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Rabin was furious. Avner left the Prime Minister’s Office and made his way to the “Gra” shul, where he regularly davened, for Kabbalas Shabbos. R Shlomo Zalman Aurbach, zt”l, who presided over the shul, asked him why he seemed so downcast. When Avner told him, R Shlomo Zalman said, “Perhaps you do not know all of the facts.” Avner took this as a heter and returned to Rabin – who was still furious but respected Avner nevertheless.
Avner’s religious observance played a part in an anecdote in the book that had me laughing out loud. The setting was a state dinner at the White House hosted by President Gerald Ford in honor of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Avner, of course, eats only kosher food, so he was served a heaping plate of fresh fruit and vegetables topped with whipped cream and piled so high it “glittered and sparkled like a firework.” The concoction drew the attention of Ford, who whispered into Rabin’s ear. Rabin whispered back. Whereupon, “rising to his full height and grinning ear to ear, the president raised his glass high and called out to me… ‘Happy birthday young fella! Let’s sing a toast to the birthday boy.’ ”
Everyone stood up and began singing “Happy birthday dear Yehuda.” Avner describes himself as having been “mortified.”
When Avner asked Rabin after the dinner why he told Ford it was his birthday – it was not – Rabin answered, “What else should I have told him – the truth? If I did that, tomorrow there’d be a headline in the newspapers that you ate kosher and I didn’t, and the religious parties would bolt the coalition, and I’ll have a government crisis on my hands. Ani meshuga?” Am I crazy?”
Avner devotes more pages of his book to Menachem Begin than to the other prime ministers, and he is not at all reticent about his admiration for Begin. One of the stories Avner relates involves Begin’s attempt to reach out to Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, perceived by some as being cold toward Israel.
Begin had learned that Brzezinski’s father served as a Polish diplomat in Germany between 1931 and 1935 and had been involved in efforts to rescue Jews. Begin publicly presented Brzezinski with a dossier containing documents recently discovered in a Holocaust archive in Jerusalem that detailed the elder Brzezinski’s efforts on behalf of European Jews. Zbigniew Brzezinski was overwhelmed to learn of his father’s heroics.
Avner also related to me the following revealing story about Begin: Shortly after Begin first took office, a call came in from a yeshiva student who wondered whether the prime minister wished to have his mezuzahs checked. Avner initially “pushed him of,” but when he mentioned this to Begin as he wished him a Shabbat Shalom that Friday afternoon, Begin exclaimed “zeh chashuv meod” (“this is very important”). Avner located the yeshiva student and when the young man came to the prime minister’s residence, Begin himself recited the berachot and personally affixed every mezuzah in the house.
There is so much more in The Prime Ministers. Anyone interested in the history of Israel as told by an insider should pick up a copy immediately.
Daniel Retter, Esq., is counsel to the Manhattan law firm of Herrick, Feinstein, LLP, where he practices immigration and international business law. He is a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press.
About the Author: Daniel Retter, Esq., is the author of the sefer “HaMafteach” (Koren Publishers), an indexed reference guide to Talmud Bavli and the Mishnayos, in Hebrew and English. A frequent contributor of feature articles to The Jewish Press, he practices immigration, real estate, and business law in New York City. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
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Latvia, July 4, 1941 they forced many Jews in the shul putting it on fire; everyone was burned alive
There’s blood on the reporters’ hands AND New Israel Fund for funding groups feeding lies to the UN
Respect & appreciation for our country is not only a civic value but an essential Jewish one as well
Israel, like the non-radical Islamic world. will be happy see the ISIS beheaded for once.
Kids shouldn’t have “uninstructed” Internet access, better to train them how to use it responsibly
What if years from now, IS were to control substantial territory? What world havoc would that wreak?
Rambam writes the verse’s double term refers to 2 messiahs: first King David; 2nd the final Mashiach
The Gaza flotilla has been rightfully and legally blocked by Israel’s Navy, with greetings from Bibi
The president described the attack as “an act that drew on a long history of bombs and arson and shots fired at churches, not random, but as a means of control, a way to terrorize and oppress…”
“The only [candidate] that’s going to give real support to Israel is me,” said the 69-year-old Trump.
And whereas at the outset the plan was that Iran would have to surrender most of its centrifuges, it will now be able to retain several thousand.
Now oil independent, US no longer needs its former strategic alliances with Gulf States-or Israel
Those seeking accounting, finance, business, healthcare, technology, etc., will often enter a specialized graduate degree “track” created by Lakewood’s Professional Career Services, in conjunction with local institutions of higher education, for our alumni.
I felt guilty asking her to talk about her husband. There was no need for the guilt.
Almost immediately the audience began singing and clapping and continued almost without stop throughout the rest of the concert.
The climate is near perfect. From November through May the weather is dry and warm. June through October is referred to as the rainy season, though the weather is still comfortable and the occasional showers barely interfere with touring, sporting activities or sunbathing.
Twenty-seven-year-old IDF Lieutenant (res.) Aharon Karov completed the New York City Marathon earlier this month, less than five years after an explosion in Gaza left him near death.
There’s an eerie silence and tears can be seen running down the faces of young parents and elderly grandparents and siblings of all ages.
There was a time when an Orthodox Jewish traveler, offered a choice of visiting London, Paris or Rome, likely would have put Rome last on the list. Today, that would be a big mistake. Rome is a marvelous place to visit, especially for a religious Jew interested in the historical roots of the post-Second Temple Diaspora.
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