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October 26, 2014 / 2 Heshvan, 5775
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Of Course I Celebrate Thanksgiving

For a Jew, everyday is Thanksgiving!
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Photo Credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash90

Somebody asked me if I am celebrating Thanksgiving? What a silly question! For a Jew, everyday is Thanksgiving! We thank God when we get up in the morning. We thank Him when we get dressed. We thank Him when we leave the lavatory. We thank Him when we eat. All day long a Jew is busy thanking God for all of the kindnesses which He bestows upon us every minute of our lives.

What about America’s Thanksgiving Day? Do I celebrate that? Of course I do!

I give thanks to God that I don’t live in America anymore.

I give thanks to God that I don’t live in a gentile land pretending that it’s perfectly OK to be there.

I give thanks to God that I don’t live in a gentile culture, speaking a gentile language, surrounded by gentile holidays, and gentile symbols, and gentile traditions.

I give thanks to God that I don’t live in a gentile country that constantly pressures Israel to slice up our Land like a turkey.

I give thanks to God that I don’t live in gentile country that constantly pressures Israel to cut up Jerusalem as if it were a sweet potato.

I give thanks to God that I don’t live in gentile country that pressures Israel not to eliminate a terrorist state bent on Israel’s destruction.

I give thanks to God that I don’t live in a gentile country which fosters mass assimilation.

I give thanks to God that my children grow up speaking Hebrew, and knowing who they are, without schizophrenic identities of belonging to an alien gentile nation.

On Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks to God that my children pledge allegiance to the Israel Defense Forces and not to the flag of a foreign government.

I give thanks To God that my children know that the forefather of their Nation was Avraham Avinu and not George Washington.

I give thanks to God that my children say that Jerusalem is their capital and not Washington D.C.

On Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks to God knowing that my children and grandchildren will marry Jews.

On Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks to God that I live in the Holy Land and not in the land of Disneyland.

On Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks to God that I live in Yerushalayim, ten minutes away from the Kotel.

On Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks to God that everything in the supermarket is kosher and that I don’t have to strain my eyes and put on my reading glasses to find little OUs.

On Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks to God for having answered the prayers of the Jewish People for 2000 years to return us to Zion, and for giving us a Jewish airline to get here, and for rebuilding Jerusalem and Jewish cities and settlements all over Israel, and for giving us a Jewish army that can defend us against our enemies .

On Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks to God for once again making Israel the Torah center of the world.

On Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks to God for letting me play an active part in the Redemption of our Nation just by raising my family here, sending my sons to the army, and doing whatever I can to help strengthen our Nation in our own Land.

Of course I celebrate Thanksgiving Day. Today, I am going to eat the biggest falafel I can!

About the Author: Tzvi Fishman was awarded the Israel Ministry of Education Prize for Creativity and Jewish Culture for his novel "Tevye in the Promised Land." For the past several years, he has written a popular and controversial blog at Arutz 7. A wide selection of his books are available at Amazon. The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of The Jewish Press


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48 Responses to “Of Course I Celebrate Thanksgiving”

  1. Cathryn D. Winterfield says:

    I am thankful that, as an American Jew, our work to support the State of Israel results in the continued existence of that country.

  2. Heshy R says:

    Yet the writer has no problem using the language of the nation he’s so UNgrateful to. Xenophobic hypocrite.

  3. Mayer Fertig says:

    I make it a habit to read material by writers whose points of view I don’t share. It’s good for the brain. But when I opened the link and saw the byline I shut it again and, after posting this comment, I’ll move on. Truly, no patience for this guy. His tone is obnoxious.

  4. Charlie Hall says:

    For an anti-American screed like this to appear in an American Jewish newspaper is an insult to what our great sages have called the Medinah Shel Chesed, the Land of Compassion. The United States was the first country in the world in which Jews were full citizens since the Roman Empire! And the First President of the United States, George Washington, went out of his way to express his support for the small Jewish community in America, as evidenced in this famous exchange of letters:

    http://www.tourosynagogue.org/index.php/history-learning/gw-letter

  5. Charlie Hall says:

    And it was George Washington who issued the first proclamation for a National Day of Thanksgiving, in 1789:

    http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/gwhtml/gw004.html

    The small Jewish community then in America embraced that holiday with tremendous enthusiasm. As we should do so today.

  6. Stephen Belsky says:

    UGH

  7. David Frankel says:

    Didn't Rav Solovetchik (not sure if I spelled it right) say that people should celebrate Thanksgiving? I believe that was who Rabbi Weiss was referring to this morning.

  8. Charlie Hall says:

    Yes. I think he even ate turkey!

  9. Zachary Kessin says:

    There is a reason I post George Washington's letter to the Jews of Newport every year.

  10. Luzia Alves says:

    Precise-precious words!

  11. Channie Kahan says:

    Beautiful!

  12. That is despicable. I too live in Israel. I make sure my children know about thanksgiving and July 4th, etc I would never want them to forget their American heritage or the special uniqueness that is the great Medina
    Shel Cheesed!

  13. Arlette Cee says:

    I can't believe they published that — it disgusts me.

  14. Dana Werstein Parkoff says:

    I agree totally Michael.

  15. Dana Werstein Parkoff says:

    I cannot believe this article was printed.

  16. Jack Menashe says:

    I'm thankful this writer isn't in America anymore. Pitiful. They should be embarrassed and ashamed. A Hilul Hashem if you ask me… That ungrateful writer should be thankful his ancestors had a place to go whenever it was their family fled Europe. It may not be a utopia but it beats 100% of the choices besides Israel.

  17. Jack Menashe says:

    I am in shock this printed. A Hillul Hashem. We are thankful, you are not. Where would our nation and Torah be without America? America may be a leader in assimilation but that is not the fault of a country but of a nation and it's people, our people. Where would your family be we're it not for America? What country in the last century was even semi-friendly to us? Your words do not help those of us still here but inflame the hearts of a nation with whom we still reside. Words in a public forum that can not be taken back. Words that show why you won't fight for your host nation or mother country. This makes me sick to my stomache, after my turkey and cranberry jam for in America we are "tankful" for much and appreciate the liberties we have. Ungrateful (I'll stop here…. Let everyone fill in the rest).

  18. Liad Bar-el says:

    Didn't even know it was that pegan holiday until I read this blog. My wife and daughter, both born in Israel, still don't know and it's better this way so as not to clutter their minds with such peganism. The day after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday in many states. Maybe that's one of Mose Brown's favorite holidays. :-)

  19. I couldnt agree with you more jack. as far as filling in the blanks I cant help you there because I am absolutely speechless!!!!

  20. Lou Ann Bell Ashmore says:

    With all due respect, and I do mean respect, it is a great insult to call Thanksgiving a pagan holiday. It is a day of fellowship and love with family and friends to thank God for all that we have. The same God that you worship and pray to every day. There is nothing pagan about it. And black Friday is a shopping term to mark the first day of the Christmas holiday season. It has nothing to do with Thanksgiving. Please get your facts straight.

    Like millions of other Americans, I have been watching and reading about what is happening in Israel right now. I have many, many Jewish friends both here and there in Israel. I am horrified by what I am seeing. I am praying for the children and the other innocent civilians who are dying and being affected by the Hamas attacks. I do not believe the propaganda and pictures that Gaza is using to swing support away from Israel. Today, our Thanksgiving, millions of Americans prayed for Israel. Believe me when I tell you that I am among millions of others who pray for you and condemn the Arab nations for the missile attacks. Don't let the actions of a few 'bad seeds' speak for all of America. I'm not believing lies about you. Don't believe lies about me.

    I wish you well.
    A supportive American.

  21. Lou Ann Bell Ashmore says:

    One more thing. How did this Gentile girl find this Jewish article? It was posted on my Facebook page by a Jewish friend who was also offended by it.

  22. Don't even go there unless you can handle the knowledge of how many so-called Jewish customs also have Pagen roots!

  23. Don't even go there unless you can handle the knowledge of how many so-called Jewish customs also have Pagen roots!

  24. Morris Didia says:

    Jack Menashe with all due respect, it is a bit of an overreaction. why chastise someone who is thankful for different things than you are thankful for…you are reading into it too much. he is right as far as being thankful everyday but he is thankful for not living in america; you and i are thankful for that. done.

  25. Many people only see themselves in every picture What he is screaming loud and clear is I'm better than all of u bec I'm in Israel. It is also screaming that he had to make that decision to leave bec he didn't 'make it' here in America which would have been the ultimate for him. But since he couldn't get that he one upped everyone here and left. Not everyone makes it as much as we'd like and that is also up to our efforts and Hashem. But we can serve Hashem here BH and be thankful and greatful as much as he can — and it's not about eating falafel but we can have that too !

  26. We can thank America everyday we thank HASHEM everyday I didn't read article yet. My family saved turkey lekavod shabbat Kodesh. Don't make this day bigger then shabbat and succoth pesach chanukah. We celebrate 8 days of thanks. Eat meat every night and dairy In the day time.

  27. Jack agreed! That's a Hilul hashem.

  28. Melanie Habert says:

    Some people think that Thanksgiving is simply not a Jewish holiday but it is completely American! When the Pilgrims came over, all they wanted was religious freedom. The holiday has become a lot about the food, football and planning your shopping but it really is a day to give thanks for what we have here. As Jews just because we pray to God daily thanking him, often we're juts going through the motions, thinking when we're done praying we still have to do A, B, C. There's nothing wrong with pausing one day, spending it with family,having a nice meal and appreciating what we have in America. The Pilgrims all those years ago set a huge precedent for all future Americans who would give up everything in their native land and come to this country to have it all! We should honor that!

  29. Billy Anteby says:

    The writers thoughts are expressed in an elitist, obnoxious and 'holier than thou' text. It simply portrays his ignorance. (ps I bet his kids move back to America to escape his rhetoric one day)

  30. Jack Menashe says:

    @Morris I agree with what he is thankful for but to say how our host country and home is portrayed in his eyes puts Jews here in negative light. Read what he says: "he pledges allegiance to the IDF" NOT Israel. He lives in a dichotomy. We know the 1st president was George Washington, and we know our forefather was Avraham Aveinu. He shows no respect and no hakaret hatov most certainly no thanks. He does not make our lives as Jews in a foreign land any easier.

  31. On Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks to God for the United States of America, who supported the formation of the modern state of Israel in '48, without which Israel would not exist, There are many, many other reasons to be thankful for this great country.You could have been thankful for all those things without denigrating the.
    United States.How ungrateful! How unjewish!

  32. Michael Lipkin is right, as usual.

  33. My grandparents and great grandparents who were granted refuge here when there was nowhere else to go would be HORRIFIED if they read this. Shame on the author and the publisher.

  34. James Swader says:

    Do you give thanks that in the Holy Land there was over 19 thousands babies murdered by Jewish abortionists last year? Do you give thanks that sodomites have the right to march in Jerusalem? The abominations of your fathers are still in the land my friend. They caused their children to pass through the fire to Molech and that is the same as abortion. I love Israel and I would die for Israel, but none of us has the right to look on others and judge.

  35. Robin Lackner says:

    I agree with you, Abby Lerman Hochhauser! He should have stopped after the first paragraph.

  36. Liad Bar-el says:

    In a documented summary of Allied behavior toward the Jews in WWII, Kenneth Levin writes,
    "State Department officials throughout this period typically held strong anti-immigration sentiments and seem to have been especially determined to block the immigration of Jews into the United States. Policies adopted by State regarding issuance of visas were in fact much more restrictive than even the strict immigration laws of the period. Thus, the number of visas issued to Jews during the war, including during the years when the Nazis' genocide program was fully known, was barely 10 percent of those potentially available to European Jews under the immigration quota legislation then in effect. (Levin, K. 2005. The Oslo syndrome: Delusions of a people under siege. Hanover, NH: Smith and Kraus. (p.120)
    During the war,
    "the US…erected a 'paper wall,' a bureaucratic maze that prevented all but a few Jewish refugees from entering the country. It was not until 1944, that a small band of Treasury Department employees forced the government to respond."
    In a memo by Randolph Paul for the Foreign Funds Control Unit of the Treasury Department (dated January 13, 1944), entitled Report to the Secretary on the Acquiescence of this Government in the Murder of the Jews, he wrote:
    "Frankly, Breckinridge Long, in my humble opinion, is least sympathetic to refugees in all the State Department. I attribute to him the tragic bottleneck in the granting of visas." ("Report to the Secretary on the Acquiescence of this Government in the Murder of the Jews," initialed by Randolph Paul for the Foreign Funds Control Unit of the Treasury Department, January 13, 1944.)
    Breckinridge Long was Roosevelt's Assistant Secretary of State. In 1943, he gave a statement before the US House of Representatives on the refugee question, in which Long expressed his supposed concern for the Jews, and boasted that the US had admitted 580,000 refugees. Congressman Emanuel Celler rebuked and refuted Long in the House of Representatives on December 20, 1943, and Randolph Paul quotes his remarks in the above-mentioned memo:
    "***In the first place these 580,000 refugees were in the main ordinary quota immigrants coming in from all countries. The majority were not Jews. His [Long's] statement drips with sympathy for the persecuted Jews, but the tears he sheds are crocodile. I would like to ask him how many Jews were admitted during the last 3 years in comparison with the number seeking entrance to preserve life and dignity. *** One gets the impression from Long's statement that the United States has gone out of its way to help refugees fleeing death at the hands of the Nazis. I deny this. On the contrary, the State Department has turned its back on the time-honored principle of granting havens to refugees. The tempest-tossed get little comfort from men like Breckinridge Long. *** Long says that the door to the oppressed is open but that it 'has been carefully screened.' What he should have said is 'barlocked and bolted.' By the act of 1924, we are permitted to admit approximately 150,000 immigrants each year. During the last fiscal year only 23,725 came as immigrants. Of these only 4,705 were Jews fleeing Nazi persecution."(ibid)
    In fact, as stated by Randolph Paul in the same memo, "According to Earl G. Harrison, Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, not since 1862 have there been fewer aliens entering the country." This, at a time when immigration to the US was the only way for so many Jews to escape a gruesome death.
    But Assistant Secretary of State Breckinridge Long's strategy was much worse than merely denying visas. Breckinridge Long explained to State Department officials, in a memo dated 26 June 1940, exactly how the visas would be effectively denied to the Jews trying to escape slaughter:
    "We can delay and effectively stop for a temporary period of indefinite length the number of immigrants into the United States. We could do this by simply advising our consuls, to put every obstacle in the way and to require additional evidence and to resort to various administrative devices which would postpone and postpone and postpone the granting of the visas."( Memo from Assistant Secretary of State Breckinridge Long, to State Department Officials dated June 26, 1940, outlining effective ways to obstruct the granting of U.S. visas.)

  37. Liad Bar-el says:

    It is important to see that a strategy of "postpone and postpone and postpone" is not at all the same as denying visas. As Emmanuel Celler complained: "It takes months and months to grant the visas and then it usually applies to a corpse." In other words, many Jews who were told repeatedly that they would get a visa, the issuance of which kept getting postponed, did not seek a safe haven elsewhere, and as a result were overtaken by Hitler's men. Long's strategy was therefore designed not merely to keep Jews out of the US, but to assist Adolph Hitler's Final Solution by corralling as many Jews as possible where Hitler could find them.
    Although Randolph Paul accused, "I attribute to [Breckinridge Long] the tragic bottleneck in the granting of visas," his next sentences reveal that this was not a maverick policy of Long's, but in fact had the most widespread support in the Roosevelt administration:
    "The Interdepartmental Review Committees which review the applications for visas are composed of one official, respectively, from each of the following Departments: War, Navy, F.B.I. State, and Immigration. That committee has been glacier-like in its slowness and coldbloodedness."
    Nor were these various departments and agencies acting without the knowledge of President Roosevelt. Sometime after Breckinridge Long's memo of June 1940, Margaret E. Jones, an American Quaker trying to help European Jews emigrate to the US, wrote to Clarence E. Pickett, a leader in the Quaker community,[6] telling him of her conversations with various US consular officials in Europe about the impact of this memo. As you will see from the quote below, Ms. Jones was under the impression that the US Congress wanted to stop immigration to the US completely and hypothesized that the State Department was acting in good faith, such that the new draconian restrictions on immigration were meant to mollify Congress and thus prevent it from prohibiting any immigration to the US. The consular officials in Europe disabused her of this notion and explained to her that it was not Congress but president Roosevelt himself who did not want "non-Aryans" entering the country. Here is an excerpt from Margaret Jones letter:
    "Last July, en route from Geneva back to the Vienna Center, I stopped in Zurich and had an interview with Mr. Strom, at the U.S. Consulate. He told me of recent orders from Washington [the Breckinridge Long memo] which would severely limit the number of visas ordinarily issued month by month from the various Consulates… Later in Vienna, Mr. Hohenthal told me too about the new stringent regulations, and was also obviously interested when I raised the same question with him. About the middle of August, the Consulate…telephoned to say [that] Mr. Warren, Mr. Morris and Mr. Hohenthal and I [talk] that afternoon about the new regulations concerning emigration. Mr. Warren began by saying, 'Miss Jones, you Quakers will be doing a straight relief job for the non-Aryans here from now on.' I said, 'No more non Aryans to go to the U.S.?' Warren replied- 'Not just non-Aryans – but no more aliens.' Then I asked him… was this an attempt to forestall Congress and prevent an out and out closing of immigration by making so severe a cut that the State Dept. could assure Congress they had the situation in hand. Mr. Warren said not Congress, but the President just did not want any more aliens coming to the U.S. and would like to have it closed especially for aliens coming from Germany."( Letter from Margaret E. Jones, an American Quaker working with European Jews hoping to emigrate to the U.S., expressing her distress at the impact of Breckinridge Long's memo.)
    We must take note not only of the fact that State Department officials appeared quite aware of all this being president Roosevelt's initiative, but that these same officials matter-of-factly used Hitler's racist language in reference to Jews ("non-Aryans"), and also that there was a special concern to prevent immigration from Germany (i.e. specifically to prevent Jews fleeing slaughter).
    Additional evidence that Roosevelt was directly behind all this comes from Breckinridge Long himself, who made the following entry in his diary, dated 3 October 1940 (four months after his "postpone, postpone, postpone" memo):
    "So when I saw him [FDR] this morning the whole subject of immigration, visas, safety of the United States, procedures to be followed; and all that sort of thing was on the table. I found that he was 100% in accord with my ideas… The President expressed himself as in entire accord with the policy which would exclude persons about whom there was any suspicion that they would be inimical to the welfare of the United States no matter who had vouchsafed for them and irrespective of their financial or other standing. I left him with the satisfactory thought that he was wholeheartedly in support of the policy which would resolve in favor of the United States any doubts about admissibility of any individual."( Entry from Assistant Secretary of State Breckinridge Long's diary in which he notes that President Roosevelt supports his policy of encouraging consulates to "postpone and postpone and postpone" the granting of visas. From: "The War Diary of Breckinridge Long"; ed. Fred L. Israel; University of Nebraska Press, 1966.)

  38. Liad Bar-el says:

    Roosevelt had only one meeting with American Jewish leaders about the Holocaust. It was in 1942 and it lasted only 29 minutes, 23 of which were spent by the president lecturing his Jewish guests on various matters, including how unfair it was that Jews supposedly had more rights than Muslims in some parts of North Africa! Roosevelt explained that he knew about Hitler's mass killings, but he promised to do nothing for the Jews of Europe beyond issuing a statement.( A report written by Adoph Held, the president of the American Jewish Labor Committee recounting President Roosevelt's 29-minute meeting on December 8, 1942 with a small delegation of American Jewish Leaders.)
    Another event also makes clear how Roosevelt felt about Hitler's Final Solution:
    "Four months after the State Department confirmed the dimensions of the Holocaust, British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden met in Washington with President Roosevelt, Secretary of State Cordell Hull and Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles. At this meeting, Eden expressed his fear that Hitler might actually accept an offer from the Allies to move Jews out of areas under German control. No one present objected to Eden's statement."( Memorandum of Conversation by Mr. Harry L. Hopkins, Special Assistant to President Roosevelt regarding a meeting with Anthony Eden March 27, 1943)

  39. Yoni Ross says:

    I'm not even sure it's particularly good writing to begin with, never mind its asininity.

  40. Yoni Ross says:

    So you're going to celebrate the fact that you live in a Jewish country by eating an Egyptian dish? (And the biggest one you can!)

  41. Liad Bar-el says:

    Some people believe that falafel originated in India, people make cases that its origin was Egypt and some people think it was originally a Hebrew food. FYI, the falafel made in Israel is pure Israeli, made with Israeli ingredients, formed by Israeli hands, cooked in Israeli olive oil from the heights of the Golan, falafel cooled in the air of Jerusalem of which the sages of old stated in the Talmud, that the air of Jerusalem makes one wiser, it is eaten with a blessing in the only one place on this earth which has a direct connection to the throne of G-d and its’ byproducts are recycled in the Holy Land so that other plants will grow to be processed, blessed and consumed in the Land that HaShem gave us.

    IMO, the best falafel is made at the place called "The King of Falafel" in Bucharim, Jerusalem.

  42. Liad Bar-el says:

    Some people believe that falafel originated in India, people make cases that its origin was Egypt and some people think it was originally a Hebrew food. FYI, the falafel made in Israel is pure Israeli, made with Israeli ingredients, formed by Israeli hands, cooked in Israeli olive oil from the heights of the Golan, falafel cooled in the air of Jerusalem of which the sages of old stated in the Talmud, that the air of Jerusalem makes one wiser, it is eaten with a blessing in the only one place on this earth which has a direct connection to the throne of G-d and its’ byproducts are recycled in the Holy Land so that other plants will grow to be processed, blessed and consumed in the Land that HaShem gave us.

    IMO, the best falafel is made at the place called "The King of Falafel" in Bucharim, Jerusalem.

  43. One major modification of Israeli falafel versus the Egyptian (perhaps source) variety is the fact that it is made from Humus (chickpeas) and not from Fava beans (aka Ful.) This stems from the fact that many Jews of Iraqi descent are allergic to Fava beans because of G6PD deficiency.

  44. Yoni Ross says:

    Liad – Besides the point entirely. He waxes self-righteous for the entire article about how much better it is in Israel than in chutz la'aretz, then decides to celebrate it by eating a food invented in chu"l. If the origin of the actual food is important, he could celebrate by eating an Israel-grown turkey.

  45. People arguing over felafel – YOU HAVE MISSED THE POINT!!! Who cares what this guy eats? The problem is that by posting such horrible views, he has given both non-religious Jews and non-Jews a very embarrassing view of both religious Jews and Israelis, one which could be used out of context. Not to mention the fact that he is wrong and ungrateful. We all love Israel and love being in Israel, surrounded by Jews and Jewish holidays. But is that a reason to "diss" the USA, the country that has given us and our ancestors the opportunity to not only observe our customs here in the US, but provides so much aid and support to Israel. Let's not forget all those PLANE LOADS of Christians who come to Israel to show support each year. What would they think?

  46. Liad Bar-el says:

    Yoni Ross, me being a Balchuva and Tzvi is also, we try to keep away from anything that even appears to be pagan and Thanksgiving is pagan. Most history books would like to convince us that Thanksgiving Day goes back to only Plymouth Rock in the 1600's; however, Plymouth Rock was not the first Thanksgiving Day. (Ever wonder why Canada has a Thanksgiving Day also?) This pagan feast, honoring the agricultural gods, goes back thousands of years, in one form or another and then blessed by both the Protestant Episcopal Church in America in 1789 and by the Roman Catholic church in 1888. Abraham Lincoln, 1863, declared it a national holiday. Thanksgiving holiday has no Jewish roots whatsoever but rather thousands of years of paganism of which I don’t want to go into at this time.

    Off topic: I’m an expert on the Shofar and am looking for a mechanical engineer to help me make a tool to help me form shofarot. Are you such a person?

  47. Yo’ all is speakin’ about origeens, ah have a quesshun fo’ yo’. Whut in tarnation comes fust, th’ turkee o’ th’ egg?

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Tzvi Fishman, author of the Jewish Press blog Felafel on Rye and author of more than a dozen books.
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