Tisha B’Av Prayers At The UN
Jewish Press readers have been the mainstay of our annual public Tisha B’Av prayer service for Israel and Jewish communities in danger since its inception 36 years ago.
This year we will again gather, on Tuesday, July 16, at 2 p.m. at the Isaiah Wall opposite the UN, First Avenue and 43rd Street in Manhattan.
Our traditional Minchah, complete with Torah reading, is led by Rabbi Avi Weiss, a national Jewish leader and longtime Jewish Press columnist. We will also pray for peace within Israeli society itself. This is a most meaningful way to experience the Tisha B’Av fast.
For information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message at 212-663-5784.
Amcha-Coalition for Jewish Concerns
The euphoric pandering of The New York Times to Hassan Rohani after his first-round win in the election for Iranian president (“False Hope from Iranian Election Results?” editorial, June 21) is not surprising in view of the Times’s inveterate misreading of events in the Middle East.
Rohani remains an ardent advocate of Iran’s nuclear ambitions and was the leading Iranian negotiator with the IAEA, which accomplished no discernible breakthroughs in convincing Iran to terminate its nuclear program.
In actuality, Supreme Leader Ali Khameini retains ultimate authority over all aspects of life in Iran, so Rohani’s putative “pragmatism” or “moderation” will have nominal influence. It should be evident, though, that if Rohani was not disqualified from the list of candidates by the Council of Guardians, as hundreds of “reformists” were, his worldview is obviously in tandem with that of the autocratic mullahs.
The international community is caught up in wishful thinking that will only lead to crucial misjudgments and failure to erect adequate barriers to Iran’s ultimate nuclear capability.
Parade Controversy Won’t Die (I)
Here is what I, as a frum Yid and lifelong reader of The Jewish Press, have to add to the series of letters over the past few weeks concerning homosexual groups marching in the Celebrate Israel Parade
I believe that next year we must organize a list of rabbis, ranging from Modern Orthodox to right-wing Orthodox, and give the secular parade organizers the following ultimatum: Either they ban the gay groups from marching or every Orthodox school will pull out.
We must put an end to this serious rebellion against God. We must never forget that the world was destroyed in the Flood of Noach due to men marrying men, as it states in the Midrash Rabbah (Bereishis 26-5).
The Jewish Press has always stood up against anti-Torah forces. May the Almighty give you strength and courage to continue to fight for Torah Judaism as you have been doing for more than fifty years.
Parade Controversy Won’t Die (II)
Reader Michael Brenner’s letter (June 21), taking me to task for my protest regarding the participation of Jewish Queer Youth in the Celebrate Israel Parade, deserves a response.
Brenner writes that excluding gay organizations would “create another needless and very public fissure in the Jewish community between Orthodox and non-Orthodox groups.” He is correct that a fissure may be created, but that fissure would be far from “needless.” At the end of the day, Judaism has little to stand on if it does not stand for the basic moral values set out by the Torah. Homosexuality is seen as destructive of the very social fabric of society. This is why the sages write that the fate of the generation of the Flood was sealed when the government began to contract marriages between men.
By marching with gay organizations, Orthodox groups effectively legitimize behavior that corrodes society. As I wrote in my previous letter (June 14), when the same issue reared its head in 1993, Orthodox rabbis across the spectrum agreed that Orthodox groups should not participate in the parade if gay groups marched as well. At the time, a unified stance produced the desired result: gay groups were free to march as long as they did not carry signage that displayed their sexual orientation.
Twenty years may have passed, but the Torah remains the same Torah that has sustained us for over 3,300 years. And while our country’s moral compass has taken a decided turn south, this does not mean that Orthodox Jews need to make that same turn.
One more point: Brenner writes that the parade “celebrates Israel, not Orthodox Judaism.” He is correct, but Orthodox groups have the right to determine whether or not to march. I believe that it would be a magnificent Kiddush Hashem for Orthodox groups to take an unflinching stance regarding their participation in the parade, uncomfortable as that stance may be.
Far Rockaway, NY
Memories Of Rav Dovid
I wish to compliment Rabbi Dovid Cohen for his article on Rav Dovid Lifshitz, zt”l (“My Rebbe’s Rebbe,” op-ed. June 14) and add some important points.
I was a student of Rav Dovid from the early- to mid-1970s. Rav Dovid was a tremendous ba’al masbir whose knowledge of any topic in Shas was phenomenal.
Rav Dovid was very devoted to his students. I was in class with second generation-students and he recalled everything about their families. His derech in learning was to closely read the Ramban, Rashba and Ritva first and analyze each word.
Then it was on to the Rambam and the latter Achronim, concluding with the comments of his own rebbe, the gaon Rav Shimon Skhop, rosh yeshiva of Telshe and then Grodno.
Rav Dovid commented when we studied the commentary of Rav Elchanan Wasserman that Rav Elchanan was a talmid of Rav Shimon when the latter was a young rosh yeshiva in Telshe and he, Rav Dovid, was a talmid of Rav Shimon when he was an older rosh yeshiva in Grodno.
Rav Dovid brought us into the Lithuanian Torah world that existed prior to the Holocaust. He made it alive. He also told us that he was connected to the Jewish world through his students who became rabbis, Jewish educators, lawyers, physicians, etc., and remained close to him.
I close with an anecdote. When I assumed my rabbinical position I asked Rav Dovid for advice. He said, “There is no mitzvah to start a machlokes with people, even with Conservative rabbis, but we must remain strong to our shitah.”
I did not understand the profound wisdom in those words. For the first couple of years I tried to get into the kitchen of the Jewish convalescent home in my town but was unable to. Then a new director came and told me I could enter and check it out. I called my Conservative colleague and asked him when was a good time for us to go to the kitchen. Initially he refused, but I persisted. Finally, we spent a morning in the kitchen.
When we walked out to the parking lot he said, “You treated me with such derech eretz by inviting me to come with you. From now on you are in charge and I support you implicitly in every decision regarding kashrus you make.” He said much the same thing at all the meetings of the Jewish organizations. The members were so impressed with the respect I accorded him.
Now, Baruch Hashem, I understood the profound wisdom of Rav Dovid. He dressed like a European rav but he understood America. He was a great marbitz Torah and manhig Yisrael. His legacy should always direct us.
Rabbi Barry David Hartman
New Bedford, MA
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