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January 22, 2017 / 24 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘america’

Rabbi Marvin Hier’s Prayer at Inauguration of US President Donald J. Trump [video]

Saturday, January 21st, 2017

Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, CA, was privileged to be one of six clerics offer a prayer Friday (Jan. 20) at the Inauguration of the 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump.

This is the text of the “Readings From Psalms and Sacred Writings” that were included in Rabbi Hier’s prayer at the inauguration of President Trump at the United States Capitol in Washington DC.

Eternal God, Bless President Donald J. Trump and America, our great nation. Guide us to remember the words of the psalmist, “Who may dwell on your holy mountain? One who… does what is right and speaks the truth… who knows that… when you eat the labor of your hands you are praiseworthy… that he who sows in tears shall reap in joy.” (Psalms)

Because,’ The freedoms we enjoy are not granted in perpetuity, but must be reclaimed by each generation!’

“As our ancestors have planted for us, so we must plant for others. While it is not for us to complete the task, neither are we free to desist from them.” (“Ethics of the Fathers”)

“Dispense justice for the needy and the orphan,” (Psalm) for they have no one but their fellow citizens, and because a nation’s wealth is measured by her values and not by her vaults!

Bless all of our allies around the world who share our beliefs. “By the rivers of Babylon we wept as we remembered Zion… If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, May my right hand forget its skill.” (Psalm)

“The doer of [all of] these shall never falter.” (Psalm) May the days come soon when “justice will dwell in the wilderness and righteousness will abide in the fertile field. And the work of righteousness will be peace… quietness and confidence forever.” (Isaiah)

Rabbi Hier, 77, is the first Orthodox rabbi to offer the benediction at a presidential inauguration, and was the first cleric to offer the invocation following the swearing-in of the president.

Yet even in this greatest of privileges, Rabbi Hier “remembered Jerusalem” in his prayer, which was carried out after weeks of contention both within his congregation and from others who expressed their hope that he would reject the invitation.

Rabbi Hier, who has known the family of President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, for decades, accepted with grace immediately.

He told Ha’aretz this past week that it was a “great honor.” But more to the point, he saw it as his “duty” to attend such an event. It would have been “rude and unkind” to turn down the invitation, he said.

“It’s especially true here in America, a country where Jews have flourished more than in any other Diaspora in the world. Imagine the reaction of the American public if it became known that a presidential committee sent this kind of invitation, and the rabbi refused. That would create ill will. So for me, it wasn’t even a question. And yes, I pray that he will be a great president.

“This country has been very good to me, and to my parents who came here as poor immigrants from Poland in the 1920s,” he added. “I really see it as an obligation to pray for its success, because America truly is the greatest democracy in the world.”

Hana Levi Julian

Iran Received ‘Billions’ From Obama Administration in Cash, Gold & Assets

Sunday, January 15th, 2017

The Islamic Republic of Iran has received more than $10 billion in cash, gold bullion and assets from the Obama administration since 2013, according to reports by the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Free Beacon.

The payments were made primarily to keep Iran at the negotiating table, to ensure that American hostages were freed and finally, to secure and keep the July 2015 nuclear deal in place. For most of the time U.S. lawmakers did not know the payments were to be made in cash, and the White House did not return calls from concerned members of Congress.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bahram Ghasemi was quoted by the Wall Street Journal as saying the amount of $10 billion just “scratches the surface” of the total paid to Tehran over the past several years.

According to the Washington Free Beacon, Ghasemi was quoted in Persian language reports independently translated for the news outlet as saying that figure was actually a “stingy” estimate. Cash, gold and other assets were transferred by Washington DC to Iran’s Central Bank, where they were “spent,” he said.

“After the Geneva conference and the resulting agreement, it was decided that $700 million dollars were to be dispensed per month” by the U.S., according to Ghassemi. “In addition to the cash funds which we received, we [also] received our deliveries in gold, bullion, and other things,” he said, Free Beacon quoted.

What’s important to remember in reading these figures is where this money goes when it’s “spent.” Iran uses these and other resources to fund its regional terrorist operations in the Middle East, and to support the military operation in Syria.

That means the Obama administration was indirectly funding the support of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah – and their attacks on Israel.

Hana Levi Julian

PM Netanyahu Thanks Congress for Its Vote Against UN’s Anti-Israel Resolution [video]

Friday, January 6th, 2017

PM Netanyahu thanked the US House of Representatives for its vote for Israel and against the Anti-Israel Resolution that was passed in the UN Security Council.

“After the outrageous anti-Israel resolution at the UN, the US House of Representatives voted yesterday resoundingly to support Israel and reject this one-sided resolution.

Democrats and Republicans alike know that the Western Wall isn’t occupied territory.

They voted to either repeal the resolution at the UN or change it—and that’s exactly what we intend to do.

I want to thank the US House of Representatives which reflects the tremendous support Israel enjoys among the American people.

Thank you, America.

Thank you, Congress.”

Jewish Press News Briefs

Exhibition: The Jewish Ghetto in Postcards from Eastern Europe to Downtown Manhattan

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

From 1880 to 1924, one-third of the Jewish population of Eastern Europe left shtetls and cities for the United States, fleeing persecution and seeking economic opportunity. Most settled on the Lower East Side making it the most crowded neighborhood in the world. On these shores, Jewish immigrants found themselves in a new kind of densely urban neighborhood. Still, echoes of the old country could be found in the cries of the marketplace, the plaintive tunes of the synagogue, and most of all in the shared Yiddish language of neighbors.

The Blavatnik Archive and the Museum at Eldridge Street “The Jewish Ghetto in Postcards” exhibition, through March 8, 2017, presents rarely seen images of shtetls in Europe that were wiped out during the Holocaust, and the “Ghetto” of the old Jewish Lower East Side. In captivating color and stark black and white, these vintage postcards provide snapshots of vanished places that are at the heart of the twentieth-century Jewish experience.

People of the Jewish shtetl Racionz, near the more densely populated Mława. Message dated June 23, 1915.

People of the Jewish shtetl Racionz, near the more densely populated Mława. Message dated June 23, 1915.

These early twentieth-century postcards provide important historical perspective of the immigrant experience in America. In captivating color and stark black and white, they recall vanished places that are at the heart of the Jewish immigrant experience. They also suggest how cultural conceptions and types were disseminated in popular culture.

The Jewish Ghetto in Postcards features fifty postcard images, interpretive texts, oral histories, and a digital component that allows visitors to enlarge and examine the postcards and historic materials.

The bulk of the exhibition features images of New York’s Lower East Side, long an immigrant gateway. Images of bustling streets with pushcarts and horse-drawn carriages, a pickle vendor, and a surprisingly beautiful view of tenements with laundry suspended from one tenement to the next recall a by-gone era.

The Lower East Side is described on both the front and back of postcards as “The Ghetto” or “Judea.” During the first decades of the 20th century, the term “the Ghetto” was understood as the place where the Jews lived in New York City. The postcards were collected in albums, sent as a memento from travels, or – as indicated by a message scrawled on one of the featured images – mailed by Progressive-era teachers and workers who wanted to show the atmosphere of the neighborhood where they worked.

The postcards of Eastern Europe depict men with long beards, wooden homes along unpaved streets, and other stereotypical scenes of the shtetl, with captions printed on the cards describing them as “Jewish Types” and the “Jewish Quarter.” Some of these images are snapshots taken by passing soldiers during World War I who were struck by the exotic looking community they encountered.

The Museum at Eldridge Street, 12 Eldridge Street, New York, NY 10002, is open Sunday through Thursday from 10 AM to 5 PM and Friday from 10 AM to 3 PM. Admission is $14 adults; $10 students and seniors, $8 children 5-17; free for children under 5 years of age. Mondays are Pay What You Wish. Entrance to the Jewish Ghetto in Postcards is included with Museum admission. For more information, visit eldridgestreet.org or call 212-219-0302 / 212.219.0888. Please check the Museum’s website for holiday closings including New Year’s Day.

The caption on this postcard reads "New Jewish Market on the East Side, New York."

The caption on this postcard reads “New Jewish Market on the East Side, New York.”


Conversations with Heroes – Can Israel Trust the Leaders of America and England? [audio]

Friday, December 16th, 2016

Major media news outlets report that U.S. intelligence officials believe Russia acted covertly to boost Donald Trump in the Presidential election race. Heather’s guest, Abe Katsman from Republicans Overseas Israel says this story is not the bombshell that the CIA or the media would have you believe. He also reasons that Hillary Clinton would be a far more preferable U.S. President for Russian interests had she won the election.

And how do you solve a problem like Steve Bannon? Is he really a dangerous alt-Right anti-Semite? Well, Katsman met and worked with Bannon before he became Trump’s controversial chief strategist and senior counselor. His take on Bannon will surprise you.

Katsman will also weigh in on this week’s CBS “60 Minutes” interview with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Is it a sure thing that Trump and Netanyahu will continue their friendly relationship? And after he takes office, will Trump visit Israel?

Later in the show, David Olesker from The Jerusalem Center for Communication and Advocacy Training will discuss Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party in the U.K., who has come under increasing pressure to make amends with the Jewish community after a litany of shocking anti-Israel statements and actions.

For more information about Republicans Overseas: Israel, visit:

For more information about The Jerusalem Center for Communication and Advocacy Training, contact David Olesker via his website: jccat.org

Conversations with Heroes 14DEC2016 – PODCAST

Israel News Talk Radio

Israeli Manufacturers Warn New APC to Cost Thousands of Jobs if Made in USA [video]

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump is already retrieving jobs for America, while it appears that some Israeli leaders may be outsourcing jobs in the nation’s defense industry. The Israel Manufacturers Association is outraged at a plan to outsource production of the ‘Eitan’ armored personnel carrier in order to purchase the military vehicle with U.S. defense funding.

The wheeled APC was unveiled this past August by the Israeli Defense Ministry. It has an eight-wheel drive and is the first Israeli APC to have wheels instead of tracks; it’s also considered by Israel to be the most advanced armored wheeled combat vehicle in the world.

According to a report published this week by the Globes business news site, the IDF ground forces and Defense Ministry have been considering a plan to limit Israeli production to installation of the systems that will be used in the APC. The vehicle itself would be produced abroad.

But that plan would cost the Jewish State about 2,000 jobs, according to Manufacturers Association President Shraga Brosh, who told Globes, “Israel has to preserve its technological, security and employment interests and manufacture the Eitan APC in Israel.”

The Eitan is an 8×8 wheeled armored personnel carrier (APC) that is expected to weigh 30-35 tons, have a 750 hp engine, and be able to hit speeds of up to 90 kilometers per hour on paved roads. A variant of the vehicle will be able to carry 12 troops, including the commander, driver and gunner, according to Jane’s.

Production of the entire vehicle would add NIS 2 billion to the Israeli economy, according to Manufacturers Association sources. Some 200 industrial companies could be engaged in the process, mostly in the periphery.

The last time the Defense Ministry outsourced production of an Israeli APC was in 2010, when it sent production of the Namer — and 2,000 jobs with it — to the United States, defense manufacturers told Globes.

“Transferring production of the APC to the U.S. will lead to the closing or construction of production lines in dozens of plants around Israel, have a negative impact on exports of systems used in the Eitan and damage the civilian sources of know-how and development based on the technologies used in the Eitan,” warned Merkava tank industries forum chairman Avraham Bar David.

In response to the concerns expressed by the Manufacturers Association, the Defense Ministry issued a statement at the beginning of the week.

‘The Eitan is still in the development stages, and has not yet been approved by the IDF for procurement and mass production,” the statement read. “If and when decisions are taken to produce it, and in what volume, the Ministry of Defense Merkava Tank Administration, which regards the involvement of Israeli industries in the Merkava project as a strategic asset, will take steps to ensure the share of Israeli industries in the project, as it has done up until now.

“We emphasize that after the project is approved, production of the Eitan will take place simultaneously with production of the Merkava and Namer. In view of the increased procurement of armored fighting vehicles following Operation Protective Edge, the Israeli defense industries’ share on all these projects will increase, not decrease.”

According to Brigadier-General Baruch Matzliach, head of the Defense Ministry’s Tank Authority, the Eitan is expected to join the tracked Namer APCs in replacing thousands of aging M113 APCs and other military vehicles still in IDF service.

Matzliach told Jane’s in an August 2016 interview that the Eitan’s main advantage is its “rapid movement on roads and quick mobility between battle sectors without dependence on trailers.”

What he meant was, the APC can move from the north to the south in Israel without the need for a flatbed to shlep it there. That advantage will be particularly important when the IDF next finds itself facing a two-front war with the Lebanon-based Hezbollah in the north, and Gaza-based Hamas in the south.

Hana Levi Julian

Jews in Europe: Do Not Come To America!

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

Unless otherwise indicated, all quotes are from People Walk on Their Heads: Moses Weinberger’s Jews and Judaism in New York, translated from the Hebrew and edited by Jonathan D. Sarna, Holmes Meir Publishers, Inc., New York, 1982.


There was a time when many European Jews viewed America as a treife medina (a non-kosher land) from the perspective of traditional Jewish religious observance. It was felt that it was virtually impossible to remain observant in America, and many Jews proved this was indeed the case, as they or their children abandoned much of their religious practices once they arrived here.

One can gain insight into the state of Yiddishkeit in America during the latter part of the nineteenth century from the writings of Rabbi Moshe Weinberger (1854-1940). Rabbi Weinberger came to New York from Hungary in 1880. (A sketch of his life was provided in last month’s column.) Rabbi Weinberger was a keen observer of the American Jewish scene and in 1887 published his controversial book Ha-Yehudim veha-Yahadus be-New York.[i]

“Written in Hebrew and directed to his brethren in Europe, Weinberger scorned American society as materialistic, sorely lacking in appropriate family values, and a spiritual danger to religious Jews. Contemptuous of Jewish life in America, as well, Weinberger cautioned his former countrymen about the poor standards of kashruth and Jewish education and the low level of Talmud knowledge of Jewry’s religious functionaries. He lamented America’s magnificent synagogues, which some Jews felt compelled to build, and chided Jews for the extravagance of luring cantors with inflated salaries to fill normally empty synagogue pews.”[ii]

His message to Jews in Europe was blunt: Stay Home! “As far as Weinberger was concerned, New York City was America in microcosm. What he learned about the one he applied to the other. In addressing his peer group abroad, he generalized accordingly: Nothing will be left for you to do save dressing in black, wrapping yourself in shrouds, and rolling from darkness to abyss: from factory to sweatshop to itinerant peddling. For such great successes you don’t need America! You don’t need to endanger your life by crossing great stretches of water! There, in your homeland and your own little city, you can do just as well if you only work diligently and put all fears of shame behind you.” (Pages 5 -6)

Regarding the religious situation in America Rabbi Weinberger wrote: “In all other lands a man is required by the government to belong to the kehilah [community] of the area where he lives, and like it or not it levies taxes upon him. In America, any man may cut himself off from his community, taking no part in it whatsoever.” (Page 8)

“In America one relies for everything on three laymen. They are found by inspecting everyone who displays haughtiness and greed, talks big, leaps forward to barge into other peoples’ conversations, has a tall and handsome appearance, and can’t speak gently to his fellow human beings…. He is placed at the head of the community, given a golden scepter, which in this country is in the shape of a mallet, and with it he rules his people; he is at once their ruler and judge.” (Page 14)

“A mohel or marriage officiator here must be conscious of the world around him and the work ahead of him. He must know how to drive a chariot properly, how to select sure-footed horses, and how to find two or three of those transient characters known as nosei kelim [armor-bearers]. He must understand that nothing is more valuable or useful in America than smooth talk and vulgarity. He must realize that in New York, unlike the rest of the world, one spends even what one doesn’t have. He who thoroughly understands all this may be sure of a place in this world: he will gather great riches, and never find himself without means of support.” (Page 17)

These are certainly very harsh words, and the reader may wonder if perhaps there is some level of exaggeration. However, most of Rabbi Weinberger’s contemporaries found his descriptions of Jewish life in New York to be for the most part accurate.

“Ephraim Deinard [1846-1930], the cantankerous bibliophile and Hebraist, thought that Weinberger’s portrait fit all big cities in America – ‘it will serve as a trustworthy guide for those writing the history of Jews in the New World.’” (Page 23)

Sadly, Rabbi Weinberger’s book gives many examples to back up his words in the areas of kashrus, education, the workplace, personal religious observance, and the role of synagogues. One such example is the following Pesach story:


The story is told of one immigrant who arrived here and barely supported himself and his wife by renting a small grocery on one of the streets. Came the month of Nisan [the Hebrew month in which Passover falls] and he did as he and all faithful Jews always did: he searched through everything that might contain chomets [leaven], and slowly began to remove it to the basement and attic in order to make room for the Passover goods that he had ordered a month before.

On the morning before Passover, the merchandise arrived, all properly weighed and measured just as he had requested in his letter to the dealer. But to his great astonishment, no Passover certification appeared: not from the head of the bes din, not from some individual dayan [judge], not from anybody at all. He was brokenhearted –and furious. “Surely some horrible error has occurred,” he cried angrily. “Doubtless some confused clerks are to blame.” But what could he do? There was no time to go out to obtain new holiday merchandise, for customers had already gathered and were coming in. If sent away empty-handed, they would never return.

There remained but one solution: to race to the nearest grocers and to borrow the needed merchandise, or actually to purchase it from them at full price. This proved impossible, however. To a man, the grocers claimed that they had enough only for their own needs, and had to look out for themselves. And so, while his wife stood full of misery in the store, he ran around town like a madman. Half a day passed in turmoil and confusion. Finally they closed their doors.

“Four days later, even before light had dawned on the first of the intermediate days of the holiday, he was already standing at the large supply house on S – Street. Still enraged and furious, he fought with the supervisors and those higher up. They swore to have sent him everything he needed for Passover, but to no avail. They showed him a special place on the first floor where a sign on the wall read PASSOVER G[ROCERIES], and there was his name.

“But where is the Passover certification?”

Finally the owner of the supply house came out, brought him to his office, gave him a seat, and in a soft, earnest voice said, “I see, my friend, that you are as green as can be. You just arrived in this country, and you know nothing of its ways. Be aware of the fact that, aside from flour, there is no Passover merchandise in New York. Many Jews who would never dream of drinking c[offee] or eating s[ugar], or dried fruit on Passover, and who place in their store windows and advertisements large signs reading PASSOVER G[ROCERIES] are actually lying. The words are a deception and fraud. Since many of the storekeepers who do business with us requested it, we were forced to act as you saw. Not that it helps us any, but – as you too now understand and will know for the future – it does benefit the storekeepers in the Jewish areas.’

A new year came, and he knew what lay ahead. Though snow still covered the earth, he already had a sign prepared in gold letters ready to hang in the window before the holiday. But his wife, who came from a good family in the Hungarian state, felt most distressed and argued with him daily. “How is it possible,” she asked him, “to stock s[ugar] on Passover without any proper certification? Did the sages in our country dwell on this problem in vain? Did the gaon from Szerem waste his time troubling himself about it? And what about the dried fruits: do you know where they came from? Would the Jews back home have used them? Does America have a special Torah for itself?”

Her husband listened and proceeded to burn his sign before her eyes. Now he is among those working to bring about improvements in those matters where the Torah strictly demands proper Passover supervision.” (Pages 74 – 75)

Sadly, this was the state of Yiddishkeit on the Lower East Side during that latter part of the 19th and the first part of the 20th centuries.


[i] For a translation of this work see People Walk on Their Heads, Moses Weinberger’s Jews and Judaism in New York, translated from the Hebrew and edited by Jonathan D. Sarna, Holmes Meir Publishers, Inc., New York, 1982.

[ii] Orthodox Judaism in America, A Biographical Dictionary and Sourcebook by Moshe D. Sherman, Greenwood Press, 1996, page 215.

Dr. Yitzchok Levine

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/glimpses-ajh/jews-in-europe-do-not-come-to-america/2016/11/30/

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