Follow up on Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo is not anti-Semitic. I had a problem with their services and was told it was because I lived in an unauthorized country, Israel.  What I hadn’t understood it was because the type of account I had was not legal for Israeli laws and therefore they called it an unauthorized country. I apologize for any misunderstanding.

The Seeds of Hitler’s Nazi Party

The Freikorps reads as “Who’s Who” of the Nazi party.

The End of World War I, the Beginning of the Weimar Republic, the formation of the Freikorps/SA/SS

A 100 Years Ago This Week

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Officially, World War I ended November 11, 1918, leaving Germany in shambles. Two days earlier, November 9, 1918, the Keiser Wilhelm II, the imperial leader of Germany, abdicated.

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Though Germany had clearly lost the Great War (which later would become known as World War I) the Kaiser hadn’t quite realized to what extent he lost the solidier’s loyalty and obedience until his heir presumptive, Prince of Baden, who had been recently appointed as Chancellor abdicated. The German soldiers saw that on the battlefield the end was a reality. No one wanted to be the last soldier to die. Prince Max reluctantly signed the armistice with the Allies ending the war and the end of the German imperial government.

The same day, Prince Max appointed the largest political party, Socialist Democrat Party (SPD) in charge of the government. Philipp Schneidermann as the head of the SPD announced the beginning of a new government naming Fredrick Ebert from the same central left party as president and he, himself as Chancellor. It was the first time Germany ever had a Democratic government.

Revolutions

Just a year prior to this auspicious date, in 1917 the Bolsheviks had ended the rule of the imperial Czar of Russia inspiring a new future, power to the people. Kings around the world were being toppled, resulting in various forms of government from communism, socialism as well as Fascism.  Korea, Portugal, China, Mongolia, and later Spain as well as Russia’s monarchy were all replaced with new ‘ism’s’ in those first few decades of the 20th century.

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‘The German Revolution’ or known as the ‘November Revolution’ (Novemberrevolution) unleashed the new political unrest. Between the extreme burdens suffered by the people during the four years of war, the demoralizing defeat of the German Empire and general social tensions between the elite of aristocrats and the middle class many were looking for a new direction in government, whether it was the new democracy or communism from Russia.

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The Communists, already gaining power during the war was led by Rosa Luxemburg (a Jewess among many other Jewish personalities) and Karl Liebknecht. The large party was well organized all over the country and staged strikes demanding their rights.  In addition, a dispute between the Navy Command, who called their troops to fight (without authorization) and the German sailors who refused to go to battle the English. The long four-year war without any victory in sight had proven to be more than enough for the sailors. They led a mutiny against their officers during those first days of November. They wished only to collect their paychecks and go home for the December holidays. The spirit of civil unrest spread throughout Germany. It was clearly a time for a change as the army dissipated while terms were being negotiated at Versailles.

The Weimar Republic

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The new fledging democratic government named after the city it was formed in the center east of Germany, Weimar, was a true democracy. It had a constitution, a bill of rights; which granted civil liberties to all of the people (including for the first time: Jews, women, and others), all political parties had true representation in the government, and the people voted directly for the Chancellor every seven years and President every four years. Since numerous amount of parties could be voted in, many coalitions were made up of unpredictable partners. Rarely (especially when Hitler was trying to gain power) did the full four years elapsed before there was another election.

Article 48

Unfortunately, there was a clause in the constitution, which was not limited, maintained a check or balance when used.  Article 48: stated the President, under circumstances that he could decide upon, was permitted to take emergency measures without the prior consent of the Reichstag (the rest of the government). The government could overturn the decree with a simple majority. Yet, since the government tended to be unruly with many dissents of opinions, as well a need to squash ‘revolutions’ which threatened the demise of the Weimar Republic besides the famous hyperinflation and then depression, which created havoc in the economic spheres, President Ebert took the liberty 136 times.  This set the precedent, which Hitler and the Nazis used to become democratically a Totalitarianism fascist state.

The new fledgling democracy lacked an army to deal with the Communists or other pressures and increase violence. The army’s General Groaner offered protection in lieu of complete independence running the army himself. Ebert accepted.

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The communists joined the democracy forming a new but large party: “First General Convention of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Councils” which encouraged further communist revolution. The army, however, turned out, was not interested in any battles in spite of the agreement, claiming that ‘Germans don’t kill Germans’. Ebert and his defense minister Gustav Noshke, known for a hostile approach, brought in the Freikorps to put the Communists down.

 

Who were the Freikorps?

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The Freikorps (meaning free corps – an army group without any direct connection to the government, was an old concept from the 1880’s.  They were a mercenary troop). During the Weimar period, the Freikorps came from all over the country and formed into a fierce military with each group headed usually by an ex-army leader.  They became disciplined and violent employed by the new republic to keep order.  They were men who had come home from the army who missed the action, the commandership, and the power. Sometimes they really didn’t have a home to go back to at all.  Many men were restless and unable to return to civilian life. Perhaps in our modern day hindsight, we would recognize them with PTSD and would have sought help for them. Some of them were also men who had been too young to join the army (like Hendrich Himmler) and having missed the main action wanted to be part of it then.  Some were unemployed, some were from gangs, thugs, and other low lives who enjoyed violence and were happy to join. The Freikorps attracted the strong, right-wing men who had supported the Kaiser and hated the communist. They became a fighting machine who reveled in the fear and terror they held over regular citizens. The more they were used to keep the Weimar Republic in power the more they became haters of anyone who wasn’t like them opposed to being pro-government.

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The Freikorps when brought in to squash the Communist revolution killed over 15,000 Germans died in nine days of street fighting in Berlin in March 1919, with another 12,000 wounded. The unrest spread throughout Germany.  In Munich, the communist “government” was brought down, with 10,000 communists killed.

In January, the Freikorps abducted the leaders of the communist party (without government approval), Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht.  First, they tortured them and then brutally murdered and disposed of their bodies unceremoniously. They threw Luxemburg’s decapitated body into the sea. Liebknecht was found the next morning at the steps of a morgue.

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This violent self-governing behavior became the signature mark of the Freikorps.  They would not think twice about shooting into a crowd of people whether it was a democratic protest or a group the Freikorps defined as ‘wrong’.

Freikorps read as Who’s Who of the Nazi Party

The members of Freikorps would eventually be the Who’s Who for the Nazi party (for those who survived the ‘Night of the Long Knives’ in 1933 under Hitler’s command).  The original list of the Freikorps in 1918 included:

  • Rudolf Höss had a strict Catholic upbringing. He joined the war underage, and by 17, he was a commandment. He joined the Nazi party in 1922 after attending university and became the longest Kommandant of Auschwitz. He personally proudly developed the Z-gas Showers, which brought three and a half million people to their death in the camp.  He was sentenced in Nuremberg but hung in Auschwitz.  Image result for rudolf hoes
  • Heinrich Himmler, the son of a Roman Catholic secondary-school master, was too young to join the army, so he joined the Freikorps after the war. He became one of the most powerful men in Nazi Germany. Though he was not considered too close to Hitler, he was one of those directly responsible for the Holocaust.  He committed suicide when caught by the British.  Image result for heinrich himmler
  • Reinhard Heydrich was also too young to fight in World War I and joined the Freikorps afterward. Image result for Reinhard HeydrichHe came from a religious, wealthy, musically known family. He became a high-ranking German Nazi official, the main architect of the Holocaust, responsible for half million deaths. He was assassinated at the end of the war.
  • Ernst Röhm did serve in the army as general and was wounded severely a few times including scars on his face. He was an early follower of and close friend of Adolf Hitler. He created the Sturmabteilung the SA, “Storm Battalion” from the Freikorps and others. The SA’s devoted obedience to Röhm caused Hitler to feel threatened.  Hitler had Röhm murdered ‘The Night of the Long Knife’.  Image result for Ernst Röhm
  • Rudolf Hess, the Deputy Führer to Adolf Hitler and ‘editor’ of Hitler’s Mein Kampf, became enchanted by Hitler in 1922, believed, and promoted the ‘stab in the back’ myth. Hess attempted to make peace and flew to London near the end of the war, thus saving himself from being hanged. He was given life but committed suicide in 1987 at the age of 93 in prison.  Image result for rudolf hess
  • Hans Frank was brought up with a strong belief in Christianity. He was only 17 when he joined the army. He became an SA General as well as Hitler’s personal lawyer. He was one of the few Germans who was executed in Nuremberg who showed remorse. He said, “A thousand years will pass and still Germany’s guilt will not have been erased.”  Image result for hansfrank
  • Wilhelm Keitel the third highest-ranking officer to be tried in Nuremberg and executed in 1946. He was from a middle-class family, had a career in the army, and became Hitler’s yes-man and knowingly followed orders that were crimes against humanity.  Image result for Wilhelm Keitel

Born Killers?

The Freikorp were nationalistic and radically conservative.  Having served the Emperor during the war, they were not followers of the New Democracy but were happy to be involved with the government’s policing. Ebert, president of Germany, called on them to put down many left-wing revolts and uprisings all over Germany in spite of the groups’ ruthless and use of terror.

It would be easy to say these men were born killers and had something mentally wrong with them right from the start.  However, it would not be true.  Most of these men as seen above came from normal, good homes; most of them had been Catholic or Protestant Christians.  (Though Jewish history has not been treated kindly by Christians). Perhaps looking in hindsight with modern eyes the ex-soldiers would be diagnosed with (PTSD) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder causing them to have the capability to kill so many innocent human beings. Maybe we could blame the Versailles Treaty, which placed the entire fault of World War I on the Germans as well as ridiculous monetary demands, which destroyed the German economy. Yet, even with all the excuses, what made the Freikorps who became Nazis leaders so evil.

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Although the German Army left the battlefield defeated, the “Stab-in-the-Back” theory held that the war was not lost on the battlefield, but betrayed by civilians (read: Jews) on the home front. The theory blamed the government officials who overthrew the monarchy and accepted the humiliating armistice agreement and the Jews who caused damage with their communist leanings were responsible for Germany’s loss. The ‘Stab in the Back’ theory was held, in spite of the fact, that the soldiers themselves recognized the end of the war and didn’t want to take any more chances of being the last one to die in a fruitless battle.

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When the treaty of Versailles was signed in January 1920, it contained many steep demands from Germany. One was the downsizing of the army to only 100,000 soldiers, smaller navy and the complete disbandment of the Freikorps and air force.  The reparations were huge (3.2 billion gold marks) and unattainable. Yet, perhaps the greatest insult of the treaty for the Germans was the entire blame of the war was left on the German’s doorstep. This left an anger that became directed at the Jews.

The Freikorps’ strong belief in this myth which they accepted early on became Hitler’s and the Nazi regime’s backbone philosophy. It would be their justification to kill callously 12 million guiltless people.

Even though the Freikorps were under the auspices of the new government they were not criticized for their extreme violent behavior.  Their signature mark to shoot wildly in the crowds never got on.  In the 1920’s they were involved in several political assassinations without again any government intervention, thus basically condoning them. In 1922, Walther Rathenau, the country’s foreign minister, in spite of his excellent handling of affairs, was murdered, with no culprit apprehended.  His crime? He was a Jew.

The SA Demise and Hitler’s Complete Rule

The newly formed SS composed the disbanded Freikorps members. Ernst Röhm, a war-general and one of Hitler’s earliest and closest supporters, became the commander of the Freikorps and built them into the SA, Sturmabteilung, “Storm Troopers”.  He was known for his bravery, scarred face from near deaths, and surprisingly was openly homosexual. He was one of the only officers who spoke to the Fuhur with the friendly ‘du’. Yet, in the end, Röhm’s complete control of the SA made Hitler afraid of him and marked as the enemy.

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Hitler expected total allegiance from all military outfits – to him alone. In April 1925, Hitler created his own bodyguards, the SS, Schutzstaffel (“Protective Echelon”) became Hitler’s small own personal bodyguards under Himmler’s direction.  In January 1933, when Hitler was appointed German chancellor, the Nazi government took over all aspects of German life. Under Nazi rule, the SS grew into a state within a state as the Nazi police force. That summer, in the last days of June and early July 1933, Hitler used the SS to murder the top officials of the SA, including his good friend Röhm (who refused to commit suicide).  The ‘Night of the Long Knife’ made Hitler in complete control of all military personnel. At that point, Hitler was the Fuhr of Germany, a totalitarian state.

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Hitler demanded complete obedience and loyalty without question from his constituents.  It was the end of the first democratic government and the beginning of the Shoah.

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‘Tikun Olam’ is Destroying the Future of Liberal Jews

Guest Author’s Book Review of “To Heal the World – How Jewish Left is Corrupting Judiasim and Endangers Israel”  by Jonathan Neumann

An author predicts Diaspora Jewry’s death, at the hands of Tikkun Olam liberals

Lambasting progressive Jewry as inauthentic at best, Jonathan Neumann writes that ‘American Judaism is broken because the Jewish Left broke it’

By MATT LEBOVIC13 July 2018, 1:08 am26

Illustrative: Demonstrators at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport protest US President Donald Trump’s executive order imposing a freeze on admitting refugees from certain countries into the United States, January 29, 2017. (Scott Olson/Getty Images via JTA)

Illustrative: Demonstrators at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport protest US President Donald Trump’s executive order imposing a freeze on admitting refugees from certain countries into the United States, January 29, 2017. (Scott Olson/Getty Images via JTA)

Liberal Jews in the United States have “distorted” Jewish teachings to align with a narrow political agenda, according to the author of a new book called, “To Heal the World? How the Jewish Left Corrupts Judaism and Endangers Israel.”

Published on June 26, the book “sets out to slaughter the sacred cow of Tikkun Olam, at whose udder too many unlearned Jews have suckled,” according to author Jonathan Neumann. He blames American Jewry’s leaders for not only reinventing aspects of their ancient heritage, but also for causing damage to Israel by aligning with groups hostile to the Jewish state.

For much of the book, Neumann explains how the concept of Tikkun Olam — or “repair the world” — has been co-opted by liberal Jews to advance their vision of “social justice.” The author claims that based partly on a reading of isolated words in the Hebrew prayer “Aleynu,” a generation of American Jews have come to equate their religion with a commandment to tackle all of society’s ills.

Calling this application of Tikkun Olam “the bastardization of an ancient civilization,” Neumann claims the movement “was conceived by Jews who had rejected the faith of their fathers, and midwifed by radicals who saw it as a pretext to appropriate Jewish texts and corrupt religious rituals — such as the seder — to further political ends.”

In a point he makes several times, Neumann argues that Tikkun Olam and “social justice” are political ideologies, as opposed to tenets of Judaism. Specifically, believes the author, liberal Jewish leaders have misapplied teachings of the Prophets as intended for a “universal audience,” as opposed to a set of guidelines for the Jewish people.

“What the Bible says and what the Jewish social justice movement thinks it says diverge,” wrote Neumann. “Abraham’s appeals for Sodom are not the purpose of Judaism. The story of Joseph is not a straightforward example of benevolent government. The Exodus from Egypt is not reducible to political revolution.”

Jonathan Neumann’s 2018 book, ‘To Heal the World? How the Jewish Left Corrupts Judaism and Endangers Israel’

                                                                                                 Author Jonathan Neumann (courtesy)

In a New York Post op-ed published last month, Neumann claimed that American Jews “have been led to believe that the purpose of the Jews in the world is to campaign for higher taxes, sexual permissiveness, reduced military spending, illegal immigration, opposition to fracking, the banishment of religion from the public square and every other liberal cause under the sun — all in the name of God.”

As rhetorically asked by Neumann, “Isn’t it just a little bit incredible for the teachings of the ancient faith of Judaism to happen to comprise without exception the agenda of the liberal wing of today’s Democratic Party?”

In Neumann’s assessment, the Hebrew Prophets spoke about taking care of Jewish orphans and widows — as opposed to the downtrodden members of other communities. Additionally, the Prophets were not opposed to Jewish ritual and worship, despite claims to the contrary.

“Liberal Jewish activists now apply [Biblical injunctions] universally and obligate everyone to everyone else,” wrote Neumann. “But this undermines the covenantal connection between each Jew, and the Jews’ distinction from gentiles, and the relationship between the Jewish people and God.”

Even more alarming than Tikkun Olam’s application to politics, believes Neumann, is the progressive Jewish movement’s framing of “the Jewish people as an outdated and chauvinistic relic, with no need for a nation-state of its own in its ancient homeland. Consequently, Jewish social justice activists help to defame Israel and weaken America’s bond with the Jewish State,” wrote the author in his op-ed.

Taking on an array of liberal Jewish thinkers and organizations, Neumann claims a critical mass of American Jews have essentially “checked” their connection to Israel at the door in order to gain acceptance from progressives.

“According to this logic, if you do not recognize that challenging ‘Zionist oppression’ is part of social justice — if you try to pretend for pragmatic or ideological reasons that it is separate from social justice or a tolerable special case — then your social justice efforts are disingenuous and are not going to succeed,” wrote Neumann.

Referring to former president Barack Obama as the “Tikkun Olam” commander-in-chief, Neumann claims that Jewish social justice warriors are “in disarray” following a year and a half of President Donald Trump’s leadership. Despite their staunch opposition to many of Trump’s policies, liberal Jews are not seen as full allies in the battle against Trumpism, according to Neumann.

“[The] activists have been evicted from the White House, together with their messiah [Barack Obama], replaced by a coalition of religious Christians and traditionalist Jews,” wrote Neumann in The Post. “And natural as it comes to the political exiles to oppose the new administration, these activists are discovering that left-wing social justice marches have no place for Jewish warriors.”

‘The eventual end of the Jewish people’

A graduate of Cambridge University and the London School of Economics, Neumann is a regular contributor to Jewish-themed publications. “To Heal” is Neumann’s first book, and its publication was met by censure from some of the Jewish thinkers he criticizes.

In the assessment of author Shaul Magid, Neumann’s book “is not a source-based critique of social-activist Judaism but simply an ideological bromide against Jewish liberalism under the guise of a serious critique of social activism.”

Several hundred Jewish activists in Boston march for the Black Lives Matters movement, including members of Jewish Voice for Peace, in 2014 (photo credit: Ignacio Laguarda/Wicked Local)

As one of the Jews targeted in the book, Magid takes exception not only to Neumann’s thesis, but also the author’s qualifications to write such a book in the first place. Accusing Neumann of making glaring errors when it comes to Jewish history, Magid takes issue with Neumann’s claim that America’s early Reform Jewish leaders were unschooled in Jewish texts, even as they attempted to contort those texts to meet “assimilationist” ends.

“Neumann’s argument is that the progressive social-justice movement is aberrant of ‘traditional Judaism.’ So what is ‘traditional Judaism,’ or ‘traditional Jewish thought’ — phrases that Neumann uses dozens of times yet never once defines,” wrote Magid in an essay for Tablet.

In addition to Neumann’s failure to define “traditional” Judaism, the author erroneously claims that progressive Jewish leaders use the Bible as prime justification for their activism, according to Magid. In fact, most liberal Jewish leaders turn to rabbinic literature when making cases for social change, as opposed to the Bible, asserts Magid.

Magid also takes issue with Neumann’s claim that progressive Jewish leaders are dogmatically opposed to textual interpretations that don’t align with their worldview.

“This would be damning, except that for the fact that most of those [Jewish thinkers] criticized in the book simply do not make that claim,” wrote Magid. “They know, as do most social-activist leaders, that biblical texts can support everything from social welfare and universal health care to Baruch Goldstein’s murder of 29 Muslim worshipers.”

In terms of liberal American rabbis who beat the drums of social justice, Neumann accuses the progressive cohort of “[seeming] to affiliate almost uniformly with groups that are hostile to Israel.” From Black Lives Matter to LGBTQ activism, Neumann believes some liberal movements pull a bait-and-switch when it comes to permitting Jews in their ranks.

“Whereas the Jews are subject to extreme universalism, the particularism of other communities is, apparently, to be protected at all costs,” wrote Neumann. “It is, for example, inconceivable that advocates of Jewish social justice would tell African-Americans or Muslims that ultimately they should abandon their particular cultures, practices, or beliefs.”

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, center, and other progressive Jews clashing with security guards in front of the Western Wall in Jerusalem, November 16, 2017. (Noam Rivkin Fenton/via JTA)

Particularly alarming to Neumann is the culmination of social justice ideology, which “envisions the eventual end of the Jewish people,” according to the author.

“However noble the motive of American Jews, their pursuit of Tikkun Olam is a betrayal of the traditional faith of their people,” wrote Neumann. “That faith holds that through Abraham’s progeny all the people of the earth will be blessed (Gen. 22:18). Jews and non-Jews alike should be alarmed by the prospect of Tikkun Olam succeeding in assimilating the Jewish people into all of humanity, for then that blessing will be no more.”

With most of his book focused on diagnosing the ills of American Jewry, Neumann devotes some pages to offering correctives. First off, believes Neumann, Jews need to return to defining Judaism based on what he views as the religion’s core beliefs, as opposed to trendy social causes.

In other words, Jews need to stop equating Judaism with Tikkun Olam and social justice.

“The fact that American Jews have long engaged in political activism does not mean that activism makes them Jewish,” wrote Neumann. “It just makes them more like everyone else undertaking that same activism.”

In his final chapter, called “The Way Forward,” Neumann calls Tikkun Olam “an unreasonable answer” to the “reasonable theological question” of Jews’ obligation to the wider world. He calls for “Jews in exile” to focus on “the security, welfare, and ultimately the survival of the Jewish community,” as opposed to “following the lead of the Jewish social justice movement.” That movement, Neumann holds, is responsible for eroding Jewish life in America.

As noted by critics of the book, Neumann covers well-trodden ground in his quest to hoist Jewish social justice warriors by their own petards. Unlike a reading of the Talmud, “To Heal” makes few efforts to juxtapose opposing perspectives, much less identify common ground between “Tikkun Olam Jews” and the author’s brand of Judaism.

The Danger of Blaming Trump for Pittsburgh

The Jewish community’s overwhelming sense of shock and grief at the senseless, callous, brutal mass murder of 11 people at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh on Saturday is heart wrenching.

The extraordinary outpouring of solidarity throughout the American Jewish community — indeed the entire Jewish world — is not only warranted, but an affirmation of the truth that the Jewish people is one “family” in which each feels responsible “one for every other.”

No less important is the extent to which the non-Jewish community has stood with the Jewish community at this horrific moment. Their outrage and support is yet again a testament to the tsunami of goodness that rises in the hearts and souls of people of good will when others must endure a grave desecration of life.

The Jewish community of Pittsburgh is not alone in its sorrow. It is enveloped in an embrace of compassion and love. The Internet resounds with beautiful words of comfort.

OCTOBER 31, 2018 10:00 AM

The following is a joint editorial drafted by Jane Eisner, Editor-in-Chief of The Forward, and Dovid Efune, Editor-in-Chief and CEO…

Moreover, if the Pittsburgh massacre reveals anything about America it is the extent to which “hate” is an anathema to the people of our nation. There has been an immediate and total rejection throughout our country — from government officials to the man and woman in the street — of hate in general and antisemitism in particular.

The American response should be seen and appreciated for who and what the American people are and the extent to which the history of Jewish America is the pinnacle of Jewish Diaspora life unparalleled by any other “Golden Age” of Jewish history.

But there is a self-destructive response threatening to undermine Jewish perspective on the murders in Pittsburgh.

There are those in the Jewish community who are now blaming Donald Trump for creating “a climate of hate” that is the cause of Saturday’s shooting.

Whenever a tragedy like Pittsburgh occurs, there is a natural reaction to try to “make sense” of the event — to find “a reason” — to affix “blame.” But such responses tend to succumb to hysteria that creates ghosts, demons, and enemies where there are none.

According to a recent Mellman Group poll, more than 75 percent of American Jews disapprove of Donald Trump. Many Jews detest and despise the man. The upcoming midterm election is seen by many as a referendum on the Trump presidency, and they hope that a “blue wave” will change the political landscape significantly.

But it is simplistic and self-deceptive to blame Donald Trump for the murders at the Tree of Life Congregation. Such a suggestion is an ignoble expression of partisanship that threatens to fashion a frightening fiction of an emerging wave of violent antisemtism in America — demanding a series of responses by the Jewish community that threatens to distort the Jewish future.

Calmer heads must prevail for the Jewish community to emerge from this tragedy with an honest sense of what it means to be a Jew in America.

In reality, the Pittsburgh shooting has no more to do with Donald Trump than any of the prior mass shootings have had to do with prior presidents. America has a long and wretched history of mass murders that far predates Donald Trump. The phenomenon of hatred mixed with mental illness is a profound feature of American life, compounded by America’s unique obsession with guns and a host of firearms meant to kill other people.

Tragically, during the years 2009 to 2017, there were nine mass murders. Barack Obama was president. Appropriately, no one blamed Barack Obama for creating a “climate of hate” when 27 were killed in a house of worship, the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs Texas. No group protested outside the White House accusing President Obama of having blood in his hands.

Appropriately, no one accused Barack Obama of creating a “climate of hate” when 49 people were murdered at Pulse night club in Orlando by a mentally deranged man who wanted to punish gays and exact revenge for America’s involvement in Syria. No one in Orlando told the president he was not welcome to visit the families of Orlando and express the nation’s grief.

For all of the nine mass murders during his term of office, no one blamed President Obama because Americans understood that mass murders are the acts of deeply disturbed individuals for whom “reason” is irrelevant.

Fortunately for the Jewish community, no synagogue or Jewish institution was the target of a mass murderer during the nine years of the Obama presidency.

But in July of 2006, a mentally ill Muslim man angry at Israel shot six women at the Seattle Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle — murdering Pamela Waechter. George W. Bush was president in 2006. No one blamed him or his policies for creating a climate or context that would prompt the shooting.

Seven years earlier, in 1999, a man entered the lobby of the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles and fired 70 shots that wounded five people. Bill Clinton was president in 1999. No one blamed him or his policies for the shooting.

We have always understood that the social challenge facing our nation is the extent to which violence has always been an inherent quality of the American personality, expressed in a national obsession with guns that is unique in the civilized world. America’s shame is the extent to which it tolerates, excuses, and glorifies violence — especially gun violence.

This sad reality is exacerbated by a large and ever-growing population of Americans who suffer from severe mental illness. No matter how loud health professionals beg for the funds necessary to house and treat the mentally ill, our society remains unprepared to allocate the monies required for appropriate care. As a result, mentally ill people filled with hate and rage walk our streets and sleep on our sidewalks — and sometimes go mad with one or more guns at their disposal — and people tragically die.

The object of the hatred born of mental illness takes many, many forms. Gays are murdered. Americans of color are murdered. Christians are murdered. Muslims are murdered. Jews are murdered.

The tragedy of the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh is that a severely mentally disturbed individual decided he hated Jews and would kill them all. This is the transcendent message of the tragedy in Pittsburgh — and it is a message for all Americans: America must rein in its love affair with guns and must devote economic resources to treat the mentally ill.

Those in the Jewish community who make Trump part of the story make a serious mistake. The inappropriate fixation on blaming Trump for Pittsburgh threatens to warp the Jewish community’s strategic response. It suggests that there is a looming threat of more murders and that Jews should feel less at home in America. Neither concern reflects American reality.

We Jews have a long memory that goes back some 3,000 years. The older generation today well remembers the Holocaust of a mere 80 years ago in which Jews were gassed, incinerated, and murdered in unimaginable forms of human cruelty — only because they were Jews!

When a madman murders 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue screaming how he hates Jews, it evokes waking nightmares among anyone with a sense of Jewish history. But any Jewish leader who suggests that America is becoming “Paris” is guilty of a gross misrepresentation of America and perhaps, in some institutional settings, of self-serving aggrandizement.

Are there people in America who hate Jews? Of course. There will always be antisemites in every society. But the American people and the American social fabric is wholly non-antisemitic. There once was a time in America when Jewish children were taunted for being “Christ killers,” and were sometimes beaten up by Christian gangs for the crime of deicide. Jews were denied access to colleges and neighborhoods, professional opportunities and country clubs. When my mother first met her roommate at the University of Michigan, the roommate asked “innocently” if she could see my mother’s horns.

Virtually none of this is true in contemporary America. My wife and I have five wonderful children ranging in age from 30-50. My daughters have experienced sexism. None of my children have experienced antisemitism. This is the reality of American Jewish life today.

There will always be antisemites. They should never be taken for granted. Vigilance is a Jewish mitzvah! But there is no antisemitic threat to the Jews of America. Despite the tragedy of Pittsburgh, Jews need not live in fear or feel one wit less rooted in American life.

This is the message Jewish leaders need to stress today. For whatever number of skinheads, and white supremacists, and David Dukes and neo-Nazis may exist in various nooks and crannies of our country, they neither represent any significant piece of American society nor do they represent any concerted threat to the Jews of America.

The Jewish community should now have a moment to grieve and mourn. The healing that will follow need not be confused by making our family’s tragedy about Donald Trump. He had no more to do with it than any other president has had — and to suggest otherwise dilutes and distorts both our mourning and our healing with all the members of Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Congregation.

Mark S. Golub is an American rabbi, media entrepreneur, personality, and educator.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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?”

“Sure.”

“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?”

“Yes.”

“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.

“Yes”.

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:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uEj7E2MpUo

bnotaliyah@gmail.com

 

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
 https://www.youcaring.com/fridfamily-954845
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.


INSTRUCTIONS TO MAKE A TAX-FREE DONATION:

IMPORTANT:  >>PLEASE SPECIFY IN THE NOTES FIELD THAT YOUR DONATION IS FOR FUND # 2605

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!

https://www.hidabroot.com/article/194003/Putin-I-Know-the-Secret-of-Jewish-Survival#

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

https://www.algemeiner.com/2017/07/16/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.