Wells Fargo Policies Call Israel an ‘Unauthorized Country’

“Israel is not an authorized country?  Are you guys getting confused with Syria, Korea, maybe Venezuela?  Why would Israel not be an authorized country?”

“Can I speak with a service representative?”

“Good morning.  I’m Keith, how can I help you today?”

“Keith, it seems my bank account has been restricted.  Can you find out what is wrong?”

“Can you give me your name, date of birth and account number so I can verify your account?”


“Mrs. Hirsch, I’m sorry, I see your bank account has been closed.”

“WHAT?  What do you mean my bank account is closed?  I have lots of money in that account.  Why?”

“I am sorry Mrs. Hirsch. I’m sure it is stressful.  Apparently, you don’t live in the United States.”

“That is right.”

“And I see you reside in Israel.  Is that correct?”


“Apparently Israel is not an authorized country.”

“Israel is not an authorized country?  Are you guys getting confused with Syria, Korea, maybe Venezuela?  Why would Israel not be an authorized country?”

“Mrs. Hirsh, I really don’t know. You will need to transfer your account to another bank.  We will wire your money to anyplace you tell us.”

“Do you mean to tell me although I have been with Wells Fargo bank for the last ten years, I can no longer use my bank account because I live in Israel? Did I mention that I am an American citizen?”

“I’m sorry Mrs. Hirsch, but Wells Fargo’s policy does not consider Israel an authorized country and we can no longer have you as our client.”

“Israel?  What does the bank have against Israel?  Do you know that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East? Do you realize Israel’s start-up companies exceed almost any place in the world?  Just a few weeks ago, Soda Stream was sold to Pepsi for 3.2 billion dollars. Why would your company not want to have anything to do with Israel?”

“I’m sorry Mrs. Hirsch, I don’t know why there is any policy, but I do know your account is closed and can not be used anymore?”

“But what about my money?”

“When you have a place we can wire the money so we will open the restrictions. Or you can come into a local bank and get an authorized check.”

“You do realize that I live in Israel, how am I supposed to get a check from you?”

“I’m sorry Mrs. Hirsch.  We can wire it to another bank but only in a limited time.”

“Do you know President Trump’ came to Israel and does not think it is an unauthorized country? I mean why would your bank find problems with the citizens of Israel who are also Americans?  Wells Fargo has been found stealing millions of dollars from their customers and now they are refusing business with citizens of the only Jewish country in the world?  I am a journalist and I plan on telling your Jewish clients of your policy.”

“I will check into it.  Can you hold on Mrs. Hirsch?   (After ten long minutes) Thank you for your patience. Mrs. Hirsch, it seems I have made a mistake. We actually have a policy that anyone outside of the United States for more than six months can no longer hold an account with us. It has nothing to do with Israel.”

“Is that interesting that suddenly it isn’t because of Israel but a six-month policy?  Where is that written?”

“Hold on, I will try to find it.  (Another five minutes.)  Thank you, Mrs. Hirsch. I can’t find it on our forms or online policy, but I can assure you that is the reason, anyone outside more than six months can no longer have an account with us.”

“ What happens to Americans who study abroad? Did you know, nationally, the number of U.S. students studying abroad for credit during the 2015-2016 academic year grew 3.8 percent from 313,415 students to 325,339 students? This represents just over 1.6 percent of all U.S. students enrolled at institutions of higher education in the United States and about 10 percent of U.S. graduates attend school outside of the United States.  Keith all those students, none of them have accounts with Wells Fargo?  What about military personnel, government officials?  Six months – that is not an exceptional amount of time to suddenly have your bank account taken away.  You must be closing bank accounts at a rapid rate.”

“No, Mrs. Hirsch, actually it happens very rarely.”

“Listen, Keith, you have been very kind, but they are lying to you. This is not the first time I have been told by Wells Fargo that Israel is an unwanted country or whatever term they used.  Wells Fargo’s policy is against Israel and they have told me this before quite clearly.  Honestly, I just wanted to make sure I got the exact wording.  Now it seems they are embarrassed and realize how that may sound to their clients. And they are making you lie about this six-month policy.  I will be reporting that Wells Fargo is not only is a proven thief (have stolen millions of dollars from their customers) but they are anti-Semitic and anti-Israel as well.   I would suggest people should move their money out of your company as quick as possible.”

“Mrs. Hirsch have a nice day.”

A true account, names have been changed.

My Nineteen-Year-Old’s Bas Mitzvah

“give her a party, and call it a bas mitzvah”.

For all my older daughters we celebrated their bas mitzvot with our entire family at a restaurant. That actually did not include too many people since we didn’t have too much family in Israel. We would ask two of the celebrant’s best friends to join us as well.  When we came to my youngest daughter, we honestly hadn’t offered the same ‘luxury’.  Not because thank G-d our numbers had grown, I invited everyone anyway to our house for a nice meal. My eldest daughter’s bas mitzvah had only consisted of eight people, while my youngest event had almost thirty (besides our family had grown, cousins had joined us in the Holy Land.  It wasn’t because we decided to tone down or find a way to make it cheaper.  She is born on Erev Yom Kipper.

Every year and especially ever since her bas mitzvah, she has complained that she has never had a ‘real’ birthday party.

I always answer, “Who are you kidding?  You get the best.  Everyone comes, sits down in the middle of the day, and have a large fancy meal on your birthday.  We don’t do that for anyone else.”

She somehow is not too impressed with my logic.  In reality, we really are pretty bad on birthdays.  If we remember we might bring out some ice cream and invite the celebrant and as many family members who can be present on the given day.  More likely, we might remember the following Shabbos and sing a round of ‘Happy Birthday’ to acknowledge the occasion.

She, however, feels not only is she gipped out of her private special greetings, she also has to follow her ‘big’ event with a fast. She complained year after year how she never had a ‘bas mitzvah party’.

My eldest daughter offered advice, “give her a party, and call it a bas mitzvah”.

“Seriously, that will appease her?” I asked.


So, that is what we did.  On the first day, we could gather as many family members as possible during bene hazaminim, we offered barbeque in the beautiful Judean hills (near our home) to honor my almost nineteen-year old’s bas mitzvah.  This in spite of the fact that my eldest granddaughter’s bas mitzvah was in two weeks, or that day was my grandson’s birthday and my daughter’s wedding anniversary. We only celebrated my daughter’s bas mitzvah.

The grandchildren and her siblings brought gifts. The grandchildren had made their own gifts; jewelry box, picture with a decorated frame of the celebrant when she was two-years-old, among other things.  From our new daughter-in-law a purse filled with fun items inside. We talked about the women she was named for and their influence on her and goals. We ate a lot of hot dogs, chicken wings, chicken fillets, as well as some meaty hamburgers. We sang her “Happy Bas Mitzvah” all out of tune. We all decided the homemade cookies were superbly better than the store bought. We laughed and focused only on her.

Later when I asked, “Did this fulfill your needs of a bas mitzvah party?”

She answered, “Yes.  It was perfect.  But you know my ‘bar mitzvah’ is in 2 months.”

Who would have thought that little bit of attention could mean so much to her? I answered, “I have this great idea, why don’t we have the entire family over and have a meal in the middle of the day on your birthday?”

“Oh, Mom.”

“You know what? I get it.  Maybe this year we’ll go out and have a birthday party (not on your birthday) on a day that would be just for you?”

“Now you’re talking.”



Teaching English to Israelis

I teach in Jerusalem for Berlitz, which has its own demographics particular to the holy city and not necessarily similar to the rest of the country.  It has been a singular experience in getting to know Israelis on a completely different level then I had ever before.

Since most of the time, I’m teaching a lower level, I meet the secretaries, receptionists and the one or two Russian engineers and such.  Most of my students are Sephardi.  In addition, most of my students are not religious.  They dress in the height of fashion.  Standard dress code is short, short skirts, deep low-neck lines, high heels, and lots of gold.  However, scratch the service they are all religious.

Take Oshrat for instance.  She bleaches her hair blonde, wears it high up, and held back so her large hoops that bounce off her shoulders can be seen.  Her figure can definitely handle the incredibly short skirt she wears.  So don’t blame me, when I was surprised to meet her son, a yeshiva buchur who learns in hte Gush.

Since the book we use for our company is international, some of the food items suggested are definitely not kosher.  I always explain that point to my students.  However, invariably they get upset that they are even being taught the vocabulary for treif, and certainly don’t understand why someone would work on Saturday which is Shabbos for all intensive purposes.

There is Anat, she usually wears pants in heels.  Her hair is losing its dye, but she always has a smile and fun impressions on the group we are in. One day I ask them how did they use to prepare Pesach in their mother’s home.  I was a bit nervous when she started to complain and give a terrible impression of a religious home.

“We had to take down the curtain and pick up the carpet so they could be cleaned properly.  Seriously, what chomitz was on the curtain?  For two weeks, we had to eat outside on the stairway.  I hated it.”

Bravely I asked, ‘And today?”

“Do you know what?  I do exactly the same thing as my mother.  Including making, my kids eat outside.  And they love it!”

Then there was Solly, which was a name I couldn’t quite figure out – was it Sarah, Sally, or what. She didn’t dress sharp, a simple blouse, and pants.  A simple type.

She did not participate too much in the class.  And if I forced her to speak (which is my job), she would just read whatever the limit amount she could get away with.  (I’m not really the ogre kind of teacher, so that is why she didn’t speak too much.)

We were talking about our dream houses and what would be the criteria of where we would want to live.  All of sudden Solly offers her opinion.

“My dream house has to be near a synagogue.”

I shook my head in agreement.

“And a mikva”.  I was stumped.

What do I know about secular Israelis?  Actually, I don’t think I have met any. Just scratch the surface a bit, and they are all proudly religiously Jewish.

Why Do Jewish Women Cover their Hair?

Why do Jewish women cover their hair?

  1. From the discussion in the Torah about ‘sotahas’ women who have been accused of adultery are brought through a humiliating and divinely administered fatal punishment (if there is no confession) that includes taking off the married woman’s hair covering. (Just a note, if she does get punished by a divine death by drinking the sotah water, her lover dies instant death too divinely.)Thus, it is understood, married women need to cover their hair.
  2. Modesty.

Okay, what does covering one’s hair have to do with modesty. And why are Jewish women different from their Muslim counterparts in that they only cover their hair if married?

Modesty in Judaism is considered one of the highest ideals to reach. Moshe Rabbaniu (our teacher Moses) was given the greatest compliment from the Torah – he was the humblest. How could the greatest prophet be humble? He recognized that all he had, all his gifts, understanding, and power was all from G-d. It had nothing to do with him.

To be humble and modest is to recognize that we have a job to do everything to the best we can with all the gifts that G-d has given us. But not to be fooled into thinking we accomplish anything all by ourselves. We are pretty, we are rich, are whatever adjective you feel is self-inflicted. No, it is all gifts from Hashem. (G-d)

So how is dressing modestly connected?

No one would deny that the way we dress tells those around us what we think of ourselves and where we are going. Even in the 60’s when the young wanted to overthrow all conventions, especially the suit and dresses of wall street, they all wore their own uniform; jeans. It was their statement. Today, it is even more prevalent.

Orthodox men generally have a dress code, like the women, black pants, white shirts and sometimes black jackets. They are commanded to dress dignifiedly. They by halacha can show more, higher sleeves, shorts and such, but there is still the important element that all Orthodox tried to maintain; wherever we go we are the spokespeople of the Orthodox, and must dress, speak, act appropriately are we are charged with one of the worst sins: chiluah Hashem (disgracing G-d’s name).

Jewish women have another component on top of the men. Women are generally beautiful (especially the young Israeli Jewish women – in my opinion). And perhaps debunking political correctness there is a great difference between men and women. Men are attracted to women physically generally. Women can also (and are Thank G-d) are attracted to men physically, but for women, it is never just physical. A man can see a beautiful woman and realize she is dumb, awkward, or just completely incompatible and that will not change his physical attraction to her. By women, it definitely will. Women generally (and of course I can only speak generally – but by definition, that means most, though not all) would be repulsed and any physical attraction would be void and annulled.

Thus, it is incumbent on women to dress not sexually, but attractively. Like men, women should look good (at least in public, though it is very important to dress for one’s husband), but at the same time – a woman should never look sexy (for other men). This means; a woman needs to wear a dress that covers her knees when she sits, cover her elbows and her shirt should be up to the collarbone in the middle of her chest.

If you noticed, at the most recent royal wedding, most of the guests dressed exactly like this (with many supporting hats). Neve Yerushalayim They recognized that to attend a royal event one must be dressed appropriately. That is the Jewish point of view. We are the daughters of the King of Kings and we walk in his palace. Thus we must dress appropriately. Attractively but not sensually.

Why covering one’s hair when married. Let’s face it, hair is beautiful. Free flowing hair can make a woman very attractive – thus why there is many advertising pictures that include women with their hair flying in the wind.

Married women are to keep that specialness only for her husband. (Though the halacha also allows her immediate family, her father, grandfather, son, grandson, and any women to also view her hair.)

Why married women? Marriage is one of the most sacred institutions in Judaism. Many, many laws revolve around protecting and mandating fences to protect this sacred marriage. Although divorce is rising in the Orthodox world, it is not even close to non-religious Jews, and certainly off the charts on American or other western rates. And adultery is almost (of course there is never 100% of anything) unheard of in orthodox circles.

There are yihud laws (laws concerning men and women together), shomer nigiah laws ( the laws of touching the opposite sex), kol eisha (the laws of women singing in front of men), taharas mishpacha (laws of marriage itself) and many more. And there is the law of covering one’s hair, which gets us back the first reason. Adultery. If a woman has violated her marriage by being with another man, she is to be humiliated by removing her hair covering.  She is no longer a wife.


Are “All animals created equal, just some are more equal”?


Do Liberals think they know what is right for everyone else?

Do we want the government to decide what we can teach our children? Do we want governments to decide whether a person has to be taken off of life support?

That is what is happening in England.

Not only are they thinking of closing religious schools because Jewish schools refuse to teach their children in elementary schools about LGBT concerns. They are also demanding that children as young as four should choose what gender they are. That we believe Hashem created a person male or female has no weight with these liberal thinkers.

The English government has also become the decision maker who can decide death for very sick children over offering the parents another chance of hope. In addition, the English courts have even held up the doctor’s demand to turn off life support against the parent’s decisions.

Now, there is a ‘pledge’ being sought by liberal Jews to demand religious schools to accept their ‘coming out of the closet’ students.  There is nothing wrong with schools offering help to young teenagers who are being bullied, feeling marginalized, or whatever a young adult might be going through.  But to allow liberals to decide what is bullying, what is allowed in a religious school when they have no belief in the entire system is dangerous.

First of all, I believe the LGBT movement has done a terrible disservice to young people. The idea that a child fifteen or under is declaring what sexual orientation he is – is already a sign there is something wrong with this liberal ‘everything goes’ society.  Teenagers have many hormones that fly throughout his body causing him to have mood swings, anger issues, and various sexual desires that he has never felt before.  It is normal!!.  Because suddenly a boy has a desire to be with another boy, does not make him a homosexual.  It makes him interested in another human being whether it is a teacher, friend or an adult.  No one should be labeling teenagers anything. Not by themselves and certainly not for others! Give them a break.

The concept that a young child at age four might call himself the opposite sex or play with traditional toys is also extremely normal. It is a crime when people in authority attach great significance to curiosity.  Adults (and not even the child’s parents) can decide a child needs a sex change is a world of ‘Frankenstein’, ‘Brave New World’ or the worst fear of communism.  These people are crazy!

If we are talking about young adults who decide they are gay, then the religious world has to deal with his needs.  Meaning because homosexual relations are forbidden, he must learn other ways of dealing with his desires.  Should he get married (obviously to a woman) or should he learn to cope in other ways?  Since Torah is eternal, being gay doesn’t suddenly make it less forbidden.  Just like a pedophilia is forbidden to act out on his desires.  What is the difference?  People claim that one has a victim and one doesn’t, so it should make a difference.  But that is the reason we need to be told in such clear terms that homosexuality is an abomination.  We all know that pedophilia is an abomination and do not need to be told that, so it is not stressed (though forbidden) in Torah.  We are taught that homosexuality is in the same category, even though you as a mere passionate human might think differently.

There once was a sincere not so young man that came to a baeli teshuva yeshiva to learn about Yiddishkeit.  He was gay.  Yet, he realized that if he was earnest about his desire to follow the Torah he needed guidance.  He asked for help from the rabbis.  They told him he shouldn’t marry a woman if he had no desire for her. In addition, he was advised to find other outlets for his needs.

He actually started a movement for gay orthodox men.  They seek company from each other, hire masseuses to give them back massages, but do not indulge in sex. Why? Because they realize they have been chosen with this special package from Hashem.  Just like a person who suffers depression, diabetes, or abusive parents.  We are all given our own set of problems that we need to grow through to become greater people and serve Hashem.

As Rav Feldman, Rosh Hayeshiva of Ner Yisroel in Baltimore, A Torah View on Homosexuality wrote:

“God does not place people into situations in which they are forced to violate a prohibition of the Torah. Man never loses his free choice; … There are, without doubt, situations in which the temptation to sin is overwhelming, but never does man forfeit the free choice to control himself and, more so, to use his foresight to avoid such a situation.


As it is known, many people have all sorts of urges, which may have to be repressed and redirected in appropriate directions. For example, those “whose nature inclines them to shed blood should become ritual slaughters and circumcisers and surgeons. … Their main trial in the world is to direct their innate qualities towards the good.”


G-d didn’t get it wrong.  We may not have gotten the right message.


Dovid and Donald

We know him today as the righteous king, leader, and warrior of Israel.  We look forward to having his great-grandson return again to be the King of Israel.  However, in his lifetime he wasn’t accepted. He was ridiculed or persecuted by his family, many political leaders, and even by his son.

Dovid HaMelech came from a wealthy, politically important and righteous home. However, neither their good fortune nor their name gave Dovid any favor.  He was born with six older brothers, who were each tall, good-looking in stature and talmid chacham. Dovid did not fit in. This was more proof of his illegitimacy.

Yishai, Dovid’s father, was a tzadik, and look for ways to improve himself and always did what was right regardless the hardship involved. It is said he is one of the very few who died only because of Adam’s sin and none of his own.  He was a gadol excellence.

He also was from the wicked hated nation of Moav. When Moav came out to hurt klal Yisrael in the desert it took the fear away from Israel’s other enemies.  The Israelites had just fled Egypt with triumph and were known throughout the world and were feared. The Moabites attack lowered the world esteem and made life much harder.

Mobaties very origin comes from the sin of Lot’s daughters who slept with him since they fear they were the last human beings alive.  One of the daughters called her son Ammon meaning ‘from my people’, but the oldest daughter had no embarrassment and called her son Moav – meaning ‘from my father’. How could the righteous Yishai be from such tainted and cursed stock?

Ruth was the daughter and princess of the King of Moav.  She begged Naomi after their husbands had died and as Naomi prepared to return to Israel, to bless her and convert her to the ways and goings of Naomi.  Ruth wanted to join the Jewish people. After refusing three times, Naomi relented. Boaz was the head of the Jewish people and a relative of Naomi.  He poskined that the law of not marrying a Moabite only meant the men and not a woman and agreed to marry Ruth to fulfill the mitzvah of Yibbum (a levirate marriage). He died the night of their wedding.  Some interpreted his death as punishment.  But others say that he was granted enough time to the mitzvah and guaranteeing his seed greatness.

When Yishai was born, as the great-grandson of Ruth and Boaz, the halacha still read the way Boaz poskined.  But, again it was being discussed. Again Ruth’s status and of her progeny was debated.  Yishai had already had six strapping sons. He separated from his wife in case he was forbidden.  She, however, had other plans. She bribed the concubine to fool Yishai and took the concubine’s place in his bed. When his true but stranded wife started showing signs of pregnancy, Yishai suspected her of adultery.

When Dovid was born, he didn’t look like his brothers, further validating Yishai’s feelings.  Dovid’s red hair, ruddy complexion, love of adventure and the great outdoors was used as further proof of his non-family background.

Yishai sent Dovid out to shepherd the sheep.  When Shmuel the prophet came as an agent of G-d to coronate the Messiah, the king of Israel, he came straight to the tzadik and gaon Yishai. A meal was prepared and all of Yishai’s family stood at the meal, except for Dovid.  Shmuel went to anoint the eldest son, but Hashem told him no. He then proceeded to try to anoint each son, and G-d told Shmuel he was wrong each time.

Finally, Shmuel Hanavi asked, “Are these all your sons? Do you have any more?”

To which Yeshai admitted, “there is the young lad in the fields.”  He never said Dovid was his son, nor invited him to this most auspicious event, since he didn’t believe Dovid was his real son.

When Dovid was fetched, Shmuel realized he was the king.  Yet Yishai and his brothers never treated him with respect since they saw him as a mamzer. Even though G-d demonstrated through Shmuel’s ordination of Dovid, and the vast amount of miracles he experienced, Dovid’s family never accepted him equally. Throughout his life, Dovid HaMelech would be betrayed by his family, his father-in-law, King Shaul, by his own son, and his best friend. Yet, Dovid remained faithful and grateful to Hashem.  He accepted his many hardships and hurdles with love.

Today we eagerly await for Dovid’s offspring to lead us again as the Meshach.

Though President Trump is not Jewish, nor the Jewish Meshiach, he has a touch of the similar story.  He came into the elections with hate, ridicule, and unheard of bias against him from more than half of the country.  People call him a womanizer, stupid, cheater, and more.  Yet, his previous actions are not in any way considered tzadik material, Trump, in reality, was not any worse (if not better) then other presidents; especially the husband of the leading contender (who was accused of raping women and certainly known to take advantage of young women while in the White House). Yet Trump was accused of hating women, hating Jews, hating blacks and more.

People without cause literally hate him. They won’t pronounce his name or his title.  Rather he is referred to as ‘the one in the white house’. Personally, I know of relatives who get physically sick from the mentioning of his name and need to walk out of the room for air.  This is not a normal reaction for a democracy to work. There is something bigger here than what meets the eye.

Trump has given more women (and excellent choices) top jobs in the white house, more than any president ever in the history of the United States.  All his grandchildren are Jewish as well as his own daughter.  He has been the greatest friend to Israel; destroying the Iranian deal, moving the embassy to Jerusalem and more. He has picked top people for the supreme court; he released from a terrible decree Rubashkin and may soon let Pollard off from his harsh probation.  He had three prisoners released from the same North Korean prison that Obama was only able to get one prisoner out, a young Jewish student, who died three days after release.  Trump has been able to talk and is welcoming with great hope peace with Kim of North Korea and Putin of the Soviet Union and who knows the Palestinians.  He has befriended Saudi Arabia with strength by not bowing down or with the giving of many bribes (the way of Obama).  He is truly making America (and their alias; Israel) great again.

Yet, unfortunately, liberals, including Jewish ones (SHAME ON THEM), can’t find it in their language, heart or eyes to see any good. This is a real problem for these Jews.  Yehudim, the Jewish word for Jews, means GRATITUDE.  If one doesn’t have a gratitude to benevolent leaders that have given us so much, they may need to check their Jewishness.

It is mostly the Reform and Conservative groups who have been guilty of this aberration. They may be the largest in number in America, but they are by far the most quickly dying group of Jews in the world.  They are grabbing at straws trying to include children born in mixed marriages as Jews, and yet even those children want nothing to do with the water down version of truth and beauty; the Torah. They are choosing nothing instead.

In twenty years, there may not be anything left of Reform or Conservative and they will go the way of the Sadducees (who at least believed in the Torah), and the other splinter groups of Jewish history. The Reform rabbi of Israel publically admitted that Reform loses most of their kids’ interest by the age of 16. Reform and Conservative Judaism have seen their ranks deplete more than 60%. This is in spite of trying to count Jews in the most unlikely places. “Reform Non-Jew Born of a Jewish Father and a Non-Jewish Mother but Bar-Mitzva’d or Bat-Mitzva’d by the Reform Rabbi” or “Anyway Because the Temple Needs the Membership Money and the School Tuition,” and other unkosher ways of counting non-Jews as Jews.

Ironically, it will be the grandchildren of President Donald Trump who will be part of the Jewish nation and not his defectors. And that includes the grandchildren of the Clintons and Saunders.

Dovid and Donald seem to have a lot in common. They are the true friends of klal Yisrael but cannot get any appreciation for it.

I just wanted someone to know, those of us from Israel, who try to lead a Torah life, want to Thank you, President Donald Trump, for being a leader who is interested in doing the right thing regardless of what people say.

Black and White Facts that I hold as TRUTH

I sometimes get surprised when mentioning major stories, news items, Jewish ideas to people I know, but are not living in my secluded world, and they seem to have no idea what I’m talking about.

I sometimes get surprised when mentioning major stories, news items, Jewish ideas to people I know, but are not living in my secluded world, and they seem to have no idea what I’m talking about. Therefore, I thought I would make a short listing of these items so we can all be on the same page.

  1. Jewish laws, the mitzvoth that my family involve themselves on a daily basis and learn deeply for as long as we can, is not just for the Orthodox. It is incumbent on every Jew.  There are not different rules for different groups.
  2. That being said, any person who is born from a Jewish mother is Jewish whether they follow any mitzvoth.
  3. Having a bar or bat mitzvoth is not a form of conversion, nor can a child under bar or bat mitzvah age can be forced to be Jewish. They must be legally bound by halacha (12 or 13) before being considered a Jew.
  4. Pesach is 7/8 days long and all the days one can’t eat chometz. Ashkenazi also don’t eat kitnoiys (legumes and such) as a minhag (customs) – but chometz (leavened product) is totally forbidden.
  5. Believing in idolatry; such as Hindu, Buddhism, Santeria, Palo, Voodoo and many more is forbidden to everyone – not just Jews. It is forbidden to walk into their place of worship.  Being tolerant and accepting is not considered the righteous way to act in these situations.  Would you watch someone murder another person and be tolerant?  Idolatry is the same as murder and for that matter so is adultery! Have you read the 10 commandments recently?
  6. The Seven Noahide Laws, meant for all non-Jews, as enumerated in the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 56a:


  1. Do not murder.
  2. Do not steal.
  3. Do not worship false gods.
  4. Do not be sexually immoral.
  5. Do not eat a limb removed from a live animal.
  6. Do not curse God.
  7. Set up courts and bring offenders to justice.


  1. Jews for Jesus, Missionaries are forbidden in the land of Israel. Again, there is no righteousness in bringing in the destruction of the Jewish people in the holy land.  It is against the law.
  2. Jewish law has not changed (though it does evolve) and therefore no, one can be Jewish from their father. There can’t be people who think they are Jewish – because they feel Jewish.  There are only two ways of joining; Jewish mother, proper halacha conversion.
  3. Eighty percent of non-Orthodox Jews marry out of their faith. More Jews have been a loss from intermarriage and assimilation than the holocaust. Reform Judaism is the leader of these marriages.  Today most of the children who have parents that have intermarried don’t care if they are Jewish or not – they rather have nothing.
  4. BDS – Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions – is an anti-Israel, anti-Semitic group that has fortunately been banned in many of the states. Though they claim they want to help all unfortunate people in the world, the only ones they actually ‘help’ are the Palestinians. However, they truly don’t even want to help them either, they just want to destroy Israel.  The Soda Stream is a pure example of their bigotry. Soda Stream is an Israeli company that was placed in ‘the territories’ employing both Jews and Palestinians who worked together and received the same wages. This did not impress BDS, they made so much noise the factory had to shut down, and all those Palestinians lost their jobs.
  5. Hanukah an amazing story happened. Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin (born October 6, 1959 (also my birthday)) was the chief executive officer of Agriprocessors, a now-bankrupt kosher slaughterhouse, and meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa, formerly owned by his father, Aaron Rubashkin. As CEO of Agriprocessors, Sholom, a Chabad follower, father of 10 (including one Down syndrome child) helped build the plant into the largest kosher meat slaughterhouse.


Judge Linda Lynch (this name actually fits her well) and PETA  (an animal loving but anti-human organization) seemed to think that a kosher slaughterhouse was their worst enemy and developed a scheme to get rid of it with raids and outrageous court proceedings.


Agriprocessors was cited for issues involving animal treatment, food safety, environmental safety, child labor, and hiring of undocumented workers.  Most of the charges were dropped.  In November 2009, Linda Lynch, who acted as director for the raids and as the judge of Sholom’s court proceedings, convicted him of 86 counts of financial fraud, including bank fraud, mail and wire fraud and money laundering. In June 2010, he was sentenced to 27 years in prison for a first time offender of non-violent crime!


In a separate trial, he was acquitted of knowingly hiring underage workers. He served his sentence in Federal Correctional Institution, Otisville in Mount Hope, New York. In January 2011, his lawyers filed an appeal; on September 16, 2011, the appeals court ruled against Rubashkin. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from that ruling on October 1, 2012.


By the end of 2017 many lawyers, judges, and a large bipartisan group of politicians pushed for Rubashkin’s release. President Trump commuted the prison sentence of Sholom Rubashkin after 8 years served on the last day of Chanukah this past December.


  1. Obama was horrible for Israel and the Jewish people. Clinton would have been worst.  We have been saved by Trump.  Not only has Trump befriended Israel, (while Obama wanted nothing else than to bow down (literally) to the enemy and kick Israel as hard as he could) Trump has made Hamas realize they can’t act like bullies anymore, he freed Rubashkin and best of all, he hired Nikki Healy, the first women, and Indian UN ambassador. She is the most amazing spokeswoman and is incredibly a great friend of Israel.  I predict she will be the first woman president!
  2. Jews not only believe in the Messiah (Mashiach) and heaven and hell, the other religions got it from us.
  3. Truth is not something that can change. In order to be true, it must hold up at all times. Political correctness is the opposite. It is always changing. For instance, If Judaism was passed down only through the mother, it can’t suddenly be changed for convenience.
  4. There is more, but….

And as my kids have taught me the new slang of the world; ‘just saying’….


Banot Aliyah

“There is never a question that is bad, just wrong answers.”

My neighbor’s daughter is religious, but you could see her skirts rising, necklines dropping, and less respect for Rebbium and halachah.  Until she started going (on her own free will!) to Banot Aliyah an evening of classes designed for Beis Yaacov graduates.

Chaya Rivka Davis nee’ Kaufman never went off the derech (OTD), but she recognized how easy it is to get there.  “When I was 17, I was very popular among my classmates, but I felt empty inside.  I felt this great need to be busy all the time. I put pictures of all my friends on the wall to prove to myself how popular I was.  Yet it didn’t free me from my emptiness. I was pursuing happiness in the wrong places.

I took upon myself, then, not to watch any movies or listen to non-Jewish music. It was difficult, but it was so helpful. That year I listened to only shiruim especially of Rabbi Zechariah Wallenstein. It helped me to get strong.” (Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein is the founder of Ateres Naava Seminary for Girls and Women in Brooklyn, having a tremendous impact on their growing and changing through learning Torah.)

Using Rabbi Wallerstein as a model, Chaya Rivka began to think how to help other young women.  Knowing how easy it is to feel not connected she recognizes how precarious and dangerous that is for a young adult.

“I saw girls floundering with emptiness and sometimes looking where they shouldn’t be.”  Teenagers and young adults need to feel connected to their home and their friends, and if one is missing, they will seek otherwise.  The girls who come from a disruptive home life, whether there might be abuse, divorce, or simply a lack of structure or dialog, need answers to why we do the things we do. The same girls who find it difficult to listen to rules usually have questions, which haven’t been answered (and at times, they were not given a chance to ask). Ironically, they will be the ones accepted (if at all) to lower level academic schools that often have restrictive demands on the girls without necessarily offering explanations. Asking questions can at times mark them as ‘not religious enough for the school’s standards’. Yet, that is what they crave; a place to ask questions.

Chaya Rivka emphasizes, “There is never a question that is bad, just wrong answers.”

Chaya Rivka Davis, a young married 23-year-old, mother of a son and daughter, has seen some of these girls end up on the street. “I just had to do something.” And she did.  She has started a movement; Bnot Aliyah. It offers classes on the fundamentals of Judaism, has activities and even more. She advertises on Facebook and other social media and depends on word of mouth to get the fun, learning interactive program known.  Already after only five months, she has at least once a week a speaker, or activity for young women (married or otherwise) pulling in the top speakers in the Jerusalem English Baeli Teshuva Scene; Rav Moshe Zeldman, Rabbi Gavriel Friedman, Reb. Tsiporah Heller, Reb Silvia Schatz, Rav Dovid Gotlieb, and more. Together there are two branches (in Jerusalem and Ramat Beit Shemesh) and she is reaching 20-30 girls each week, without a budget.

Mrs. Davis is now trying to get donations to help build Bnot Aliyah so she can reach more girls, who want to learn and grow.

How did Chaya Rivka start?

Chaya Rivka Davis was born in Israel and lived in the Jerusalem area for most of her life. Her parents are American baeli teshuva, and until she was eleven, the family lived in Israel. From first to third grade, she learned in a Yiddish school, then a standard Israeli haredi Beis Yaakov in Beit Shemesh. Her family moved to Chile for half-a-year, when she was eleven, to do kiruv. Afterwards, they moved to Lakewood for three years. At the tender age of fourteen, the family returned to Israel. Loneliness and need to make new friends was a struggle for Chaya Rivka as it would be for anybody.

Chaya Rivka reflects, “When girls struggle with the religious aspect of their lives, it is a symptom, it’s not the cause. It means there is an issue underlying everything . Maybe they are not connecting, or they don’t understand, and sometimes they don’t really pursue the issue, just letting it go. But, slowly but surely their dress changes, their actions change, their friends change, and gradually one day they are not religious.”

She knew she had to do something when she saw a friend of the family, who at fifteen was quickly becoming an OTD statistic. “I couldn’t watch it happen.” Chaya Rivka decided it was her job to help.  She spoke to people she knew in the kiruv krovim circles and was recommended to talk with Rabbi Moshe Zeldman from Aish HaTorah. He proved to be challenging to catch. Yet after a few weeks of perseverance, she caught up with him just as he arrived back in the Holy Land.

“If you had spoken to me before,” he informed her, “I would not have been interested.  I teach boys who are baeli teshuva, I don’t have any knowledge of girls and women and certainly not teaching women who have learned in the Beis Yaakov system.  It is a very different education.  When I was in America, the FFB (Frum From Birth) women surprised me by demanding classes.  All women are in need of asking basic questions and are looking for deeper meanings than they were taught in Beis Yaakov. “

Rav Zeldman continued, “I actually started preparing a 5-week course for women.  So, yes I would be delighted and proud to be part of your amazing organization. I want to be part of bringing women together who have gone through the system, know a lot about Yiddishkeit, yet want to deepen their connection and become Bnot Aliyah.”

Although most of the women attending have had a religious background, they enjoy the baeli teshuva approach.

What is the difference between the Baeli Teshuva and FFB approach?

When children learn from a young age essential concepts, many times their first impression is what stays with them. The issue may not develop beyond an immature understanding nor blossom to a deeper level if the student is not challenged and aided.  Therefore, religious girls (or boys) who have learned about Hashem starting from the age of three or younger may never really advance their entire conception of HaKodesh Baruch Hu past the simpler concepts of a child.  What does it mean that Hashem is our Father, our King, and our Judge? How are we supposed to relate to Hashem? How are we to speak to him? When?  Do we really understand the deepness in the halachos that we do?

Those who came to Judaism at an older age, however, were taught on an adult level with a more sophisticated understanding. Their more mature perception help develop a stronger connection with their belief system or at least give them a more profound grasp on basic or ritualistic ideas. The years of learning, however, cannot be easily made up nor compare to the very fibers of an FFB in their understanding Torah.

Yet simple questions may never been asked. Why does the kallah go around her chassan seven times? Why do women light the Shabbos candles before we say a bracha? How can free will exist with Hashem knowing everything past and future? And more.  These ideas are so interwoven in a frum from birth’s experience; they may never have stopped to ask the questions.  Baalei teshuva, however, have asked these questions and are used to getting answers; with profound responses.

Chaya Rivka was greatly bothered when she heard married women saying they had questions on fundamental concepts but did not ask nor knew where to go for answers. Their complacency response ‘when I’m 120, I’ll know’ infuriated her.

“That is wrong!  This is our heritage. It is a travesty not to have a connection to Hashem.  We have to know whom we are crying out to. Kids should be taught to ask any question they want.  If a teacher cannot answer a question on hashkafah, it is usually because the teachers don’t have a clear understanding themselves, not because there was something wrong with the question.  Every Jew is entitled to have the tools to grow.  Stagnation from a lack of knowledge only breeds danger.”

Chaya Rivka wants young girls to be connected. “I want to create a group where young women can feel comfortable and develop real relationships, a real connection to the Creator, the Master of the World, where they can ask their questions they always wanted to ask, and get real answers.”

Hadas Bat El cofounder of Bnot Aliyah and runs the branch in Beit Shemesh envisions the program‘s objective as in “giving clarity to the Beis Yaakov girl who hasn’t grasp the basic concepts of Judaism. We talk about important topics like emuna, how do we know Hashem is in our lives, how do we know he loves us, how do we have free will.  All those kind of subjects.  The classes are interactive.  The girls love it.  I see how it is helping so many people.”

One of the participants mentioned how just being part of a group of questioning women, she has learned so much.  She gains not only from the answers but even the questions that are asked.  It is profoundly broadening her understanding more than she ever knew before.

Rav Gav Freidman, from Aish HaTorah, asked the girls in his shiur one evening, “What are we all looking for?” Surprisingly he answered, ‘happiness’. “We are looking for happiness.  What is happiness?  Is it just a feeling good?  No, it is more specific.  Happiness is the sensation you get when you are doing what you are supposed to be doing. Happiness is when you’re accomplishments are meaningful to you within the job you are supposed to be doing.  G-d crated the world so that each person has their own tafkid, their own job. When a person fulfills their own job that is meant especially for them, they feel incredible happiness. How do you know what your job is? Look in your toolbox.  Look and see what capabilities, talents, and interests you have.  When you accomplish the job that G-d created for you within the Torah guidelines (which G-d gave to us on a national level) we feel happiness.”

Chaya Rivka is creating a place where our precious neshamos (and future mothers and builders of Klal Yisrael) can learn to be happy in the framework of Torah.  How? By giving them the best tool ever; knowledge (and excitement).

Don’t you want to be a part of it?

Contact Bnot Aliyah:




The Mysterious Shirts’ Pockets (Another story with the granddaughters)


By Bracha, Tova, Esti and Safta

Safta received the magnets in the mail, which she placed on the fridge. Each one showed the boys picture next to the Rosh Hashanah apple dipped in honey. They were wearing the same blue and green striped shirt.  Only there was one difference, the pockets were on different sides. Meir’s pocket didn’t have a button but Shlomo’s was closed.

As their cousins Bracha Tova and Esti, examined the magnets, they began to realize there was a mystery.  Why were the pockets on different sides of their shirts? Thinking of ideas, they came up with a few solutions.  Maybe the shirts were bought that way, or maybe they originally had two pockets and their aunt had taken one of them off on each shirt without realizing she took the opposite ones. Or maybe one of the shirts was meant for a girl since not only was the pocket on the other side but so were the buttons that ran down the front.

As they were pondering the issue, Meir and Shlomo walked into Safta’s house wearing the very same shirts. After giving them a large hug and kiss, the girls noticed right away the shirt’s pockets were on the same side not opposite.  The mystery was greater.

Grabbing their cousins’ hands, they ran to the fridge and examined the magnets again. They realized it wasn’t the shirts that had opposite pockets but only the picture. They figured out that the gannet had flipped the picture around when making the magnets.

Bracha, Tova, and Esti figured out the mystery and started to look for another puzzle to solve.



The Power of a Smile 

By Rachel Frid
Lately, I heard a wonderful story about saving someone’s life with a simple “good morning”.
There’s also the famous story told about the Shochet (ritual slaughterer) who was locked in the factory’s freezer at the end of the day. The guard, who was so used to his greeting upon entering and leaving, saved him after realizing that he hadn’t said good night to him that evening.
Actually, I have my own story to tell. At one point in my “career”, I took an on-line job. Seemingly simple, there was an art to it and it didn’t go well for me. One day I called an office and the nurse answered, telling me what she thought of me, kind words ranging from liar to con artist. After that phone call, I decided to finish the day and quit.
My next call was answered by Tony, clerk by profession, stand-up comedian by nature. He made me laugh and I could almost see him smiling over the phone. Feeling encouraged, I decided to keep the job. Eventually, I learned “the ropes”. That job taught me a lot and I guess I owe it all to Tony.
How many people do we pass in a day? Who couldn’t use a smile or a friendly word? Tony did not know that he was saving my family’s finances by making me laugh, but that’s what he did. 
This month is the Yahrtzeit of my father, Mr. Leo Reich, Zatzal. He was an illustrious teacher. As a distinguished Rosh Yeshiva said at his funeral, “his soul burned with the longing to teach Jewish children about Judaism.” He taught for over sixty years and was loved by all of his students. Amazingly though, almost every one of the hundreds of people who came to the Shivah (house of mourning) said the exact same words, “Mr. Reich always greeted me with a smile.” It is true that my father loved people and was truly interested in them, but there is something more to be learned here. If years later what people remembered was his smile and the simple “how have you been?” that went with it, doesn’t that show how much they needed that smile, that show of interest?
If we open our hearts and share a little warmth, it could very well be the good deed needed to tip the scales this year, for us, for Am Yisroel and for the whole world.
May we all be blessed with a year of happiness, good health and warmth from Above.
Shana Tova,
Rochel Frid
Dear Friends,


Since my husband was diagnosed with ALS in 2011, we have become mountain climbers.  With G-d’s help, and the support of dear family and friends we have been able to reach some level of stability. R’ Dovid is fully cognizant, but this cruel disease has left him paralyzed and dependent on life support.

We began this campaign when we found ourselves falling into debt and were afraid that we would not be able to keep up home care.  Thanks to YouCaring.com and your ongoing support, we have been able to hire day and night caregivers and handle many other never-ending expenses. Each month when we can pay for proper care, we are so thankful! We would not be functioning without your donations, but our challenges are ongoing, so please feel free to share this campaign with your community and friends.

In addition, we are inviting you to spread light in the world. To do something pure. To do something GOOD. Please join our “Love Your Neighbor Challenge”. You can choose a good deed (examples below) to do in the merit of a speedy recovery for Dovid Yehoshua Ben Leba Malka.

We are so grateful for your support. Every little bit helps. **PRESS the RED button to donate now or press “read more” to make a TAX FREE donation.



1. Online: Visit kupat.org. Fill in the requested information and click on “send a contribution” towards the bottom of the page.

2. PHONE. Call toll free 1888-633-2188 24 hours a day. Please specify that the contribution is for fund #2605.

3. CHECK. Make your check payable to American Friends of Kupat Hair. Please attach a note specifying that the contribution is for fund #2605. Mail your check to American Friends of Kupat Hair, 4415 14th Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11219.
*Examples of Bright Ideas for the Love Your Neighbor ChallengeI accept upon myself for the merit and recovery of Dovid Yehoshua Ben Leba Malka:

1. To smile when I walk in the door of my house and leave my problems outside.

2. Greet an acquaintance with a smile.

3. Call someone who lives alone to ask how they are.

4. Ask a close family member how he or she is doing.

5. Offer to help someone who is overburdened with chores.

6. Resolve not to speak maliciously about others for two hours everyday.

7. Ask forgiveness even if I think I was in the right.

8. Forgive someone who has wronged me.  

and/or take upon yourself to learn 2 laws of Shmirat Halashon (guarding one’s speech) using one of the books/links on the subject.

Getting it Right

It is over a week and a half since I woke up with my right foot in process of swelling and turning deep angry red and purple. The doctor immediately recommended antibiotics. He told me I had cellulitis, and warned me that it would be a long time before I would see my foot look normal again.  In spite of its rather large out of shape of the norm and sporting a deep red sheen, I am not considered a dangerous case.  My foot is just red, in other cases, it can travel up the blood stream, turn all sorts of colors, blister into ugly formations, but worse it can affect the whole body-making one truly feel sick especially with a high burning fever.  I had just a red foot to contend with.

After the 3rd day not seeing any progress, it was discovered I was under dosing myself.  The doctor decided to put me on IV which I could get administrated from the nurse’s room in our local kupat holim, the medical fund, which is usually a two-minute walk from my house now became my only exercise of 10 minutes a day.

Except for Shabbos, which I went back to the right dosage of the oral pills, I was being stuck every day with needles.  (One of the nurses left me such a bruise at least Thank G-d it was on the other arm).  Back on Sunday, back in the doctor’s office, he was not happy with the progress of my sickness, though I thought I saw improvement.

“You know before antibiotics were invented, people did improve just slowly. In your case, something is wrong.”  First deciding that I must be suffering from the blow that might have caused the whole process a full two weeks earlier, he prescribed an anti-inflammatory to help that progress a bit faster.  He also agreed to put me back on an IV. On the computer writing out my prescription, he noticed he had prescribed the week previous the wrong prescription!  Incredibly embarrassed and with a large deal of remorse, he apologized. For the entire week, I had under-dosed the antibiotic I needed, first by my mistake and then by the doctor.

Now on day two taking the right dosage, improvement is dramatic. I can walk unaided (I went from a cane to crutches depending on the pain).  Moreover, I’m getting incredibly bored being limited to my house and the kupat holim.

Ironically, at least from the doctor’s viewpoint, I actually was happy to hear he had misdiagnosed me.  It gave me so much hope.  If it was wrong, now I had a chance to get it right and faster!

Elul is the month we are in right now which is exactly a month away from Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur the days of repentance.  The entire month of Elul is for preparation towards those holy days. We are to use the entire month to prepare ourselves for the new Jewish year.  By recognizing the mistakes, the sins, the wrong approaches, we have done is part of the work. Nevertheless, we do not need to get too sad or nervous about it.  Rather we should recognize the time as an incredible opportunity that Hashem has given us to try again.  And maybe this time we will get it right.

Hodesh, Elul, Tov!



Dudu, the Scruffy Penguin

Dudu, the Scruffy Penguin

By Bracha and Tova Goldberg and Safta

We went to visit the penguins yesterday at the zoo.  We noticed that the oldest penguin sat there watching over his family; most likely most of them were his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.  He seemed to have an eye on us as well.  What he didn’t know was that he had turned quite gray and his feathers were all of a mess.  His normal tuxedo was untidy and scruffy. We were wondering why.

Apparently, it all began that morning when the old penguin, whose name was Dudu, went into the water to get his morning exercise. The zoo attendant, Haim, came just then to feed the colony of penguins. As you can imagine, the entire colony came running to get their fish.  Well, you can’t call it running by a penguin because they waddle. They all waddled over to Haim and waited in line like they do every day for their personal fish and a good word from Haim.

Dudu was in the water and swam to the side of the pond where the Haim was standing with his buckets of fish. When he got on to land, he slipped and somersaulted in front of everyone.  He slid into the bucket, and all the fish fell out. This caused a ruckus by all the younger folks jumping at the chance to get their fish earlier than expected.  Dudu was covered with fish since he landed under the bucket.  Thus, all the penguins were nibbling at him as they tried to get their breakfast.  That is why Dudu’s feathers were all astray.

Since he is so old, he had gotten out of the habit of pruning himself on a regular basis.  Since he gotten up in the morning and already did his morning toiletry duties, it hadn’t occurred for him to do it again.

We came a bit after this story happened and that is how we found him sitting there quite a mess while he tried to catch his breath for the escapade.  Although Dudu had been covered with fish, no one had noticed including Haim, the zoo attendant, that Dudu didn’t get anything to eat.

There Dudu sat forlornly with no one showing him any care.  Since the Penguins were regularly fed one fish at a time, Haim, realized that someone hadn’t eaten since there was one fish left over in the bucket. None of the Penguins seemed upset.

Haim looked around trying to figure out which penguin missed his meal that morning.  Since he knew all their names and personalities, he looked them over and called them out.  They were all busy eating.  That is when he noticed Dudu just sitting there looking at us.  Haim went over to the old fellow.

“Dudu! Hey, old man, where is your fish?  You had quite a fall today.  Is that why you are sitting here in a mess?” Haim petted Dudu’s head.

Dudu jumped back and looked hurt.  Haim realized he was the one who didn’t get breakfast and threw the fish at Dudu.  Dudu caught it and swallowed happily.  He still didn’t clean his feathers until he took another bath that day.

That is why; we found out, Dudu was a scruffy Penguin.


Putin: “I Know the Secret of Jewish Survival”

Guest Article – Even Putin knows the secret of the Jewish survival!

Putin: “I Know the Secret of Jewish Survival”Guest Article
The Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef once had an amazing meeting with President Vladimir Putin. Here’s a short vignette of the meeting in the rabbi’s words:

“I had a meeting with Putin the President of Russia. I thought we’d have a short meeting with a few pictures for a few minutes but I was surprised; he sat with me for an hour and a quarter! Where did he have the time to do this? He spoke the whole time, he doesn’t know Hebrew and I don’t know Russian but we had our ambassador there who was interpreting between us.”

“He started explaining what Greek culture is, what Egyptian culture is and what Roman culture is. He kept explaining and expounding on the topic and I’m listening to what seems to be a history lesson. Then he turned to me suddenly, surprising me and asked me: “Honorable Rabbi, tell me… all the other cultures disappeared. Who remembers Greek culture today? Who knows what Roman culture or Egyptian culture is today? Nobody knows what these are anymore. You the Jewish nation, you remained! Can you explain to me how is it that you remain and all those other cultures were erased from the world? Rabbi, please give me an explanation for this! I started trying to explain like in outreach seminars which explain basic concepts in Judaism, but he interrupted me and said: “Don’t answer me, I’ll answer you.”

“What did he tell me? Remember he is not Jewish and not someone who came back to Judaism; he is the non-Jewish president of half the world, of Russia and what did he tell me? He told me: “You remain in the merit of your rabbis and of your Torah! Your rabbis spread Torah and in the merit of this you remain.”

“To hear such an answer from a non-Jewish president… he knows the truth! He acknowledged the truth that we remain in the merit of our Torah. The nation of Israel exists only in the merit of our Torah! Therefore let us all strengthen ourselves in our Torah. May the merit of the Torah help to build the Holy Temple speedily in our days, May the Torah protect you all and grant you good health and clear vision and a long life. May we merit seeing the final redemption speedily and in our days, Amen!


The Kotel Controversary Continues

Below are the responses to a couple of articles who are still demanding Israel reject a 3500-year tradition (that is men and women separate when praying). Reform has had abysmal failure in passing on their traditions. Intermarriage rates over 60% and children leaving the fold.  Besides the many who have sided with the Palestinian lies with no serious back up of knowledge due to the liberal university’s political correctness policies.

The two articles I responded to (written below with links if you want to check it out) are written by people I admire.  The first has a comment from an old and valued friend who is the grandson of the great innovator Jacob Blaustein.  The other is Professor Allen Dershowitz, a professor at Harvard Law School – one of the most articulate speakers in this generation.

Although I disagree with both men, it is utter respect, and only in dialogue.  Tell me what you think.

Going to the Wall

by Francine Klagsbrun     http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/going-to-the-wall/?fb_action_ids=10154571986511594&fb_action_types=og.comments


This is a fallacy to think Orthodox called their brothers by horrible names. I am Orthodox and I have never heard of such language. It is true there is anger that the Reform have destroyed the Jewish people – look at the statistics barely 30% of this generation will marry a Jew and it has been proven the children of such marriages are not interested in being Jewish. In my book, that spell failure big time. The Orthodox, on the other hand, are multiplying and are not trying to quickly change to keep up with political correctness.


Yet, any person whose mother was Jewish is a Jew, regardless whether they keep kosher, Shabbos, or any of the other mitzvahs that are given to us for the Torah. In fact, out of the 613 mitzvot, many of them are not kept today because we don’t have a Temple. Those walls are surrounding that Temple that we are missing.  We pray the building of the new Temple so we will merit the possibility of keeping all the mitzvot.  The Reform do not pray for the return of the Temple, and actually, they despise the concept – yet suddenly they need to pray at the Kotel – the western wall surrounding and protecting the Temple?  Do you realize the hypocrisy underplaying this controversy?  When the UN voted against the Kotel and its environs as a Jewish symbol; did the Women of the Wall protest? Did the Reform? No!  They don’t care. It is only a stage for protest.


The Robinson Arch sanctuary is so large and set aside for those who want to have egalitarian services. How do I know it is so large? Because it lies empty, except for a few bar mitzvahs once and awhile. It is hard to see anyone there. The Reform does not care about praying at the wall unless there are news cameras to catch the sight of women wearing tefillin. (It would be nice to see some Reform men wearing tefillin as well.) It is all a spectacle. Anat Hoffman (WOW) and rabbi Jacobs (reform) made a clip to show off the smallness of size of the platform.  They lied!!!  They showed only the tiny platform (large enough to stand a minyan of people) that one can stand and touch the stones of the Wall. They did not show the much larger and beautiful platform that 100 people could stand on with shade, chairs, and a bina!


The only thing that has changed is the entrance is not going to go over the land where the Arabs like to climb to the top, but instead, the area has its own simple entrance. The wooden structure is over the very rocks that the Romans threw down on Tish B’Av when they destroyed the Temple in 70AD. History is part of the very sight.


Most Israelis do not want to pray in an egalitarian place – the majority prefers the Orthodox shuls (to be the shul they don’t go to). If the reform wants so much power to have a say in internal affairs – come, make aliyah, and make a party. Otherwise, remember this is a democratic JEWISH state. Money is nice, but it isn’t everything.


I’m sure when Jacob Blaustein came he was respectful of the minyan that was being held there then. Moreover, I’m sure he didn’t come with the news reporters of the world to show off some sacred ritual being done wrong. He came with honor and intention to pray to the G-d that gave us his Torah.

Discussion on Algemeiner 

Alan Dershowitz: So Now American Zionists Want to Boycott Israel


Comment by Tziyona Kantrowitz Still Pending


I love listening to Alan Dershowitz and am inescapable logic and wisdom. However, this time I think he got it wrong.

Israel is not America. It is a democracy (and actually a much more legitimate democracy since there are more than two parties), but it is not a place where there is freedom of religion. It is a Jewish state, the only Jewish state in the world.

That means the Jewish protocol is respected. All government meetings and across the board are kosher, and the government does not function on Shabbos. That means shuls, and religious places are protected by the government and kept with an official Orthodox look (men and women separated). In addition, because it is a democracy as well, it proves to be the way most Israelis like it. In Israel, unlike America, but more in tune with other Jews around the world, the orthodox system is the shul that Israelis don’t go to. (They do not find reform or conservative legitimate at all.)

This doesn’t go against that Israel has become the safest and best place for growth for Christians and Muslims in the Middle East. It is a pluralistic government when it comes to other religions, but it will not become pluralistic when it comes to Judaism. As we have seen the demise of the Jewish people through the followings of the Reform, who don’t even want to live in the land of Israel but feel perfectly capable of telling Israel what to do. The Reform and followed by the Conservative movements have brought havoc on to the Jewish people. Their stance about the Kotel is particularly ridiculous, since most Reform do not care about the Temple, which is what the Kotel is all about, nor do they find it important to pray at the wall unless news cameras are watching.

The ultra-religious do not wield an unhealthy control over anybody, they have the same power as any other small (and we are talking about small) party. However, all and all, the Israeli mindset is not into integrating the Kotel for some radical women who put on tefillin once a month for the TV cameras. They like the Kotel as is.

Reform leader declares: ‘We don’t want to pray at a second class Kotel’

Non-Orthodox Jews (especially the Reform and Women of the Wall) are all up and arms about the Kotel. Let’s examine their claims:

  1. There is no place for them. WRONG – for years already there is a lovely platform lying over the rocks that give witness to the destruction of the Holy Temple by the Romans in 70AD on Tish B’av.
  2. The plaza is only second class rated. Well, that is a personal opinion, but I have no idea where they get that statement. It is the scene of our heritage; it is right next to the plaza for women and the southern wall, which was at the time of the Temple the entrance of the separated stairs leading up to the Temple.  It is actually near the ramps that the people used to enter the Holy Temple. What exactly is second rate?
  3. They don’t have an entrance near the other plazas. True, they have their own entrance which is much more assessable and without the need to go through the long lines, nor pay – as one needs to do if they want to go into the southern quarter).
  4. The Orthodox take the whole plaza and don’t let anyone else in. WRONG. It is true it is forbidden for women to bring in a sefer Torah to read at an all-women-minyan. It is prohibited for women to put on tefillin and a tallit even on the women side. (For mixed and women minyan there is the section as mentioned above.) However, anyone can come in otherwise.  Any Jew; religious or secular, or even non-Jews – anyone – but it is a holy place and needs to be respected.
  5. Only when the Orthodox came was the plaza split, for years the wall was open to everyone. NOT EXACTLY, TRUE.  From 1948-1967 the entrance was impossible to get to because of the Arab’s houses and garbage they threw onto the ground so the Temple would be desecrated.  (That is why the gate is still called dung or garbage gate). Before people would come to pray, but the wall was not split, there wasn’t room and the Jews were not in charge.  Yet any picture you look at from those days – those who came were all Orthodox.  There was barely any tourism. The Kotel is the closest place we have to the holy of holies in the Temple – and the Temple was always separated between men and women, that is why the Rabbis enacted the same law for the only connection we have to the Temple today.  (Moreover, cohanim and Israelim, and taraha and tamei, and Jew and non-Jew – there were many separations.)

Now it is my turn:  If the Reform cares so much about the Kotel and its access- answer these questions:

  1. Why don’t you believe or pray for the Holy Temple? Where is it in your prayer books? Why is the Kotel meaningful to you at all anyway?
  2. Why didn’t you support Israel when it comes to BDS? Why aren’t you on campus helping Jewish Students from being shouted down?
  3. Why were you supporting Obama when he was systematically trying to harm Israel? Why didn’t you protest the Iranian proposal? Why did you not protest all the building freezes?  Did you think that the terrorists’ killing is acceptable because we build houses?
  4. Where were your cries when UN voted against the Kotel‘s Jewish history?
  5. Why didn’t you cry out when Obama slipped the Palestinians millions of dollars in the last few hours of his presidency?
  6. Why don’t you care about the future of the Jewish people and stop intermarriage? When your statistics stand over 60% of non-orthodox Jews intermarry y how can, you come and tell us how to conduct our holy spots?
  7. The Reform is so angry because of an entrance? The reform delegation in Israel acted the same as the misguided seniors of college who walk out of audiences when a right wing person might speak like the vice president of United States. Alternatively, they yell down when someone says something they don’t like.  If you are so sensitive to your needs, and you couldn’t come to the table to talk to the Prime Minister of Israel, does that prove you could care less about the Jewish people and Israel?  You didn’t even protest for all the things above!
  8. And on top of it all, the Reform think they can dictate who a Jew is? Why bother bringing in goyim into the Jewish people if they are not interested in keeping anything that is part of the Jewish people.
  9. Reform Jews believe in hesed, Tikun olam – which are beautiful concepts (of course we may not agree what needs fixing….) but why do they think that makes them Jewish? There aren’t righteous gentiles? What makes a Jew different that a non-Jew? If the Reform movement can not answer that question (and I don’t believe they can) – there is no right for the reform to ask their kids to be Jews – which is what is happening.  And that is why we can’t leave you in charge of our holy sites or the laws of conversion.


Could Be Worse

(You should check with your accountant with any financial information gleaned from here.)

We are bemoaning our fate filling out our taxes this year.  The letter combinations of FBAR, FACTA, Pfic on any funds outside of America including the apparently evil ‘mutual fund’ (the ones the bank recommends) has all come to haunt us.  (If you are an American expatriate with investments in your local area- read Israel-, you should know these terms. Just saying.) The cruelest part of the American demands isn’t the declarations we need to make or even the tax they demand on each gain (and they could care less how much we lost) of every sale our mutual fund(s) make; it is the means we need to research this information.

I used to have a false notion that everyone should be able to fill out their own taxes. A Masters or Accounting degree was for businesses and various problems. We usually have gone the expensive route due to our total inadequacies in the area.  However, to fill out the Pfic one must take a company to process the information with a minimum 5 hours at $250 an hour (and another 16% for VAT- for the Israeli government’s take)- though they warn you most need a minimum 15 hours.  One of our accountant’s clients paid 100,000 dollars to be processed for a $7 bill!  Do you get the imbalance here?

Personally, I would like to offer a deal with the IRS – can I just pay you $1000 and we’ll call it even? However, no one is interested in my generosity; they want to make sure they milked us for all the money that they think we have been squirreling away from their reach and reward all those that ‘help’ us.

Escorting our accountant out the door (yes, she came to us since she knew we might be in a little shock), she gave me a curious look when I said, “Thank G-d it is only money.”  She is religious, so it wasn’t the notion that surprised her. I think she could see deeper and realize that the words were right, but doubted any deepness to my faith. I hadn’t seen the damage yet.

Like Rabbi Akiva who was sent a pauper (who didn’t have even straw to sleep on and his wife was about to give birth) to make Akiva feel richer. His comfort came from the knowledge that there are always people even in worse situations. Hashem started pointing out to us that very day others hardships.

One family friend I knew was in worse financial trouble due to the same issues (though they made more money – so G-d willing that will offset their issues.) Another friend came by just the same day and told me of the horrible situation her daughter found herself involving divorce, abuse and child custody battles being fought in the court. Another friend’s daughter has been incapable of fighting her mental illness. My neighbor lost her dear father and needs to comfort her elderly mother who seems completely at a loss. Again, on the same day, another friend told me of her granddaughter’s birth, which had complications, which may require serious intervention.

Seriously, thank G-d, He has been so kind to us.  It is only money.

Nevertheless, I find it strange that we are comforted by recognizing the hardships of others.  It is important to know of our friends’ troubles. I hope that it means we remember to keep them in our prayers and find ways to help in some capacity. However, isn’t there a cruelness in this method to be comforted by other’s tragedies?

Our lives though were never meant to be smooth and placid.  We learn through hardships.  A diamond isn’t worth more than its potential unless it has been sanded down and polished.  We all face difficulties if we are living. (That is why evil people may have it easier – they aren’t truly considered living and have forfeited the right to be given opportunities for teshuva or growth.) We can suffer through financial, medical, faith-related, or marriage issues (just to touch a few), but all problems are here to teach us something, whether it is punitive, an opportunity to provide us a greater yehoshua or a test. Nevertheless, it is always for our good; it is our task to take the challenge and grow.

Recognizing there are others that are going through hard times as well, is comforting, we are not being singled out, but part of the people who G-d loves and is given steps to improve ourselves regularly. G-d willing we can face our troubles with a real belief in Hashem.

Like I said before, (and I hope to continually only need to say), Thank G-d it is only money.


The 2016 Election and the Demise of Journalistic Standards

The behavior of much of the media, but especially The New York Times, was a disgrace. I don’t believe it ever will recover the public trust it squandered.

By Michael Goodwin from the The New York Post

The following is adapted from a speech delivered on April 20, 2017, in Atlanta, Georgia, at a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar.

PURSUING TRUTH • DEFENDING LIBERTY SINCE 1844 mainstream media puts both thumbs on the scale—that most of what you read, watch, and listen to is distorted by intentional bias and hostility. I have never seen anything like it. Not even close. It’s not exactly breaking news that most journalists lean left. I used to do that myself. I grew up at The New York Times, so I’m familiar with the species. For most of the media, bias grew out of the social revolution of the 1960s and ’70s. Fueled by the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements, the media jumped on the anti-authority bandwagon writ large. The deal was sealed with Watergate, when journalism was viewed as more trusted than government—and far more exciting and glamorous. Think Robert Redford in All the President’s Men. Ever since, young people became journalists because they wanted to be the next Woodward and Bernstein, find a Deep Throat, and bring down a president. Of course, most of them only wanted to bring down a Republican president. That’s because liberalism is baked into the journalism cake.

During the years I spent teaching at the Columbia University School of Journalism, I often found myself telling my students that the job of the reporter was “to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” I’m not even sure where I first heard that line, but it still captures the way most journalists think about what they do. Translate the first part of that compassionate-sounding idea into the daily decisions about what makes news, and it is easy to fall into the habit of thinking that every person afflicted by something is entitled to help. Or, as liberals like to say, “Government is what we do together.” From there, it’s a short drive to the conclusion that every problem has a government solution. The rest of that journalistic ethos— “afflict the comfortable”—leads to the knee-jerk support of endless taxation. Somebody has to pay for that government intervention the media loves to demand. In the same vein, and for the same reason, the average reporter will support every conceivable regulation as a way to equalize conditions for the poor. He will also give sympathetic coverage to groups like Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter.

A New Dimension I knew all of this about the media mindset going into the 2016 presidential campaign. But I was still shocked at what happened. This was not naïve liberalism run amok. This was a whole new approach to politics. No one in modern times had seen anything like it. As with grief, there were several stages. In the beginning, Donald Trump’s candidacy was treated as an outlandish publicity stunt, as though he wasn’t a serious candidate and should be treated as a circus act. But television executives quickly made a surprising discovery: the more they put Trump on the air, the higher their ratings climbed. Ratings are money. So news shows started devoting hours and hours simply to pointing the cameras at Trump and letting them run. As his rallies grew, the coverage grew. The candidate nobody in the media took seriously was attracting the most people to his events and getting the most news coverage. Newspapers got in on the game too. Trump, unlike most of his opponents, was always available to the press, and could be counted on to say something outrageous or controversial that made a headline. He made news by being a spectacle. Despite the mockery of journalists and late-night comics, something extraordinary was happening. Trump was dominating a campaign none of the smart money thought he could win. And then, suddenly, he was winning. Only when the crowded Republican field began to thin and Trump kept racking up primary and caucus victories did the media’s tone grow more serious. One study estimated that Trump had received so much free airtime that if he had had to buy it, the price would have been $2 billion. The realization that they had helped Trump’s rise seemed to make many executives, producers, and journalists furious. By the time he secured the nomination and the general election rolled around, they were gunning for him. Only two people now had a chance to be president, and the overwhelming media consensus was that it could not be Donald Trump. They would make sure of that. The coverage of him grew so vicious and one-sided that last August I wrote a column on the unprecedented bias. Under the headline “American Journalism Is Collapsing Before Our Eyes,” I wrote that the so-called cream of the media crop was “engaged in a naked display of partisanship” designed to bury Trump and elect Hillary Clinton. The evidence was on the front page, the back page, the culture pages, even the sports pages. It was at the top of the broadcast and at the bottom of the broadcast. Day in, day out, in every media market in America, Trump was savaged like no other candidate in memory. We were watching the total collapse of standards, with fairness and balance tossed overboard. Every story was an opinion masquerading as news, and every opinion ran in the same direction—toward Clinton and away from Trump.

For the most part, I blame The New York Times and The Washington Post for causing this breakdown. The two leading liberal newspapers were trying to top each other in their demonization of Trump and his supporters. They set the tone, and most of the rest of the media followed like lemmings. On one level, tougher scrutiny of Trump was clearly defensible. He had a controversial career and lifestyle, and he was seeking the presidency as his first job in government. He also provided lots of fuel with some of his outrageous words and deeds during the campaign. But from the beginning there was also a second element to the lopsided coverage.

The New York Times has not endorsed a Republican for president since Dwight Eisenhower in 1956, meaning it would back a dead raccoon if it had a “D” after its name. Think of it—George McGovern over Richard Nixon? Jimmy Carter over Ronald Reagan? Walter Mondale over Reagan? Any Democrat would do. And The Washington Post, which only started making editorial endorsements in the 1970s, has never once endorsed a Republican for president.

But again, I want to emphasize that 2016 had those predictable elements plus a whole new dimension. This time, the papers dropped the pretense of fairness and jumped headlong into the tank for one candidate over the other. The Times media reporter began a story this way: If you’re a working journalist and you believe that Donald J. Trump is a demagogue playing to the nation’s worst racist and nationalist tendencies, that he cozies up to anti-American dictators and that he would be dangerous with control of the United States nuclear codes, how the heck are you supposed to cover him? I read that paragraph and I thought to myself, well, that’s actually an easy question. If you feel that way about Trump, normal journalistic ethics would dictate that you shouldn’t cover him. You cannot be fair. And you shouldn’t be covering Hillary Clinton either, because you’ve already decided who should be president. Go cover sports or entertainment. Yet the Times media reporter rationalized the obvious bias he had just acknowledged, citing the view that Clinton was “normal” and Trump was not.

I found the whole concept appalling. What happened to fairness? What happened to standards? I’ll tell you what happened to them. The Times top editor, Dean Baquet, eliminated them. In an interview last October with the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, Baquet admitted that the piece by his media reporter had nailed his own thinking. Trump “challenged our language,” he said, and Trump “will have changed journalism.” Of the daily struggle for fairness, Baquet had this to say: “I think that Trump has ended that struggle. . . . We now say stuff. We fact check him. We write it more powerfully that [what he says is] false.”

Baquet was being too modest. Trump was challenging, sure, but it was Baquet who changed journalism. He’s the one who decided that the standards of fairness and nonpartisanship could be abandoned without consequence. With that decision, Baquet also changed the basic news story formula. To the age-old elements of who, what, when, where, and why, he added the reporter’s opinion. Now the floodgates were open, and virtually every so-called news article reflected a clear bias against Trump. Stories, photos, headlines, placement in the paper—all the tools that writers and editors have— were summoned to the battle. The goal was to pick the next president. Thus began the spate of stories, which continues today, in which the Times routinely calls Trump a liar in its news pages and headlines. Again, the contrast with the past is striking.

The Times never called Barack Obama a liar, despite such obvious opportunities as “you can keep your doctor” and “the Benghazi attack was caused by an internet video.” Indeed, the Times and The Washington Post, along with most of the White House press corps, spent eight years cheerleading the Obama administration, seeing not a smidgen of corruption or dishonesty. They have been tougher on Hillary Clinton during her long career. But they still never called her a liar, despite such doozies as “I set up my own computer server so I would only need one device,” “I turned over all the government emails,” and “I never sent or received classified emails.” All those were lies, but not to the national media.

Only statements by Trump were fair game. As we know now, most of the media totally missed Trump’s appeal to millions upon millions of Americans. The prejudice against him blinded those news organizations to what was happening in the country. Even more incredibly, I believe the bias and hostility directed at Trump backfired. The feeling that the election was, in part, a referendum on the media, gave some voters an extra incentive to vote for Trump. A vote for him was a vote against the media and against Washington.

Not incidentally, Trump used that sentiment to his advantage, often revving up his crowds with Stories, photos, headlines, placement in the paper—all the tools that writers and editors have—were summoned to the battle. The goal was to pick the next president.

He still does. If I haven’t made it clear, let me do so now. The behavior of much of the media, but especially The New York Times, was a disgrace. I don’t believe it ever will recover the public trust it squandered. The Times’ previous reputation for having the highest standards was legitimate. Those standards were developed over decades to force reporters and editors to be fair and to gain public trust. The commitment to fairness made The New York Times the flagship of American journalism. But standards are like laws in the sense that they are designed to guide your behavior in good times and in bad. Consistent adherence to them was the source of the Times’ credibility. And eliminating them has made the paper less than ordinary. Its only standards now are double standards. I say this with great sadness.

I was blessed to grow up at the Times, getting a clerical job right out of college and working my way onto the reporting staff, where I worked for a decade. It was the formative experience of my career where I learned most of what I know about reporting and writing. Alas, it was a different newspaper then. Abe Rosenthal was the editor in those days, and long before we’d ever heard the phrase “zero tolerance,” that’s what Abe practiced toward conflicts of interest and reporters’ opinions. He set the rules and everybody knew it.

Here is a true story about how Abe Rosenthal resolved a conflict of interest. A young woman was hired by the Times from one of the Philadelphia newspapers. But soon after she arrived in New York, a story broke in Philly that she had had a romantic affair with a political figure she had covered, and that she had accepted a fur coat and other expensive gifts from him. When he saw the story, Abe called the woman into his office and asked her if it were true. When she said yes, he told her to clean out her desk—that she was finished at the Times and would never work there again. As word spread through the newsroom, some reporters took the woman’s side and rushed in to tell Abe that firing her was too harsh. He listened for about 30 seconds, raised his hand for silence, and said (this is slightly bowdlerized): “I don’t care if you have a romantic affair with an elephant on your personal time, but then you can’t cover the circus for the paper.” Case closed.

The conflict of interest policy was clear, absolute, and unforgettable. As for reporters’ opinions, Abe had a similar approach. He didn’t want them in the news pages. And if you put them in, he took them out. They belonged in the opinion pages only, which were managed separately. Abe said he knew reporters tended to lean left and would find ways to sneak their views into the stories. So he saw his job as steering the paper slightly to the right. “That way,” he said, “the paper would end up in the middle.” He was well known for this attitude, which he summed up as “keeping the paper straight.” He even said he wanted his epitaph to read, “He kept the paper straight.” Like most people, I thought this was a joke. But after I related all this in a column last year, his widow contacted me and said it wasn’t a joke—that, in fact, Abe’s tombstone reads, “He kept the paper straight.” She sent me a picture to prove it. I published that picture of his tombstone alongside a column where I excoriated the Times for its election coverage. Sadly, the Times’ high standards were buried with Abe Rosenthal.

Looking to the Future Which brings us to the crucial questions. Can the American media be fixed? And is there anything that we The behavior of much of the media, but especially The New York Times, was a disgrace. I don’t believe it ever will recover the public trust it squandered as individuals can do to make a difference? The short answer to the first question is, “No, it can’t be fixed.”

The 2016 election was the media’s Humpty Dumpty moment. It fell off the wall, shattered into a million pieces, and can’t be put back together again. In case there is any doubt, 2017 is confirming that the standards are still dead. The orgy of visceral Trump-bashing continues unabated. But the future of journalism isn’t all gloom and doom. In fact, if we accept the new reality of widespread bias and seize the potential it offers, there is room for optimism. Consider this—the election showed the country is roughly divided 50-50 between people who will vote for a Democrat and people who will vote for a Republican. But our national media is more like 80-20 in favor of Democrats. While the media should, in theory, broadly reflect the public, it doesn’t. Too much of the media acts like a special interest group. Detached from the greater good, it exists to promote its own interest and the political party with which it is aligned. Ronald Reagan’s optimism is often expressed in a story that is surely apocryphal, but irresistible. He is said to have come across a barn full of horse manure and remarked cheerfully that there must be a pony in it somewhere. I suggest we look at the media landscape in a similar fashion. The mismatch between the mainstream media and the public’s sensibilities means there is a vast untapped market for news and views that are not now represented.

To realize that potential, we only need three ingredients, and we already have them: first, free speech; second, capitalism and free markets; and the third ingredient is you, the consumers of news. Free speech is under assault, most obviously on many college campuses, but also in the news media, which presents a conformist view to its audience and gets a politically segregated audience in return. Look at the letters section in The New York Times—virtually every reader who writes in agrees with the opinions of the paper. This isn’t a miracle; it’s a bubble. Liberals used to love to say, “I don’t agree with your opinion, but I would fight to the death for your right to express it.” You don’t hear that anymore from the Left. Now they want to shut you up if you don’t agree. And they are having some success. But there is a countervailing force. Look at what happened this winter when the Left organized boycotts of department stores that carried Ivanka Trump’s clothing and jewelry. Nordstrom folded like a cheap suit, but Trump’s supporters rallied on social media and Ivanka’s company had its best month ever.

This is the model I have in mind for the media. It is similar to how FOX News got started. Rupert Murdoch thought there was an untapped market for a more fair and balanced news channel, and he recruited Roger Ailes to start it more than 20 years ago. Ailes found a niche market alright—half the country! Incredible advances in technology are also on the side of free speech. The explosion of choices makes it almost impossible to silence all dissent and gain a monopoly, though certainly Facebook and Google are trying. As for the necessity of preserving capitalism, look around the world. Nations without economic liberty usually have little or no dissent. That’s not a coincidence.

In this, I’m reminded of an enduring image from the Occupy Wall Street movement. That movement was a pestilence, egged on by The mismatch between the mainstream media and the public’s sensibilities means there is a vast untapped market for news and views that are not now represented. President Obama and others who view other people’s wealth as a crime against the common good. This attitude was on vivid display as the protesters held up their iPhones to demand the end of capitalism. As I wrote at the time, did they believe Steve Jobs made each and every Apple product one at a time in his garage? Did they not have a clue about how capital markets make life better for more people than any other system known to man? They had no clue. And neither do many government officials, who think they can kill the golden goose and still get golden eggs.

Which brings me to the third necessary ingredient in determining where we go from here. It’s you. I urge you to support the media you like. As the great writer and thinker Midge Decter once put it, “You have to join the side you’re on.” It’s no secret that newspapers and magazines are losing readers and money and shedding staff. Some of them are good newspapers. Some of them are good magazines. There are also many wonderful, thoughtful, small publications and websites that exist on a shoestring. Don’t let them die. Subscribe or contribute to those you enjoy. Give subscriptions to friends. Put your money where your heart and mind are. An expanded media landscape that better reflects the diversity of public preferences would, in time, help create a more level political and cultural arena. That would be a great thing. So again I urge you: join the side you’re on. ■


MICHAEL GOODWIN is the chief political columnist for The New York Post. He has a B.A. in English literature from Columbia College and has taught at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Before joining the Post in 2009, he was the political columnist for The New York Daily News, where he served as executive editor and editorial page editor and led its editorial board to a Pulitzer Prize. Prior to that, he worked for 16 years at The New York Times, beginning as a clerk and rising to City Hall Bureau Chief. He is the coauthor of I, Koch and editor of New York Comes Back. The 2016 Election and the Demise of Journalistic Standards Michael Goodwin The New York Post The following is adapted from a speech delivered on April 20, 2017, in Atlanta, Georgia, at a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar.

Imprimis-The-Demise-of-Journalistic-Standards-May-June-2017.  “Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College.” MAY/JUNE 2017 • VOLUME 46, NUMBER 5/6 < hillsdale.edu 3

Quora question: What are the main differences between dating within Orthodox Judaism and dating in the secular world?

Orthodox have a 7% divorce rate while the overall Jewish rate is more than 50% and for the general population over 65%!

In the Orthodox (I can really only speak of my experience – which is only through my kids – we are Haredim though not Chassidim), each group is slightly different but work on the same principals.

First of all, dating is for marriage. Dating is not to just go out and have a good time or meet someone nice to spend a little time with. Marriage is considered the ultimate in building a person and the goal of every child.

So how does it work? Just remember not everything is exactly the same – but it is all similar in each group. We send resumes to shaddachim. This is similar to a resume that one sends to a job. And if you think about it the whole approach might sound like a business deal, but what is the most important thing in a person’s life? -Their spouse and children. We treat it with the same reverence and concern. A person doesn’t hire someone else without checking their background, their skills, their desires and then have interviews. Shouldn’t that be the minimum one does for their spouse?

The resume lists family information, school and work information, a general description of how the person would describe themselves, and what they are looking for in a spouse and then references from family friends, friends, work or school/yeshiva references, and their Rabbi or Rebbetzin’s phone numbers.

The Shaddachan (the matchmaker – which can be a friend, family member, a professional, male or female) suggests the idea to both sides. (In our circles it usually is to the parents.)

Both sides look into it. They call the references and then they do Jewish geography, they figure someone else they know well who knows the girl/boy or family and ask questions.

If both sides agree (and at this point if there are money expectations it is told over) then a date is made.

The first date is just to find out if they enjoy each other’s company. (Since the homework has already been done to see if they are on the same page for major issues – their goals in life, where they want to live (Israel or abroad – in general terms).

The second date is similar but gets into more serious issues.

The third date is to bring up anything that normally would turn the other side off but is not major (Serous problems should be ironed out in the beginning (such as previous cancer, divorced, children, etc; previous sickness, crazy family member, or something. And again it is to get more serious.

Usually, by the 4th or 5th date, it is pretty clear whether they are going to get engaged, but it can continue until both sides are 100% clear (though it should be understood there really isn’t anything 100% clarity in anything.)

The boy rarely actually pops the question without knowing for sure from the shadchan that she is ready to say yes. Then they go out again, then meet at the girl’s family and invite the boy’s side over. Families meet. (Sometimes the parents meet before the first date.)

The shadchan has 3 jobs (and so if there are more than one person involved it gets divided – including payment). 1. To make the suggestion 2. To set up the dates 3. to guide the couple along the way.

Chassidim are a bit faster in the dating but much more thorough in the checking out stage. They also usually meet 1–3 times in someone’s house not in hotel lobbies or restaurants, or parks. They also aren’t looking for chemistry, the click, they are looking to make sure they are interested in each other and nothing major would block them. They build the love afterward.

Actually, love is not a big equation in dating for either group. The understanding is true love is a relationship one has built and worked together which takes years. In the beginning, there can be ‘falling in love’ moment, but maybe not – and it really doesn’t matter – because that feeling is always a temporary feeling and can be very misleading. Having the same goals, and usually similar backgrounds are really what makes the relationship successful.

There are divorces, but so much lower than secular. Orthodox have a 7% divorce rate while the overall Jewish rate is more than 50% and for the general population over 65%!

And let me tell you watching my children get married through the system is pure naches – Jewish joy.

A Lesson from Snap Judgments

National fake news teaches us not to make snap judgments.

Story after story from the left media that has been against Trump and the Republicans has been proven to be false, made up or not a story.  It is from a hatred of Trump.  Incitement, impeachment, and other idiotic statements are continually blasted from every outlet. The crazy Bernie Sanders supporter that took shooting practice at the Republican baseball team was affected by these provocations.

The left does not know how to lose gracefully.  They stand at right-wing speakers and shout them down – thinking they have a right. (They are wrong.  No one has the right to shout down others; they have a right to listen, argue, and disagree.)

Believe me, most right-wingers were very upset to have Obama in office for eight years and for good reason he destroyed America’s standing in the international arena.  There were not demonstrations, picketing or pleas for impeachment.  People did not walk out when any of the staff members were speaking in any form.  There was not a daily dose of false news as there is today.

The entire political rampage the left has thrust at the national and international scene has caused a deep hatred in the American society.  There has always been division, different approaches and values in the country (in fact there once a war).  However, most times the country has acted democratically.  These false stories (fake news, as it is called) are feeding hatred in America that has not been seen in a long time.

There is a lesson deep in this muck.  How to improve my not speaking lashon hora skills. Since the media is so quick to find fault no matter how outrageous the story, it reminds me how important it is not to believe everything we hear.  About anyone!

I know anytime I heard Obama’s name in the same sentence with Israel – it was not going to bear well for us.  Just his name brought me to anger, and therefore it was hard to hear anything possibly could be good in his name.  I’m sure some day even Republicans will find something good about him. The same is true by Trump.  (Already seen is the amazing work of his UN ambassador Nikki Haley. She has made it clear the Israel bashing in the UN needs to be changed. She is a reason to shout for joy).

The halacha is that if someone is a rasha – a wicked one – then you don’t have to assume that anything he does is righteous – even if it looks like it.  The opposite is true for the Tzadik, even if you were to see a prestigious rabbi walk into a treif restaurant you are to assume there was a good reason.

When it comes to a benoni a person in the middle, where some of his actions are not great, and some are good, one is to give him the benefit of the doubt.   However, (as I learned once by R. Anthony Manning) one doesn’t have to judge him favorably across the board.  If you know he is weak in one area; then you can assume that the action you saw was probably not the best.

I’m not going to decide if either our presidents are closer to any of these definitive descriptions.  However, the important thing to learn from the media and their behavior is we should not be jumping to snap judgments. Perhaps we should be assuming that anything reported should be suspect of being false, exaggerated or at least missing a few details.  We (meaning I) need to react to all news, descriptions, or ‘gossip’ heard about anyone.  We should not make snap judgments.

As Rebbetzin Samet used to say in her amazing speeches about Lashon Hora, ‘we came in at Chapter Two.’ We just don’t ever know the whole story.

This doesn’t mean we can think that Obama had his best interest for Israel – because in that department he proved himself wicked.  We can assume that he really cared for the people of America, as the same as President Trump.

When seeing an Arab woman like Linda Sarsour telling of horrible lies about Israel, we can assume she is lying and wicked.  This though does not mean another Arab woman who has something to be said is of the same mindset.

On the personal level, when I hear noise in the kitchen in the middle of the night, I shouldn’t assume that one of my kids got home later than expected.  Maybe it was a cat, someone got up just recently, or the same someone just finished learning and hadn’t realized the time.  I am trying to step away from snap judgments that plague my emotions and fill my heart with anger.  Who knows, I probably got it wrong in the first place.

Learning not to make snap judgments should improve my emotional temperament and give me the clarity to see the good in others. Something that would be nice to be seen even at the national level too.






Jew or Jewess?

I don’t mind being called a Jew or Jewess. I am proud to be a Jewish women and thus if Jewess declares that meaning – why not. Women have a distinct role in Judaism and should not be offended to be reminded of their difference from men.

TheTisch: Rabbi Menachem Creditor's Blog: Articles on Women and Kippot

Jewish women would be much better off trying to learn and fulfill the feminine role opposed to trying take on the men’s position and special halachos. Women do not need to have a minyan, wear tefillin, tzitzit or a kippah. But women should pray daily, bring in Shabbos with lightening candles before the onset of Shabbos, keep the laws of Tahara Mishpacha, know the laws of challah, kashrus, Shabbos and all the other halachos that pertain to women special or together with men.

Shabbat – Drawing Down the Divine Radiance | Coming Into the Light ...  Mikvah with Tikvah: Jewish Rituals and OCD | | Center for Anxiety ...  Taking Challah

Judaism only survives because of the Jewish family; a man, woman, and their children. In other words, the Jewish nation is here because Jews and Jewess bring their Jewish children up in the Jewish tradition.

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