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October 1, 2016 / 28 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘america’

American Military Aid: Bad for America; Worse for Israel

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s website,  Abu Yehuda}

See, you trust in the staff of this broken reed, on Egypt; where on if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all that trust in him. – Isaiah 36:6

Reactions to the signing of a 10-year $38 billion memorandum of understanding (MOU) for American military aid to Israel are coming in, as predictable as the moon and the tides. The man Netanyahu calls Israel’s “worst Prime Minister ever”, Ehud Barak, claims that Netanyahu could have obtained another $7 billion a year if only he hadn’t opposed Obama’s Iran deal so strongly. Similar remarks have come from the parliamentary opposition, unsurprisingly. Others thank America for its commitment at a time that its own military budgets are being slashed. Still others curse it for helping Israel with its continued ‘genocide’ against the ‘Palestinians’, who have tripled in number since 1970.

The truth is that Israel does not need and should phase out military aid from the US. It is bad for Israel and bad for the US.

  • Israel doesn’t need it: The $3.8 billion per year that will come from the US is about a quarter of Israel’s 2015-16 defense budget of $15.47 billion. This is a lot of money, but consider that the government’s overall budget is about $89 billion, and Israel’s gross domestic product today is close to $300 billion, almost double what it was 10 years ago.

In addition, the new agreement phases out Israel’s ability to spend any of it outside of the US. In the past, up to about a quarter of the aid could be spent in Israel. Does anyone doubt that many items can be procured here or elsewhere, at lower cost? I don’t. The F-35 alone costs about $200 million per aircraft. Are there alternatives? We might be able to find out if we went shopping with our own money (possibly the F-15SE would become available).

Finally, increased investment in our military industries would improve our ability to sell our products to other countries, helping to offset the loss of US aid.

  • Aid gives the US administration too much leverage over Israeli policies and actions:  PM Netanyahu will be meeting with Barack Obama next week at the UN. Obama will certainly make demands about Israeli-PA relations, the blockade of Gaza, and more. Do we want to give him a club to hold over our heads?

During the Gaza War in 2014, Obama cut off the supply of Hellfire missiles and other items in response to (tendentious) complaints that Israel had deliberately shelled a UN school. The more we can reduce our dependence on aid, the more equipment like this can be manufactured at home.

Israel needs freedom of action to respond to threats. The aid comes with too many strings attached.

  • Aid distorts our military purchase decisions: If you can get your army boots – or fighter aircraft – “for free” then maybe you settle for something that doesn’t meet your needs quite as well as a product  you have to pay for.  The decisions about what we will be given are based in part on US policy objectives and, since the aid is in effect a direct subsidy to the US defense industry, domestic American considerations – not what’s best for Israel.

For example, it has been suggested that manned fighter aircraft will be much less important in future warfare than drones, but we get ‘free’ fighter planes from America and build our own drones; so we have lots and lots of manned fighter planes – maybe more than we need.

The F-35, with its cost and all its problems, stands out. As I wrote a few weeks ago, would Israel even have considered replacing its F-16 fleet with F-35s if the first batch weren’t ‘free’?

  • Aid corrupts our military decision-makers: The word ‘corrupts’ is a strong word, but may not be out of place. If you are a Chief of Staff, and a quarter of your budget comes from America, wouldn’t you take the US administration’s wishes into account when considering whether or not to take some particular action (say, bombing Iranian nuclear installations)? How could you not do so? Enough said.
  • Aid cripples the development of our own military industries: This may be the most important consideration of all. Although the new MOU represents an increase from the previous $3.1 billion a year, it phases out over five years the ability to spend up to about a quarter of it for locally-produced goods. If we don’t have the capability to produce our own weapons, our dependence on the US becomes even greater, and we lose the jobs and technical know-how that come from it. Buying our own would pump additional money into our economy, which helps offset the loss of American aid. Even the IDF’s boots, formerly made in Israel, are now ordered from the US.
  • Aid doesn’t necessarily guarantee a qualitative edge: One of the rationales for US military aid was that the US promised to maintain our “qualitative military edge” (QME) over our enemies, as a way of counteracting their numerical superiority. But the US has more and more been selling its best weapons to anyone who can pay for them. The way to maintain the QME, then, is for Israel to use her technological abilities to develop weapons and countermeasures for her own use that will not be available to her enemies.
  • Aid damages Israel’s standing as a sovereign state: A nation that is dependent on another for its defense is a satellite, not an ally. In order to maintain her national self-respect, Israel should pay for her own defense. In addition, Israel’s accepting aid provides ammunition for anti-Israel and anti-Jewish propaganda in America.
  • Phasing out aid is better for America: The US is burdened by a large and growing debt. The end of military aid to Israel can only help America meet her own civilian and military needs.

***

Naturally, there will be objections.

Israel can’t afford expensive systems like the F-35 without aid. First, it’s not true, and second, maybe we don’t need such expensive systems, or so many of them.

But the US makes the world’s best weapons. Perhaps. If so, we should buy them with our own money. I’m not suggesting we break relations with the US. And who is to say that our home-made products won’t fit our unique needs better?

But it takes time to build up our industries. True, which is why I want to phase out the aid over a period of years rather than cutting it off sharply.

But what about the close cooperation between Israeli and the US defense industries? I’m not suggesting that such cooperation couldn’t continue, but in a framework of mutually beneficial business deals when indicated, as partners rather than clients.

But AIPAC works so hard making it possible. Yes, and Israel should be grateful to AIPAC and to its friends in the US Congress that for decades have made it possible for Israel to survive in its dangerous neighborhood against great odds. But the situation has changed. What used to be a necessity became a luxury, and then changed into a dangerous overindulgence. It’s not like there aren’t other critical issues that AIPAC could focus on.

***

In recent years much has changed in the world and in the Middle East. Israel, which was a third-rate power that managed to win her wars against great odds, became a first-rate power that nevertheless seems to be stymied and incapable of decisively prevailing over much weaker opponents. Although there are several reasons for this, one of the main ones is the increasing influence and control over Israeli decision-making by the US – whose government, at the same time, has become less and less supportive.

I’m sorry to say that I believe the US is in serious economic, social, political and even security trouble today – truly a broken reed. I hope it will repair itself. But like Isaiah’s Egypt, it is not a staff to lean upon.

Vic Rosenthal

‘What America Can Learn from Israel’: An Interview with Author and Commentator Pete Hegseth

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

Those who love America often love Israel as well. Pete Hegseth is in a singular position to appreciate the shared uniqueness of the two countries.

A military veteran who holds two Bronze Stars and a Combat Infantryman Badge for his service in Iraq and Afghanistan, he is a former CEO of the Concerned Veterans for America and a former chairman of Vets for Freedom as well as a graduate of Princeton University with a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Hegseth writes regularly for National Review and FoxNews.com in addition to being a Fox News contributor and analyst. His new book, “In the Arena,” is an ardent plea for citizen commitment in an era of apathy. And it is an apt description of Hegseth’s enthusiasm as he eagerly entered the arena of Israel advocacy on his recent fact-finding mission to Israel attended by this reporter and organized by Dr. Joseph Frager, Dr. Paul Brody, and Odelya Jacobs.

 

The Jewish Press: What can you tell us about your background and how it influenced your relationship with Israel?

Hegseth: My parents come from a small town in Minnesota where I grew up as a Baptist. I never met a Jewish person until I went to college. When I did, the first thing I said to him was, “I read about you in the Bible!” It was from there and beyond that I gained a true understanding of Jews. Growing up an evangelical, I obviously had an enormous amount of respect and understanding of the historical resonance of Abraham and religions and how they’re intertwined.

After being in the military and having served in Iraq, I saw other views of the world and started to understand where Israel fits and where anti-Semitism comes from; how it is fostered in higher education and how lack of support for Israel is very indicative of other things. Through meeting wonderful people like Joe [Frager] and leaders in the senate and government, I have come to really appreciate the Jewish heritage and the Jewish state. I understand how geopolitically we are linked and how critical it is that we stand by such a strong ally.

From the perspective of a news commentator, how important is telling Israel’s story in the media?

I learned from serving in the Iraq war that you can’t refute what’s happening on the ground. Truth prevails. But it’s a matter of punching through the overwhelming wet blanket of the leftist mainstream media. I served in Iraq in 2005-2006. I came home from my tour during what looked like the darkest, most difficult days in Iraq in 2006, when the antiwar movement was at its height and when everyone said the war was inevitably going to fail. Yes, there were a lot of problems, but I saw seeds of progress. I saw that we could turn the corner with the right strategy and enough troops. I came back and led an advocacy group to make the case for a new counter insurgency strategy and more troops on the ground. Just so happened that we had a president at that moment who thankfully decided to do the exact same thing.

That taught me that even the overwhelming weight of the predictions by The New York Times and others that we were going to lose can be overcome by a concentrated view backed by a dedicated mission and the willingness to speak truth and then amplify it. But you’ve got to have people in the media and on the ground willing to amplify it. Because you can win on the ground, but if you’re not telling that story at home people will be seduced into whatever storyline they’re being told by news broadcasts and websites. You got to get the facts first so that you can beat the spin second.

Israel faces an unconventional enemy in the form of isolation through BDS, lawfare, campus intimidation, etc. With your background in the media and the military, what would you recommend to best fight this enemy?

There has been a long history of bipartisan support for Israel in the United States and I would want that to be the case now. Unfortunately, it’s become much more of a partisan issue. We have given away so many of our educational institutions that the next generation of citizens and voters in our country are not fortified with the basic beliefs and building blocks of previous generations. That is a scary thing and it makes what I do at Fox that much more important as we attempt to educate the next generation.

There are seeds of anti-Semitism that are still found in higher education. We’re taught about tolerance and safe spaces on college campuses except for things like anti-Semitism. We have to provide and support alternative viewpoints regarding Israel on campuses. We need veterans – who have actually seen the enemy and understand what our allies look like and what they’re facing – to articulate it throughout our institutions. We have to be more willing to publicly talk about Israel among citizens who think of it as an abstraction, who don’t truly understand the existential threat to it. And what can Israel do? Keep bringing more Americans to Israel in order to truly understand it and then they can go back to the U.S. as spokesmen. The more groups that can bring Americans here – evangelical Christians, Republicans, Democrats, Jews – the better. Because seeing is understanding.

How does seeing biblical and historical facts on the ground in Israel impact your impressions of the Holy Land?

It reaffirms the ties the Jewish people have to this land that have historical and real geopolitical resonance today. This is not some mystical land that can be dismissed. It’s the story of God’s chosen people. That story didn’t end in 1776 or in 1948 or with the founding of the UN. All of these things still resonate and matter today.

The facts on the ground and the truth of what actually happened can settle debates. It’s just a matter of affirming it. Because if you can rewrite history you can rewrite anything. If you can prove and demonstrate something, that changes the discussion completely.

Sara Lehmann

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch’s Influence In America (Part I)

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

Editor’s Note: This column contains excerpts from Dr. Levines “Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch and America – an Historical View,” which appeared in The World of Hirschian Teachings, An Anthology on the Hirsch Chumash and the Hashkafa of Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch (Rabbi Dr. Joseph Breuer Foundation, Feldheim, 2008, 199- 210).

 

Much has been written about Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch’s influence on German Jewry, and he is justifiably credited with having saved Orthodox Judaism in Germany. However, Rav Hirsch’s influence was not confined to Germany and did not end with his passing in 1888. His legacy continues to this day and is felt all over the world.

It is my intent to sketch how Hirschian ideology has fostered the flourishing Torah life we see today in America by indicating how a number of rabbis utilized this ideology. Such a sketch cannot, of course, be comprehensive. Nonetheless, it does provide perspective on how far-reaching the influence of RSRH has been on the American scene.

 

Rabbi Dr. Bernard Drachman (1861 -1945)

In 1899 Rabbi Dr. Bernard Drachman published the first English translation of Rav Hirsch’s Nineteen Letters.[i] Rabbi Drachman’s life story is an interesting one and is told in his autobiography The Unfailing Light: Memoirs of an American Rabbi.[ii]

Raised in a non-shomer Shabbos home, he went to public school in Jersey City, New Jersey, and then Columbia College. While in high school and college, Rabbi Drachman also attended the (Reform) Temple Emanuel Hebrew Preparatory School of New York City for six years. In 1882 he graduated Columbia with honors and decided to study for the rabbinate. Temple Emanuel granted him a scholarship to pursue rabbinical studies with the idea that he would prepare for the Reform rabbinate. He went to Germany, studied at the University of Breslau and the Jewish Theological Seminary of Breslau, and earned his rabbinical degree. In addition, he matriculated at the University of Heidelberg and obtained the degree of Ph.D. Magna Cum Laude in 1885.

As a result of his studies in Germany, Dr. Drachman became completely committed to Orthodox Judaism. Temple Emanuel had sponsored his studies with the understanding that when he returned he would become its assistant rabbi. But given his commitment to Orthodoxy, Rabbi Drachman was forced to make it clear to the congregants of Temple Emanuel that he would only serve an Orthodox congregation, despite the fact that Reform rabbis usually earned considerably more than their Orthodox counterparts. The result was that “he speedily became known as an enthusiastic and energetic champion of Orthodox Judaism, one of the then very few English-speaking representatives of the ancient faith in the America of that time.”[iii]

During his summer vacation in 1883 Dr. Drachman visited Frankfurt-on-the-Main. His recollections of this visit show what a deep impression the community that Rav Hirsch had established made upon him.

In the latter place [Frankfurt] we [Rabbi Drachman and his cousin Solomon] not only saw a beautiful city but also a most wonderful Jewish community, the like of which was even then difficult to find anywhere else in the world. In size the city was not so very impressive, numbering not more than approximately twenty-five thousand souls, but in spiritual and cultural quality and importance to Judaism it was most exceptional and noteworthy.

Frankfort-on-the-Main was the city of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, inspired and inspiring leader in Israel, man of God if ever there was one. His soul glowed with profound love and loyalty to the ancient faith. From his lips poured streams of eloquence to convince the doubting, to strengthen the wavering, and to satisfy and delight the already convincedly devout. The impress of his mighty spirit was upon the whole Jewish life of the queenly city. The number of business establishments closed on Sabbaths and Jewish holy days, the large and beautiful synagogues and the throngs which entered them to worship, even on ordinary days of secular occupation, and a dozen other indications, all gave unmistakable testimony to the fact that here was a city of enthusiastically loyal Jews.

The Orthodox Jews, however, were not the majority of the Jewry of Frankfort. Rabbi Hirsch’s congregation did not even belong to the official Jewish community. Legally and technically it was not even a congregation but only a private society, Israelitische Religionsgesellschaft, “Israelitish Society for Religion,” but in numbers it was not greatly inferior to the main community and in zeal and religious fervor it was so superior, that its impress upon the life of the city was far greater and more significant.

The Judaism which Rabbi Hirsch taught, and for which he had gained thousands of adherents, in Frankfort and out, while unswervingly loyal to the Law and the traditions of Israel’s past, was yet something different, something new. It was the religion of the ghetto without the mannerisms or the world-estrangement of the ghetto. It was indeed a wondrously perfect synthesis of the ancient and the modern, of the Oriental-Sinaitic-Talmudic precepts of faith and the life and the speech, the culture, and the demeanor of the modern time and the Occidental world. It was fittingly designated by understanding observers as Neo-Orthodoxy.

Solomon and I met a number of members of the Hirsch community and they all measured up to this standard. Among them were the brothers Jacob and Julius Strauss, who were relatives of Solomon, cousins of his mother, whose maiden name was Strauss. They were wealthy people, bankers doing business in a large way under the firm name of J. and J. Strauss. They were, however, more interested in Jewish religion and culture than in their business affairs.

As their guests on Friday evening, we met in the synagogue, which was filled with devout worshippers. After service we walked together to the Strauss residence, a fine and beautifully furnished apartment in one of the best streets of Frankfort. It was a memorable evening, a remarkable combination of fervent Jewishness and aristocratic demeanor, a perfect illustration of what the rabbis of the Talmud meant when they spoke of “Torah and greatness in one place.” Everything was in accordance with the rabbinical precept that the best which the Jew is and has shall be reserved for the Sabbath. Such was the Friday evening in the Strauss home. Herr Jacob Strauss chanted the Hebrew prayers with dignity and reverence, and Frau Strauss was a most gracious hostess. After the sumptuous repast was concluded, and thanks duly given to the Giver of all good, we passed an hour or so in pleasant, informal conversation. Many questions about America were asked of me, and my answers were received with great apparent interest.[iv]

Dr. Yitzchok Levine

Michael Bloomberg Talks to America about Marrying a Prostitute

Sunday, August 14th, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s website, FirstOne Through}

A satire?

On July 27, 2016, America witnessed an unusual piece of political theater.  It was not that a member of a competing political party addressed a convention.  It was the thrust of the argument made on the national stage by a respected politician that there’s nothing wrong with marrying a prostitute.

Let me say at the outset that I have long believed that prostitution should be legalized.  How do our laws state that pornography and massages are legal but prostitution is not?  Why do we allow people to marry for money? Why do women’s rights groups fight for women to be able to control their bodies when it comes to abortion, but ignore the call when it comes to call girls?  Lastly, nothing would better protect women in the profession than legalizing the act.

But put all of that to the side.  I’m talking about selling your vote.  About paying for favors.  About quid (the British know it means money) pro quo. About Hillary Clinton.

The former mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg addressed the Democratic National Convention in July to appeal to those who dislike both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.  His reasoning for backing Hillary Clinton for president was… well, you read it:

I know what it’s like to have neither party fully represent my views or values. Too many Republicans wrongly blame immigrants for our problems, and they stand in the way of action on climate change and gun violence. Meanwhile, many Democrats wrongly blame the private sector for our problems, and they stand in the way of action on education reform and deficit reduction.

There are times when I disagree with Hillary. But whatever our disagreements may be, I’ve come here to say: We must put them aside for the good of our country. And we must unite around the candidate who can defeat a dangerous demagogue.”

In other words, she’s far from ideal, but the alternative is unacceptable.  She may have a bad track record, but at least she’s experienced.  You may not love her, but she’ll get the job done.

Sort of like marrying a prostitute.

Of course, you can hold out and wait to marry for love, but the wedding is scheduled for November 8.  The Bachelor has two finalists (actually three, including Libertarian Gary Johnson that the press never discusses).  Will you marry the person who skates on the edge of the law, has spent a lifetime in her craft, and works the angles to line her pockets, that you severely dislike?  Or the novice whose voice agitates you, who’s so new to the street that he doesn’t even know how all of the equipment works?

Bloomberg declared that this election was not about love, but getting the job done.  By a professional with a rate card.

Hillary got paid huge fees for speaking to Wall Street.  Fine.  Speaking fees are legal.  Pay-for-play is the Democrats way.

Look at the recent ransom payment that the Obama Administration made to Iran to release hostages.  The administration may say it doesn’t negotiate with terrorists – except for all of the times that it does.  And who’s worse off?  The Americans are free, and all we had to do was pay blackmail money. (Hey, the terrorism the Iranians will fund will likely be against Israel and Europe, so America should be OK, so chill.)

And just like the perfected sales pitch “But wait! There’s more!”

Search the leaked DNC emails and review the long laundry list of payoffs that Democrats made for influence.  So what?  It’s an ATM Democracy.

The farce of this election is that Trump was one of Clinton’s johns.  He paid in. He knows she’s worth it. Why don’t you get that?

A prostitute and a john walk into an election cycle…and the former mayor of New York made it clear that you back the service-provider.

Hooray!

It was long past time that someone stood on a national stage and said it’s time to decriminalize prostitution.  Thank you Michael Bloomberg.  You made your point clearly: There’s no love to be found in this election, so ignore your heart.  Pay for the Pro.  At least you can be sure you’ll get what you ordered.

And if you don’t have money, see if Obama can get a pallet of bills over to your house before he leaves office.  The Iranians say he’s a pro too.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Liar, Liar! Hillary’s Pant Suit’s on Fire!

Hillary’s Transparency

ObamaCar to Address Garage Inequality

The Joys of Iranian Pistachios and Caviar

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Paul Gherkin

The School That Set The Standard For Jewish Education In 20th-Century America

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

The original Rabbi Jacob Joseph School, or RJJ, no longer exists in Manhattan, but during its existence it long served as an important and successful model for Jewish education in the United States.

This reminiscence is based on one alumnus’s memory and appreciation of his experience there more than 65 years ago, and on his many years of service as a professional in Jewish life in the United States and Israel.

Organized in 1903, RJJ was located on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, which was the major area of first settlement for Jews immigrating to the United States from Europe.

It graduated from its elementary and high schools thousands of alumni who were or are still active in important leadership roles in Jewish life and Jewish communities in the U.S. and Israel.

What made RJJ unique was that many, if not all, of the initial components of its educational model were initially integrated into many of the day schools and yeshivas that were organized all over the United States. RJJ’s principal for many decades, Rabbi Hillel Weiss, had studied at the Pressburg yeshiva in Hungary and assigned major priority to the limudei kodesh curriculum, supported by the excellent faculty and roshei yeshiva Rabbi Weiss recruited.

What was also very special about RJJ is that it maintained a balanced dual secular program, led for many years by Herman Winter, a faculty member at Stuyvesant High School, one of America’s top secondary public schools. The graduates of RJJ’s high school were, as a result, well fortified to pursue excellent professional careers in the Jewish and secular worlds.

One of the best examples is Robert (Yisrael) Aumann – Nobel laureate, professor at Hebrew University, and outstanding talmid chacham. During the ceremony and dinner at which he was awarded the Nobel Prize, he publicly acknowledged his teachers at RJJ, including Joseph Ganzler, his teacher of mathematics, and Rabbi Shmuel Dovid Warshavchik, his rosh yeshiva. All the guests that night were served the same kosher dinner enjoyed by Professor Aumann.

It was quite a Kiddush Hashem on the part of Dr. Aumann and the school he credited for his success.

The evolution of institutions, including yeshivas, is not always characterized by ascent. Some of the right-wing yeshivas have in recent years deemphasized or emasculated their secular programs. This reflects some of the political and ideological changes in parts of the Orthodox community (changes that were already underway even before the establishment of the state of Israel). RJJ also operated a successful ivrit b’ivrit program in its elementary school – a rarity in American day schools today. This diminution of Hebrew in the day school curriculum has had regrettable consequences for the status and knowledge of Hebrew among Orthodox youth in America.

Rabbi Weiss’s relationship with the students made for a very unique ambiance at RJJ. For some of us it only became evident and appreciated long after our graduation. The student body was a considerable challenge. Some students were what in those days was considered rowdy or mischievous.

I remember once making a shiva call for the mother of two RJJ alumni who had become outstanding Jewish educators. The small group present was comprised of outstanding alumni whom had attended RJJ decades earlier. Much of that evening was spent sharing, accompanied with huge gales of laughter, their experiences as students at RJJ – a common occurrence when RJJ alumni gather.

But a smaller number of students, some from religious families, were out of sync with yeshiva life. I was startled to find one of them, an alumnus and neighbor of mine, standing next to me at Rabbi Weiss’s funeral (he had died suddenly in 1954) in front of the yeshiva building. He told me that all the years he was a student at RJJ he was invited to Rabbi Weiss’s office just before Passover. Rabbi Weiss would inquire if he had a new suit for the holiday – which he always subsequently arranged for him.

There were several pool halls near the yeshiva, one just around the corner. They were absolutely off limits to all the students because of the low-class clientele they attracted. The administration once learned that a number of students had been seen shooting pool there. A noisy scandal followed but no students were expelled by Rabbi Weiss, as had been expected. Their names weren’t even released.

What Rabbi Weiss did do, after advising the parents of the boys who were involved, was call a meeting of all the high school students, which took place in the yeshiva’s synagogue just before Shavuot. His theme, very powerfully presented, was that the study of Torah was intended to create principled, moral personalities, not pool players. (Just last year I met one of those students. He was retired and living in Israel after a distinguished career in the rabbinate).

In many right-wing yeshivas today, admission is preceded by an interview, which includes questions about the family’s religious observance. Rabbi Weiss’s approach was to welcome any student to RJJ whatever his age and religious background, provided he believed the boy and his parents were genuinely interested and would benefit from their RJJ experience.

They were not the ba’al teshuvah types of our time. But many succeeded, some in spectacular fashion. One of them, while still at yeshiva, tutored Talmud to weaker students and eventually became one of the leaders in the eida hachareides in Jerusalem. Two of my classmates, star students, went on to complete their graduate studies and settle in Israel, where they worked in Jewish education.

The combination of Rabbi Weiss’s approach and emerging communal demographics produced a very diverse student population at RJJ. Many were from working families or the city’s projects on the Lower East Side. With RJJ’s growing success after World War II, students were enrolled from more established Jewish families living on the East and West sides of Manhattan and in New Jersey. Aside from class differences, there was a vast range in religious observance. The school was also enriched by a small number of Sephardic students.

There was no official or informal dress code at RJJ; each student dressed in his own fashion. This both reflected and fostered their latent individualism (and differed substantially from some of the later right-wing yeshivas with their standard uniform for students of black yarmulkes, pants, white shirt, and black fedora on Shabbat). At that time, the majority of RJJ students were far from being or becoming Xerox copies of one other. It was, I believe a marvelous gift RJJ bestowed on its students. Within the parameters of American Orthodoxy, they could do their own thing religiously while appreciating and respecting the behavior and attitudes of other Orthodox Jews.

One final personal experience. In my freshman year in high school my teacher was HaRav J. Goldman. Like almost all the RJJ rabbis at that time, he was born in Europe, but he maintained a capacity to relate to his American-born students – no small achievement. In class we were studying Bava Kamma, which deals with the arba avot nezikin, the four major sources of damages inflicted on others for which we are responsible. One of them is fire. The Talmud debates the underlying source of our responsibility for damage by fire. One view holds it is damage caused by our property, esho meshum mamono. The other view is esho meshum chitzo, that it’s comparable to one who shoots an arrow – the damage is connected to the individual’s action.

Rav Goldman posed the question of the Ran, a commentator on the Talmud. If fire is esho meshum chitzo, connected to the individual through his action, anyone who lights Sabbath candles should be guilty of desecrating the Sabbath. Once Shabbat has begun, the fire he lit continues to be linked to that individual.

Rav Goldman turned to the class for a reaction. I stood and responded. I have no recollection of what I said that day. All I remember is that he approached me and kissed me gently on my cheek.

That sweet expression of his love more than half a lifetime ago has sustained and inspired me through the vicissitudes of a blessed religious life.

Rabbi Dr. Jerry Hochbaum

Raoul Wallenberg’s Fate Revealed in Diary of Former KGB Chief

Sunday, August 7th, 2016

For the first time ever, historians finally know, without doubt, what happened to the Swedish diplomat who saved so many thousands of Jewish lives from the Nazi hordes in Hungary during World War II.

In the 632-page tome, “Notes From a Suitcase: Secret Diaries of the First K.G.B. Chairman, Found Over 25 Years After His Death,” one finds the memoirs of one of the most important men in Soviet history, and the answer to one of the most painful questions of the last century.

“I have no doubts that Wallenberg was liquidated in 1947,” wrote state security chief Ivan A. Serov, head of the KGB from 1954 to 1958, in a memoir not only rare but in fact probably entirely forbidden to write.

Wallenberg disappeared in Budapest in 1945, and although there have been countless searches for clues to his fate, none have turned up the slightest breath of evidence as to what happened to him.

But his fate is found in this text, because the grandaughter of Ivan A. Serov, 57-year-old retired ballerina Vera Serova was wise enough, and kind enough, not to throw away the papers discovered by workers in suitcases as they renovated a garage four years ago at a “dacha” left to her in northwestern Moscow by her VIP grandfather.

The soldiers of the Soviet Union were occupying Budapest at the time of Wallenberg’s disappearance, and it was known that as a Swedish diplomat, he had strong ties with the Americans and the highest echelons of the Third Reich. That made him suspect to the Russians.

Neither ever gave up a clue, however, until this summer when the diaries of the original head of the clandestine KGB, found tucked into the wall of a little vacation cottage in Russia, were published.

Although few indeed are memoirs written by Kremlin officials – for obvious reasons – this one, penned by Serov, contained a treasure.

The multiple references to previously unknown documents on Wallenberg definitively put to rest the endless questions about the fate of the heroic diplomat. The most important of all is the fact that Wallenberg, though dead at the time of the posthumous investigation, was ultimately found by the USSR not to have been a “spy” after all.

It was Serov who carried out that probe at the behest of Nikita S. Khrushchev, who requested the inquiry after Stalin, telling Serov to respond to Sweden and help in the purge of Molotov. Although he failed to uncover the full circumstances of Wallenberg’s death, he said, he found no evidence of espionage.

There is a mention of the cremation of Wallenberg’s remains. And there is a reference to something said by Serov’s predecessor, Viktor Abakunov, who was tried and executed in 1954, in the final Stalin purge. During the interrogation of the former head of state security, his torturers learned that it was Stalin and then-foreign minister Vyacheslav M. Molotov who had issued the order to “liquidate” Wallenberg.

Serov also said he had read a Wallenberg file — despite the fact the Soviet Security Service had for years denied that any such files existed. Hans Magnusson, a retired senior diplomat interviewed by the New York Times, directed the Swedish side of the Swedish-Russian Working Group and said there should have been a file created for every prisoner. But, he said, “The Russians said they did not find one.”

Vera Serova has one, however, in her grandfather’s memoirs. She has published them now to restore his reputation, she said.

Serov did many evil things in his life: he established the secret police that were used to terrorize the population in Poland and East Germany; he helped deport thousands of minorities considered a threat to Soviet rule in Russia; he wielded enormous power as head of state security.

Hana Levi Julian

At Democratic National Convention Day 2, Sanders Supporters Still ‘Feeling The Bern’

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

Day One of the Democratic National Convention began with utter chaos in the wake of a scandal over the revelation that the party’s leadership had tilted the primary elections in favor of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton against her contender, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

But the ink on the resignation letter of Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was barely dry before Hillary Clinton hired her as a “surrogate” national chairwoman to lead her presidential campaign — in effect, promoting her for her loyalty, corruption notwithstanding.

Speeches by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, New Jersey Senator Corey Booker, First Lady Michelle Obama and then “rock star” runner-up candidate Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont helped defuse some of the tension, but there was still plenty of bitter energy to spare.

The house was packed to the rafters for the Sanders speech, with thousands of signs — ironically, in the colors of the Israeli flag — waving frantically with slogans like, “Stronger Together” and “A Future to Believe In.”

The entire hall was on its feet as Sanders walked to the podium, and the cheers shook the building for at least five full minutes, with the former candidate repeatedly trying to begin his speech, only to give up laughing. “Thank you, thank you,” he said. The applause lasted longer than that garnered by the First Lady.

Supporters with tear-filled eyes chanted, “Feel.the.Bern! Feel.the.Bern!” But when they finally allowed their hero to talk, the message he delivered was not the one they wanted to hear, despite his obvious effort to let them down gently.

The longest-serving Independent Senator in the history of the nation told his supporters they must work to defeat Donald Trump — and they MUST support Hillary Clinton to do so.

He thanked Michelle Obama for her “incredible service to our country.” And he thanked “the 13 million americans who voted for the ‘political revolution’ who gave us the 1,846 pledged delegates here tonight!” He also thanked the delegates for “being here” and for “all the work you have done,” telling them he looked forward to their votes in the roll call on Tuesday.

After thanking his family, friends and others who have seen him through his entire political career, Sanders said, “I understand that many people here and around the country are disappointed … I think it’s fair to stay that no one is more disappointed than I am.”

The blunt reference to the rigged system that had lost him the primary to Hillary Clinton was unmistakable. But equally clear was the fact that Sanders, a seasoned politician, recognized there was little he could do about it. Knowing when to fold the cards, Sanders clearly now hopes to keep as many people on board as possible, despite the obvious corruption that has been exposed.

“I hope you take enormous pride in the accomplishments we have achieved,” he said. “Together my friends, we have begun a political revolution to transform America, and that revolution, our revolution, continues.”

“Election days come and go but the struggle of the people to create a government that represents all of us, and not just the one — that struggle continues… I look forward to being part of that struggle with you.

“This election is not about and has never been about Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders or any of the other candidates that have sought the presidency,” he declared.

“This election is about and must be about the needs of the American people and the kind of future we create for our children and our grandchildren.”

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/at-democratic-national-convention-day-2-sanders-supporters-still-feeling-the-bern/2016/07/27/

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