The Return Of Cantors World
Sincere thanks to Jewish Press publisher Naomi Klass Mauer for her personal, insightful, and laudatory coverage of the Cantors World Shabbat Chazzanut on the last weekend in December.
Naomi joined me and my partner, Cantor Benny Rogoznitsky, along with almost 300 guests and distinguished cantors and choirs in an extraordinary weekend of soul-inspiring prayers.
The wonderful Shabbat davening by cantors Yitzchak Meir Helfgot and Yaakov Motzen – accompanied by two outstanding choirs, the Hampton Synagogue Choir led by maestro Itzhak Haimov and the Mezamrim Choir led by Chilu Posen – was the highlight of the event.
I had the pleasure of presenting a talk on the life of Yossele Rosenblatt and another on the history of chazzanut. Yehuda Green was in top form. The Saturday night concert, followed by karaoke night, was enjoyed by all. Cantor Danny Gildar masterfully accompanied the artists. Rabbi Paysach Krohn gave several inspiring talks. The enthusiastic and laudatory response of the attendees was marked by requests to sign up for the next Shabbat Chazzanut.
It is our hope that this event marks the beginning of a successful return of Cantors World – an organization dedicated to promoting traditional chazzanut. As I said in my greeting to the crowd at the concert, “the future is in your hands.”
The Real Occupiers
Once again Stephen Flatow writes a factually correct, sensible, important article, agreeing with Ambassador David Friedman’s request that the State Department stop referring to Israel as an “occupier” in Judea and Samaria.
It is sad that our pro-Arab State Department continues to deny history, international law, the Bible, and just plain facts on the ground. As Flatow points out, “98 percent of the Palestinians reside” in the 40 percent of the area in Judea and Samaria where the PA has had total control over the past 22 years. The huge Arab cities of Jenin, Nablus (Shechem), and Ramallah are totally self-governing.
The Jewish communities built in biblical Judea and Samaria are centers of study, growth, healthy living, and positive productivity, where Jews proudly reclaim their heritage. They are not “occupiers.”
Flatow speaks about the true “occupiers” – Mahmoud Abbas, who refused to hold elections in 2009 when his term expired and Hamas, now “beginning its second decade of illegally occupying Gaza,” as Flatow reminds us, but one never hears the term “occupation” referring to that terrorist entity.
Thanks to Ambassador Friedman for giving the world a reality check, and thanks to The Jewish Press for always publishing critically important articles such as this one. Ambassador Friedman is right: there is no Israeli “occupation.”
Americans for a Safe Israel/AFSI
Feeling The Pain Of Others
Avraham Avinu, our father Abraham, though in his 90s and in great pain, didn’t let anything stop him from running out to help complete strangers who were in need.
A few thousand years later, there were a lot of people in need in America who didn’t have health insurance. A bill was passed to make health care more readily available to them, and although there were some problems involved in the implementation of the plan, many people were being helped.
Until recently, that is. The Republican Congress did its best to kill the 2010 Affordable Care Act, and while the Republicans weren’t able to do away with it, they severely weakened it with measures that, according to every poll, are far more unpopular than the Affordable Care Act ever was. So much for the will of the people.
I find it particularly disappointing that a number of frum Jews I know vilified the Affordable Care Act in the strongest terms and applauded the GOP’s attempts to destroy it. It seems that many of us no longer want to feel the pain of strangers. Whatever happened to the legacy of Avraham?
A Disgrace And An Affront
The signing of a statement of dismay over President Trump’s declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel by Jess Olson, associate director for the Center for Israel Studies at Yeshiva University, is a disgrace and an affront to all Jews.
Olson makes the fallacious argument that “the decision by the Trump administration has likely inflicted a mortal injury to the possibility” of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
“Mortal injury” to what? With the Palestinians showing time and time again that peace is not even on their agenda, Olson’s statement is like saying that hitting a dead horse lessens the chances of that horse winning the Kentucky Derby.
Olson says Trump’s decision “has likely put the dream of the world community’s support of Israel with Jerusalem as its capital even farther out of reach.”
This is more of a pipe dream. The UN, in its corrupt history, has managed to get enough support from the world community to single out Israel for condemnation more than any other nation – all before Trump’s decision.
The world community is obviously nowhere near supporting Israel for anything. How would not declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel change this? We have to stop deluding ourselves into thinking that giving up what belongs to us will get us world support.
Ironically, Olson says Trump’s “decision [was] made in haste, with inadequate consideration of the broader implications.” What’s interesting is that this is exactly what Olson has done. His signing that statement of dismay, despite his claim that he believes Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, sent a message to the students of an Orthodox Jewish university that it’s okay to lend support to the anti-Semites who use anti-Israel rhetoric to camouflage their anti-Semitic sentiments, and that it’s also okay to disagree with the Torah.
Therapy And SSA
Re Dr. Michael Salamon’s column “Reparative Therapy Redux” (Family Issues section, Dec. 29):
To be politically correct today, one must agree with the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and National Association of Social Workers that there is no legitimate treatment for same sex attraction (SSA). The problem is that these associations are clearly wrong but will never even come close to admitting they are wrong.
Here are some facts:
* The Lubavitcher Rebbe in 1985 wrote a letter to an individual who stated he had SSA since birth. The Rebbe wrote: “While all blessings come from Hashem, a Jew is expected to do what is necessary in the natural order. In the matter of the said problem, you surely know that there are doctors and psychiatrists who treat it and [have] been successful in many cases. I know of a number of cases of people who had this problem but eventually overcame it, married and raised a family.”
The Rebbe went on to say that the problem “may largely be congenital” and this does not “alter the situation.”
“Every day children are born with particular natures and innate tendencies or drives, some of them good and some of them bad. That is why human beings have to be trained and educated, so as to develop and strengthen the positive characteristics and eliminate the bad ones.” (Chayenu: Vayechi, 5752, January 1 – 7, 2012 p. 138). The Rebbe in this letter elaborated extensively on the topic.
* Nicholas A. Cummings, Ph.D., former president of the American Psychological Association, was also chief psychologist of Kaiser Permanente from 1959 to 1979 in San Francisco. He states his clinic treated roughly 18,000 gay and lesbian patients, with he himself treating about 2,000 patients with SSA. Of the SSA patients he oversaw who wanted to change their sexual orientation, hundreds were successful. He said these patients who changed were highly motivated.
* There are several therapists in the New York area who are fully licensed and trained and – quietly, without any fanfare – have successful treated some patients with SSA struggling to overcome this problem. (I am one of those therapists). Plain hardworking therapy (no fancy tricks) over a period of time leads to positive results in many situations.
Telling people that change is impossible is harmful as it snatches away hope and dooms people to think they cannot overcome SSA. Destroying someone’s hope that change is impossible when it is possible very clearly violates the maxim “First do no harm.”
Dovid Schwartz, PsyD, LCSW
Editor’s Note: The writer maintains a full-time private practice in Brooklyn.