday’s concert magnify this, and bring blessschool. “Don’t you understand what this man ings to all who participate. Shabbat Shalom, went through?” the bewildered woman asked Ed Weintrob the reporter.

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hile the economy has slightly damp- family’s “employees,” to a society in which ened the craze to show off our “de- kids are the boss. Even if your children don’t signer children,” that yearning still make constant demands for gifts, you’re surlingers just beneath the surface. rounded by advertising and entertainment Here’s an example from my own life. My messages telling you you’re a lousy parent if wife and I used to schlep our six-year-old your kids don’t receive all the latest goodies. Eli to hipster Williamsburg for Suzuki violin Many people fear that being forced to lessons, where the (childless) teacher treat- focus on their children’s happiness will ed her students like prisoners of war. After compromise their own. However, one of the two years watching the poor paradoxes of parenthood is that kid desperately try to play “I just the opposite is true. You and Like Chocolate Ice Cream,” your children will be happier if you HIPPEST RABBI we were forced to admit that don’t focus on their happiness quite these classes were more about as much. making us look and feel like Parents too often give up their super-parents than about enown leisure time and try to “kill riching our son’s life. two birds with one stone” by spendWe yanked him out of the ing all their free time in activities class, saving ourselves a small with their children. We think this fortune and saving him further makes us better parents, but much embarrassment. We couldn’t of the time either we’re bored or even tell ourselves later that the children are bored. our intentions had been good; Let’s face it: most activities we were trying to look selfless trumpeted as “fun for the whole while being self-centered. family” rarely are. Rabbi Simcha Consider the rise of the When we use up all our free Weinstein Bugaboo. This “Cadillac of time going to child-centered events, baby strollers” has tires fit for we’re bored and our children know Formula One A Bugaboo can set parents it. On the other hand, try taking your chilback $1,000, and many grudgingly pay dren to more adult venues and watch them that amount because they’re afraid of being grow impatient and start acting out. The judged by the other parents in the neigh- day I schlepped our children to the Museum borhood for not giving their baby the best of Modern Art was an unforgettable experiof everything. No wonder they sigh that ence — in all the wrong ways. they can’t afford kids. I’m not advocating never taking children Factor in the longer hours Mom and Dad to highbrow cultural places or leaving them work to pay for the stroller in front of the television and violin lessons and they all day. (In fact, our family have less time for the kids doesn’t have a television.) themselves. So they have to But contrary to that warnhire a nanny, and that costs ing sign you see in the sumoney, which means workpermarket, sometimes it’s ing longer hours — and so okay to leave your child on. unattended in the sense Kindergarten “graduaof not feeling obligated to tion”? Our parents would schedule every moment of have scoffed at the idea. his or her day (and yours) Now failure to attend such with busyness for the sake events might be considered of being busy. tantamount to child abuse. Does an entire planet Watching my kids getting populated with disrespecttheir diplomas wearing caps ful, spoiled, undisciplined, and gowns and diapers did feel a little, well, self-centered adults (who all hate the viochildish. lin) 20 years from now sound like paradise Keep in mind that many things you think or hell on Earth? your child needs aren’t really necessities. Simcha Weinstein is a best-selling author. However, in today’s materialistic, consum- He has appeared on CNN and NPR. He was erist society, we’re under more pressure recently voted “New York’s Hippest Rabbi” by than ever to keep up with other parents PBS’ Channel 13. His latest book, “The Case in terms of toys, clothing and violin. In a for Children: Why Parenthood Makes Your hundred years, we’ve evolved from an agri- World Better,” has just been released. cultural economy, in which children were a

‘You and your

children will be happier if you don’t focus on their happiness quite as much....’

On cusp of 3 weeks, mutual respect

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prefer to stay behind the Bait Hamikdash and the exile of FROM THE news, but recent overheated our people that we continue to EDITOR rhetoric and unthinking acmourn. tions in Israel, I fear, can have We must work to dial back far-reaching, historic repercusthe uncalled for animosity and sions. disparaging words among our We stand on the cusp of the people. Three Weeks that culminated I would like to suggest that in in the destruction of both Batai our Five Towns and South Shore Mikdash (Temples); the second communities, so united as we destruction was caused by sinat were after Sandy, that our Rabchinam (senseless hatred). bis come together and issue our This week, a rabbi left a wedown kol koreh to our brothers in ding in Israel after he was atIsrael to come to their senses and tacked by other Jews there, remeet to iron out differences. Malka Eisenberg calling the story of Kamtza and We were given many gifts by Bar Kamtza. Hakodosh Baruch Hu-the Torah, All streams of Torah obserIsrael, our nation; we must work vant Judaism have more in common than to keep them. not; it was tears in the fabric of our commonality that led to the destruction of the Kol Yisrael chaverim.


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ears ago, about to exit the doors of LaGuardia Airport after a long flight, I suddenly realized I had forgotten my tefillin on the plane. I rushed back to the gates only to discover I could not get through without a valid boarding pass, which I no longer had. Personnel at lost and found (in baggage control) patiently explained they only dealt with items lost in the airport or in bagFROM THE HEART gage, and sent me to OF JERUSALEM the check-in counters, where they explained I had no boarding pass and could not get back on the plane, which was now being cleaned, and did I have identification? Finally, a supervisor with a security guard came out to see what was going on and asked me to describe the lost object. And Rabbi Binny so, a few months after Freedman September 11, with all of the heightened security, I explained it was a small velvet pouch, with two leather boxes and straps inside. Although my name was on the bag, it was only my Hebrew name, written in ancient Hebrew letters… “Well, what exactly are these boxes, sir?” the woman asked, ”and what is it that you do with them? And if you don’t even have your name on them why are you so concerned about them?” How could I explain the concept of tefillin

before the plane took off with my tefillin to its next destination, especially as the security guard was by now eyeing me very curiously? “Well, we wear these as a sign that we are the chosen people…” What does it mean to be the chosen people? Are we somehow better than everyone else? Three thousand years ago, a non-Jewish prophet named Bilaam forced us to confront this very question. Balak, the king of Moab, finally realized that the Jewish people in the desert were not going to be defeated on the battlefield. Having somehow miraculously escaped Egypt, leaving the mighty Egyptian army floundering in the Red Sea, and after vanquishing the Amalekites in open battle, clearly the Jews and their G-d would not be conquered in the conventional manner So Balak hires Bilaam to curse the Jewish people, hoping to somehow undermine them on the spiritual battlefield. Yet a non-Jewish prophet as intent on wickedness as Bilaam could only offer the words G-d put in his mouth and what comes forth from Bilaam’s mouth is some of the most beautiful poetry in the bible. “Mah Tovu O’halecha’ Ya’akov, Mishke’notecha’ Yisrael! …Yizal mayim Mi’Dal-yav, Ve’Zar’o’ be’mayim Rabim … Ve’Tinaseh’ malchuto.” (“How goodly are your tents oh Jacob, Your dwellings, Oh Israel! … Water shall flow from his branches, and his seed shall be in many waters, and his kingdom shall be exalted.”) (Bamidbar 24:5-7) Are we really exalted above all other peoples? Are we chosen and therefore somehow better than everyone else? And yet, every Friday night we make Kid-

dush over a cup of wine and bless G-d: “Ki Vanu’ Vacharta, Ve’Otanu Kidashta.” (“Because you chose us and sanctified us.”) I recall once, when our son Yair was three years old, he came over to hug me and said, taking my face in his hands: “Abba, you’re the best!” then he asked me: “Abba, am I the best?” With his five year old sister standing a few feet away, I realized this was a political minefield, so I simply said, in the tradition of centuries of clever parents, “You’re the best three year old in the family!” Because it is uncomfortable to assume anyone is really the best, isn’t it? So what does it mean to be chosen?

I

t is interesting to note that Jews come in all shapes and sizes, with no reference anywhere in Jewish law and tradition to any difference whatsoever regarding a Jew’s status be he black or white, or of African, Mexican, Chinese, European or any other racial origin. So obviously this idea of being chosen cannot be a racist concept. Indeed, Jewish tradition even has a place in the world to come for the righteous amongst the nations (see Tosefta Sanhedrin 13) and it is actually a lot easier for a nonJew to get into ‘heaven’ and certainly to keep his or her place there, than it is for a Jew! Indeed, the entire portion in which we receive the Torah is named after a non-Jew, Yitro, and it is from him that we receive the basics of our system of courts and judges, something the Torah makes quite clear. And there are many sources in which it is quite clear that a person can reach the highest spiritual levels, even having the Divine Presence (the Shechinah) descend upon oneself be they Jew or non-Jew (Tana De’Bei Elihau

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Rabbah 9). And of course, anyone, regardless of race or nationality, wishing to become Jewish can do so, through a process known as Giyur (conversion). Obviously, then, we are not ‘better’ in the normal sense of that word. So what is this idea of being chosen, or even exalted, which Bilaam alluded to, so long ago? It is interesting to note that on Shabbat, that same Shabbat which begins by suggesting that we are chosen, mentioned as well in the Friday night services, reaches its crescendo on Shabbat afternoon when we describe the Jewish people as “Goy Echad Ba’Aretz” (“One nation”). It seems, then, that we are indeed ‘The one, the only one,’ which again seems to leave a very bad taste. The truth is, we are all, in a sense, chosen, born, each of us as individuals, with our own special gifts. The real question is not whether I am chosen. The real question is what am I chosen for? What do I choose to do with the gifts I have been given? There is a statement in the Talmud that relates to the story of Bilaam. When the emissaries of Balak, the king of Moav, come to entice him to come and curse the Jewish people, he seems to do the right thing. “Stay this night and I will respond to your request based on however G-d instructs me.” (22:8) And ultimately, G-d tells Bilaam (verse 12) not to go with the emissaries of Balak, so Bilaam tells the messengers to go home. But Balak refuses to take no for an answer, and the messengers return, and again Bilaam tells them G-d decides these things. Continued on page 15

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THE JEWISH STAR June 21, 2013 • 13 TAMMUZ 5773

Balak / Making choices and being chosen


June 21, 2013 • 13 TAMMUZ 5773 THE JEWISH STAR

6

Balak / Bilaam’s mysterious lads … and facing the failure

B

ilaam is one of the more despicable characters in the Torah. Even before he unsuccessfully attempts to curse the Israelite nation, he lies to Balak’s messengers and goes against the wishes of the G-d to Whom he has expressed his devotion, when he agrees to go with Balak’s messengers. When he does head out on his journey, the PARSHA OF Torah tells us, “And G-d THE WEEK was very angry that he went, and so an angel of Hashem stood on the road to obstruct him, and he was riding on his donkey, and his two lads were with him.” (22:22) Why two lads? This is the only mention of these two lads. They play no role in helping him pack, no role in Rabbi Avi Billet helping him travel, and there is no reference to them in the tales immediately following, neither with the “talking donkey” nor when dealing with Balak upon arriving in Moav. Rashi teaches the important lesson, which the Siftei Chachamim calls a “suggestion of derech eretz (proper way-of-the-world conduct)” as opposed to an obligation, that an important person should not go out alone, especially on a journey. Some might compare this to the story of Avraham (Bereshit 22). Rashi there explained the obligation incumbent on a scholar not to travel alone. One would not compare Bilaam to Avraham as a scholar or righteous individual, but many other aspects of the tale are comparable. They both travel by donkey, preparing the donkey for travel alone, they both go in the morning (though Avraham seems to leave earlier), they both go on a few-days journey, they both don’t know how the story will turn out. And they both bring two n’arim (young men) to accompany them on the journey, presumably as servants or helpers. The difference with the lads is that in Avraham’s case, they are prominent in the story. They accompany him, they stay with the donkey as he ascends the mountain with Yitzchak, and he returns to them at the end of the tale as they accompany him on his journey home. In Bilaam’s case, they make one appearance, only when the angel is standing before him on the road. They do not embark with him at the beginning of his journey, and they are not present for his return journey. It is almost as if they don’t really exist. When he leaves his home, he goes with

“officers of Moav.” When he arrives at his destination, he is with “officers of Balak.” His lads are inconsequential. It could very well be that they were inconsequential. Then why mention them? Perhaps Bilaam’s lads are mentioned on account of what was about to take place. Following their appearance, Bilaam has his fateful encounter with his faithful donkey, an encounter, says Maimonides (Guide to the Perplexed II:42) which took place in his mind as a prophesy. Whether the donkey actually spoke or was perceived as having spoken, the one who comes out of the story looking like, shall we say, a donkey, is Bilaam! The officers of Moav do not seem to be present when Bilaam converses with the donkey. But it seems that his lads are present. Had they been present upon arrival to Balak’s land, they would have undermined every thing Bilaam tried to do (not that anything worked) because they saw him at his weakest and knew how imperfect he was. A donkey had bested him in an argument! The proof that he is not an important person, as Rashi suggested, is that he went home alone! Were it true that an important person doesn’t travel alone, there is no way he could have traveled, in either direction, alone. So, if he had lads at some point on the journey, they either abandoned him or he fired them. They’d likely abandoned him when they realized he was a crock. But if he fired them, we need to understand why he had them in the first place. Bilaam may have wanted to put on airs suggesting he was important. So he traveled with servants, who were paid to make him look important, just by being part of his otherwise very unimpressive entourage. When he had his unfortunate episode with the donkey, however, the gig was up. No one who had witnessed that could be part of Bilaam’s party. Either he fired them, or (perhaps?) killed them. His secret was safe. Until he demonstrated for Balak how worthless he was, as Balak said, “And now, escape to your place. I said I would honor you, but G-d has denied you any honor.” (24:11). We are always presented with opportunities to prove our worth or to fail. May we be blessed to be successful in many endeavors. May we also be blessed that when we fail, we have the opportunity to pick up the pieces so that even those who saw us at our weakest moments will not be able to say, as Bilaam’s lads could have said about him, that we have no worth — because we are all of infinite value. May we be blessed to tap into that value and make the most of our lives.

‘Whether the

donkey actually spoke or was perceived as having spoken, the one who comes out looking like a donkey, is Bilaam!’

VOICE YOUR OPINION! E-mail letters to Letters@TheJewishStar.com or fax to (516) 569-4942

The politics of Judaism: A lesson for today’s politicians

O

nly a British born and bred rabbi — Rabbi Jonathan Sacks — could have authored the following theologicallybased teaching: “To paraphrase Shakespeare, ‘The influence we have lives after us; the power is oft interred with our bones.’ Much of Judaism is an extended essay on the supremacy of prophets over kings, right over might, teaching rather KOSHER than coercion, influBOOKWORM ence in place of power. For only a small fraction of our history have Jews had power, but at all times they have had an influence over the civilization of the West. People still contend for power. If only we would realize how narrow its limits are. It is one thing to force people to behave in a certain way; quite Alan Jay Gerber another to teach them to see the world differently so that, of their accord, they act in a new way. “The use of power diminishes others; the exercise of influence enlarges them. That is one of Judaism’s most humanizing truths. Not all of us have power, but we are all capable of being an influence for good.” Such is Rabbi Sacks’ teaching about the Korach debacle. He extends his lesson in desert politics in an essay entitled, “Why was Moses not destined to enter the Land?” “Each age produces its leaders, and each leader is a function of an age,” writes Rabbi Sacks. “A leader must be sensitive to the call of the hour — this hour, this generation, this chapter in the long story of a people. And because he or she is of a specific generation, even the greatest leader cannot meet the challenges of a different generation. That is not a failing. It is the existential condition of humanity.” Rabbi Sacks goes deep into this premise with the following observation based upon classical teachings: “The remarkable fact about Moses and the rock is the way he observes precedent. Almost forty years earlier, in similar circumstances, G-d had told him to take his staff and strike the rock. Now too, G-d told him to take his staff. Evidently Moses inferred that he was being told to act this time as he did before, which is what he does. He strikes the rock. “What he failed to understand was that time had changed in one essential detail. He was facing a new generation. The people he confronted the first time were those who had spent much of their lives as slaves in Egypt. Those he now faced were born in freedom in the wilderness. “There is one critical difference between slaves and free human beings. Slaves respond to orders. Free people do not. They must be educated, informed, instructed, taught – for if not, they will not learn to take responsibility. Slaves understand that a stick is used for striking. That is how slave-masters compel obedience. Indeed that was Moses’ first encounter with his people, when he saw an Egyptian beating an Israelite.

“But free human beings must not be struck. They respond not to power but persuasion. They need to be spoken to. What Moses failed to hear — indeed to understand – was the difference between G-d’s command then and now [‘strike the rock’ and ‘speak to the rock’] was the essence. The symbolism in each case was precisely calibrated to the mentalities of two different generations. You strike a slave, but speak to a free person.” These are the teachings of Rabbi Sacks in his weekly Divrei Torah and in the books and essays that he has composed over the years, the most recent of which is “The Great Partnership: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning” [Schoken Books, 2011]. In this work, Rabbi Sacks clearly shows us the reconciliation of democratic political theory and Jewish religious teachings. In the chapter “The Politics of Freedom,” Rabbi Sacks teaches us the following important lesson that serves to demonstrate the compatibility of our faith with the teachings of democratic republican government. “The Bible knows nothing about democracy, and if you are sincerely religious you must have qualms about it. Democracy is, after all, about the will of the people. Religion is about the will of G-d. … Liberal democracy is a secular achievement, and the more religion there is in a society, the more its freedom is threatened.” “There is only one thing wrong about this narrative. It is false, at best a partial truth. The politics of the West are a consequence of the religion of the West and of the G-d of Abraham, whose first great intervention in history was to liberate a nation of slaves and bring them out to freedom. Liberty of conscience, the peculiarly modern form of freedom that has no counterpart in antiquity, was born in the most intensely religious of ages, based on religious texts and driven by a religious vision.” Sacks continues citing the Jewish religious tradition and its Bible’s teachings against the tyrannical rule of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Babel, Greece, Rome, and on. Our sad national historical experiences with tyranny unto this day give this premise greater relevance. Also cited by Rabbi Sacks are the writings of our nation’s founding fathers, the Declaration of Independence and its basic premise for governance, and the rule of “the consent of the governed” that set the foundation of republican rule for all time, all based upon our faith’s respect for a person’s rights to life, liberty, and property. “Politics, in the Abrahamic vision, is not the highest good. It is not where we meet G-d, not where we construct our deepest relationships, not where we exercise our highest virtues, not where we achieve individual and national glory. It is a means to an end, no more, no less. “It is there to secure peace, security, safety and law-abidingness so that we can get on with our lives, serving G-d in work and worship, in family and community, arenas we do not entrust to politicians and the state because they require absolute liberty. … Where politics is primary, politicians rule supreme; and where politicians rule, freedom is in danger.”

Politics ... is there to

secure peace, security, safety and law-abidingness … Where politicians rule supreme; freedom is in danger


7

By Ann Friedman

Courtesy Terry Kornbluth

Nicole Goldstein and Terry Kornbluth were brought together through the Gift of Life Foundation, and had no idea they lived a half-mile from each other in Woodmere. other side of ballroom doors while Terry was introduced,” Goldstein said. “The moment I heard that he also lives in Woodmere, my jaw dropped, I cupped my mouth in disbelief, and turned to the stage director for confirmation that I heard correctly. I’ve waited over two years to meet my recipient and his fam-

ily. Little did I know that we were [possibly] passing each other on the street the entire time.” She was still in shock, Goldstein said, when the ballroom doors opened and she finally met Kornbluth. “She is the nicest, kindest 22-year-old who is mature beyond her years,” Kornbluth

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Following two unsuccessful years of chemotherapy for leukemia beginning in March 2009, Woodmere resident Terry Kornbluth’s only other alternative was a bone marrow transplant. In January 2011, his doctor put his name and DNA information into a national database, and two months later, Kornbluth, 65, was matched with a potential donor. He underwent a bone marrow transplant at North Shore-LIJ that April. “I appreciate everything more,” he said of life after his transplant. “I don’t take anything for granted, and I’m able to put things in the proper perspective.” After the operation, Kornbluth wanted to meet the person who saved his life. But he had to wait. “There’s a one-year statute in which I can’t meet the donor,” he said, referring to the rules of the Gift of Life Foundation, which facilitated the transplant. Finally, two years later, Kornbluth learned the identity of his donor. “As unlikely as it was, my match lived a half-mile from me in Woodmere,” he said. Nicole Goldstein, 22, a graduate of Stella K. Abraham High School for Girls in Hewlett, donated bone marrow through Gift of Life. “Never once did I question whether I wanted to go through with the donation,” she said. “Who am I to deny someone a second lease on life? To me it was simple.” On May 21, Goldstein and Kornbluth met, at the Gift of Life Gala at the Grand Hyatt in Manhattan. “I was kept in a separate room for the beginning of the night until we met on stage, and I was excitedly standing on the

said. “Her primary goal in life was to make sure I was healthy.” Goldstein’s decision to donate bone marrow has changed her life as well. She began organizing donor recruitment drives, where she met an elementary school friend who is involved in Gift of Life, Yehuda Wolfset of Cedarhurst. They are now engaged. “It all began with our Gift of Life volunteer team and, thanks to Terry, is continuing with something very special,” she said. “I cannot wait for Terry and his family to join us for our wedding in November.” As the recipient of donated bone marrow, Kornbluth is a strong proponent of such donations. “It’s just a swab of the cheek with a cotton swab, and then the DNA information gets put into a database so when someone needs it, the computer does a match,” he said. “It’s as good to give as it is to receive, knowing that you saved someone’s life.” Tamara Hochman, a recruitment coordinator for Gift of Life, explained the process, saying it only takes five minutes. “By filling out a short consent form and having their cheek swabbed,” she said, “donors can help save the life of someone with leukemia, lymphoma and other blood disorders.” Thanks to his improving health, Kornbluth will reduce the frequency of his examinations from four times a year to two. “Nothing makes me happier than to know that he is, thank G-d, feeling great,” Goldstein said. “Donating has given me the chance to share life. Life is amazing, and there is nothing better than that.” Ann Friedman is staff reporter for Nassau Herald, where his article originally appeared.

THE JEWISH STAR June 21, 2013 • 13 TAMMUZ 5773

Hewlett woman’s ‘Gift of Life’ saves Woodmere man


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June 21, 2013 • 13 TAMMUZ 5773 THE JEWISH STAR

8


9

canons that can shoot from one side of the yard to the other, 140 feet away. They can hit a target, or shall I say a woman, all dressed up and about to leave to a wedding … JERRY!!! ••• This week, a three person Roman catapult-like water balloon launcher arrived, and, oh yeah, today’s late breaking news development, Jerry told me to keep an eye out for a monster-sized tire swing which can simultaneously fit Jerry and all five grandkids, with room to spare for any stragglers. For those kids who need a break from the heat, there is the drum set in the den. (Sorry, Jordana, I did hide the drum sticks till you woke up last Sunday morning, but Ben realized he could play them with pool cues.) There’s also an electric train set complete with loud annoying train whistle, harmonicas, duck call whistles, stuffed birds and animals that make lifelike sounds including flying chickens. My favorite, of course, is the screaming, snapping, pterodactyl which I first heard in the car, while picking up Jerry from the Far Rockaway train station (because he fell asleep and missed his stop) at 12:20 a.m. Needless to say I wasn’t happy at the time and was still annoyed that another shipment of “toys” had arrived that day. He got into the car and put a plastic bag in the back seat. As I hit a bump I heard a huge roar. I turned around and said, “What in the world was that? “Nothing,” he replied. The next time the roar got louder and the bag moved. Jerry, trying to suppress a laugh, explained that it was a dinosaur that roared and moved just as the real one did in it’s day. Yes, of course … it got great reviews and was on sale. So this summer, whether at your pool, a friend’s or just having a backyard get together, here’s an easy cake to put together that’s lots of fun to look at and eat!

•1 Entenmenn’s 11.5 oz loaf cake of your choice (or of course a homemade one) •1 cup ice cream of your choice •8-ounce carton frozen whipped dessert topping, thawed and whipped •Pull-apart licorice twists •Lieber’s Candy Megs Buttons to decorate the flip flop (The ones you have to peel off the paper) •Graham cracker crumbs (for the sand) optional Directions 1. Cut the loaf cake horizontally. Using a serrated knife, cut off the rounded top of the cake so each layer will be level. Cut each half into a flipflop shape. I like to trace the bottom of a child-size flip-flop (needs to be 7 to 7 1/2 inches long) on a piece of paper. Cut out shape. Place paper, clean side down, on a piece of clean cardboard or sturdy paper; trace shape. Cut out shape. Place cardboard shape on top of one cake half and use a small sharp knife to cut around shape and through cake. Repeat with other cake half. 2. Place ice cream in a small bowl and soften a bit. Spread ice cream over one of the cakes. Top with second cake. Cover and freeze until firm. Cover with whipped topping. 3. To decorate, cut the ends of two twists

‘This week, a 3-person

Roman catapult-like water balloon launcher arrived and … a monster-sized tire swing which can simultaneously fit Jerry and all five grandkids, with room to spare for any stragglers..’

at a diagonal. Insert a toothpick on the underside of each twist. Arrange the two twists with the cut ends together to form a V-shape, inserting toothpicks in cake to hold the twists in place as straps. Arrange candies around base of flip-flop to decorate. Freeze until serving. Upon removing from the freezer, sprinkle finely crushed graham cracker crumbs as sand, on a platter and place “flip flop(s)” on top. Judy Joszef is a pastry and personal chef as well as a party planner. She spent 18 years as a pastry chef at Abigael’s, The Cedar Club, Centro and T42 in the Five Towns, before launching her current business, Soiree. She can be reached at judy.soiree@gmail.com

Flip Flop Ice Cream Cake Ingredients For each flip flop, you can serve one or two.

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ummer is my favorite season and swimming (ok, sitting by the pool) is my favorite pastime. One person who really enjoys the pool and the yard today is my husband Jerry. My idea of a great yard is a clean pool, lush landscaping, nice furniture to sit on, lay out in the sun on, and a nice dining set to sit around when we barbecue. My husband Jerry, unfortunately had different ideas. Don’t get me wrong. My backyard had all the things I want — only problem is it has sooo much more. Jerry has five adorable grandchildren, and including WHO’S IN THE Jerry, that makes six KITCHEN children he likes to buy things for. Let’s start with the airplane rider that showed up at my door three years ago. I called up Jerry and asked if he ordered it. “Yes,” he said excitedly. “The kids are going to love it; it got great reviews.” But of course it got great reJudy Joszef views — Jerry doesn’t order anything unless it has great reviews. It doesn’t have to be practical, the kids don’t have to love it, or shall I say even use it. As long as it’s a good deal and has good reviews, it’s a no brainer. As excited as I was to have this schoolyard-sized airplane glider in my backyard, so was my brother in law, Jack, who is the lucky person who gets to assemble or repair all of our purchases. And excited he was when he put together the glider, on a summer day, during a heat wave, when the temps were over 100 degrees, during a fast day. Truth is, Jerry did help, someone had to hold the instructions and hand Jack the screws and bolts. I admit, the kids loved it the first time they were on it, three years ago, for ten minutes. Jerry swears the height just has to be adjusted now. My brother in law thinks it’s just fine as it is. Aside from the airplane glider, there are dozens of super soaker water guns, and then some more. They arrive weekly, each one sure to be better than the last. They are in my garage, basement and the side of the house, where they are left because, as much as Jerry loves toys, he doesn’t put them away, so I put them away, and then Jerry thinks we need more, and they’re on sale and you guessed it, they have great reviews. So we have 1, 2, and 3 foot soakers in all shapes, sizes and colors. We also have water

THE JEWISH STAR June 21, 2013 • 13 TAMMUZ 5773

It’s summer on the home front. And on the flip side…


June 21, 2013 • 13 TAMMUZ 5773 THE JEWISH STAR

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ON THE

Calendar Submit your shul or organization’s events or shiurim to JScalendar@TheJewishStar.com. Deadline is 9 a.m. on Monday for Thursday’s publication. Listings are free for qualified organizations.

THURSDAY June 20 Lawrence Library meet 7:30 p.m., Peninsula Public Library’s Board of Trustees will meet in open session at the library, 280 Central Ave., Lawrence. The public is invited to attend.

Senior events 10 a.m., Ruth Shuster presents “Songs for Everyone.” 10:30 a.m., computer, by appointment. 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., chair yoga with Sandy Pinz. At 2:30 p.m., Yiddish with Sarah Diamond. Center for Adult Life Enrichment, 37 East Rockaway Road, Hewlett. 516374-4747.

SATURDAY June 22 Tennis fundraiser Raising funds for Dov Muchnick, recently diagnosed with Adult Neuroblastoma, a rare cancer. He is currently undergoing cancer treatments at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. 10:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. at Clay Time Indoor Tennis, 70 Long Beach Road, Island Park. $36 per person or $50 per doubles team. Raffles $5 each, 4 for $18. Open to college age and up. All proceeds will go toward special Chai Lifeline fund. More info: Gabe at 516-780-5164 or Natan 516581-8485 or DovsTennisNight@gmail.com.

SUNDAY June 23 Madraigos breakfast Helping Our Youth Step By Step. Featured Speaker: Rabbi Kenneth Hain, Senior Rabbi of Congregation Beth Sholom of Lawrence. 9:30 AM at the home of Shlomie and Malkie Scharf, 384 Donmoor Road, Lawrence. For information, contact info@madraigos.org

MONDAY June 24 JCCRP fair and concert The Jewish Community Council of the Rockaway Penninsula special event at 2 p.m., on Reeds Lane (between Oak Drive and Cedarlawn Avenue), Far Rockaway. Featuring Shloime Dachs, children’s rides and activities. For information, call 718-3277755.

Woodsburgh Village The Board of Trustees meets on Monday, June 24 at 8 p.m., at Village Hall 30 Piermont Ave., Hewlett.

5K RACE IN WOODMERE RAISES $2,300

Courtesy Richard Brodsky

Last week’s sixth annual Richard Brodsky Foundation 5K Aids Cancer Run Walk in North Woodmere County Park attracted 175 participants and raised $2,300. The foundation is named for an Atlantic Beach resident who is an HIV-positive cancer survivor. Funds will be distributed equally to the Five Towns AIDS Services in Inwood, Hewlett House, Cohen Children’s Medical Center of NY, Center of AIDS Research and Treatment at North Shore University Hospital, and Ronald McDonald House, according to Brodsky. Donations can still be made to 5KaidsCancer.com. Photo courtesy Richard Brodsky

Come Alive Come Alive Program at Congregation Sons of Israel in Woodmere on Mondays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Social, recreational and intellectual activities for home-bound older adults. Kosher lunch and door-to-door transportation available on a limited basis. For more information call Mary Sheffield (516) 569-6733 x219.

TUESDAY June 25 Cafe Europa Every Tuesdays from noon to 2 p.m., at Congregation Beth Sholom, 390 Broadway, Lawrence, there’s an opportunity for senior citizens to experience a feel of European flavor. Senior come to nosh, exercise, Yiddish humor, lectures, movies, music and more. For more information, call Rebecca Gordon at (516) 569-6733 ext. 209.

THURSDAY June 27 Successful Interviewing Sid Jacobson JCC, 10 a.m. to noon. 300 Forest Drive, East Hills, NY 11548 For more information,

please contact: Suzanne Feiner, Connect to Care, sfeiner@fegs.org, 516-484-1545, ext. 214

Come Alive Come Alive Program at Congregation Sons of Israel in Woodmere on Mondays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Social, recreational and intellectual activities for home-bound older adults. Kosher lunch and door-to-door transportation available on a limited basis. For more information call Mary Sheffield (516) 569-6733 x219.

Lunch and Learn With Rabbi Hershel Billet of the Young Israel of Woodmere. 12:30–1:30 p.m. at Traditions Restaurant, 392 Central Ave., Lawrence. For information, call Alan Stern at 516-295-1672 or 516-398-3094.

Ongoing Rescue of Europe’s Refugees 1933-1941 Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Place, Manhattan. Exhibit on the bureaucracy and national opposition to immigration of the Jews at that time. (646) 437-4202

Calling senior song birds JCC OF THE GREATER THE GREATER FIVE TOWNS, located at 270 Grove Avenue in Cedarhurst, hosts a choir for seniors every Tuesday morning at

11 a.m. for a joyful hour of singing with choir master Zvi Klein. We sing songs in all languages and we perform for local venues.. $5 optional contribution requested per session. For information call Sheryl at 516-569-6733 x222.

Remember when On Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at Congregation Sons of Israel in Woodmere. Program helps home-bound older adults to participate in social, recreational & intellectual activities. Kosher lunch and door-to-door transportation is available on a limited basis. $40 per day. Call Gayle Fremed at (516) 569-6733 x211.

Economic support group THE JCC OF THE GREATER FIVE TOWNS is planning to sponsor an ongoing support group for those who are economically challenged as a result of the economic downturn. For further information and to pre-register for this JCC series, please contact Talia Rapps, L.M.S.W. at 516-569-6733 x213.

Special needs support THE JCC OF THE GREATER FIVE TOWNS offers “Movement with Mary Moshos,” a class for children with special needs ages 5 and up, designed to enhance interaction with the environment through work with music, bubbles, and various textures. Wednesdays, 5:30-6:30pm at the JCC, 207 Grove Avenue, Cedarhurst. 12 sessions/$240. Please call Sharona Arbeit at 516569-6733 ext 218 to request additional information.


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It was three weeks before the end of the British Mandate. A trainload of British arms was headed towards Gaza to be transferred to the Arabs; the Etzel (Irgun) could not allow that to happen. They ambushed the train, only to find it heavily armored and guarded by 40 British soldiers. A firefight broke out; Etzel fighters were hit. And then Gidi, the Jewish commander, stood up, and yelled towards the British: “Captain John! You’re three weeks before the end; the train is surrounded by hundreds of our fighters! Is it really worth it to die now?” Rabbi Noam Himelstein studied in Yeshivat Har Etzion and served in the Tanks Corps of the IDF. He has taught in yeshiva high schools, post-high school women’s seminaries, and headed the Torah MiTzion Kollel in Melbourne, Australia. He currently teaches at Yeshivat Orayta in Jerusalem, and lives with his wife and six children in Neve Daniel, Gush Etzion.

HEBREW ONLY PLEASE

Rabbi Noam Himelstein

How Fisker burned through $1B to create a car that didn’t work If you ever get a chance to look at the nearly $2 billion. front grill of a Fisker Karma, the first model “One characteristic of businesses that are luxury electric car made by Fisker Automo- in trouble like this is, as the desperation intive, you will notice that it seems to be laugh- creases, they tend to bend the story a little,” ing as if it were saying, “Ha, ha, I got your Reuters quoted David Cole, a longtime auto money!” Despite that, the Fisker Karma is a consultant and former head of the Center for beautiful looking hybrid sports sedan, which Automotive Research in Ann Arbor. is about to meet a very ugly end. A Fisker executive who spoke on condition The company received a major part of its of anonymity said the company accurately funding from the pockets of U.S. taxpayers. presented its finances to both investors and According to documents unearthed by the the government. The executive said Fisker Associated Press, the White House continued disclosed to investors in a December 2011 letto play Sugar Daddy to Fisker even though ter that it was unlikely to meet the financial it knew the company was in trouble. Fisker covenants under the government loan. Karma also burned private investors. “Whatever the Energy Department’s interFisker Automotive hasn’t built a car in nal assessment or view might have been, we nearly a year. It fired most of its workforce, certainly weren’t giving them different inforhired bankruptcy advisers and is seeking a mation or different forecasts than we were buyer. Co-founder Henrik Fisker resigned in providing to our own investors,” the execumid-March in a dispute with some of the di- tive told Reuters in late May. rectors. And despite raising $1.4 The reasons Fisker turned out billion in private and public funds to be a turkey are numerous. since it’s founding in 2007, the Fundamentally, say suppliers POLITICS TO GO company is out of cash. Key inand some insiders, executives simvestors have been throwing good ply couldn’t orchestrate the commoney after bad, paying the carplex dance that leads from a demaker’s day-to-day expenses to sign sketch to the production and keep it alive in diminished form. sale of a profitable car. Spending Fisker’s finances started to unwas lavish; engineering blunders ravel as early as June 2011, when rife. The company also faced presthe U.S. Department of Energy sure from both its investors and its cut off access to taxpayer-funded chief creditor, the Energy Departloans, a full year after the Adminment, to meet ambitious goals set istration knew the company was by Fisker executives. in trouble and nine months before Perhaps things would have the company acknowledged its been different if anybody bothJeff Dunetz troubles to its investors. ered to see if there was a marketAn Energy Department official place for such a car. said in a June 2010 email that According to the University of Fisker’s bid to draw on the federal Cal-Davis, there are four major loan may be jeopardized for failure to meet kinds of electric and/or hybrid car buyers: goals established by the department. •Early Adopters: Those who need to be Despite that warning, Fisker continued the first to own the latest technology. to receive money until June 2011, when the •Uber-Greens: Members of the Church of DOE halted further funding. The agency did Al Gore. so after Fisker presented new information •Energy Security Hawks: They don’t want that called into question whether key mile- to give more money to the repressive oil-prostones -- including the launch of the compa- ducing regimes. ny’s signature, $100,000 Karma hybrid -- had •Cheapos: They’ve calculated that even been achieved, according to a credit report though electric cars cost more up front, prepared by the Energy Department. they’ll more than make up the difference if The December 2011 credit report said they drive X miles a year for Y years “DOE staff asked questions about the delays” The luxury car buyer is looking for luxury, in the launch of the Karma “and received to show it off and skews older. “Green car” varied and incomplete explanations,” leading is more middle aged and of average income. to the suspension of the loan. According to Reuters, Fisker built 2,450 Fisker had received a total of $192 mil- Karmas from 2011 to 2012, and lost $35,000 lion of the $529 million loan before it was on each car, according to internal financial suspended. But the Karma’s introduction was statements and interviews with former Fisker doomed from the start. executives. One former executive said the On March 7, 2012, a Fisker Karma pur- Karma “cost far more to produce than we could chased for $107,850 by Consumer Reports ever charge for it.” No one bothered to find a magazine was taken out for a test drive at the way to produce the car at a reasonable price. 327-acre CR test track facility in Connecticut. “In mid-2011, engineers found that The Karma had fewer than 200 miles on its Fisker’s unusual front-end exhaust design odometer. While performing a routine speed- was too noisy and hurt the Karma’s horseometer calibration check prior to actual road power. This could have been headed off years testing, the car broke down and could not be earlier by putting the exhaust pipe in the restarted. back, as is standard, but the idea was struck “We buy about 80 cars a year and this is down. the first time in memory that we have had a “What emerged was a solution dubbed car that is undriveable before it has finished the ‘pizza box’ that [addressed] CEO Fisker’s our check-in process,” CR reported. aesthetic sensibility — but at an extra cost In August 2012, the Karma was recalled of millions of dollars, according to two engibecause of a faulty fan. And then there were neers who worked on the redesign program.” the news reports that the car began to sponIn short, the market place was not yet taneously ignite. ready for a luxury green car such as the That the government had “cut the compa- Fisker Karma, thus the company is failing ny off” was unknown by many of Fisker’s pri- after burning through $1.4 billion of other vate-sector investors, who put $525 million people’s money (including almost $200 milinto the company from May 2011 through lion of taxpayers dollars). August 2012, attracted by rosy sales forecasts Jeff Dunetz is the Editor/Publisher of the and assurances the company valued itself at political blog “The Lid” (www.jeffdunetz.com).

THE JEWISH STAR June 21, 2013 • 13 TAMMUZ 5773

Arms train and Etzel


June 21, 2013 • 13 TAMMUZ 5773 THE JEWISH STAR

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Belle Harbor celebrates comeback this Sunday… Continued from page 1 to normal, even though it’s been nearly nine months since the storm,” explained Feit. “With this concert, we are hoping to breathe some life back into this community which so badly needs it. We are expecting a packed house and it should be a really exciting and energizing event for everyone there.” “We hope to help raise a good amount of money for the shul as well as put together an event that will hopefully get everyone together as a Chanukat Habayit/Reunion concert,” said Jason. “The shul hasn’t been filled in years so if we can make money, fill the room and everyone has a good time, it will be a successful event.” Ohab Zedek’s building stretches along an entire block on Rockaway Beach Boulevard between Beach 134th and 135th streets. The storm forced the Yeshiva of Belle Harbor, which was housed in the Ohab Zedek building, to relocate to Flatbush; among losses suffered in the storm were two sifrei Torah. The “kids” of Belle Harbor grew up and

“Boruch Hashem, it’s a very special commoved away but, in Barbara Berg’s words, munity,” said Rabbi Tsvi Sethey “still have sand in their lengut, rav of Ohab Zedek. shoes.” They all remember He noted the “close knit the small, warm cohesive warmth” there that “in the community, almost like a age of mega communities is shtetl, where everyone knew harder to have.” everyone else, and still come He said that it “always back for the fun and peacewas a really caring place — fulness of the beach year with more chesed per capita round. Most said that they than other communities. Evstill have family there and eryone is an integral part — feel a connection to the comso many kids and grandkids munity. were getting in touch, asking “My parents still live ‘what can I do, can I help there, and it was such a clean?’ It speaks to what this warm and loving place to community is about.” grow up for me,” said Kun“Belle Harbor has always stler. “Almost everyone in JASON BERG been a community that’s a the community had a part in An organizer of benefit giving community and never raising me, so it’s hard not to asked or needed help from feel a tie. It’s my beginning, outside communities,” pointit’s where I started and built the foundation of what my life would be. It’s ed out Jason. “This is the time that they do.” Jason’s idea of a concert is “a very good still home.” idea for sure,” said Selengut. “It’s not just beneficial to the shul for fundraising, it’s a shot in the arm, real energy, ruach and chizuk for the people. And to bring awareness to the wider Jewish community that we came back better than ever, that it didn’t beat us.” Stressed Kunstler, “Music has a unique way of bringing people together. We felt we can bring together the residents, the products, and the friends of the community through music and song to celebrate the rebuilding of the neighborhood.” Barbara Berg noted that while the ballroom and main sanctuary of the shul have air conditioning and electricity again, the basement — which was flooded to the ceiling and has been completely stripped for reconstruction — remains unusable. Current plans call for the basement’s bais midrash and bathPhoto by Malka Eisenberg rooms to be rebuilt. Rabbi Tzvi Selengut (left) and Rabbi Bennet Rackman in the shul basement.

‘Belle Harbor has always been a community that’s giving and never asked or needed help from outside communities.’

Jewish music star Benny Friedman headlines Sunday���s Ohab Zedek event. “The concert is to raise money to pay off the debts and go forward,” she said. “I’m hoping people I grew up with and their families all come,” said Jason. “It would be amazing to see people I haven’t seen in years at an event like this. Iy’H the room will be filled to capacity. For people with no direct connection to Belle Harbor, they should come because the concert itself will be amazing. Having Benny Friedman, Shlomie Dachs and Aryeh Kunstler along with a surprise singer that everyone in the Jewish music community knows will create an amazing event.” The concert will be at 11 a.m. on Sunday, June 23, at Congregation Ohab Zedek, 13401 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, Belle Harbor. To purchase tickets ($18, $36 and $54) or for more information, visit RebuildBelleHarbor. com, email concert@rebuildbelleharbor.com or call 201-308-5580.

He built new life, taught lessons, after Holocaust… Continued from page 1 riences, with the lesson that can be gleaned by his listeners that “if a Holocaust survivor can persevere then I can, too.” “This is history,” said Jack Ratz. “Someday my grandson will say to his children ‘my grandfather graduated with me.’ How many can say that they went through hell? I actually got a real award. I hugged Rabbi Friedman.” He said that they danced after the ceremony and he sat on a chair in the middle of the circle of young men “like a chatan (groom)” at a wedding. Ratz pointed out that he has been giving his book to Rambam graduates since 1998 and did so again this year. He said that one of the graduates turned to him and said that it was “an honor to sit next to you.” “I’m very proud of myself,” said Ratz. “I don’t think this was ever done before. I’m very happy. I was able to live long enough and see all my grandkids graduate high school and go to college. It’s important to have an education. I didn’t have the opportunity. I had hell my whole teenage life.” Rabbi Friedman said that Ratz was instrumental in changing Latvian policy in 2001 when Rambam held a rally outside the Latvian embassy to request extradition of three Nazis who took refuge in Australia after being deported from the United States, Canada and England.

Photo by Malka Eisenberg

Holocaust survivor Jack Ratz holds the silver spoon ring that he wore through the war years and his book, “Endless Miracles,” in his home in Brooklyn. Ratz joined in the rally with students from Rambam Mesivta. “He spoke upstairs to the consulate general about what happened to his family during the war,” explained Friedman. The idea for the honorary diploma for Ratz came from the family.

“My brother Jeff got the ball rolling,” said Judy Fine, of West Hempstead, Brian’s mother and Jack Ratz’s daughter. She noted that a TV reporter after the event couldn’t understand and kept asking why he never went to high school. Said Fine, “Don’t you understand what this man went through?”

Fine said that the honor was “very touching, the boys enjoyed it.” It was done “with dignity and was very sweet. Brian loves his zayda (grandfather); he is the only surviving grandparent.” “Whatever tribute and respect we can pay to Holocaust survivors in our generation it is our responsibility to do so, especially the new generation,” emphasized Rabbi Friedman. He stressed the importance of sharing the joy and sorrow in the history and destiny of our people. He noted that those even 70 years younger should feel and understand that survivors have a tremendous impact on all generations and understand what they went through and came and built families and contributed to what we have today. He also pointed out the contrast between the honor that Jack Ratz received now and the dishonor of a recently discovered Nazi war criminal found in Minnesota. “Good eventually triumphs,” said Friedman. “It’s another part of the lesson, although it sometimes takes a while.” He added that this year one of the grandparents of the graduates was honored and that they are “contemplating doing this every year, to honor a holocaust survivor as part of the educational message to the graduates to know much of what they enjoy comes from sacrifices of previous generations.”


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THE JEWISH STAR June 21, 2013 • 13 TAMMUZ 5773

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June 21, 2013 • 13 TAMMUZ 5773 THE JEWISH STAR

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Time for a story / The Miraculous Paper By Rabbi Eugene z”l and Dr. Annette Labovitz Instead of saying goodbye to a disciple, a chasidic rebbe would often tell him a story, as if the rebbe were transmitting to his disciple part of himself, to take with him on his journey home. He wanted his disciple to have holy thoughts to enhance his faith until his next visit. And so it was that Rebbe Y’hudah Tzve MeStretin, a disciple of Rebbe Uri HahSahrahf MeStrehlisk, told this story which occurred during Rebbe Mordechai Neschiz’s latter years.

PART ONE Few Jews lived in St. Petersburg during the reign of Czarina Elizabeth (1742̽  Her intolerant attitude toward Jews consisted of permission only for “useful” Jews and their families to remain in the city. Depending upon the ruler, the situation of the Jews permitted to live in St. Petersburg improved slightly or worsened drastically. When Czar Nicholas I (reigned 1825–1855) ascended the throne, he ordered all Jews living in the city “without doing anything” expelled. I traveled with my businessman father as a young child. When we traveled through Jewish sections, particularly through the Pale of Settlement, we dressed like Jews, big yarmulkes on our heads, tzitzit flying from the sides of our jackets. But because of the intolerance of Russian officials, we dressed as Russian business people when we traveled through the cities. Our heads were covered with the fine fur hats worn by Russian rich men and our tzitzit were tucked inside our shirts. We appeared to be the same as every other traveler who had come to St. Petersburg on business. The difference being that they traveled freely, and we were forced to hide our ritual symbols and constantly feared for our lives. It was very clear that Jews did not belong in St. Petersburg, afflicted with an exile complex, the exile of being out of place in a strange land. We prayed for our fear to disappear and our mental anguish to end, but we also knew that the exile complex would not be set to rest until the time of Messianic redemption. I remember the incident clearly. We registered in a very comfortable hotel, one of the best in St. Petersburg. It was late in the day; we settled down in our room. My father removed food from a large suitcase, food for dinner. He always carried enough food supplies with him for the duration of our trips, for it was difficult to find kosher food in St. Petersburg without calling attention to ourselves. I was lying down, for I was fatigued from travel. My father sat at a table, the dim light of a lantern illuminating the pages of a holy book that he was studying.

Suddenly, I was conscious of a conspicuous sound which seemed to grow louder and louder. It seemed to be approaching nearer and nearer to the hotel. I imagined the sound to be that of a shofar. I trembled, wondering at the meaning of this sound in the night in St. Petersburg. I glanced at my father; he had risen from his chair, visibly shaking. My father said softly: “I know the many reasons for the sounding of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah. The ten reasons for the sounding of the shofar are: ■͆Rosh Hashanah celebrates the creation of the world and the crowning of God as the king over creation. We acknowledge our King with the sounding of the shofar. ■͆Rosh Hashanah marks the first day of the ten days of repentance. We sound the shofar to announce that these ten days are a propitious time to return to G-d, to mend our ways, to do t’shuvah. ■͆The sounding of the shofar reminds us of the Revelation at Mt. Sinai, when the blasts of the shofar resounded in the world. We remind ourselves to emulate the ways of our forefathers; they received the Torah with the oath “nahahseh v’ nishmah” (“we will do, and we will listen”). ■͆The sounding of the shofar reminds us of the exhortation of our prophets, that we are ultimately responsible for our actions. ■͆The shofar reminds us of the destruction of both bahtay mikdash. Through the cry of its sound, we pray for their rebuilding. ■͆We are reminded of the ahkaydah, the binding of Yitzchak. Avraham substituted a ram as a sacrifice instead of his son. As G-d had compassion upon Yitzchak, so we pray that His compassion be on us. ■͆When we hear the broaken sound of the shofar, we are reminded to subjugate our will to His will. ■͆The sound of the shofar reminds us that Rosh Hashanah is the day of judgment for all mankind. ■͆The sound of the shofar reminds us of our belief in t’cheyat hahmaytem, the resuscitation of the dead. ■͆At the time of the ultimate redemption, the sound of the shofar will lead the exiles to the Holy Land. We pray that the ultimate redemption arrive soon.” He lowered his voice. He was practically whispering. “It is the middle of the summer, not anywhere near the season of Rosh Hashanah. None of these reasons make sense, except maybe the last one. Maybe we are listening to the call of the shofar of redemption.” He walked over to the bed where I lay, pulled me to a sit-up position and spoke firmly: “Come, we better go down to the

lobby to find out why we hear the sound of the shofar in St. Petersburg. If it is signaling Messianic redemption, we want to be ready.” We descended the winding staircase quickly, deliberately, searching the faces of other guests for a clue, but those who ascended seemed oblivious to the shofar sounds. When we finally reached the lobby, we experienced tremendous commotion. The service people were running helter skelter, the manager faced two peaceful looking men, adorned with the epaulette’s of high command on their uniforms. We overheard their conversation. “We are the commanders of a battalion of warriors, who are camped on the outskirts of St. Petersburg. The Tzar has granted us official permission, and expects that we will be treated as visiting dignitaries, as ambassadors of good will on a peaceful mission. The joyful shofar blasts that you heard indicate that we are men of peace. We request accommodations for the night.” The commanders were shown to their rooms, and the commotion in the lobby gradually quieted. We returned to our room, also. As our usual custom, we awoke early the next morning, dressed carefully, ascertaining that our tzitzit were neatly tucked inside our shirts, prayed the morning service, ate our breakfast, donned our fine fur hats, and descended to the hotel dining room for tea. To our absolute amazement, the commanders that spoke to the hotel manager the previous evening were standing, facing a wall, majestically wrapped in talis and t’filin, praying fervently. We wondered that they were not afraid to exhibit the rituals of Judaism in public, in hostile St. Petersburg. It dawned upon us that these two commanders were so proud of their Jewish heritage, that they had set to rest their exile complex. When they finished praying, they slowly removed the t’filin of the head, unwound the t’filin of the arm, pulled off and folded their talis. Simultaneously, two joyful shofar blasts sounded from the camp. We had to speak to them. We had to find out who they were, why they did not fear the stares of other St. Petersburg business people while wrapped in talis and t’filin, what was the significance of the shofar blasts. First we spoke Yiddish, the language that binds most Jews together. They shook their heads, not understanding one word. We tried Russian, also unsuccessfully. We thought that they might understand Hebrew, but we had only uttered a few words, when a sad, haunting shofar blast sounded, very different from the one sounded just a few minutes before. It seemed that they were being summoned, for they disappeared within seconds. Continued next week

Jeffrey Bessen/Herald

5 TOWNS JCC FOOD PANTRY NAMED FOR RINA SHKOLNIK

The Greater Five Town Jewish Community Council kosher food pantry was formally named for outgoing Executive Director Rina Shkolnik, who is officially retiring on June 30. Shkolnik has worked at the JCC for 11 years after coming over from the UJA-Federation of New York. Shkolnik revitalized a sagging JCC organization and made it a vital part of the community. The food pantry serves nearly 300 families on a monthly basis. Pictured from left: Michael Kerr, Craig Spatz, Carol Harrison, Shkolnik, Toby Wolf, Raynee Blum, Food Pantry Coordinator Renee Harris and Bob Block.


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Yeshiva University High School for Girls graduate Renee Wietschner makes an unambiguous mortarboard statement. Next year, she will be attending Tiferet Center for Advanced Torah Studies for Women in Ramat Bet Shemesh, Israel. Almost all of Central’s graduates will be heading to seminaries in Israel. Photo by Dr. Paul Brody

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Limor Brody and Renee Wietschner at Yeshiva University High School for Girls (Central) 2013 graduation.

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Making choices and being chosen Continued from page 5 Only this time, (v.20) G-d says: “If these men have come to call on you, then by all means, go with them…” And incredibly, when Bilaam goes, G-d gets very angry with him! (v. 21-22) Why is G-d angry with Bilaam, when Bilaam clearly said he could not go without Gd’s permission, and G-d basically gave him the go-ahead? So the Talmud (Makkot 10b) gives us a fascinating insight into the psychology of our relationship with G-d, and ultimately with ourselves. “Rabbah Bar Rav Hunah said: This teaches that a person is led in the path that he wishes to travel.” Ultimately, G-d allows us to do what it is that we want to do. G-d’s problem with Bilaam, was that despite the fact that G-d had already expressed to Bilaam that this was not the right path, Bilaam still wanted to go. Who I am, ultimately, is a result of the choices I make. The concept of being ‘chosen’ as a people does not mean we are better than anyone else. What it means is that we, (like any other nation) have our own special gifts and, therefore, our own special purpose. And this different (and not better) relationship with G-d is a result of the choices we have made.

All of which now present us with the challenge of living up to the responsibilities those gifts and that different relationship entail. Three thousand years ago in the desert, as a people, we made a choice to be different, to stand up to a higher moral standard, to refuse to become what those who wish us destroyed, long for us to be. And even in these challenging times, we can still hear the echo of those words ringing out in the barren mountains of Arvot Moav, on the banks of the Jordan river: “Mah Tovu O’halecha’ Ya’akov,” “How goodly are your tents oh Jacob.” We live in a time of blessing, when we can walk again the alleyways of the Old City of Jerusalem, stand on the top of Masada and experience the breathtaking vista of the Sea of Galilee from atop the Golan Heights…. May Hashem bless us all to discover the beauty of the gifts we have been given, and to live up to the challenge of what can do with them. Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem, Binny Freedman Rav Binny Freedman, Rosh Yeshivat Orayta in Jerusalem’s Old City is a Company Commander in the IDF reserves, and lives in Efrat with his wife Doreet and their four children.

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THE JEWISH STAR June 21, 2013 • 13 TAMMUZ 5773

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June 21, 2013 • 13 TAMMUZ 5773 THE JEWISH STAR

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