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THE JEWISH VOL 12, NO 37 Q SEPTEMBER 20, 2013 / 16 TISHREY 5774

‘Lev Leytzan’ now 10 years on, recruits and trains medical clowns


Moishy Newman, of Lawrence, and a student at Yeshiva Nishmas HaTorah, AvI Schwartzblatt, of Cedarhurst, a student at Mesivta Ateres Yaakov, and Yoni Katz, of Lawrence, a student at Netiv Aryeh. of Woodmere who works as a marketing executive in Manhattan. He said that he does works with Lev Leytzan “pro bono — it’s a labor of love, a chesed.” “The first stage is to understand the clinical role of the exercise of clowning

with patients and what we are trying to accomplish,” said Gordon. “Then they get the training, the skill sets — that’s developed under supervision at institutions, Continued on page 12

Sukkah’s redesign sheds new light on festival By Malka Eisenberg “Sukkah City,” a film documenting a competition of innovative sukkot, will be shown in Manhattan this Sunday, Sept. 22, at the the site of the original display of the sukkot in Union Square Park. The film begins as a jury considers the more than 600 international design submissions in the contest originated by author Joshua Foer and Roger Bennett, co-chairman of the Jewish cultural organization Reboot. In the movie, Foer points out that only a tiny fraction of American Jews erect sukkahs, and his competition was designed to jumpstart a rethinking of the tradition and to “tap the tremendous creative potential in the sukkah.” The panel of architect-jurors and the

In the Sukkot of our memories, life was sweet

contestants were briefed on the halachic (Jewish legal) requirements of a kosher sukkah — its structure, walls, dimensions and materials including the schach (naturally grown and harvested material for the roof). A rabbi from Yeshiva Chovevei Torah (Rabbi Avi Weiss’ academy in Riverdale) was the consultant and ruled that they were kosher except for needing additional schach. Twelve designs were chosen and each contestant was given $10,000 and ten days to produce their sukkah and bring it by forklift and flatbed truck to the exhibition site and assemble it there. More than 200,000 people viewed the structures over the two-day period, Orthodox Jews, secular Jews and non-Jews. The film concludes with Mayor Bloom-

berg presenting the winner, the entry entitled “Fractured Bubble,” a circular structure split in three, pierced by sheaves of long grass harvested in Queens, looking like an enormous chestnut in its husk. Jason Hutt, the film’s producer/director, cited the two-day presentation in Union Square Park as a “unique moment in the contemporary American Jewish experience,” and a “portrait of this incredibly innovative design project,” in an email exchange with The Jewish Star. The film debuted at the Jerusalem International Film Festival and was shown at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. “I think the exhibition, and the film, definitely shows the untapped potential for the sukkah — creatively, experienContinued on page 12

Eruv Tavshilin. First night of Sukkot Candlelighting: 6:41 p.m. Second night of Sukkot candlelighting: 7:40 p.m. Shabbat Candlelighting: 6:38 p.m. Shabbat ends: 7:36 p.m. 72 minute zman 8:07 p.m.

his week, we got our sukkahs out of hiding, bought our lulavim and etrogim and those new Yom Tov fall/winter outfits (clothes that we won’t be able to wear yet, although we’ll certainly spot one or two women suffering through the heat in their suede or fur trimmed suits, all in the name of fashion … come on, you’ve been there once or twice). And then there is the planning for not one, but two, three-day Yomim Tovim. And we will eat, till it’s time to eat again — all six meals, all three days, both Yomim Tovim. I always loved Sukkot, since I was a kid, back in the days when my dad would build the sukkah from scratch with iron poles that he purchased along with beautiful brocade material from my grandfather’s curtain shop on the Lower East Side. It was so elegant. And I loved decorating the sukWHO’S IN THE kah, something, unfortuKITCHEN nately, that my kids didn’t inherit from me. Never fails, each year about an hour before Sukkot I can be found in the sukkah dangling off of a stepladder stringing the dozens of green lifelike 12 foot leafy garlands. Once those are up and covering the entire top of the sukkah (of course leaving just enough spaces to see the stars), I add flowers for the finishing Judy Joszef touch. I usually end up falling off at one point, but as long as it’s near the end of the decorating process, it’s all good. Unfortunately, both my dad and my husband’s dad are not with us anymore but they are here in our hearts and in the stories we tell each sukkot. When Jerry was growing up, before his dad had his own business, he, his brother and parents lived in a one room apartment. When walking in the Flatbush neighborhood they lived in, his dad would always stop and admire a particular house on Avenue N; he thought it was just perfect. It was not semi-attached as most houses were then, and it had a nice backyard and a wider than usual driveway with ample space for a sukkah. Of course it wasn’t within his means then, but he would always tell his wife and kids, “One day I’m going to Continued on page 10


By Malka Eisenberg They bring joy and laughter into a world of suffering and pain. At age 10, the Five Towns-based “compassionate medical clowning” troupe called Lev Leytzan (Hebrew for “Heart of a Clown”) is launching its annual recruitment drive in October. “We are a professional medical clown organization,” explained its founder and executive director, Neal Goldberg, Ph.D. “It’s a chesed organization with professional training.” Training opportunities for teenagers will open this fall; older clowns will learn the ropes later in the year. Two South Shore open houses are set for next month — in West Hempstead on Sunday, Oct. 13, and in the Five Towns and Far Rockaway on Sunday, Oct. 20. Lev Leytzan has been clowning around at South Shore medical centers for years. Now it’s establishing Clowns on Rounds, to visit homebound patients and those recently discharged from the hospital. The therapeutic clowns interact with patients empowering them to help ease their pain and discomfort by offering doses of playful engagement. Potential clowns are screened and, if they are accepted into the program, complete 60 hours of training followed by supervision in their medical placements. The formal training and supervised rounds are by professional clowns. The training takes place in facilities in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island, said Noach Gordon, director of development of Lev Leytzan, and a resident



September 20, 2013 • 16 TISHREY 5774 THE JEWISH STAR



Courtesy Jennie Augusta Brownscombe via Wikimedia Commons.

Was the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth, Massachusetts, depicted by Jennie A. Brownscombe. shaped by Sukkot? later traced back to an event that took place at Plymouth in December 1621. The thesis of my book on Thanksgiving is that it is a holiday rooted in the deeply held convictions of the New England settlers, and in the human love of a holiday.” Applebaum explained that the Puritans separated the laws of the Hebrew Bible into two categories. “Some were deemed moral commandments, these applied to all men, at all times,” she said. “The others were regarded as ceremonial or temporal commandments, which applied only to Jews, or only to the olden days, but not to Christians.” For Puritans, the Sabbath was an eternal, moral commandment applying to Christians, but they considered Sukkot, Passover, Shavout, kashruth, and other laws to be ceremonial or temporal commandments, not intended to apply to Christians. Puritan theology “supported the proclamation of special days of prayer when unusual events occurred,” Applebaum said. “In the event, for example, of an epidemic, drought, or famine, it was appropriate to call a special day of prayer and fasting in the hope that if the people repented, G-d would grant relief,” she said. “In the event that G-d did grant a special providence, such as the lifting of a drought or famine, a special day of prayer and thanksgiving would be proclaimed.”

There were robust debates among the Puritans in the mid1600s over the propriety of issuing a proclamation of a day of thanksgiving every autumn. Was an ordinary harvest a routine event, or was it a special providence? “[People feared that] proclaiming a day of thanksgiving every autumn might ‘harden the people in their carnal confidence’ of G-d’s grace, and people might begin to take G-d’s gifts for granted,” Applebaum said. “If a proclamation was expected every year, how was it different from the unbiblical Catholic error of creating fixed annual holidays? On the other hand, [some thought] G-d’s great bounty in sending the harvest was surely worthy of thanksgiving. And people like holidays. In years when the General Court (the Massachusetts legislature) failed to proclaim a day of thanksgiving, individual congregations sometimes did.” After 1676 in Connecticut, and by the 1690s in Massachusetts, the government of each of those colonies proclaimed a special day of prayer and thanksgiving every autumn. It was celebrated by families returning home with special dishes (mince pie and plum pudding) eaten at Christmas in old England, and with events like ballgames on the village green that would have been inappropriate violations of a Sabbath day. But there are those like Rabbi Elias Lieberman, leader of the Falmouth Jewish Congregation in Massachusetts, who see a stronger biblical influence on Thanksgiving. “While we cannot be certain about what motivated those Pilgrim settlers to initiate a feast of thanksgiving, it is likely that they consciously drew on a model well-known to them from the Bible they cherished,” Lieberman told “Seeing themselves as new Israelites in a new ‘promised land,’ the Pilgrims surely found inspiration in the Bible, in the Books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, in which G-d commands the ancient Israelites to observe the Feast of Booths — in Hebrew, Sukkot. Whether or not its formation was actually influenced by Sukkot, the parallels between the holidays serve as meaningful symbolism for individuals like Rabbi Lieberman. “Both of these splendid holidays encourage us to stop and acknowledge the manifold blessings G-d bestows upon us each and every day,” Lieberman said.

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By Robert Gluck, Did Sukkot help shape America’s Thanksgiving? According to one of the foremost experts on American Judaism, Dr. Jonathan Sarna, the biblical holiday did not exactly guide the Puritans’ thinking during colonial times, but they were generally influenced by the idea of thanking G-d for their bounty. “The Puritans did not believe in fixed holidays,” Sarna — the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University and chief historian of the Philadelphia-based National Museum of American Jewish History—told “If it was a good season, they would announce a thanksgiving, but it’s not like the Jewish holiday which occurs on the 15th of the month of Tishrei (Sukkot). They did not believe in that. So in that respect it’s different.” In terms of thanking G-d for a bountiful harvest, the Puritans did learn that from the Bible, Sarna said. “They knew what they called the Old Testament, what we call the Hebrew Bible, they knew it, and they were influenced by it,” he said. “Now they didn’t go out and build huts, obviously. But the notion that one would be thankful for a bountiful harvest was certainly one they would have learned from the Hebrew Bible.” Thanksgiving did not become a fixed holiday in America until President Abraham Lincoln declared it as such in 1863. The holiday also did not have a firm date until Congress established one — the fourth Thursday of each November — in 1941. Although “you’ll commonly read all over the place” about the connection between Thanksgiving and Sukkot, Sarna said that Diana Muir Applebaum—a Massachusetts-based historian who wrote the book “Thanksgiving: An American Holiday, An American History”—set him straight on the subject when he consulted with her. Applebaum believes there is always some difficulty in discovering the “first” of anything. “The Separatists at Plymouth did not create an annual holiday [of Thanksgiving],” Applebaum told “Rather, a holiday that grew in popularity and stabilized into an annual celebration over the course of several decades was

THE JEWISH STAR September 20, 2013 • 16 TISHREY 5774

Pilgrim’s Thanksgiving: Did they have Sukkot in mind?

September 20, 2013 • 16 TISHREY 5774 THE JEWISH STAR



Mad deal over Syria: The week America lost its leadership role


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Sukkot: Singing in the rain!


ow that the High Holidays are behind us, what’s a Jew to do? Feel blessed, renewed, and collapse from the glorious work of praying, fasting, then eating lox during the break fast to bloat us to Pesach. I have a better idea. Put the prayer books down, and pick up a hammer! For those of you who may not be familiar, it’s the long wooden thing attached to another metal thing meant for hocking HIPPEST RABBI things into things. Sukkot is upon us. It’s a huge transition from one of our most solemn holidays to one of our most joyous when we commemorate two things: history and agriculture. Historically, we build sukkahs to remind us of the 40 years we wandered in the desert living in Rabbi Simcha whatever our Yiddishe Weinstein kops could fashion for shelter. It is also a celebration of the harvest. Back to hammers. When it comes to Famous Jewish Construction Workers, it’s a thin book. If you took a body count in a Home Depot you’d won’t find many Jews getting excited over things called ratchets. Yet, in the spirit of our ancestors, although they probably used rocks to bang with, we are called upon to DIY our sukkahs. After all, if they could wander for 40 years in sand, we can survive a trip to a hardware store, perhaps even cutting four 4x4 poles and four 2x4 boards, then finding bolts, drop cloths, D-rings, and curtain hooks. More, this is our time to commune with nature. (Yes, an allergy pill is allowed.) As Jews do nothing like anyone else; just when the sun-seekers are leaving the beaches to the driftwood, leave it to us to get close to nature and rain. This, to fulfill the commandment, sekhakh, that requires the top of our sukkah be loose so the rain can get in and the stars can be seen. Growing upon in Manchester, England — where every human comes with an attached umbrella — our sukkah felt especially wet. Inevitably, during Sukkot the rains not only

Oh, the colors! Sukkot is green, indicated by the colors of the Four Species (including the Etrog, which ripens from green to yellow) and of the green branches covering the sukkah, and of Israel’s lush, green, rain-drenched winter landscape. came but resembled mini-monsoons. Of course, given that this year the holiday is so early we may actually not drown or freeze in our sukkah in New York. Climate and topography make a difference. Sukkot marks the start of the rainy season in Israel — alevai! Rain in Israel’s desert is a very big deal in the Holy Land. And at the climax of Sukkot, on Shmini Atzeret, we begin the year’s prayers for rain. Here are a few droplets on the relevance of water to this holiday, all of whose symbols touch water, itself the symbol of life: •During Sukkot, the simchat beit hasho’eva (the festival of the drawing of water) (Sukkah 5:1) was held in the Temple. •For the mitzvah of the Four Species, we take only moist branches and fruits. The Mishnah notes that if any individual species is dry, it is unacceptable (Sukkah 3:1-5). •Tradition requires that the sukkah’s roof of foliage must allow rainwater to penetrate it. But there is more. Sukkot is great fun for the children; dwelling in the Sukkah satisfies a child’s desire to camp out in the backyard. Oh, the colors! Sukkot is green, indicated by the colors of the Four Species (including the Etrog, which ripens from green to yellow) and of the green branches covering the sukkah, and of Israel’s lush, green, rain-drenched winter landscape. As a rabbi, I say delight in the greenery and the rains. After the high of the High Holidays, seeing the joy of nature in the hand of G-d can sustain us during the stiff months of winter. And, yes, a hammer will help. I recommend you get one, my friends.

up a liberty award. The award was to be given rians may view the second week of Sep- on 9/11, which along with the horrors of 2001 tember 2013 as the beginning of the end was the anniversary of last year’s Benghazi of the United States as a super power; or at terrorist attack. The United States never punished those the very least as the week Barack Obama was outmaneuvered by Vladimir Putin and the who killed our ambassador and three others Russian President became the leader of the in Benghazi (the killers had been identified), but we were going after Assad. Western World. Ms. Clinton had lunch with the President The week began with President Obama, already looking weak throughout the Syrian cri- and spoke to the press. Surprisingly, Clinton sis, trying to sell his Syria war to Congress and came out in favor of the Russian deal though the American people via appearances on the Kerry and the White House were still trashing Sunday news shows by the offer they didn’t want to make, to avoid his Chief-of-Staff Denis the war nobody wanted. Finally, the President sat down with the McDonough. His arguPOLITICS TO GO ment was that a U.S. news anchors of six networks (he omitted Uniattack on Syria would vision as he no longer needs the Latino vote) send a message to Ira- and announced that his government would nian leaders that they pursue the diplomatic effort his administrashould not feel free to tion had been spending most of the day trashdevelop nuclear weap- ing. Not only that but — surprise! — he’d ons and that “to com- discussed the idea with Putin at the G20 Summunicate with them mit the previous week! Then, rather than cancel his nationwide we have to be very clear, very forthright. address scheduled for the next evening, PresiThis is an opportunity dent Obama delivered a very strange speech. to be both with the Ira- It tried to convince the people of the urgent need to strike Syriaand then told Congress to nians…” Jeff Dunetz The Iranians did not delay the vote, which he would have lost anyneed any more mes- way. Radio host Hugh Hewitt said that the sages from President Obama; their mailbox is full of messages doc- speech reminded him of Neville Chamberlain; umenting that he’s a weak president without Middle East scholar Barry Rubin was also rethe resolve to protect the American people. minded of the British prime minister who apFive years of appeasement is a strong message. peased Hitler. The next morning, Bibi Netanyahu reiterAllowing terrorists to get away with killing four Americans in Benghazi a year ago sent ated his belief that Israel could not rely on the a message to Iran. On again, off again talks, leadership of the U.S. for protection. “Today, the rule that while Iran continues to has guided me in most develop its nuclear proof my actions as Prime gram, and stopping an Minister and which I adIsraeli attack on the Irahere to very carefully, is nian Nukes because it perhaps more valid than was an American elecever: If I am not for mytion year, also delivered a self, who will be for me? If message of impotence to we are not for ourselves, the Iranians. who will be for us? We Even liberal pundits are for us. And the practisaw the Iran argument cal translation of this rule as a move of desperation, is that Israel will always with the American peo- Prime Minster Netanyahu be able to defend itself by ple rejecting his war cries itself against any threat.” while his weak support And as John Kerry flew out to negotiate the in Congress (even in the Democratic party Syrian deal with the Russians, Vladimir Putin controlled Senate) was getting weaker. Monday was an absolute comedy of errors wrote an op-ed in the NY Times, the bible of for the Administration. While trying to gather progressivism, scolding Obama’s red line and international approval for attacking Syria, threats of war against Syria. That was Putin’s message to Obama that Secretary of State John Kerry held a press conference and made an offhanded remark he was taking over the leadership of the Westabout avoiding military action if Syria gives up ern World. Putin becomes the peacemaker by its chemical weapons to some sort of interna- negotiating with the United States and Assad. tional force. The President had already said a Russia will now be a required member of any negotiated settlement wasn’t possible and that negotiation, something that has not been the getting rid of Assad would not be the objective case since the break up of the Soviet Union 30 of any Syrian war, but also stated that Assad years ago. Putin might just have won himself a had to go. If Syria agreed to get rid of its weap- Nobel Peace Prize, the first time in history that ons of mass destruction, that would recognize a Peace Prize winner has stopped a previous Peace Prize winner from starting a war. Assad as the leader of Syria. Beyond the return of Russia to promiKerry promised that any move against Assad would be an “unbelievably small, lim- nence, Putin got everything else he wanted. ited kind of effort,” which elicited “why both- With the agreement (finalized on Yom Kiper” from war hawks and ridicule around the pur) the United States is granting legitimacy to the existing Syrian government which world. After Kerry’s accidental proposal, the State President Obama had said must be deposed. Department tried to retract the offer, saying Putin gets to keep both his Assad-led governit was hypothetical. Too late. Putin saw the ment and Russian Air Force bases on Syrian opportunity to save his Syrian allies and out territory. And in the end Assad may still be maneuver the Americans again. The Russians controlling his WMD. By the end of the week one thing was clear. took Kerry’s offer to Syria; they immediately President Obama got his wish. The United expressed interest. Later that same day, the former Secretary States now leads from behind … behind Putin of State who, by all indications, wants to be and the Russians. the next President, was in Washington to pick


ooking back on the 21st century, histo-

Israel will always be able to defend itself by itself against any threat.”



number of years ago, I met a fellow with whom I struck up a friendship, over Pesach, and I discovered he was a Holocaust survivor who had been ďŹ rst in the Janowska road camp and later in Auschwitz. Towards the end of the week, I summoned up the nerve to ask him if there was anything in particular that stood out in his mind as the reason he had survived. Without hesitation, he responded: “It was one mitzvah: the Sukkot I spent in Auschwitz.â€? FROM THE HEART I guess my face must OF JERUSALEM have registered surprise, because he immediately explained. When he arrived in Auschwitz, in the middle of his thirteenth winter, one of the Kapos (barracks captains, often even more cruel than the Nazis) took a liking to him and arranged for him to be in charge of the daily rations to be given out to Rabbi Binny the prisoners at the end Freedman of the day. It was a job that would save his life. He spent the days in a small shed attached to the large barracks, responsible for dividing up the bread and soup to be given out to each inmate at the end of the day. In addition to having access to food he was also often put into difďŹ cult situations having to respond to prisoners desperate for food.

One day, while preparing the rations in the dark winter night, he heard banging on the door of the shed, and opened it up to discover a man he knew to be a great Torah scholar and one of the eminent rabbis of his area before the war, standing in the snow. Before he could turn the man away (sure that he wanted scraps of bread), the man stepped into the shed, telling Yaakov he needed a favor. “You know tonight is the ďŹ rst night of the festival of Sukkot, and I need two whole loaves of bread before you cut them up so I can fulďŹ ll the custom of making the blessing (Hamotzi) over two whole loaves (known as Lechem Mishnah) in the sukkah.â€? “I was in shock at the request,â€? recalled Yaakov. “Not only was he asking for two whole loaves of bread, but he was even planning somehow on fulďŹ lling the mitzvah of having a ‘meal’ in the Sukkah!â€? “You have to understand,â€? he explained, “a whole loaf of bread in Auschwitz was like a million dollars today. Can you imagine someone walking in off the street and asking for a million dollars? Even though he promised he would only take a bite, (the equivalent of his own ration) and then return the loaves to me, giving away those loaves would effectively mean I was risking my life.â€? Even more intriguing however, was how on earth this rabbi had managed to build a sukkah (a booth built to speciďŹ c halachic speciďŹ cations) in Auschwitz-Birkenau. As it turned out, that summer and fall of 1944, the Nazis were bringing hundreds of

thousands of Jews (including the remain- all the odds, the rabbi begged him for the ing 400,000 Jews of Hungary) in a last- loaves, if only for a few minutes. “I will give you these loaves,â€? said the ditch effort to complete the â€œďŹ nal solutionâ€? boy, “but only on condition you take me before the war would end. In the twisted organizational logic of with you to fulďŹ ll the mitzvah of the sukthe lager camps world, the Nazis needed to kah.â€? The rabbi, shocked have additional barracks to by the impetuous rehold the new prisoners for sponse, began to atlabor until they could be We spend a week in tempt to dissuade the exterminated. boy from this condiAs such, prisoners were the sukkah to remind tion. He would be riskdismantling tiers of bunks ing his life by walking in the barracks (prisoners us that all we own and outside after curfew, there literally began sleepand again for carrying in piles of bodies on the all the things we think ing two whole loaves oor of the barracks) while we have are really an of bread and of course rows of bunks were being for attempting to sit reconstructed in the cen- illusion; reality is the in a sukkah. But nothtral parade ground. ing he could say would Seeing the rows and world of the Garden dissuade the boy, so torows of bunks outdoors of Eden; the world of gether the two of them, and realizing the festival an old rabbi and a stuof Sukkot was coming, this ethics and love, of dent, risked their lives rabbi had managed to secloseness to Hashem and sat, for a few brief cure some schach (plant moments, in a sukkah shrubbery) and place it and Torah. in Auschwitz. atop some of the boards What does it mean of the semi-constructed bunks beneath the open sky in such a way to sit in a sukkah? What are we meant to be as to construct a minimally kosher sukkah thinking and feeling? And why would two for the festival. However, the mitzvah of liv- men decide to risk their lives, just to sit in a ing in the sukkah can only be fulďŹ lled by sukkah in Auschwitz? ••• either sleeping (which was out of the quesThe Sefat Emet (in his commentary on tion) or eating in the sukkah, which was his the Torah, 5655) suggests that on Yom Kipaim. Seeing the hesitation on the boy’s face, pur we attempt to recapture the world as it and desperate to fulďŹ ll this mitzvah against Continued on page 12

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THE JEWISH STAR September 20, 2013 • 16 TISHREY 5774

A lesson from Auschwitz as we sit in our sukkah

September 20, 2013 • 16 TISHREY 5774 THE JEWISH STAR


Oslo Accords debated, rather than celebrated, on 20th anniversary By Alex Traiman, Twenty years after the signing of the fateful Oslo Accords between Palestinian Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin, Knesset Members are heavily debating the merits of the peace process and the two-state solution paradigm. Parliamentarians from both Israel’s left and the right agree that the process has not yielded the results anyone would have hoped for, including the deaths of more than 1,000 Israelis and 3,000 Palestinians, and agree that the Israelis and Palestinians are more skeptical than ever about the prospects for a negotiated settlement. Where Knesset members disagree is on whether the process was flawed from the outset, and on whether the principles that led to the signing of the interim peace agreement should still be applied. Consequently, the 20-year anniversary of the Oslo Accords— signed Sept. 13, 1993—is not a celebration of the agreement’s outcome, but rather a debate on its merits. “The main lesson is that the paradigm of the left, that land for peace will bring security to the region, has failed, and this is the time to think clearly that we should not endorse a Palestinian state,” Member of Knesset and Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon (Likud) told Member of Knesset Hilik (Yehiel) Bar, Secretary General of the Labor Party and Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, said to think about the alternatives to the Oslo Accords and to Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiations “is foolish, unfair, and it will not happen.” “There is no other option than to have a Jewish state and a Palestinian state that is based on the 67 borders,” Bar told Currently, details of the new round of Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiations, which

Courtesy Flash90

Paramedics and police at the scene of a Palestinian suicide bombing, killing 19 and injuring 74, on a bus in Jerusalem on June 18, 2002. were announced in July, are largely being kept from the public. The negotiations are being advanced by Secretary of State John Kerry and Martin Indyk, the former U.S. Ambassador to Israel has come under scrutiny for serving on the board of the New Israel Fund, a left-leaning NGO that heavily funds anti-settlement and anti-religious activity. While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas appear to be entertaining the possibility that a peace settlement can be reached through the current round of negotiations, most Israelis and Palestinians are not paying much attention. In an unusual turn of events, members of Israel’s governing coalition and the prime minister’s party are coming out against nego-

tiations, while members of the opposition are supporting the government’s initiative. “The prime minister said clearly that he supports negotiations without preconditions. Yet he hasn’t said where he stands on the outcome of negotiations,” said Likud’s Danon. “I think the Israelis are waking up and they have understood that the idea is not valid anymore, and we see more and more Israelis shifting. We should not endorse any idea that we will give land to the Palestinians,” he said. Labor’s Bar, however, believes it is the very distrust between Israelis and Palestinians that makes segregating Israel into two separate states a necessity. Bar insists that if peace efforts had played out only slightly differently, the creation of an independent Pal-

estinian state in the West Bank provinces of Judea and Samaria could have resulted. “We had three major attempts to make peace,” said Bar. “One was Rabin, Arafat. The treaty was signed. But as we know, Rabin was shot down by a Jewish terrorist. There is no way to know what would have happened if Rabin were still alive.” The second attempt was between Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Arafat, according to Bar. During those negotiations, Barak offered Arafat more than 95 percent of the West Bank for a Palestinian state. Arafat famously rejected the offer, and embarrassed mediating U.S. President Bill Clinton in the process. “Arafat chose to die as a shahid (martyr), not as a peacemaker. That was his choice,” Bar said. In the third round, between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Abbas, “Both sides say that it was Olmert’s legal complications within Israel that prevented the negotiations from going all the way,” Bar said. While the three rounds of negotiations ultimately resulted in increasing distrust, intifadas, Israeli military operations, and a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, Bar suggested that Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiations may still deliver results. “This current Knesset has a very clear majority for the two-state solution. I think that more than 70 Knesset Members would vote for a two-state solution if brought for a vote,” Bar told “The status quo is unsustainable,” he said. Other Knesset members are not as optimistic that negotiations will cure decades of unrest. “Everytime you try a certain medicine and it doesn’t work, you need to either realize the medicine doesn’t work or reanalyze the disease,” said Deputy Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotevely (Likud).

How Jewish education can make us the ‘Choosing People’ By Simon Klarfeld/ I’ll never forget the words of my Hebrew school teacher: “While we may have once been the Chosen People, now we are the Choosing People.” This has been a guiding principle throughout all my years as an educator, one that has accompanied me from my tenure in the Soviet Jewry movement in the 1980s and early ’90s right up until my present-day position as the director of America’s oldest Zionist youth movement, Young Judaea. This time of the year is all about evaluating ourselves as the “Choosing People.” What choices have I made this past year, and did those choices impact the world I live in positively or negatively? As Jews, we must also ask ourselves what choices we’ve made as a community — in particular, what educational choices we have made and are offering to our community members. The sad fact is, when it comes to deciding the best way to impart Jewish values onto the next generation, the writing on the wall indicates that the choices we have made as a community have often been the wrong ones. Mass exoduses from Jewish institutions after the age of bar or bat mitzvah point to a disturbing issue — that outside our Orthodox communities, far too many decide that their Jewish learning is done, complete, at least from the perspective of formal education. The question is why. Too often throughout my career I have interviewed candidates for critically important educator positions, only to be met with blank faces when I ask them, “Why does being Jewish matter to the average American Jew anymore?” Ultimately, graduates of the American Jewish educational system come no closer to answering the question, why be Jewish? Our students should grow up believing that their Judaism has added value for the rest of their lives. It isn’t enough to guilt-trip children into being “good Jewish kids,” they want to know why. Oversimplification just doesn’t cut it anymore. Children — and especially tweens and teens — have a more nuanced understanding of the world; for them, things aren’t

as black and white as some educators might have you think. Children are far more ready to understand the grey areas than we give them credit for. For instance, we shouldn’t be afraid of introducing them to a discussion about G-d in a universe where bad things to happen to good people — to the G-d of the Book of Job and not only to the omnipotent, “longwhite-beard” G-d of Genesis fame. We must inspire them to question, to think critically and most of all to know how engage in a conversation that started 3,000 years ago and will continue — with their voices as part of that conversation — for thousands more. “Forming, norming, storming and performing” is a phrase we use in staff training coined to demonstrate the trajectory of the educational process. All too often, our formative years are hijacked by the educational system’s attempts to “normalize” us. But in experiential education, a stage called “Storming” happens that refers to the extraordinary events in a youth’s life that ultimately make the most impact and that lead to optimal “performing.” Sadly, many of today’s educators are afraid of the uncertainty of “storming,” seeing it as a rebellion or rejection of our community’s norms, and prefer instead to stick to a rigid curriculum. Yet our very name as a people, “Yisra-El,” is “to struggle.” What an amazingly empowering message with life-long resonance to teach our youth! In the arena of informal education (like summer camps and Israel trips), we often see the “Storming” phase unfold. This is because these environments are more likely to be punctuated with life-changing moments that have a personal impact on the participant. Back in the classroom, we need to allow for probing and inquiry, and not sweep the gray areas under the carpet. We need to make our children secure in their Judaism so that one day they’ll take pride in it. We do this by first injecting the inspiration and only then teaching the particulars — not the other way around. In order to be the “Choosing People,” the least our chil-

Peter van der Sluijs via Wikimedia Commons.

A bar mitzvah at the Western Wall. dren deserve is to be presented with real, compelling choices. Simon Klarfeld is the executive director of Young Judaea, America’s oldest Zionist youth movement.

THE JEWISH STAR September 20, 2013 • 16 TISHREY 5774


New guide to school safety ‘for the love of the Jewish people’ By Debra Rubin, It was the day after 26 people — 20 of them children — were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. An expert in security, Frank Storch, decided he had to take action. Storch began drafting a booklet aimed at keeping schools safe. He estimates that it took hundreds of hours to write the 44-page “Keep Your School Safe,” which includes checklists of safety and security protocols that ask school officials to score their facilities on a wide variety of security concerns. For example, the guide asks if lockdown procedures are in place in every classroom, whether all interior and exterior doors are designed to close automatically and securely

and if teachers are required to carry two-way radios when they’ve taken children outdoors. The book also includes a “Bomb Threat Response Checklist” — with suggested questions to ask the caller, such as “Where is the bomb?” and “What does it look like?” — and urges the school to distribute a questionnaire to all staff members to assess how they view the school’s safety procedures. In addition, it provides a list of websites for resources such as the Department of Homeland Security and Community Security Service. Earlier this year, Storch — through the Baltimore-based nonprofits Project Ezra, which he founded, and the Chesed Fund, which he created with his wife, Danielle Sarah — distributed 9,000 booklets to Jewish

day schools, synagogue schools and community centers nationally. An additional 1,000 booklets were mailed to Jewish camps. He estimates the cost at $60,000 to $70,000. The booklet also is available online at http:// Storch says he made the booklet “just purely for the love of the Jewish people.” “We have to protect the community,” he says. Storch also undertook the project so that school officials could have something simple to follow with numerous measures that are not costly. For example, it provides a sheet to be completed with emergency contact information ranging from the local police department to the alarm and security company.

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“The goal is to make people aware of areas they can work on and improve on them,” he says. “We’re giving them the easy tools for people to look at and be able to grade themselves.” The Anti-Defamation League, which distributes its own safety guidelines, praised the booklet. “We think it’s a useful resource and a welcome complement to our materials,” says Elise Jarvis, the ADL’s associate director of law enforcement outreach and communal security. Storch, a security consultant and coordinator for the Northern Park Heights Community Emergency Response Team in Baltimore, sought guidance from members of law enforcement agencies and SWAT teams, as well as U.S. and Israeli security and school professionals. “They gave us a little bit of feedback,” he says. In a statement, the Jewish Federations of North America’s Secure Community Network, which consults with the Department of Homeland Security, calls the booklet “yet another excellent tool to equip our community leaders and those of you whom are responsible for securing our children, with the knowledge to better understand the risks, threats and vulnerabilities we all face and be empowered, to effect change, and to implement a true culture of security within our schools and institutions.” Cheryl Hersh, head of school at the Austin Jewish Academy (AJA) in Texas, says her initial reaction to “Keep Your School Safe” was relief that she’s not in charge of security, since AJA is part of a larger complex of Jewish organizations with a security team in place. Hersh is also impressed with how userfriendly the booklet is. “A lot of our crisis management stuff is not in a format that’s accessible,” Hersh says. This book “is a great reference” and useful tool for continued review for teachers and staff, she says. Storch is making minor revisions to the guide, published in memory of both the Sandy Hook victims and the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, so that it can be sent to public and non-Jewish private school. “We want to make everyone aware there are things you can do and improve on without having to hire a company and spend a lot of money they don’t have,” he says.

November 10, 2013


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September 20, 2013 • 16 TISHREY 5774 THE JEWISH STAR


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THE JEWISH STAR September 20, 2013 • 16 TISHREY 5774


Sweet Sukkot memories words “harachaman who yakim lanu et sukat david hanofelet” (may Hashem restablish David’s fallen sukkah). We say those words as we are sitting in an actual sukkah, reflecting back on our memories of our dads who are no longer able to share the chag with us in our sukkah today. One poignant memory Jerry has is of the last year he shared sukkot with his parents. Jerry mistakenly said “chag hamazot” instead of “chag hasukot.” Even though his dad had not spoken a word in the past year, he looked at Jerry and said, “chag hasukot.” Those were the last words he ever uttered. Some feelings are too beautiful and profound to express in words. Hopefully, I did this indelible memory justice. Now back to the kitchen and start your engines … um, ovens… Enjoy this recipe as a side dish or add some grilled chicken to it and serve it as an appetizer.

Stuffed Mini Pumpkins Serves 12 12 mini pumpkins uniform in size

Mini pumpkins stuffed with quinoa make a tasty side dish or, with grilled chicken added, an excellent appetizer for the Sukkot meal. 2 cups Ancient Harvest Quinoa (pre washed, no rinsing is needed) 4 cups water 2 packets G Washington’s Golden Seasoning and Broth (can be found at Gourmet Glatt) ¼ tsp black pepper 1/6 C. craisins 4 Tbs strained sautéed onions (optional) 3 boneless chicken breasts broiled to your liking and cut into small pieces. If you are serving the pumpkins as a side dish instead of an appetizer you can omit the chicken. I’ve made it both ways, works well either way. Directions Slice the tops off of the pumpkins, carefully, with a sharp paring knife. Scoop out the seeds and place on a half sheet pan. Spray the insides with Pam and bake at 400

degrees for about 40 minutes or until tender, do not over bake. While pumpkins are baking, combine quinoa, craisins, pepper, seasoning packet and water in a pot and bring to a boil, then let simmer for 10-15 until all water is absorbed and quinoa is translucent. Let cool and add the onions. Spoon the quinoa mixture into the pumpkins. If you are using the chicken, mix the small chicken pieces into the quinoa right before spooning mixture into the pumpkins. This dish can be made up to two days before serving, When re-heating, do so on a low temperature, just till warmed through. Judy Joszef is a pastry and personal chef as well as a party planner. She can be reached at


Continued from page 1 buy that house for us.” He went as far as telling the owner the same thing. Years later, when he had established himself as owner of a successful pocketbook factory, he stayed true to his word and went back to the owner of the house of his dreams. In true Joszef fashion, he excitedly said, “I can afford to buy the house now, I’ll give you whatever you want for it.” Yes, the apple doesn’t fall from the tree. I always have to explain to Jerry, that he should never tell the seller that he loves something and has to have it, then there is no bargaining power. In fact, whenever there is a contractor of any kind at my house, whether landscaper, painter or builder, he is forbidden to speak. Jerry and his family did indeed move into the house on Avenue N and shared many wonderful sukkot together. His dad, not handy at all in the house, prided himself on building and decorating the sukkah, and each year dreamed up a new way to keep it waterproof — but as we all know, that’s not really possible, or is it? On Sukkot, when benching, we add the


September 20, 2013 • 16 TISHREY 5774 THE JEWISH STAR




ukkot is the Jewish calendar’s season of joy. This is true on many levels. Spiritually, we have emerged from Yom Kippur newly unburdened of our sins. Materially, the overflowing granaries attest to a successfully concluded growing season. And nationally, the pilgrimage to Jerusalem brings together all the diverse communities to reaffirm their deKOSHER votion to One G-d and BOOKWORM one destiny. With spirited anticipation, the throngs of Jews proceed to the Beis HaMikdash (Temple), to bask in the aura of the Shechinah (Presence of G-d) that rests at the center of the world.” With this quote from the latest volume of the “Encyclopedia of the Alan Jay Gerber Taryag Mitzvoth” as prologue, this week’s essay will be devoted to brief citation of several literary works themed to both the upcoming holidays, some observations on the contemporary religious scene, and some new English translations of the Torah readings of Genesis. Maggid Books recently published an anthology entitled, “Hilkhot Mo’adim: Understanding The Laws of the Festivals,” a compilation of halacha (laws) dealing with some of the most important facets of holiday observance. With Sukkot upon us, it is worthy to note that this work by Rabbi David Brofsky of Jerusalem’s Midreshet Lindenbaum deals in


great detail with the building of the sukkah — its dimensions, walls, sekhakh, as well as the laws detailing the sukkah’s use for meals and habitation. Also dealt with are the practical laws concerning lulav and etrog, the arava, and Hoshana Rabba observance. This section emds with a detailed survey of the observances of Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah that conclude this holiday season. Rabbi Brofsky’s method in dealing with the evolution of the laws of observance is unique: he discusses the many debates of Jewish law from Talmudic times to current modern Orthodox poskim such as Rav Aharon Lichtenstein and Rav Yosef Soloveitchik, of blessed memory. Also to be noted is the latest Yeshiva University publication of “Torah TO-GO” for Sukkot 5774 with essays by Rabbi Hayyim Angel, Rabbi Daniel Feldman and Marjorie Glatt, among others, who all skillful apply holiday themes and observance to Bible commentary, history and practical halachah. The recent publication of “Conversations” [issue 17, autumn 2013], is themed to “Orthodoxy: Soul Searching,” with 15 essays on such varied themes dealing with modern orthodoxy and its social impact and relevance, theology and ethics, racism and chosenness, and the re-imagining of the orthodox synagogue and relevant gender issues. Of note is the lead article by Rabbi Marc Angel entitled, “Re-imagining Orthodox.” Consider the following observation: “There is a feeling among a significant segment of Orthodoxy that the gedolim, great rabbinic sages, are the only ones authorized to propound the ‘true’ views of Torah. Only they have full access to Daas Torah (Torah knowledge). Yet, the only ones who qualify to be in


the ranks of the Gedolim are those who pretty much subscribe to the dominant right-wing Orthodox worldview.” Further on Rabbi Angel continues with the following rather sharp opinion: “This tendency leads to authoritarianism, conformity and passivity. It promotes narrow and obscurantist views as being the sole legitimate views of Orthodox Jews. This is a vast disservice to Orthodoxy in general, and a particular disservice to thinking Jews who seek to live a Torah life without turning off their own brains.” The balance of this essay further elaborates on this theme with citations from many sources that should be familiar with most of our readers. While one may or may not agree with Rabbi Angel, his views are surely worth your attention and serious consideration. But, there is more to his teaching. Just consider his recent words concerning the Sukkot holiday: “Sukkot is a festival tuned in to the issue of life’s transience. The sukkah is a temporary structure, reminiscent of the wanderings of the Israelites in the wilderness in ancient times. It doesn’t have a roof, reminding us that we are subject to the vicissitudes of nature. The lulov, etrog, aravot and hadasim remind us of the harvest, of the recurring cycles of nature, the cycles of birth, growth, decline and death.… While Sukkot highlights the transience of life, it also turns our thoughts to the Eternal G-d who is not transient.” [“Transience and Permanence: Thoughts for Sukkot,” Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals, 5774]. These are surely teachings that bring to us an everyday reality that should indeed give us all pause.

FOR FURTHER STUDY With this year’s Torah reading cycle just about to come to its annual conclusion please take note of the recent publication of the following excellent works. First listed here is the recent translation of the Kli Yakar on Genesis, volume one by Dr. Elihu Levine, published by Menucha Publishers with an eloquent introduction by Rabbi Berl Wein. Next we have an anthology of the writings and teachings on Genesis by Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik entitled, “Chumash Mesoras Harav: Sefer Bereishis” compiled by Dr. Arnold Lustiger with a beautiful foreword by Rabbi Menachem Genack. Dr. Lustiger was the compiler of the Koren Siddur with the Rav’s commentary, and this work follows in train the excellent research and scholarship that is the signature of Dr. Lustiger’s legacy. Also, please note that Rabbi David Etengoff of Cedarhurst has established a specific link from his archive of 13 of the Rav’s English shiurim on Sukkot, lulav, Hoshanah Rabbah and related matters at p38u3jx. Utilize this excellent site in preparation for your holiday Torah learning. Lastly, but no less important, once again the Sh’or Yoshuv Institute of Lawrence has published an excellent booklet entitled, “The Commentators’ Sukkos/Simchas Torah reader” written by one our generation’s great scholars and Gedolim, HaRav Yitzchok Sender, shlita. Within this 32 page booklet are 29 Divrei Torah themed to help enhance your appreciation of the Sukkot observance. Though brief, as is Rav Sender’s style, they each serve to eloquently help to give our appreciation of this season of joy both a smile on our faces








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THE JEWISH STAR September 20, 2013 • 16 TISHREY 5774

It’s Sukkot … time for our New Year literary roundup

September 20, 2013 • 16 TISHREY 5774 THE JEWISH STAR


Holiday warning! Beware of carbon monoxide hazards, odorless killer By Malka Eisenberg A local synagogue has issued a warning to be aware of potential carbon monoxide hazards when leaving a flame lit without proper ventilation over the three day Yom Tov (holiday). An email from the Agudah of the Five Towns noted that a member awoke to the shrill alarm of his carbon monoxide detector and cleared everyone out of the house and called the fire department. The fire department explained that leaving a flame on for a long period of time with inadequate ventilation led to the buildup of dangerous levels of carbon monoxide gas. The poster of the email said that he had heard of many calls

to the fire department for carbon monoxide. It is best not to leave a flame burning but if it is necessary either keep a vent or fan on to the outside or keep a window open to prevent the build up of carbon monoxide. It is also vitally important to have a carbon monoxide detector, tested and maintained, as well as a smoke detector. The Young Israel of Woodmere conveyed the following information from the Woodmere Fire Department: Carbon Monoxide Both Sukkot and Shmini Atzeret fall on Thursday and Friday followed by Shabbat. That means that on two occasions there are three consecutive days that people might

leave their stoves on. You should be aware that leaving the oven or stovetop on for three days could cause a buildup of Carbon Monoxide in your home. The best solution for this is to leave the kitchen window slightly open for ventilation purposes. Once you do this, you must keep an eye on the flame to insure that it does not go out. The best alternatives to this are warming trays or a warming cabinet. These items can be left on a timer and are used to warm food. When warming food, if you are using a second tin with water, please make sure that there is an adequate amount of liquid in the second pan. This will prevent the burning of

the food and of the pan that the food is in. Every home should have working Carbon Monoxide detectors! Yom Tov and Shabbos candles During the Yom Tov of Sukkot, we light candles in the Sukkah. This can become problematic depending on weather conditions. If it happens to be particularly windy outside, there can be an issue with the candles being knocked over and starting a fire. Please be aware of your surroundings and take the necessary precautions. If there are any issues, please do not hesitate to call the Woodmere Fire Department at 516-821-3600, or for any emergency call 516-374-2000 or 911.

Still clowning after 10 years Sukkah City, the movie, NYC Continued from page 1 hospitals, pediatric facilities, nursing homes and assisted living facilities.” Goldberg pointed out that the costume is part of their training. “The professional faculty guides them based on their character,” Goldberg explained. “It’s soft-based clowning and makeup. The imagery is transparent.” “Lev Leytzan’s visits are not performance based,” noted Gordon. Goldberg concurred. “It’s interactive based,” he added. “They are engaging with medically frail human beings in a way that’s interactive and therapeutic to the family and patient, nurses, doctors and associated care givers.” “It’s simple yet complex,” Goldberg continued. “It’s based on an improvisational model. One never knows what to expect. Their role is to transform the environment into something positive. It’s a real world situation. That’s why there is so much energy and time spent on training; they’re not doing birthday parties. “Our medical clowns would not see two rooms alike. In one room they have to distract a child when an IV is being put in. In another room someone had a baby and received sad news. It’s not predictable. There are interventions, individually assessed and addressed.” Before the medical clowns enter the patients’ rooms the patients are somewhat educated as to what to expect, said Goldberg “We deal with that in a very skilled and compassionate way.” Upon completion of the comprehensive training, the clown trainee is invited to join their professional medical clown troupe. Lev Leytzan clowns visit a variety of facilities including South Nassau Communities Hospital, Mercy Medical Center, Saint Mary’s Hospital for Children and Winthrop-University Hospital. The organization started in 2004. “I had been working in private practice with children and adults challenged with issues such as grief, trauma and sexual abuse,” said Goldberg, who has a background in clinical psychology and musical theater. He was trained as a medical clown as well and trained further with Cirque du Monde, the social action branch of Cirque du Soleil around the time of founding the organization. He said that they use circus to foster youth identity development. The creation of Lev Leytzan was a way to unite his two interests, he said. As such he created an organization that “fosters youth and adult creative and expressive development while at the same time contributing to the betterment of lives of folks challenged with illness. “This culminated with co-authoring a book around that time, ‘Saying Goodbye,’

Becca B., a Lev Leytzaner clown, assisting in the ElderHearts program. whose main focus was on teaching teenagers and their families about death and aveilus (mourning). After writing a chapter addressing the question of what can we do to memorialize and create a legacy for one who died,” explained Goldberg, he wanted to find a way to “bring joy and happiness while alive and channel creativity and engage people in meaningful ways in places that are not fun or funny.” “It has a profound impact on folks suffering from illness,” added Gordon. The new project gearing up for the 10th anniversary, Clowns on Rounds, will be starting “immediately after Yom Tov” said Gordon. “It steers what we do right back into the Five Towns and Far Rockaway community.” The clowns will be working with physicians in the area, getting referrals from doctors and bikur cholim (visiting the sick) organizations to visit patients who are stuck at home post surgery, children and the elderly homebound. “It’s for a one-on-one intervention. This project will be staffed by Lev Leytzan’s professional medical clowns. The ground work has been done and it is set to kick off next month.” Goldberg estimated that Lev Leytzan has created 500 clowns. The recruitment drive is open to up to 35 male and 35 female medical clown trainees. The training sessions are held separately for girls and for boys. A percentage of the cost is covered by donations and part by tuition. It is a lifetime project, he said, not just an after school activity. The clowns visit local health facilities and also travel to work with patients in Europe and Israel. For more information contact Dr. Neal Goldberg at 516-612-3264.

Continued from page 1 tially and spiritually — for those who put one up every year, and for those who don’t. And many of the people who visited the exhibition found these structures and the event inspiring.” He said that he lives in a second floor apartment and has no space to build a sukkah. Overall, the viewer witnesses a creative process and the intellectual acceptance of the Torah guidelines for the task at hand, the building of a Jewish legally mandated temporary structure accomplished annually by Jews over the millennia. In secular circles and in non-Jewish circles in areas with little or no Jewish connection, the holiday of Sukkot is hardly known and certainly not acknowledged. Watching secular Jews and non-Jews seriously contemplating and striving to tackle the concepts and realities of this commandment and doing so in a very public forum appears to be a Kiddush Hashem (sanctification of G-d’s name). Hutt continues: “What I love about Judaism, and why I think it remains vibrant after thousands of years, is that it has the strength and flexibility for interpretation and re-interpretation. From generation to generation, the tradition allows Jews to discover meanings for themselves through life experience

and intellectual investigation and it resonates in different ways, at different times, for different people. “Joshua Foer realized that there was tremendous creative potential in the sukkah and believed that a competition and exhibition could breathe new life into the structure and spark renewed interest in the holiday and the meanings surrounding it. And for me, the project promised to be an innovative and original undertaking and therefore an exciting documentary film. “In a sense, the film provides audiences with a more comprehensive understanding of “Sukkah City” than the exhibition did — the architects share the stories behind their designs, the audience sees how and why the winning structures were chosen; as well as the labor that went into their construction. “I greatly enjoyed making this film and my hope is that audiences will feel inspired, excited and energized by the creative process of the architects; the vision and ambition of the project’s planners, and the singularity of this moment in contemporary American Jewish life.” The film will be shown Sept. 22, 7 pm, at Union Square-North Plaza. For more information go to

Making Yom Kippur real on Sukkot Continued from page 5 was before we sinned. When Adam and Eve were first created, Hashem placed them (us) in the Garden of Eden which was the world as it could be. However, due to our inevitable mistakes, we were forced to leave the Garden of Eden and venture out into the world as it had become: a world more distant from G-d. And ever since that time, we are attempting to perfect this world and rectify our mistakes to recapture the world as it could be: the world of the Garden of Eden. Yom Kippur is when we attempt to turn back the clock and become the person we were meant to be before the mistakes we have made. Hence Yom Kippur falls on the anniversary of the day when the Jews were given the second set of tablets (presented after the first tablets were destroyed in the debacle of the Golden Calf when the first tablets were destroyed) because it is the day when we are given the opportunity to go back to the way life could be. But if Yom Kippur remains just one special day, when we let go of the world and come close to Hashem, then we have missed the point. The real challenge of the sukkah is

whether we can bring a little bit of Yom Kippur with us back into the world. We see a physical world of natural order where materialism rules and the bigger house means the better man. So we spend a week in the sukkah to remind us that all we own and all the things we think we have are really an illusion; reality is the world of the Garden of Eden; the world of ethics and love, of closeness to Hashem and Torah. This then is perhaps the nature of our celebration of the festival of Sukkot. When we sit in the sukkah, immediately after the experience of Yom Kippur, we are embracing the idea that what we have is not who we are, and we attempt to make the lessons of Yom Kippur real in the grind and routine of the every day. And if two Jews can disconnect from the nightmare illusion all around them, and succeed in connecting to reality, even in Auschwitz, then perhaps we can tap into a small fraction of that strength to do the same in our every day as well. May we be blessed to succeed in taking a little bit of Yom Kippur with us on our journey this year. Wishing you all a Chag Sameach, a joyfilled holiday of Sukkot, Binny Freedman



eviticus 23:40: “On the first day, you must take for yourself a fruit of the citron tree, an unopened palm frond, myrtle branches, and willows [that grow near] the brook. You shall rejoice before G-d for seven days.” This translation PARSHA OF is taken from Rabbi THE WEEK Aryeh Kaplan’s “Living Torah,” where he has the following footnotes sourcing the definitions of the branches and fruit in question. “Citron tree (Targum; Saadia). Hadar in Hebrew, usually referred to as etrog. “Unopened palm frond (Sukkah 32a; Rabbi Avi Billet Rashi). “Myrtle branches (cf. Sukkah 32b; Rashi). The practice is to place three such branches in the bunch. “Willows. (cf. Sukkah 34a). Two are placed in the bunch, together with the palm frond and myrtle.” The curiosity that pervades these days, the kind that overrides the “Bible states, therefore it is” explanation, may cause people to wonder, “Why these specific items?

What, if anything, is ‘special’ about them?” The Sefer HaManhig explains that the etrog (citron) resembles a heart (in shape), and comes to bring atonement for the (sinful) thoughts of the heart. The hadas (myrtle) resembles eyes (in shape) to atone for (sins) of probing eyes. These two follow the verse, “You will then not stray after your heart and eyes…” (Bamidbar 15:39). The aravah (willow) resembles the lips, to atone for sins that come from utterances of the lips. And why the lulav (palm frond)? Just as the lulav has only one heart (this is a play on the word lulav – which can be read in Hebrew as “Lo Lev” – it has a heart of palm!), so, too, Israel has only one heart, which is directed towards its Father in heaven. It would seem that the four species are heavily symbolic in that they help us achieve atonement that may have escaped our Yom Kippur efforts. This revelation would indicate that those who poke others with their Lulav, or who shake the Lulav set in a manner similar to a Jedi light-sabre, are missing the point of the mitzvah. Even for those who don’t care so much for the “shape of item resembles a body-part” approach, there are textual suggestions that make these items even more compelling. In Vayikra Rabba 30:9, in a statement sometimes accredited to Rabbi Akiva, the

Midrash demonstrates how each of the Children of Israel are described in the ToFour Species is a reference to the Almighty. rah as G-d’s children (Devarim 14:1), the The Pri Etz Hadar (etrog) refers to G-d, as it contrasted ruling to that of the king is that says, “You (G-d) are clothed in majesty and if a father forgives his honor, he is granted that allowance, and his children can make splendor (hadar).” (Tehillim 104:1) use of his property. The Kapot T’marim Some of the older (lulav) refers to G-d, as it says, “The righteous flour- Some recall a time when members of our People recall a time when very ish like a date palm (tamfew individuals, or perar).” (Tehillim 92:13) The very few individuals, or haps only the rabbi, had Anaf Etz Avot (hadasim) a set of the Four Species. refer to G-d, as it says, perhaps only the rabbi, We are grateful to live in “And He was standing had a set of the Four a time when not only among the myrtles (hadasim).” (Zechariah 1:8) Species. We are grateful are the Four Species available all around the [This reference is to the to live in a time when world, but most Jews vision of an angel.] And can afford their own set. Arvei Nachal (aravot) re- not only are the Four As the holiday of fer to G-d, as it says, “With Sukkot comes upon us, His name [as identified in Species available all and we undertake the the verse], acclaim the around the world, but mitzvah of the Four One who rides the aravot Species, let us express [the highest firmament of most Jews can afford our gratitude for the the heavens].” fortuitous circumstance By all rights, argues their own set. that allows for the widethe Chid”a, we should not be allowed to use these items. These are G- spread observance of this mitzvah. Let us d’s belongings — the lulav is comparable to also appreciate the hidden depth in the G-d’s scepter! Even were the king to allow mitzvah, as we are given the chance to get his subjects to minimize his honor, the Tal- closer to G-d through holding and waving mud states in numerous places that he is ig- the items that are Biblically connected directly to Him. nored. His honor is not his own to discard. However, explains the Chid”a, since the

‘Kaddish, Women’s Voices’: Modern Orthodox struggle with modernity By Rabbi Jack Riemer/ Rabbi Norman Lamm once said that when modernity fights with the liberal movements in Judaism, it is not a fair fight because modernity always win, and that when modernity fights with the right wing of Orthodoxy, it is not a fair fight because the right wing always wins. “Kaddish, Women’s Voices” is a book in which modernity fights with modern Orthodoxy, and the results are fascinating. Fifty-two women write their accounts of what it was like for them to say the Kaddish prayer for their deceased loved ones in the daily minyanim of modern Orthodox synagogues. Two emotions wrestle within these women. One is anger. They were not feminists, and they were not asking for the removal of the mechitza or for the right to lead services. They were only looking for minimal respect for their right to be there and minimal courtesy for their sincere religious yearnings, but they report that in many places they did not receive either. They tell of places where men walked out when they said Kaddish, where the tzedaka box was never carried over to their section, and where they were made to feel unwanted and invisible. They tell what it felt like when the lights were lit in the men’s section, and no one remembered or bothered to light them in the women’s section as well. But anger is not the only, or even the most important, emotion in this book. These women describe, as many men have, the powerful spiritual effect that saying Kaddish every day had on them. One woman writes, “Even as I hit upon its limits, I clung to the dependable rhythms of the daily service, to its ancient roots, and to its potential as an outlet for the grief running through me.” Another writes, “I count the experience of saying Kaddish as among the highest privileges of my life. I entered a world and emerged a different person.” Saying Kaddish “gave me the time to reconnect with God after losing my husband, and it gave me the strength to continue my life without him,” ac-

cording to one woman. Another woman writes, “Saying Kaddish changed who I was, and perhaps more importantly, who I wanted to be.” And so the testimonies go on. Woman after woman writes about how the experience of saying Kaddish transformed her and inspired her, how it healed her feelings of estrangement from the one she had lost, and how it brought her closer to God and to the Jewish community. Several of them pay tribute to the rabbis who welcomed them, who were kind enough to announce the pages for their sakes, and who made them feel at home by looking over to their section once in a while when they spoke. And the book ends with two beautiful essays by men: one by Rabbi Marc Dratch, who shows how the halachah permits women to say Kaddish, and one by Rabbi Avi Weiss, who tells how his synagogue architecture and his members’ behavior are both designed to give women the respect that they deserve. This is an important book for non-Orthodox Jews to read, for it demonstrates how the stereotype that all Orthodox Jews are intolerant and dismissive of women’s rights is simply not true. And it is an important book for Orthodox Jews to read as well, for it demonstrates that in the struggle between modernity and Orthodoxy, both sides have much to learn from each other. For mourners, and for all Jews who seek to find spiritual strength in their time of loss, this is also an important book. Anyone who reads it will come away with a new appreciation of the power of daily prayer to heal bruised hearts and to give new spirit in time of loss, and with a new appreciation for the way in which modern Orthodox Jews are striving to balance their commitment to tradition with their understanding of the spiritual needs of the women in their midst. “Kaddish, Women’s Voices,” edited by Michal Smart and Barbara Ashkenas, Urim Publications, Jerusalem and New York, 2013, 270 pages, $27.95.

Feds set rules for carrying Sukkot produce Transportation Safety Administration TSA screening procedures do not prohibit the carrying of the four plants used during Sukkot — a palm branch, myrtle twigs, willow twigs, and a citron — in airports, through security checkpoints, or on airplanes. These plants or agricultural items are not on TSA’s Prohibited Items List. However, all persons and property will undergo security screening at the checkpoint. Travelers concerned about checkpoint screening may ask a checkpoint officer or supervisor for a Passenger Support Specialist who will provide on-the-spot assistance or may call ahead to 855-787-2227. Addressing health concerns raised by the possible presence of pests and other agricultural diseases on the arba minim, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) provided the following Guidance: CBP understands that observant Jewish travelers entering the United States during the Sukkot holiday might carry religious items (ethrogs, palm fronds, twigs of willow and myrtle) in their vehicles if arriving at land border ports of entry, or in their personal baggage if they are arriving by aircraft. These items are regulated to prevent the introduction of invasive pests and diseases; however, these items might be allowed into the United States [through North Atlantic and Northern Pacific ports of entry] after inspection by CBP Agriculture Specialists. Thus, the following guidance is

provided for travelers: Ethrogs: Travelers will be asked to open the container with the ethrog and unwrap it. The agriculture specialist will inspect the ethrog. If either insect stings or pests are found, the ethrog will be prohibited from entering the United States. If neither is found, the traveler will be allowed to rewrap and re-box the ethrog for entry into the United States. Palm Fronds: Single palm fronds, for religious purposes, will be inspected by agriculture specialists and released if no pests or symptoms of disease are found. Twigs of Willow: If the twigs of willow are from Europe, they will be prohibited from entering the United States. If they are from other than Europe, they will be inspected by agriculture specialists and released if no pests or symptoms of disease are found. Also, if the twigs of willow are green in color, have soft tissue present, or have buds that sprouted, then they are capable of being grown and are prohibited from entering the United States. Twigs of Myrtle: Twigs of myrtle will be inspected by agriculture specialists and released if no pests or symptoms of disease are found. If travelers have any concerns resulting from the inspection of their religious items at a port of entry, a CBP supervisor is always available to answer questions and address their concerns.

THE JEWISH STAR September 20, 2013 • 16 TISHREY 5774

G-d’s Four Species

Your lulav and etrog can outlive Sukkot By Binyamin Kagedan, By now, you’ve likely acquired the famous Four Species. Given the state of the economy these days, it’s painful to buy anything that you can only use once. Why not stretch the value of your lulav and etrog with a little creative repurposing post-festival? When they can be shaken and blessed no more, try one or all of these suggestions for getting the most out of your four species.

Lulav The lulav bundle, including the palm fronds after which it is named, twigs of myrtle (hadasim), and willow branches (aravot), has customarily been put aside after the Sukkot holiday and saved until Passover time. Having by then dried out, they are used to fuel the fire that burns the chametz found during the final cleaning of home, or as kindling in a wood-fire oven being used to bake matzah. Some also have the tradition of using the dried lulav palm as a broom to sweep up those last bits of hidden chametz. These ritual uses are considered a respectful way to dispose of the lulav, which has the status of a sacred object in Jewish law. For something new this year, consider nourishing your creative side by exploring the art of palm weaving. The individual leaves of the lulav can be twisted and braided into variety of beautiful patterns, or folded into shapes like origami. recommends weaving palm leaves into a basket that can be used to hold spices for havdalah.

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Check the Web for helpful instructions and inspiration—there are a number of websites devoted to the craft, which is also a popular Easter activity. As for the hadasim, while still fresh they have a sweet and delicate fragrance, and can also be used for havdalah purposes. The oil of myrtle plants is known to have a variety of medicinal properties, although extracting it is not exactly a DIY project. Aravot, which tend to dry and fall apart rather quickly, don’t lend themselves as well as hadasim to repurposing. Those who observe Hoshanah Rabah towards the end of Sukkot, however, will be familiar with the custom of whacking bundles of aravot against the ground.

Etrog The etrog (citron), the most aromatic of the Four Species and the only edible one, offers the most possibilities for efficient and enjoyable repurposing. One familiar strategy is to push whole cloves into the fresh etrog’s peel, filling up as much surface area as possible. The etrog will eventually dry out and shrivel up, but the cloves, now held in place in the shape of the fruit, retain their delectable scent and can be used for years to come as b’samim for havdalah. Etrogim can also be boiled and turned into jelly, sliced and candied for a tangy dessert, or steeped in vodka for a citron liqueur. You can find a post on the blog Shivimpanim. org containing simple step-by-step instructions for each of these preparations.




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September 20, 2013 • 16 TISHREY 5774 THE JEWISH STAR


September 20, 2013  

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