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Dr. Sussman opines on taxes Page 4 Who’s in the kitchen dishes on earning your “just desserts” Page 7 Woodmere’s Jacob Steinmetz scoring hits Page 7 Dr. Jeffrey Ratz on Elul and soul-searching Page 13

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VOL 11, NO 33 ■ AUGUST 24, 2012 / 6 ELUL, 5772

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Five Towns giving By Malka Eisenberg

Photo courtesy of Renee Wietschner

From left-JOLTers Marissa Almoslino (Seattle, WA), Orly Wolynetz (Toronto, Canada), Yael Gichtin (Los Angeles, CA), Rivki Eckstein (Queens, NY), Zahava Schwartz (Queens, NY), Renee Wietschner (Woodmere, NY)- leaving Treblinka singing Am Yisrael Chai.

Creating leaders with NCSY-OU’s JOLT By Malka Eisenberg Summer can be a time of relaxing or slacking off for some students, but for 33 high school age girls and boys on NCSY— OU’s Jewish Overseas Leadership Training (JOLT) program, it was a summer of action, roller-coaster like emotional highs and lows, and spiritual and leadership growth. The students on the program hailed from 12 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces and traveled through Poland to Auschwitz, Majdanek, Birkenau, Treblinka, Tiktin, Gur,

Chachmei Lublin and the Warsaw Ghetto and cemetery. Guided throughout by six advisors, the program continued with the students honing their leadership skills by running a summer camp for German Jewish teens, bonding with each other and the German Jewish youth. The last leg of the trip brings them to Israel. “It’s a visceral but necessary week,” said Rabbi Nahum Zak, the director of the program, of the visits to the concentration camps, noting that the program is titled Past,

Present and Future. “It’s not gratuitous. We focus the kids on how to be as dedicated to building Judaism as those monsters were to destroying it and to take the inspiration and translate it into concrete action.” NCSY, formerly the National Conference of Synagogue Youth, was founded by the Orthodox Union in 1954 to help inspire and train Jewish teens to connect with Judaism through Torah and leadership skills. JOLT is almost 20 year old, said Zak, and its goal Continued on page 3

Friedberg JCC in Oceanside wins medal!

Billy Schneider-coach, Josh Cohen-NSHAHS, Benjy Hakakian-NSHAHS, Mark Spivak-HAFTR, Cody Zafran-East Meadow High, Adar Benzaken-HAFTR, Avery Feldman-Hewlett High, Alec Schonfeld-HAFTR, Avery Lubin-NSHAHS, Josh Netto-Rosen-Hewlett High, Dean Schneider-Asst. Coach. Not pictured is Coach Ron Kaminer.

The 2012 Maccabi games in Rockland County were held on August 12-17. The games brought in more than 1200 Jewish Athletes from all over the world. The openning ceremony of The JCC Maccabi Games which encourages the health, physical fitness and well being of Jewish youth, was extremely moving as we listened to Ankie Spitzer , a Munich 11 widow speak. We are proud of our local athletes representing Friedberg JCC in Oceanside who achieved great success. They won the Bronze medal in basketball !

As the Yamim Noraim and the call for tshuva, tfillah and tzadaka—repentance, prayer and charity—to change our fate and ourselves for the better, draw near, and the quiet and important philanthropy of Zev Wolfson, z”l, is acknowledged, the Five Towns-Far Rockaway community works increasingly on its charitable giving. The community here focuses year round on chesed and tzedaka, and this is clearly reflected in a study released this past Monday by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, a Washington, D.C., based newspaper, published twice a month, reporting on nonprofits, for charity managers, fund raisers and philanthropists. Listed by area or zip code, the Five Towns area ranks well against other sections of the United States, with higher than average percentages of income given to charities. The numbers range from a high of 13.2% given in Lawrence to a low of 4.6% in Hewlett. Other figures include two Far Rockaway zip codes, 11691 giving 11.7% and 11690 giving 10.3% of income, and other towns ranging from 8.7% in Cedarhurst, 7.7% in Inwood, 7.4% in Woodmere, and 4.9% in Atlantic Beach. Other findings in the study noted Utah, with its high Mormon population and emphasis on tithing, coming in as the highest donating state with 10.6% of income given. New Hampshire comes in as least charitable giving 2.5% and New York is 17th at 4.7% of income donated. The study also appeared to indicate that those states that voted Republican, conservative leaning, in the last presidential election (red states) were more charitable than those that voted Democratic, politically liberal (blue states). Data for the study was compiled from Internal Revenue Service tax records from 2008. The study examined and linked income levels and charitable contributions listed on Schedule A, where taxpayers itemize to be able to claim deductions. Other information listed explains how the data was compiled, including how after tax and expense income was determined. The study can be viewed online to see an analysis by income level delineating percentage of income donated and income in each zip code. To see the study go to philanthropy.com and click on “Interactive map” or “State and city rankings.”

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Israel’s Iran offensive: news all day long As the Republican and Democratic conventions draw near, the news media expends more of its time on election-related coverage. The focus is either on gaffes made by Vice President Biden, the fiscal policies and the fitness regimen of Mitt Romney’s choice for VP, Representative Paul Ryan, and the campaign battles between the two presidential candidates. But there is also another piece of news that gets tossed into the election mix, and it has been heating up – the seeming timeline for Israel to attack Iran. Almost as the Wag the Dog scenario, the media seems to be pushing a story that may not be anything more than the information we have known about for close to two years now, and trying to make it real. Fox News and CNN were showing children being fitted for gas masks and commenting that Israel is approaching the zerobarrier for an offensive attack. My brother, in from Israel for the week, was watching with me and said that his family’s masks were fitted for them more than one year ago, and that this is just the continuation of the preparedness campaign the Israeli government is practicing. They have Israel pundits speak as experts of the socalled timeline, seemingly suggesting that Israel’s leadJuda ers have already determined Engelmayer the time and method of attack. The rhetoric goes back to Iranian leaders and supporters who threaten Israel through the media, advising that they are ready for anything Israel brings on. Why now, and what is driving this sudden uptick in reporting on Israel’s hurry to strike at Iran? If Israel is truly heading to war, it gains nothing by this kind of talk. To have reports of its final decisions on any action against Iran reported in the news as “we have it on good authority,” or the “secret plan” is usually counterintuitive. If Israel has made any decisions, I would hope it would not mark the day, time and method on public calendars, but that is really beside the point. There is a school of thought that seems to believe that Israel policy will make or break this upcoming presidential election. By ramping up the news on an Israel offensive, the people pushing this agenda may be hoping to spark some real action in the Middle East, but they surely are trying to spark a debate on Israel and U.S. support for it before people walk into the voting booths in November. Israel is a contentious issue here today, as the country is used as a pawn in the campaign chess game with little regard for what that might be doing for Israel itself. Those pushing the war rhetoric want to force President Obama to comment on his support or perhaps, his opposition to an Israel strike with the expectation that his position will compromise his chances to get reelected. There are many Christian voters and Jewish ones as well who may vote based on those very comments. On the other hand, the agenda could be supporters of Obama trying to push him to emphatically express his willingness to send military aid to any effort Israel undergoes to show this President as a constant and mighty man of war when he needs to be in support of Israel – echoing the declarations that this president killed Osama bin Laden. Whether Israel attacks Iran or not has been the focus of debate for nearly two years, if not longer. Any actual decision would be based in its determination of the threat potential of Iran’s weapons program and the bona fide progress Iran has made toward the manufacturing of a nuclear warhead. It will not be made based on whether or not anyone truly believes that it will change the course of an election. Anyone who believes that, truly misjudges the value Israel places on the preservation of human life. The IDF takes unprecedented measures to protect the lives even of its enemies and launching a war to effect votes in the United States only puts even more in harm’s way, in fact. It is safe to say that if Israel’s leaders feel that it must take drastic action against Iran, the first calls will not be to Wolf Blitzer on CNN or Megyn Kelly on Fox, so watch the news over the next 70 days

or so, but watch it knowing it is more of a show than news. Israel’s possible choices are the buzz, but we are now at one and a half years since Syria began slaughtering its own people and no one seems to care. The U.S. went into Libya and NATO offered military support for the revolutionaries who overthrew and killed Muammar Gaddafi in only weeks of that civil uprising, for it was oil we were all looking to protect. Syria seemingly has nothing of value, rendering the lives of its people worthless to the world. Iran, on the other hand, has oil and has the ability to disrupt important supply lines in The Strait of Hormuz, and therefore, it has been able to push through its nuclear agenda with just rhetoric to counter its efforts. If Iran has or gets a nuclear weapon – from what its own president and mullahs proudly

declare – the potential for war, death and mass destruction across the globe becomes so much greater, yet the immediate concerns of oil and the economic impact are the driving forces of toothless actions. United States presidents in the distant past, and past world leaders alike, took actions that would have long-term influence on their countries – some that were not even realized until after their deaths, long after their administrations had passed. Today, though, we do not see magnanimity like that, as the focus is on short term measures that can be seen in the next election cycle. That’s why fiscal reform is hard in the United States – because it will hurt now and cost votes next term; and that is why the focus is on whether Israel will do something about the menace of a nuclear Iran, because for Israel it is not a long-term threat – it is on its doorstep. But don’t expect Israel to hold a press conference until after any action commences. Juda Engelmayer is a senior vice president of the New York public relations agency,5WPR

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Continued from page 1 is to train Jewish leaders by combining the “theoretical with the practical.” Originally a financial adviser, Zak began working with NCSY 14 years ago and was regional director of the New York region for five years and Southern region for the last three years. “JOLT is the most significant thing I’ve done with NCSY,” he said. He noted the members are an “eclectic mix,” that it is a “very selective” program and the students have to be “brave, not scared to not know anybody.” He admits to learning “new things about myself and about my Judaism every time.” Renee Wietschner of Woodmere, a senior at Central (Samuel H. Wang Yeshiva University High School for Girls of Queens), said the highlight of the trip was landing in Israel after the trip through Poland on LOT Polish airlines. “We were finally in Israel and the only ones on the plane excited to be landing in Israel; we were the only Jews on the plane.” She noted that it was a “small group” so they “bonded with everybody” and they were “friendly, like a family.” She found that “in the beginning it was hard to connect,” noting that she is a fifth generation American on both sides and has no immediate family affected by the Holocaust, “but it is still my history.” The trip through Poland, she said was “emotionally draining. Auschwitz looked like a college campus with brick buildings, in a weird way,” but “Majdanek was scary,” she said. It looked, she said she thought, “the same way as when it was functioning. We were able to see the Zyklon B on the walls of the gas chambers. The Nazis kept the ashes” of the victims and the students cried the most there. “It was also scary to see the ovens; it would take 30 minutes to put back together to get it up and running, I think… everybody was crying--there was not one dry eye. We said Tehillim and Kadish in all the places. The advisers cried with us; we

couldn’t not cry.” She noted her brush with anti-Semitism there. “The Polish and German people looked at us the wrong way,” she said and a stewardess on the Polish airline “shoved me to the side,” she said. “That was my first taste. In Auschwitz, people were having a picnic on the lawn there; it was really disgusting. They use it as a public park.” Zak said that the kids have a connection to the Poland experience and “take mental snapshots” and write in journals. “The inspiration may wane,” he said, they “have what to draw from and continue forward. It’s intentionally a process. Germany is the next step” where they “run a camp for German Jewish kids. They are given the opportunity to put together educational modules and schedules….It makes them reassess their own Judaism. In Germany, they are scratching and clawing to bring Judaism into their lives. It’s so easy for us, what is taken for granted. It extends to me as well. I feel spoiled as a Jew, it’s so accessible and easy (in New York). There were 3.3 million Jews in Poland before the war. There are 4.8 million Jews in the U.S. now, but only about 1.5 million are affiliated. There were more affiliated Jews in Poland before the war and now it’s a wasteland. What if Central Avenue or Kings Highway looked like this. They see the ghosts of the last generation.” JOLT celebrated Shabbat in Cracow in NCSY fashion, holding on to the day as it drew to a close, “ebbing” Zak called it, for an additional hour or two, singing and dancing in the streets of Cracow, “dancing with the ghosts of the other generation.” He said that people stopped to take pictures and ask if they could join, Jews and non-Jews. After that, arriving in Israel, he said, “there is no way that you can look at Israel the same way. It’s almost like going the first time; it’s fresh, new, magical. When we arrived at Ben-Gurion airport, we all stopped at the first mezu-

zah we saw there, a three-foot mezuzah, the first one we saw in three weeks. There, in Israel, we have the freedom, guns and army.” During the camp in Germany, Wietschner taught a girl to say “Shma” and basic Hebrew and became close with a girl close to her age there. “She called me up and Skyped last night,” she said. “And she said ’I just said Shma!’” Another girl “recorded on Facebook that she kept her first Shabbat at home by herself.” Wietschner said they made a bat mitzvah party for the girls with a party and shared divrei Torah and a 15 year old boy who hadn’t had a bar mitzvah was called to the Torah and was helped to make a bracha. “It was amazing to hear,” she recounted. Hudy Rosenberg, of Queens, another Central senior, has been active in NCSY since her freshman year and was one of the New York regional presidents this year. Her older brother went on JOLT and she decided to go on JOLT as well. Rosenberg has relatives who are Holocaust survivors on both sides, either escaping, being in the camps, kinder transport and related to others who did not survive. She said that she was really touched by some of the mass graves they saw. “One was an entire shtetl that was killed and connected me to my grandfather. Another was a mass grave of 42 children and we ran a camp for 40 children. It made us feel that although there was a Holocaust, we are still here. Rabbi Zak said that it is as if we are spitting in Hitler’s eyes.” She said that she has a weekly chevruta (personal learning session) with one of the girls from the camp “practicing reading Hebrew using her siddur so she can learn to daven (pray) better.” She said that Majdanek was “overwhelming; I couldn’t process it, I felt sick, I felt like throwing up.” She said that she had been to Israel twice but that “this time it was a sense of relief” that they had been in an environment of “no Judaism, no kosher food” where they felt unsafe and that they “had to hide

Photo by Xx

Hudy Rosenberg (left) and Renee Wietschner at the Kotel. their Judaism.” When they arrived in Israel this time, she felt “a sense of belonging, a sense of home. I never felt like I belong in Israel so much as after Poland and Germany.” She noted that through the program she was able to connect with many types of people and “understand different viewpoints and levels of religiosity.” Rosenberg also paid for the trip herself. “The entire year I was consumed (by the need to) save for the trip. I saved for it and appreciate it better.” She saved her money from babysitting, working in the shul youth department, and if her mother asked if she wanted to “buy something” she said she would “rather save for JOLT” and put the money in her “JOLT jar.” “I never appreciated my yeshiva education until now,” said Wietschner. “I’ve been living in the Five Towns and had a yeshiva education all my life. I never realized how much I had, how much I take for granted. I didn’t realize that you really can have nothing.” For more information on OU-NCSY programs go to www.ncsy.org.

Synagogue security for the high holidays By Neil Cohen Recently, a New York Supreme Court justice ruled that there was sufficient evidence to try homegrown terrorist, Ahmed Ferhani, for conspiring to bomb a Manhattan synagogue. Ahmed was arrested last year together with co-conspirator, Mohamed Mamdouh, on terrorism charges for plotting to attack a synagogue. According to the New York District Attorney’s Office, Ferhani and Mamdouh had planned to place an explosive device inside a Manhattan synagogue while disguised as Jews. They were arrested by the NYPD following a seven-month undercover operation in which they purchased various weapons, including an inert grenade, from an undercover officer. The plot bore some resemblance to the 2009 foiled bombing attack by homegrown terrorists against two synagogues in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. With Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur approaching, synagogues need to prepare effectively for the increased security concerns that the High Holidays present. The added security concerns are due, in large part, to the significant symbolic value that the High Holidays represent to Jews worldwide. Furthermore, the increased number of worshippers attending services during the High Holidays may draw the unwanted attention of hatemongers. For example, according to a federal indictment brought in 2005 against homegrown terrorists who

had planned to attack synagogues in the Los Angeles area, the would-be attackers considered carrying out the attacks on Yom Kippur “in order to maximize the number of casualties to be inflicted.” A synagogue can implement various safety and security measures for the High Holidays to make itself less vulnerable to a potential threat. Below are several measures that can be implemented with little or no cost.

Access Control: Paramount to a synagogue’s safety and security plan is access control. The desire of a synagogue to appear welcoming to the community it serves should be balanced against the need of restricting access to those who may pose a threat. Fundamental to access control is utilizing one main entrance that is monitored by a security guard. It would be advisable to deploy a security guard who has law enforcement experience since such a person is professionally trained to respond to a threat. It is also prudent to have a congregant present as an usher to assist the guard in screening unfamiliar visitors. At the synagogue where I attend, I typically meet with the guard shortly before the High Holiday services begin to conduct a walkthrough of the premises. This allows the guard to become familiar with the building and its grounds. I also explain the characteristics of the synagogue (Orthodox) so that the guard will better understand how to identity a

suspicious visitor. For example, I will point out that it would be out of the ordinary for a woman to enter an Orthodox synagogue carrying a tallis bag; for a person to park a vehicle directly in front of a synagogue once the holiday has begun; or for a person to be handling a cell phone. I also review lockdown procedures with the guard. This is particularly critical in light of the recent shooting attacks against soft targets, including the yeshiva in Toulouse, France and the Sikh temple in Wisconsin.

Perimeter Control: Because a threat can also easily exist outside the synagogue, it’s important that measures be taken to control the building’s perimeter. Therefore, it would be advisable that someone from the synagogue who is familiar with the building’s grounds, periodically walk around the property before and during services to check for suspicious objects and vehicles. In addition, heavy shrubs should be trimmed and kept low to the ground, and containers locked or removed, to reduce the potential of someone being able to conceal an explosive device.

Local Law Enforcement: Because the police are very much aware of the increased security concerns presented by the High Holidays, they are often very willing to allocate additional resources towards protecting synagogues at this time of the year. Therefore, several weeks prior to the start

of the High Holidays, I send the local police precinct a schedule of when services will be held, and request increased police patrols during these times.

Emergency Response Because of the large crowds that typically attend High Holiday services, it would be prudent that a walk-through of the evacuation routes be conducted to ensure that they are not obstructed. In addition, the emergency lighting should be checked to determine that they are working properly. Furthermore, the gabbaim should be familiar with the evacuation plan, including the location of the assembly area. It is also advisable that the gabbaim have immediate access to a cell phone in case of a need to call 911. Best wishes for a safe and secure New Year. Neil Cohen, CPP, CFE, is a Federal agent with 25 years of law enforcement experience. Neil Cohen is president of the Mogen Safety Council, a non-profit organization specializing in improving the safety and security of schools and houses of worship. Mr. Cohen is a federal law enforcement officer, a Certified Protection Professional (CPP), and a designated emergency responder. Mr. Cohen can be reached at MogenSafetyCouncil@Yahoo.Com. For more information about the Mogen Safety Council, please go to WWW.MogenSafetyCouncil.Org

THE JEWISH STAR August 24, 2012 • 6 ELUL, 5772

Creating leaders with NCSY-OU’s JOLT


August 24, 2012 • 6 ELUL, 5772 THE JEWISH STAR

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What surprises to look for at the conventions Opinion

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t starts Sunday night in Tampa; 2,286 delegates and 2,125 alternate delegates from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories will gather together to nominate their choice for President of the United States at the 40th Republican National Convention. Conventions are more important for the challenging party as it is their first chance to be alone on the national stage. For three nights they will own the news cycle. And for Romney it will be one more “audition” for the office of President. This year has been an unusual one for the primary process and the general election so far, and I suspect both the Republican and Democratic Party showcases will have some surprises. Along with the normal convention proceedings, there might be other convention drama at the convention venue, elsewhere in the country and there are even rumors of a foreign crisis timed for the convention season. The Republican affair in Florida is bound to have more “off POLITICO agenda drama” than the DNC TO GO one, simply because incumbents tend to have better control of the goings on. Most speakers will be looking to accomplish two things with their speeches: to further the cause of their candidate in the November election, and to further their own political career on a national stage. Eight years ago, an obscure Jeff Dunetz State Senator from Illinois, stepped up to the podium to give a keynote speech to the Democratic Party convention and became the Democratic Party’s rising star. Ironically he made that speech as Jews across the world were ending the fast of Tisha b’ Av, perhaps an omen about State Senator Obama’s Israel policy once he became President. This year it will be Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey, delivering the keynote speech for the GOP. This is an opportunity for the governor to move beyond New Jersey, and project his image to a national audience. The RNC is hoping for Christie to deliver his oratory with his usual “tell it as it is” “take no prisoners” style to get the attendees excited for the rest of the convention. Marco Rubio of Florida will be making the big speech introducing Romney the last night of the convention, as Romney gives his acceptance speech. Rubio’s job will be similar; to rally the crowd for what will be Romney’s most important speech of the campaign. Rubio is also considered a GOP rising star and even more important (to Romney) is senator from the important state of Florida, which Romney needs in his electoral column. Between Christie’s speech on opening night and the traditional “everyone on the stage holding up their hands as balloons fall from the rafters” tableau at the end of the convention, there is much that can and will happen. Some of it may include: ■ Protest by Ron Paul Supporters: The “Paulistinians” have a dream that their guy’s name is allowed to be nominated at the RNC, all of the other delegates abandon the candidates they pledged to vote for, and switch their vote to Ron Paul as the GOP nominee for

President. Thankfully, there is not enough LSD in the entire world to make that scenario happen. The RNC rule is that you have to have won five states to have your name placed in nomination. Paul didn’t win five, but that may not stop the Paul crazies from trying anyway. ■ Occupy Wall Street and the New Black Panthers: Last week Michelle Williams, Chief of Staff of the New Black Panther Party made threats against the convention goers, Saying that Tampa’s black community was under siege from those Republicans, whites, and “tea party tea baggers.,” she went on to attack “crackers” and black conservatives. The New Black Panther leader also talked about how she hated whites and all blacks should hate them also. She finished with a warning to the convention attendees “as long as whites keep characterizing blacks as “ni**ers,“ [her] ”feet [will be] on your “g-damned mother***ing necks. Compounding the New Black Panther threats, the Occupy Wall Street groups promise to be actively protesting both the Democratic and Republican party conventions. For the convention attendees’ sake, I pray that some of them have bathed since my last confrontation with them at the November bloggers meeting in Denver. Some of the were quite pungent. ■ President Obama will make a speech or hold a press conference. Last September, the President decided to make a major jobs speech the same evening as a long scheduled debate of GOP primary candidates. Would this President be so nasty as to schedule a prime-time appearance during the convention to steal some of the Republican Party’s thunder? I highly doubt it, but can’t rule it out totally. ■ Donald Trump surprise. The real estate mogul and reality TV star has said he will not be speaking during the convention. But Trump has generated some buzz and anticipation with recent posts on Twitter saying he was planning a “big surprise” at the convention next week. I have heard from contacts that “The Donald” and a surprise will be part of the first night festivities. As the first night’s theme is “We Can Do Better,” don’t be surprised if Trump comes on to “fire” Obama. ■ Israel Attacks Iran. I have heard nothing to indicate that Israel has decided to attack Iran or has picked an ideal time to attack Iran. But if I was the decisionmaker and decided to wipe out Iran’s nuke program this year and faced an unfriendly U.S. President like Obama, I would schedule my attack at the beginning of the Democratic Party convention. That way, at least publically, the unfriendly Obama would need to “look friendly” on the national stage. This is pure conjecture but, hey, you never know. This has been such an unusual political year till now, so both conventions may feature more dramatics than anticipated by the convention staffers. Beyond the dramatics, I recommend strongly that you join with me in paying attention to both conventions. It is these parties’ only chance to send you their messages and stances without being interpreted though the prism of talking heads in the mainstream media. Listen to their words carefully, so you can decide for yourself the best direction for the United States between January 2013 and January 2017. Jeff Dunetz is the Editor/Publisher of the political blog “The Lid” (www.jeffdunetz.com).

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Karen C. Green Malka Eisenberg Helene Parsons Charles Slamowitz Miriam Bradman Abrahams Rabbi Avi Billet Jeff Dunetz Jeff Ratz Juda Engelmayer Rabbi Binny Freedman Alan Jay Gerber Rabbi Noam Himelstein Judy Joszef Kristen Edelman Alyson Goodman Christina Daly

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Tax choices bad for our community By Dr. David J. Sussman With this difficult economic climate, there’s a lot of talk about taxes and spending policy; what I have always taught my children is that the single most important thing to understand about taxes is that taxes are choices – they’re tradeoffs. All you need to do to prove this is to take a look at your pay stub at the end of the week. When you look at your pay stub, you see three major parts: one shows you how much you earned, the second shows you how much has been taken by various levels of government in taxes, and the third shows how much you have left. That’s the choice – that’s the tradeoff. The more you pay in taxes, the less you have to take care of your family and the more the government has to spend; the less you pay in taxes, the less the government has to spend, but the more you can use to provide a better life for your family. It’s that simple. Along the same line, if there is a certain level of income you need to provide the life you want for your family, if your taxes are higher, you will have to work more hours to bring home that money, and you will have less time to actually be with your family. Again, it’s a choice – a tradeoff. New York’s tax choices are out of whack. Our combined state and local tax burden is the second highest in the nation. This means that New York is the second hardest state in the entire country to earn, save, and make a good secure life for your family. While in the average state, combined government authorities took under 10 percent of the income of their citizens, the politicians in New York took over 12 percent. Put another way, Assemblyman Weisenberg and the New York State Assembly preside over a system that takes $6 out of your paycheck for every $5 that the average state takes. That’s a choice that leaves New York’s families with less money and less time. But, it goes far beyond that, negatively impacting our quality of life. When government spends more, individuals have less that they can use to save or start businesses, resulting in fewer jobs. When it’s harder for potential entrepreneurs to save enough money to get their businesses off the ground, fewer new businesses will start and bring jobs to New York. When Albany takes more, there are fewer dollars in the pockets of New Yorkers to nourish our businesses and we see empty storefronts, closed doors, and shuttered windows, because the Albany behemoth is gobbling up our job growth. Finally, when it’s harder for New Yorkers to save, because government is taking too much, there’s less money saved and deposited in your bank account. Less money in your local bank means less money available for small business and mortgage loans. What does this do? Taken together, too much taxing in New York means fewer jobs, less wealth in the economy, increased difficulty in providing for your family, and a harder time to get the financing to buy a home. So, what do we have? What have our choices been? By electing tax-

and-spend politicians who choose tax-and-spend regimes, we have allowed this system. We, in New York, have actually voted to have fewer new jobs and to make it harder for families to earn a living. We force parents to spend less time with their families, and make it harder to buy a home. Ultimately, these actions tell our children, when deciding where to start lives and families of their own, New York doesn’t really want you here. And, for those who think I’m exaggerating, the numbers speak for themselves. During the last decade, 11.5 million New Yorkers have chosen to pack up and leave the state. And, this isn’t a short term trend. During the last three decades, New York State’s population has grown at an anemic 8%, while the populations of states without oppressive tax burdens have nearly doubled. Again, it’s about choices. When we choose the tax regime, we not only choose to send our children away, but we also choose to diminish our state. In 1989, New York had 34 Congressmen and 36 electoral votes. In November, when New Yorkers go to the polls to pick the next President, we will find ourselves with only 27 Congressmen to represent us, and only 29 electoral votes. On the other hand, Florida, a pro-growth state, which only had 19 Congressmen and 21 electoral votes in 1989, will be our equal. We chose to diminish ourselves. The Empire State deserves better than this. We can choose to be a family-friendly state again. We can choose to lower taxes, cut spending, and reform programs and regulations to make New York the most attractive state in the nation for job creators. Think about it. We’re New York. We have the culture, the attraction, the scenery. We have beaches, mountains, and lakes that other states envy. We have Broadway and the Statue of Liberty. We are a place where people naturally want to be. The only reason for our failure is poor choices. So, let’s stop making them. Let’s choose success. I don’t pretend it’s easy. Sometimes difficult choices will be required, and when they are, I promise not to shy away from them. I want to represent you in Albany and, when I do, my promise is to not be afraid to make the hard choices and to fight tirelessly for the reforms we need to make New York attractive to business so we create more jobs, and people want to move here again. As President Reagan learned with his 1981 tax cuts, not only does a businessfriendly climate make an area attractive and allow for new growth, but when people are successful and their incomes go up, even at lower tax rates, they end up paying more in taxes, which means that, in the future, more painful cuts won’t be necessary. The best way to grow a state and make it a better place to live is to grow opportunity and the first step in growing opportunity is cutting taxes. After all, taxes are about choices. Dr. Sussman has been a trustee on the Lawrence District School Board for 18 years. He is the Republican candidate for New York State Assembly in the 20th A.D.


THE JEWISH STAR August 24, 2012 • 6 ELUL, 5772

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6:15 a.m.


Tech talk

Make sure your kids protect their electronic devices The technology used at school and at home by young people may be more expensive and sophisticated than in the past, but kids are still kids. That means you need to help your children make the most of their devices and protect their gear. Here are some things to consider before letting kids take their technology out of the house: Don’t opt for the most souped-up devices until you can trust your kids. Buy basic models first or buy used ones until your kids prove themselves responsible. Consider extended warranties for valuable tech items. Protective cases should be used whenever devices aren’t in use, especially when traveling to school and on family vacations. Save money and simplify with a universal case that allots for storage of cables and other accessories. For example, the iEssentials Universal Tablet Case Series works with the Apple iPad, Android based tablets, and all e-readers, including Kindle and Nook. This way, your child can use the case with any device – even those you haven’t yet bought! Instill great habits in your kids like never leaving devices in the car, especially during extreme weather. Teach children to lock devices in a safe place during the school day, and never to leave open drinks near tablets and e-readers. Get extra cables and chargers. Kids are prone to lose wires and accessories. To save money and time, choose a compact universal charger that works with all devices. For example, the DigiPower Cross-Brand Tablet Charger works on all USB-powered tablets from Apple, Samsung, HTC and BlackBerry. Such chargers are ideal for use on-the-go, so that active but potentially forgetful kids don’t end up with a low-battery dilemma! Impress upon your children the value of their gadgets with simple math. If they receive an allowance, calculate how long it would take them to save up enough to replace the device themselves. Or calculate the number of chocolate bars a gadget is equal to in cost. By putting it into terms they understand, they’ll be more likely to protect their technology. If traveling light is a priority for your child, go with a form-fitting case that can be used on any device. For instance, Travelocity Travel Tablet Cases fit all 7 to 8 inch and 9 to 10 inch tablet or e-reader models, have a thin

Help your children help you save time and money by giving them the tools to protect their devices. design ideal for travel, but still provide extra cushioning. Appeal to children’s sense of individuality to entice them to always use protective cases on pricey devices. Let your kid guard that gadget with a stylish case with a snazzy design of his or her choosing.

The Jewish Star newspaper (Long Island, NY)

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Hewlett Lawrence soccer club partners with positive coaching alliance to focus on life lessons The Hewlett Lawrence Soccer Club (HLSC) has established a partnership with Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) to ensure a positive, character-building experience for all youth athletes in HLSC programs. PCA, a Stanford Universitybased non-profit organization, conducts workshops for coaches, organizational leaders, and parents involved in schools and sports organizations serving fiveto-18-year-old athletes. “Working with hundreds of youth sports organizations around the United States, PCA has developed practical tools and guidelines to help sports parents help their children get the most out of sports,” said HLSC President Rod Leonhard. “We recognize the tremendous opportunity for character-building sports offers for today’s youth, so we are embracing PCA’s Double-Goal Coach® model, where winning is one goal and teaching life lessons is the second, moreimportant goal. And we also are introducing PCA’s Second-Goal Parent philosophy, where parents focus on the second goal, helping their children take life lessons from sports.” “We are delighted that HLSC is introducing the Second-Goal Parent approach to youth sports,” said PCA Executive Director Jim Thompson. “Together, we and HLSC will strive to get parents and coaches onto the same page so they can help create a positive, charac-

ter-building youth sports environment for their youth athletes.” HLSC has both Saturday and Sunday programs and its fall season starts on September 8-9. Registration and information can be found online at www.hlsc.org The Hewlett-Lawrence Soccer Club is a non-profit, all volunteer community soccer club serving the Five Towns since 1970. The Club’s history can be traced back to the 1930s. They are a member club of the Long Island Junior Soccer League and Just Say Soccer. For more information about the Hewlett-Lawrence Soccer Club, please visit www.HLSC.org. The Positive Coaching Alliance was founded as a non-profit within the Stanford University Athletic Department in 1998. Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) has the mission of “transforming youth sports so sports can transform youth.” To that end, PCA has conducted roughly 6,000 live group workshops nationwide for more than 300,000 youth and high school sports leaders, coaches, parents and athletes. Workshop attendees have helped create a positive, character-building youth sports environment for more than 3 million youth athletes. For more information about PCA, please visit www.PositiveCoach.org.


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second grade. He’s very enthusiastic, and has a great desire to play. More than anything is his incredible sportsmanship. It’s a pleasure to coach him.� He may have baseball on the brain, but it hasn’t come at the expense of his schoolwork. He’s an excellent student, remarked Jacob’s father. When he’s not playing or doing school work, he’s rooting for his team, the Yankees. He’s confident that with the help of his favorite player, Derrick Jeter, NY fans will be watching baseball in October, and cheering them to another World Series victory.

By Karen C. Green With a batting average of .415, on base percent of .642 and an ERA of 3.2, you’d say this player is heading for the big leagues. He is, but he’s also heading to 4th grade‌ at HALB. At just 4’8� Jacob Steinmetz, 9, of Woodmere, has played baseball locally since he was in kindergarten. He got his start playing with the Young Israel of Woodmere team in the shul league, and then moved onto the Hewlett-Woodmere District league, where he just finished his fourth season. As his level of playing continued to escalate, Jacob at age 7, with the support of his father, tried out for a

Long Island Charger team, coached by Rob Gaertner of Wantagh, recently won the National Junior Baseball League 9U level chamionship

Photos by Janine O’Connor

Jacob Steinmetz of Woodmere earned his place on the Chargers team.

travel team, the Long Island Chargers, and scored a place on the team. And he’s not only scoring hits on the team, who just won the National Junior Baseball League 9U level championship, but he’s earning high marks with his coach Rob Gaertner of Wantagh, who has made accommodations for their only Shomer Shabbos and Jewish player. “He’s the youngest boy on the team, and he’s playing kids two years older. He’s a good little ball player. I saw that in him. He’s got an incredible passion for the game. Jacob’s my starting centerfield. He’s very coachable and he’s always the first one there at games and practice. After every game he always comes to me and says thank you. He’s

a good little boy. We’re very happy to make arrangements for his religious needs. We had one tournament on a Saturday and he and his Dad walked two miles to get there.“ Elliot Steinmetz, Jacob’s father, expresses how the experience is so rewarding beyond the ball field. “With the exception of tournaments, the team scheduled all games around Jacob, on Sundays and weeknights. The parents of his teammates have been wonderful. They ask questions as to whether certain food is kosher. It’s brought a real sense of cultural awareness to all.� Richie Kahn, Jacob’s coach of two years at Hewlett-Woodmere District league describes him as “one of my top players since

Jacob winds up for the pitch.



See how well your child answers these questions. The results may surprise you! First Grade Second Grade Third Grade Fourth Grade Fifth Grade

11 + 12 = _________ 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 8 + 9 + 10 = _________ How much is 99 plus 99 plus 99? Count by 13/4 from 0 to 7. Which is greatest: 17/18, 23/30 , or 18/19? (Explain how you got your answer).

Sixth Grade Seventh Grade Pre-Algebra Algebra Geometry

Halfway through the second quarter, how much of the game is left? How much is 61/2% of 250? On a certain map, 6 inches represents 25 miles. How many miles does 15 inches represent? When you take 3 away from twice a number, the answer is 8. What is the number? What is the Absolute Value of the point (3,4)?

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THE JEWISH STAR August 24, 2012 • 6 ELUL, 5772

Woodmere’s Jacob Steinmetz found his sweet spot


August 24, 2012 • 6 ELUL, 5772 THE JEWISH STAR

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THE JEWISH STAR August 24, 2012 • 6 ELUL, 5772

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Who’s in the kitchen

Sweathogs of the world unite, you’ve earned your “just desserts” That dreaded word “exercise.” Most people decide to hit the gym, run outdoors, or swim, once May rolls around, to get into shape for the summer. Though I’m a member of a local gym, have a top notch treadmill I inherited (thanks, Robbie Rothenberg), and a swimming pool in my backyard, I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t been to the gym, or on the treadmill since May and I’ve only done laps about three times this summer. I’ve always Judy Joszef taught my kids never to say they hated anything, but I have to admit, I hate exercising. For the life of me, I can’t understand what it is that people love about it. Yes, I know, after a workout we all feel good about the fact that we got our heart rates up, burnt calories and released those endorphins. But really, do you love the actual act of exercising itself? While you’re having that cup of coffee in the morning (along with a muffin, maybe), are you actually looking forward to subjecting yourself to exhaustion, overheating and pains from body parts you never realized you owned, all competing for triage at the same time? Yes, I admit I’m jealous of those of you who love it. About 15 years ago I decided to join a gym. I paid the yearly dues up front and had three days to cancel. Just took me one. On my first day I signed up for an aerobics class. How

would I know that everyone in the class knew ever step, twist and turn by heart. I cleverly stayed in the back of the room so as not to draw any attention to the fact that I had no idea what I was doing. Within five minutes the instructor had everyone turn facing the back (a move I must have missed) and there I was, now facing them. In a move “a la” Lucy Ricardo, I danced to and out the door and canceled my membership. There had to be a better way. There was: her name was Carol Oppenheimer and she whipped me into shape. I was one of Carol’s first private clients in her home. I had just started a repetition and was on #3 when Carol had to leave the room for a minute. As she walked away from hearing distance, I smiled to myself and counted 3, 4, 11, 12…to which she shouted “what happened to 5-10?” There was no slacking off with Carol. No one I know enjoys exercising as much as my husband Jerry. He spends hours stretching, lifting weights, resistance training, and recumbent biking, while simultaneously highlighting philosophical and historical works. My daughter’s friend saw a photo of Jerry on her Facebook page. He said that he knew Jerry, but couldn’t place exactly from where. Jordana said there was no way he would know Jerry since he just moved from N.J. Hours later he asked her if Jerry belonged to NYSC and highlighted Aristotle and Plato while furi-

NO NEED TO GO ANYWHERE ELSE!

ously peddling on the bike. She sheepishly replied sadly, “that would be him.” He also has no concept of time while at the gym, and is usually the last one out at 11 pm. One time, he almost actually didn’t get out. He told me he would meet me outside at 11. I got there at 11:05 and he was nowhere in sight, and the gym was dark. I spotted the manager about to get into his car and I said, “My husband must still be inside.” The manager said, “No, that’s impossible. I called down three times to see if anyone was still in the locker room and no one answered.” Suddenly I had visions of Jerry stuck in the gym overnight, only to Jerry that would have been like a kid in a candy store. He would have joyfully found the light switches and with Plato’s Republic and a highlighter in hand, found his way to the closest recumbent bike. Unfortunately, for Jerry, the manager opened the gym, and released Jerry into my custody. What, you may ask, does all the talk of exercise have to do with this week’s recipe? Actually nothing at alI. I just needed to vent. Enjoy the recipe, and if you see me in the gym …don’t ask how I am…I’ll be miserable.

■ 1 egg ■ 1 stick margarine ■ 2 cups white flour plus ¾ cup set aside ■ 1 tsp vanilla extract ■ Pam ■ 12 6 oz. ramekins, greased ■ Half sheet pan ■ Any type of cigar wafers (24) ■ 8 oz non-dairy Rich whip topping

Prepare the apples and set aside. Next, cream the margarine and sugar, then add the egg and vanilla and beat till mixture is light and fluffy. Add the flour and mix well. If the mixture sticks to your hand when you pick it up add a bit more flour. Section off enough dough to press onto the bottom of the ramekins and up half of the sides (not to thickly) Place the ramekins in a 350 F oven till light brown and remove (about 5 minutes). While ramekins are in the oven, add ½ C sugar and ½ C flour to the remaining dough mixture and mix till it becomes crumbly. If it’s not crumbly enough, add a bit more sugar and flour. Add the apples to the ramekins all the way up to the rim. Next, add the crumbs to the top, and be generous, then press then down so they stay in place. Place the ramekins on a half sheet pan and bake till the crumbs are golden brown and the apple mixture oozes out of the top. Once they are cooled, top with pareve whipped cream and cigar wafers. For those of you who didn’t hit the gym, you can leave out the dough on the bottom and just fill with apples and top with crumbs sans the whipped cream and wafers. Judy Joszef can be reached at judy.soiree@ gmail.com

INDIVIDUAL COOKIE CRUMB TOPPED APPLE PIES IN RAMEKINS ■ 10 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into small pieces ■ 1 cup sugar plus ¾ cup set aside

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L

et’s get this straight - the summer isn’t over yet, not today nor tomorrow. It doesn’t end when the kids return home from camp or when you begin back to school shopping. It doesn’t stop with school orientations or Rosh Hashanah preparations. It won’t even terminate with our celebration of MIRIAM’S MUSINGS the New Year on September 16. Summer officially ends when fall begins on September 21. After that comes Indian summer, a lingering taste of this blissful season. I intend to enjoy the spirit of summer as long as I can, despite the impending holiday calendar and the naysayers. For me, endless Miriam Bradman summer days feel full Abrahams of possibilities and enhanced sensations. My view is improved by the explosion of bright colors of grass, leaves and flowers and my ears are filled with the cheerful chatter of birds. I delight in the feel of grainy hot sand or cool, squishy seaweed under my toes, while inhaling the refreshing scent of the sea. I savor the taste of cool summer melons, freshly shucked corn and juicy sun ripened tomatoes. In the next four weeks, I will surely continue to be outside as much as possible to relish the positive points of the season before it truly is over. I find time for a walk, read in the backyard, and make the most out of extended daylight hours. When working at

home or driving around, I’m always on duty as the self appointed window monitor, shutting off the air conditioning and throwing the windows open the moment it’s feasible. I drive with the sunroof open aiming to keep the outdoors in as much as the heat permits, letting summer breezes air out our living spaces, continuing to feel connected to the natural environment. Our society is always rushing ahead, adding to the pervasive culture of stress and tension unnecessarily. I’m all for trying to be organized, planning ahead and being ready, but I also want to be fully present in the moment in which I am currently living. As I’ve written before in this column, I loathe wishing the time away (except when I’m at the doctor’s office or another disagreeable situation, but I’m working on finding a silver lining for those times.) Perhaps I’m alone here, but I just don’t get the clothing world’s marketing strategy. I avert my eyes from advertised fall fashions in the spring and from displays of spring fashions in the fall. I cringe, unable to try on a woolen sweater in summer heat. I get goose bumps considering a bathing suit in winter, preferring to keep on my cozy layers. I shun malls on beautiful sunny days, to shop on a commercial street, while on frigid days, an enclosed environment is a welcome destination. The seasons become more complicated by introducing travel to destinations experiencing different weather from ours. Venturing in summer on a trip to Alaskan glaciers or fleeing winter for a climate break in the Caribbean is an amazing change of pace, though unsettling. Unless the voyage is unusually long, you still have to return to your own season

and re-acclimate, literally. I warmly welcome my brother-in-law who is currently visiting us here, having left his southern hemisphere winter for our northern hemisphere summer. Though forced to endure this totally unnatural change by coming halfway around the world to see us, we hope to make it worth his while! Some people live with no switch of seasons, which could be ideal or horrible depending on where or what weather you’re stuck with. It may be boring, predictable or uninspiring. Although I dread the advent of winter and even experience some “SAD”ness - seasonal affective disorder, I do believe that the changes are good. The transformation from one quarter to the next is dramatic. It keeps me alert and conscious of the ever shifting details in my surroundings. It makes me appreciate the magic in nature. It teaches me to accommodate and accept. Even those living with just two seasons, dry or rainy, can find each one unrelenting. On visits to my husband’s home town in South Africa, it was mostly one or the other with not much of a happy medium. My

mother in law refers to Durban Fever, that sluggish feeling created by the intense heat. Even the violent summer hailstorms end with an immediate return to high humidity. She remedies that by spending about six months in air conditioning. We experienced that recently in Austin’s “blow dryer heat,” venturing outside only in short spurts. Though I don’t really have much of a choice anyway, I do prefer the somewhat unpredictable weather we live with here. I like that even the hottest chain of summer days will break for a sudden storm and a welcome reprieve of a drop in temperature. As I’m writing these words, it’s 11 pm on Sunday evening, the windows are wide open to the constant sound of the crickets, a soft, cool breeze is wafting in, the trains and planes are periodically coming and going. I take a deep breath in and out, and can’t help but feel peaceful, listening to the sounds of summer. Miriam Bradman Abrahams is Cuban born, Brooklyn bred and lives in Woodmere. mabraha1@optonline.net

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THE JEWISH STAR August 24, 2012 • 6 ELUL, 5772

It ain’t over ‘til it’s over


August 24, 2012 • 6 ELUL, 5772 THE JEWISH STAR

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August 26 NY Mets Jewish Heritage Day 1:10 P.M. METS vs. ASTROS • Join the Jewish Community Relations Council of NY and the Mets at Citi Field for Jewish Heritage Day. • Pre-game programming to include musical entertainment celebrating Jewish-American culture. • Enjoy Glatt kosher food available at select stands located on the Field & Promenade Level concourses. • Groups that purchase 25 or more tickets will receive a scoreboard greeting. Visit www.mets.com/jcrc for more information and to purchase tickets.

ON THE

Calendar Submit your shul or organization’s events or shiurim to jscalendar@thejewishstar.com. Deadline is Wednesday of the week prior to publication.

Sept 8 PRE-SELICHOT PROGRAM

Chabad of Southhampton Jewish Center 11th Annual DinnerHonoring Leon Wagner and Leesa Willett. Cocktail reception, delicious dinner, entertainment by Avraham Fried, and master of ceremonies Elon Gold, silent auction and more! 5:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. at beautiful home of Michael and Marjorie Loeb in Southhampton Village. Couvert $360. For more information visit www.SHannualbenefit.com or email rsvpAugust26@yahoo.com

August 27-August 31 Friendship Circle Summer Camp End of summer camp for children with special needs. A week filled with fun activities, trips, crafts and much more. Meet at Chabad, 74 Maple Avenue, Cedarhurst at 10 am. For Info Call 516295-2478*13 or batsheva@chabad5towns.com to register.

August 28 Village of Cedarhurst Concert Series at Andrew J. Parise Park “Rockin to the Oldies” Risky Business Pre-Show: The Magic of Didi Maxx Pre-Shows: 7:00 PM Concerts: 8:00 PM Rain date: Thursdays Concert Hotline: (516) 295-5770

Sept 5 Frum Divorce “Second Chances: A Time for Hope and Renewal” with noted speakers Rabbi Paysach Krohn & Dr. David Pelcovitz

tivate Them to Learn” Adina Soclof, MS, CCC-SLP · Wednesday, September 12 “Communicating With Your Child’s School – How to Talk So They Will Listen” Alex Bailey, Ph.D. · Thursday, September 13 “We’ve Got Ruach, Yes We Do! Transitioning the Spirituality of Summer Experiences into the Home” Rabbi Yaakov Glasser, Regional Director of New Jersey NCSY Further information can be found on the OU Community Engagement website, or contact Hannah Farkas at hannahf@ou.org or call 212.613.8351.

Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder stops by a community charity drive hosted by local Far Rockaway children to benefit the families of Chai Lifeline. Sisu V’Simcha Hall | 4127 18th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY,8:30 p.m. Please RSVP, as space is limited For more information,FrumDivorce@gmail. com and FrumDivorce.org

Sept 6, 13 and on JCC of the Greater Five Towns Thursday morning Yoga class, 9:15-10:30am on September 6, 13, 20; October 25, Nov. 1, 8, 15 & 29; Dec. 6, 13 & 20 - $200/season. This class will take place at the JCC, 207 Grove Avenue, Cedarhurst and will be taught by Miriam Abrahams. For registration information please call Sheryl at (516) 569-6733 x 222.

Sept 6 Flower Arranging Demonstration JCC of the Greater Five Towns Rose Edinger , 11am-12pm Learn how to create magnificent floral arrangements suitable for your Yom Tov table; $25. For information please call Sheryl at (516) 569-6733 x 222 or sheryl.wyszkowski@ fivetownsjcc.org.

Sept 10 – Sept 13 “Navigate the Back to School Daze” The Orthodox Union Department of Community Engagement and the Life section on the OU website, www.ou.org, will present “ -- a week-long series of webcasts for a national audience by leading Orthodox mental health and rabbinic professionals focusing on how to transition from summer vacation back to the school year. 7:00 p.m. EDT from Monday, September 10 through Thursday, September 13. Registration is found on the OU Community Engagement webpage, www.oucommunity.org. The webcasts will be featured, and later archived, on the same page. The OU is providing a unique opportunity for parents and caregivers anywhere around the country to learn tips from experts in an interactive online forum. We encourage parents to join us for an hour each night to strengthen their parenting skills and to feel more confident during the transitional period.” Topics of discussion throughout the week will include: · Monday, September 10: “Positive Limit Setting With Our Children” Rachel Pill, L.C.S.W. · Tuesday, September 11: “Improve Your Children’s Self-Esteem and Mo-

Congregation Beth Sholom, 10:30 p.m. “G-d on Trial” An extraordinary film of Jewish prisoners in Auschwitz who put G-d on trial in absentia followed by a discussion with Dr. David Pelcovitz “The Modern Jew: Facing Our Spiritual Challenges” Gwendolyn & Joseph Straus Chair in Jewish Education at Yeshiva University’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education. Dr. Pelcovitz also teaches pastoral psychology at RIETS YU & serves as special assistant to the President of YU. Sponsored by Dr. Sherry & Joel Wiener in memory of her brother Neil Steuer k”z & his father Paul Wiener k”z Followed by SELICHOT WITH CHAZAN JOEL KAPLAN - 12:00AM Congregation Beth Sholom is located at 390 Broadway in Lawrence.

Sept 14– Oct. 12 The Chabad Center for Jewish Life of Merrick/ Bellmore/Wantagh presents Tots ‘N Challah: An exciting Mommy & me program for children ages 0-3 ! Join with your child and other moms/dads in celebrating Shabbat through Challah baking, story, song and art activities! · Knead the dough, Braid the Challah, Judaic Craft, Music and Song Fridays 10:30-11:30 A.M. Complimentary First Class! Cost is $25 for 5 week session or $8.00 per class. Includes snack and craft supplies.

Ongoing Parkinson’s Support Group THE JCC OF THE GREATER FIVE TOWNS, located at 207 Grove Avenue in Cedarhurst, hosts every Tuesday a Parkinson’s Support Group from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The purpose of this group is to bring together Parkinsonians, spouses and their families in order to help them better understand the nature of the condition, gain confidence and join in community activities. For further information, please contact Cathy Byrne at 516-569-6733 x220.


13

Achieving G-dliness through imperfection

A time to prepare ... Chayim was a regular yeshiva bachur, but Elul was too heavy for him. All those talks from his Rebbe about preparing for the Days of Awe were just too depressing, so when his friend Shmuel asked Chayim to work for him in the fields, preparing to sell the Four Species, Chayim jumped at the opportunity to get some fresh air outside of the Yeshiva ... 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.

A By Rabbi Noam Himelstein

s the new month of Elul begins, I, like many others, begin the process of soul-searching and introspection that prepares me for the Yomim No’raim—the Days of Awe—of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. I, like many others, go through the requisite atonement by saying s’lichot daily, heeding the sounds of the Shofar during Shacharit, saying Vidduy, and asking for others’ forgiveness directly. The process is rather cut-and-dry, and its yearly repetition, especially after 50+ years, begins to feel vapid. We are all familiar with the three-part recipe of T’shuva, T’filah, and Tzedakah (repentance, prayer, and charity) that we are told softens the harshness of Hashem’s decree, but at a certain point we need to ask more pointedly, “What do I—I specifically—need to do differently in order to truly atone?” After all, the process of repentance is supposed to be a personal one—just like prayer is supposed to be. Like davening, chazal may have given us a blueprint, but it is up to us to build the house. This awareness of the need for individualized atonement challenges me to begin thinking about the uniqueness of my need for atonement and how this uniqueness should inform my pursuit of seeking forgiveness, both from others and from Ha’kadosh BaJeff Ratz ruch Hu. As usual, I take my cues from the world around me. Each time I am puzzled by a challenge, some divine guidance shows me the way. My son Matthew is four weeks into a new position with a non-profit organization in Maryland that provides communitybased services to adults and children with autism, and lately our conversations have focused upon his experiences and education in this new field. Autism, briefly, is a developmental disorder that affects a person’s communication, social awareness, and physical behavior in myriad ways; in most cases, this disorder is present from birth. Individuals diagnosed with autism are often referred to as “on the spectrum” because the disorder manifests in such a variety of ways that no two people with autism behave in exactly the same way. Through his training and education on this disorder, Matthew was introduced to this statement: “If perfection is the singular determinant of a person’s value, then all of us are valueless.” Much of the emphasis in his organization is on building awareness about how individuals with autism are capable contributors to society despite their disabilities. Because autism and its community of providers, families, and diagnosed individuals is so unique, and because autism handicaps areas of life that are so valued by society—namely communication and social responsiveness—in order to work effectively with individuals with autism, a practitioner has to appreciate each person’s gifts and talents; he or she must dig below the diagnosis to find individual traits to celebrate. My daughter Tara, who is a special educator in Manhattan, has the same challenge; her students are people, not just the labels “ADHD,” “Emotionally Disturbed,” or “Reading Disabled.” Teachers and parents of children with special needs under-

stand this dichotomy profoundly: the child is your child first and his or her disability last. What is true about students with disabilities is this: they are no less smart, talented, or able to succeed; it is, however, the strictures of the environments we fabricate around these individuals that highlight their disabilities. It is because our society values two-way communication, acute social awareness, and “typical” behavior that autism is a debilitating disorder; it is because schools insist that young boys and girls with a lot of energy sit quietly and attentively in their desks for eight straight hours that ADHD is a disorder; it is because we insist that all children learn to decode language at the same age that reading disabilities are diagnosed in kindergarten. Now, this is not to say that none of these is in fact a disorder and that none requires treatment; that certainly is not the case. When the absence of certain abilities—such as the ability to control impulses or participate in two-way communication—inhibits a person’s chances to participate and succeed in the world, then this is a debilitating disability. However, the environments we create in schools, on jobs, and in society highlight many of these disabilities instead of allowing us to see the talents, alternative approaches, and gifts that these individuals truly possess. An educator or parent who works with individuals with special needs, recognizes rather quickly that a “one-size-fits-all” approach will not work; what it takes to effectively enable an individual with disabilities to succeed in this world is flexibility and a willingness to try new things, to break molds, and to highlight abilities and strengths instead of harping on handicaps. All of this brings me back to Elul and my personal quest to meaningfully atone during this month and enter the new year of 5773 revitalized and committed to breaking old habits. Whether overcoming disabilities or being “neuro-typical,” each of us is a unique and unprecedented person; none of our sins is the same, the way none of our prayers and aspirations is identical. As an example, what may be a large sum of charity for one, is a mere drop in the bucket for another. What may be a source of ka’vanah for one, is a distraction for another. How, then, can each of us atone through the same formula of T’shuva, T’filah, and Tzedakah? How can prayers uttered by rote and the maintenance of vapid forgiveness-asking routines work year-in and year-out? Each of us must take the time during this month of repentance to uncover true acts of chesed, commit to contributing more than requisite amounts of tzedakah, davening with more ka’vanah, and truly repenting for our misdeeds by not recommitting them again and again. If we refuse to delve deeply into our souls, then we are just like a society not so long ago, who believed those with disabilities better keep a “cap in hand” because all they’d be good at is begging on the streets. We need to be willing to embrace academic diversity and support those who struggle in our gashmiyut (worldly) environments, and we need to be willing to try novel approaches to our T’shuvah in O’lam Ha’zeh (this world), so that each of us can merit a’ruchot yamim v’shanim (long life) and an O’lam Ha’ba (Afterlife) filled with closeness to Hashem. Chatima Tova.

THE JEWISH STAR August 24, 2012 • 6 ELUL, 5772

Elul


August 24, 2012 • 6 ELUL, 5772 THE JEWISH STAR

14

Parshat Shoftim

A leader like me

T

he shofar sound this past Sunday began the wake-up call of the month of Elul that reminds us that Rosh Hashana will soon be upon us. As I look back at notes from previous years, I have found that the commentary of Rabbenu Bachaye on these coming parshas has found an important place in my own Elul and Teshuvah-focused experience. This week we will look at one of his important teachings. In the context of reminding the Israelite nation not to follow the influence of the necromancers of the nations that surround you, a seemingly uncharacteristic comment escapes Moshe’s lips: “A prophet from among Rabbi Avi Billet you, from your brethren, such as myself, will be whom Hashem your G-d establishes for you – listen to him [the prophet].” (18:15) In Hebrew, the “comment” is all of one word: “Kamoni,” or “such as myself.” Many commentaries suggest that this comment refers to the previous word “me’achekha” – from your brethren – that Moshe is saying that any prophet you will have will be from the Israelite nation. Not only that, but unlike some of the “prophets” who were discussed last week (Chapter 13), he will teach you the ways of G-d and will not steer you in the direction of idolatry or the occult, “kamoni” – meaning “along the lines as I have properly led you.” Rabbenu Bachaye points out, for example, that one might think “Achekha” includes a prophet from the children of Eisav or Ishmael. This is another reason why Moshe is clear to say “Kamoni,” only from a direct Israelite lineage. All these disclaimers are nice, but the fact remains that if Moshe needed to bring an example, he could have just as easily used his brother’s name, or he could have pointed at Yehoshua as he did in Bamidbar 27 and Devarim 1 and 3 saying, “A prophet…such as Yehoshua who will be taking over when I am gone.” Why did he say what seems like a hubris statement – “You’ll want a prophet like me”? After all, if we know Moshe was the humblest of people (Bamidbar 12:3), certainly this comment is out of character! Not one to miss an opportunity, the Baal Haturim notices that “Kamoni” has the same numerical value as “Anav” (humble) (both equal 126). Moshe does not want to say, “I am humble.” But he does want to suggest, in code, what is a good quality of a leader. Humility is not defined as thinking you are a nobody. Humility means knowing who you are, and

not making a big deal about it. It means understanding your role, as you understand that you are a nobody in comparison to G-d. Most importantly, a humble leader knows that circumstances have brought him or her to a position that commands respect or is an inspiration to others, but it’s the position which is respected before the person filling it earns the respect – based on one’s deeds. Rabbenu Bachaye explains Moshe’s word-choice as follows, “The prophet should be like me, meaning he should follow my precedent. He should not add nor subtract or uproot a single mitzvah from the Torah, unless he is an established prophet and the specific circumstance warrants it (e.g. Elijah bringing sacrifices on Mount Carmel during the time of the Temple). Ours is not a religion in which we believe in Moshe as prophet and leader on account of the signs and wonders he did. It is all on account of our having heard G-d’s word directly from Him [at Sinai], as did Moshe. We know it, we were witnesses to it, as it says (Shmot 19:9), ‘Behold I am coming to you in a thick cloud so that the nation will hear when I speak with you, and they will believe in you [as My chosen leader] forever.’” Rabbenu Bachaye quotes Maimonides (Foundations of the Torah Chapter 8) as the source for his position, and Maimonides continues the point saying every sign Moshe did was to get them to follow him to Sinai. But every sign also gets people thinking, “Maybe this guy is a magician.” The Sinai experience changed all of that forever. When Moshe says, “G-d will appoint a prophet kamoni,” he is saying “It will be so clear in your eyes who is a true prophet, because he stands for Torah, is guided by the Torah, and doesn’t change the Torah.” He needs to use himself, and not Aharon or Yehoshua, as an example, because it was Moshe who was on Sinai. This is not arrogance. This is knowing and understanding what his role was, is and remains forever. Judaism has always been a religion in which the Written and Oral Torah was sacrosanct. In different circles, and across a large spectrum, it has become about many other things. Chumras, how “frum” you are, what clothes you wear, how you look, where you send your kids to yeshiva/school, social action, social justice, right-wing politics (more common in observant communities), left-wing politics (more common in non-observant communities), and “tikkun olam.” The shofar and Elul remind us, as does Moshe, that we need to look to and follow the examples of leaders and leadership that help us maintain our focus – a Jewish experience that follows the model set at Sinai, of a commitment to and observance of G-d’s word, in which nothing (beyond certain social changes as fitting to the world in which we live) is added to or subtracted from the Torah.

Building and growing to light the darkness

D

uring the Holocaust, the Klausenberger Rebbe, Rabi Yekutiel Halberstam, passed through the gates of hell many times. In the Warsaw Ghetto, the work camps and death marches and the final unspeakable horror, Auschwitz, the Rebbe lost his wife and their 11 children in less than a year, yet never sat shiva, refusing to take the time to mourn for his own children, while so many thousands were being lost daily. Throughout FROM THE HEART his harrowing OF JERUSALEM experiences, he vowed that if he survived, he would build a monument to chesed (loving-kindness) as his response to the inhumanity he witnessed. Today, Laniado Hospital Rabbi Binny in Netanya, Freedman Israel is that monument. It took the Rebbe 15 years to raise the funds to build Laniado Hospital. He was determined to show the world the light of Judaism’s model for human behavior, after so much darkness. At the hospital’s dedication, asked why a rabbi had chosen to build a hospital instead of a Torah institution, his response was that every hospital is and should be a Torah institution. Determined to imbue the hospital staff with the Torah’s attitude towards healing, in his dedication speech he explained that the most important factor in healing the sick was a “warm Jewish heart.” One Rosh Hashanah, a woman began to hemorrhage during childbirth. She desperately needed a massive transfusion of an extremely rare blood type. An order went out that every student in the adjacent yeshiva should immediately rush to the hospital to have their blood type tested. Prayers were stopped in the middle of Mussaf on Rosh Hashanah, and one of the yeshiva students, himself a nurse, labeled the vials of blood to assist the overwhelmed skeleton nursing staff. The woman’s sister, also a nurse, wondered if her sister would be alive today in any other hospital…. The Rebbe once explained why there have never been any demonstrations in this ‘Ultra-Orthodox’ neighborhood, and why he decided to build a hospital as his monument to those lost in the Holocaust: “When you come to a place of darkness, you do not chase away the darkness with a broom; you light a candle.” What does it mean to build a monument? This week’s portion, Shoftim, offers an interesting point: “Ve’lo’ takim lecha’ matzeva asher saneh’ Hashem Elokecha’.” “And you shall not erect for yourselves a monument which Hashem, your G-d, hates.” (Vayikra (Leviticus) 16:22) Apparently, it is forbidden to

erect a “matzeva” or monument, and for various reasons we can assume that such a monument is forbidden as form of idolatry. Rashi, the famous super-commentary on the Torah, explains that we are referring to an altar made of one single stone, and that such an altar is unacceptable even if dedicated to offering sacrifices to Hashem, because it was a Canaanite practice, abhorrent to G-d. What was so terrible about such an altar, or monument, that made it hateful to G-d? It seems there is a fundamental difference between a Mizbeach (altar), which was a mitzvah (commandment) to build, and a Matzevah which was abhorrent, because it was the practice of the Canaanites to offer sacrifices to their gods on a matzeva-monument. How could a simple stone become unacceptable as a vehicle to G-d, because some people misused it? And what difference does it make what the altar is made of? Even more so, our own Patriarchs made offerings on the same type of matzeva-monument! So why is the same altar used by Avraham now unacceptable to the point of being ‘abhorrent’? Ya’acov, in his sojourn in Beit El, takes the stone on which he lay his head that night and sets it up as a matzeva. It was this matzeva (Bereishit (Genesis) 28:18) on which Ya’acov enters his covenant with G-d that leads to the birth of the Jewish people! So what is the fundamental difference between the unacceptable matzevah, and a mizbeach, the vehicle for our relationship with G-d, itself a mitzvah given the right circumstances (Exodus(Shemot) 20:21-22)? Two insightful points: First, a matzevah is made of one single stone, whereas a mizbeach is made of many stones. (Shemot 20:22; an altar is called a “mizbeach avanim” or stones, the plural form, rather than e’ven or stone in the singular.) Indeed, the matzevah Ya’acov erects in Beit El is exactly that: one stone. And not a hewn stone, but a stone or pillar taken as is, directly from the ground, pure and natural, which fits with the ancient pagan practices of idolatry, which worshipped nature in its purest form. Thus, it seems we are meant to develop our relationship with G-d through an altar of many stones, and not a single stone monument as was done in days of yore. Further, the root of the word matzevah is almost diametrically opposed to the root of mizbeach. Matzevah comes from the root yatzev, or standing (stable), as in the ladder Ya’acov dreams of whose head reaches to the sky, but whose base is “mutzav artzah’” “set in the earth” (Bereishit (Genesis) 28:12). Indeed, Hashem (G-d) in that same dream is described as “Nitzav Alav” or “Standing over him.” The matzevah, therefore, is the altar, which is set and stands alone, rooted in the earth and eternally unchanging; the monument meant to stand forever. The mizbeach on the other hand, is the receptacle for the ze-

vach (sacrifice or slaughtered animal) and may relate to the similar root zov, or flowing, as in: “Oloteichem ve’zivcheichem, le’ratzon al mizbechi” “Their (whole-burnt) offerings and sacrifices for desire (desirous) on my altar” (Yishayahu (Isaiah) 55:7), which perhaps represents the offering as an outpouring of desire before G-d. In life there is no standing still; we are either moving forwards or backwards, and the critical question is where we are, and where we want to be headed. It often seems easiest to stand still, take no risks, and let life take charge. But that is not what life is meant to be. It takes a lot of work to grow, to seek change and even start again. This ability is one of the greatest secrets of life. Too often, we prefer the path of the matzevah: the monument that says we have arrived, and would like to stay where we are. But that is regression and loss of any achieved gains. Compatibility is primary in a loving relationship. Some couples with difficulties in marriage or dating, think they are just “not compatible.” But one person’s “too different” is another’s “complimenting.” The real issue is if people choose to stagnate, or grow together and learn from each other. If two people were exactly the same, what would they have to offer each other? The issue is how compatible you feel with your spouse. A couple can make a decision to see each other as compatible; they can choose to look at the world differently. And that is the difference between the matzevah, which might represent the world as it is, an unchanging world with no room for change or growth, and no belief in the purpose of growth. It is the world of the pagan idolater who sees nature as the source of all beauty and reality, unchanging and forever. But Judaism believes in the world of mizbeach, which is full of the motivation to change and grow, to give and to receive, because nothing is random and I am never stuck in my current reality. I always have the ability to change who and what I am. All this fits with this portion, the first portion read in Elul leading up to Rosh Hashanah, the time of year most associated with our ability to change who we are, and reassess our goals and what we hope to give to the world in the coming year. Maybe this is reflected as well in that the matzevah is one stone, reflective of only one opinion, and the lack of a need to change because I am the center of my universe and my perspective is fine with me. The mizbeach, however, is many stones because true change and growth comes from seeing the world in many different ways, and the ability to work together to grow and make the world a better place. May we be privileged in the coming year, to follow the example of the Klausenberger Rebbe, to work together to build altars of light in the world, instead of pillars of darkness.


15

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THE JEWISH STAR August 24, 2012 • 6 ELUL, 5772

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August 24, 2012  

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