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August 31, 2014 / 5 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘American Jews’

Today in 1972 – Democratic Hopeful George McGovern Sends New Year’s Wish to US Jews

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

Sen. George McGovern, the Democratic Presidential candidate, greeted American Jews today on the occasion of the High Holy Days. “Mrs. McGovern joins me in wishing our Jewish friends and Jews around the world a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year,” the South Dakotan said.

“Traditionally,” McGovern’s message continued. “the High Holy Days has been a period for reflection and rededication. Jews have chosen the Days of Awe as a time for the individual to look at himself to examine how he can better fulfill his responsibilities to his Maker and his fellow man.

“Rosh Hashana symbolizes a reaffirmation of the values that have shaped the Jewish role within the world community. It marks a renewed commitment to the task of improving the world unto the Almighty. I join the Jewish community in the prayer that the New Year 5733 will bring a time of peace, Justice and brotherhood for all men.” McGovern’s message concluded.

Fleisher on ShalomTV: ‘Let’s Not Live in Fear, Let’s Live in Reality.’

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Yishai Fleisher, managing editor of JewishPress.com, appeared on L’Chaim, a show that has been running on ShalomTV for years. The segment appears on their new live channel, as well as on-demand.

Fleisher spoke with Rabbi Mark Golub about the fear preventing a strong, united Jewish future. He described the challenges the Jewish people face today and split them into three categories – delegitimization, division, and most importantly, fear. “Fear is everywhere,” he said. “[People] go silent when I talk about fear because they realize how much fear they live with…we need to be proud.” Fleisher wants to eliminate the fear, and in doing so, bring Jews home. He touched on many subjects during the interview ranging from the reasons behind the fear in the U.S. and the problems in the Middle East that induce it.

First, many American Jews fear that their own relationship with America will suffer if they move to Israel, or even develop a stronger connection with it than their own country. He revealed his desire to connect the American Jew with the Israeli Jew. Citing the Atlantic Ocean as one of the deepest physical boundaries between the two cultures, he said that he wants to make that border feel smaller. American Jews push their connection to Israel aside, due to a fear that choosing Israel makes them appear disloyal to the country they have lived in for years. “We’re culturally American, we watch Seinfeld, but the Jew always feels that at the end of the day, this is not his home,” he said. Fleisher’s determination is the reason he continues to appear on television and speak at college campuses and other communities throughout America. ”We have to put Israel first,” he said. “…We have to get together to build the Jewish state.”

Further, there is a duality among American Jews. They not only fear the Arab nation, but feel conflicted about how the Israelis treat them due to the negative media coverage. Fleisher pointed out that most American Jews are liberal. They’re liberal because they believe in the “intrinsic value of every human being.” He doesn’t sugarcoat it. There is a clear understanding that some liberties need to be abrogated in order for Jews to protect themselves. But what many American Jews don’t understand is that there is a mitzvah in place that sanctions such self-defense. It’s written in the Talmud that when someone intends to harm you, you have a responsibility to fight back. Jews want to live as a righteous community, but in order to do so they must survive first. It’s immoral for Israel to allow rockets to be amassed by people who will use them, Fleisher explained. “We are only 60 some odd years after the Holocaust,” he said. “It’s not a joke. Let’s not live in fear, let’s live in reality.”

Fleisher was born to Russian parents in Haifa, where he lived until age 8. His family moved to America for economic reasons. Although he went to Jewish schools, he craved more of a connection to Israel and couldn’t stay away for long. He skipped his senior year and at 17, went back to Israel to study in Yeshiva and serve in the army as a paratrooper. After an injury, Fleisher returned to America to study at Yeshiva University and obtain a post-graduate degree at Cardozo Law School. There, he met his wife Malkah. The two moved to Israel to get married and establish their home. In the interview, Fleisher didn’t deny that there’s an atmosphere of tension in Israel and that they have to be vigilant, but living in Israel and raising a family there is something he never questions.

Fleisher emphasized that at the end of the day Israel is the homeland of the Jews. Residents can be critical of the nation’s politics and of the current state of warfare, but they should do it without fear and argue about it in their own nation. There are many enticing countries out there, Fleisher said, but Israel needs to be number one.

Watch the interview with Yishai below:

Mendelevich: ‘Educating Young Jews Is at the Core of my Being’

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

In Unbroken Spirit: A Heroic Story of Faith, Courage and Survival (Gefen Publishing), the newly released English translation of his memoir, internationally renowned former Soviet refusenik Rabbi Yosef Mendelevich tells a compelling story of struggle and victory. He spoke to The Jewish Press during his recent U.S. book tour.

The Jewish Press: You’d already published your memoir in Hebrew years ago. Why an English version at this particular time?

Rabbi Mendelevich: A group of American Jews who were involved in the struggle to free Soviet Jewry came up with this idea about a year ago. Pamela Cohen, the president of the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews from 1986 through 1996, called and asked me why I never published my book in English. She and others like her saw my life as more than a simple story. It is the story of a young boy struggling to find his Jewish identity in a spiritual wasteland and of a young man challenging the draconian dictates of the Communist monolith in a struggle for freedom.

She came to the conclusion that my story published in English would inspire young and often alienated Jews searching for their own identity.

Describe your life as a young child in Stalinist Russia.

I grew up as an atheist. My parents were not interested in me having a Jewish education. My father was involved in the Communist underground in Riga, but both my parents spoke Yiddish and I was taught Jewish history. Back then in the Soviet Union Jewish tradition did not exist but Riga was the center of the renaissance of the Jewish movement. Before World War II, books were published in Russian about the great Revisionist Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky.

In the 1960s an underground movement of Jews supporting Israel began to take hold. One could tell the difference between life under Stalin and life under Khrushchev. You could sit in jail forever under the Stalin government for learning about Jewish culture, language and thought. In 1963, the first book on Jewish vocabulary was printed and many books on Hebrew poetry served as a catalyst for Jews to become closer to their identity. It was like a miracle.

When did you take an interest in activism on behalf of Israel and Jews?

While still a teenager, I gravitated toward activism in 1964. I attended a technical college for four years and studied electronics and computers. I worked as an engineer in a big plant in Riga, and in terms of technology it was advanced. The moment I became an engineer, I wanted to leave the Soviet Union and go to Israel. I had a big decision to make. If I obtained my degree I would have to stay in the Soviet Union forever, so I sacrificed my career by not getting the degree. It boiled down to either staying in the Soviet Union or living as a free man whose destiny is in his hands.

Where was your life heading after you finished your studies?

In 1968 I was fired from my job as an engineer for inquiring about emigrating to Israel. At that juncture I was also heavily involved in various Zionist organizations and in 1969 I assumed the position of editor of a national journal on Jewish issues. Everything had to be top secret so we met clandestinely in forests or perhaps in someone’s apartment. I was in charge of deciding what to write and what articles to publicize, and it was sent all over the Soviet Union. We had only published two issues before my arrest.

Why did you hijack a plane in 1970?

Soviet antipathy toward Israel continued to increase in the years following the 1967 Six-Day War. Israeli soldiers were called hooligans in the Soviet press but we in the Jewish underground only yearned for the freedom to go to Israel, study in yeshiva and be part of the Zionist dream. We decided to hijack a plane to the West to spotlight our plight, even though we knew how risky it was. While undertaking this action, we dreamed about fighting in the Golani Brigade in Israel. We also wanted to counter the incessant Soviet propaganda that told the world there was no Jewish issue in Russia and that Jews were very happy to be proud Soviet citizens. We wanted the world to know there was a growing number of Jews who wanted to connect to their Jewish heritage, to study Hebrew and dedicate themselves to studying Torah.

Happy Birthday, My Other Home Country!

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

I love America.

Having arrived at JFK in September of 1975, I remained on a small Island next to mainland USA for 37 years, most of my adult life.

I’m not sure I could take life in the U.S. itself, in, say, Kansas City, or Chicago (brrrr…) or even Los Angeles. But in Manhattan I found just the right combination of a relatively civilized life and enough Mediterranean color to keep me happy.

I love the poetry of Baseball.

I am one of the few Israeli born men who actually understands Football. It had to do with too many hours spent in bars with fellow taxi drivers.

Ah, yes, I totally fit the stereotype, I actually drove a yellow cab in New York City, for two and a half years.

I’m a registered Democrat, which is a bit unusual in a publication like the Jewish Press, but we don’t have Republicans on the Lower East Side. We ate them during the blizzard of 1978.

I thought Jimmy Carter was a terrible president, but I also believe Reagan is to blame for much of the evil America and its friends are facing today. Reagan practically invented the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, and at the same time took major steps to bankrupt the Soviet Union, the only policeman in the region with the will and the means to keep them down.

I have no idea why so many Americans idolize Reagan. I think our economy started to die when he took over. From facing double-digit inflation, which, granted, threatened our stability, we moved, over two decades, to facilitating the shipping of our industries to China and impoverishing millions at home. It can all be traced back to Reagan. What a loser.

But I’m digressing. I often do. This column is about how I love America.

In all the world I haven’t met a nicer bunch of goyim. The best goyim in the world, many of them my personal, dear friends. I don’t believe we ever experienced such a reality before, being loved by our gentile neighbors.

I’ve traveled by car across much of the country over the past three and a half decades, and I know first hand how decent Americans are. Sweet and honest and friendly. Even when they spot my New York State license.

I’m awed by the American democratic system. Nothing like it in the world. The best that the human mind could conceive, despite all the myriad accidents of cheating and thieving and crookedness – it’s still the most resilient and reliable system of government in the world.

Having said all that, I’d love to see my fellow American Jews come here, to Israel, where I’ve returned to stay some six months ago. I think they’ll have a ball. I think Israel would become a Garden of Eden if it were flooded by, say, two million American Jews.

Jews who understand a policeman is there to serve them, not the other way around.

Jews who know how to make businesses work.

Jews who are not ashamed to drop everything and engage in spiritual pursuits.

Jews who are genetically polite.

Jews who drive their cars simply to go from point A to B, not as part of a morality play.

Jews who demand that someone freaking bag their groceries at the checkout counter.

I’m far from thinking that America is a bad place for Jews. I only know that Israel is by far, and I mean by many miles, better.

You can stay in my office until you find a place of your own. Rents are relatively cheap. I’ll give you fresh coffee and a danish in the morning.

The Silence is Killing Pollard

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Upon his being knighted by United States President Obama with a dubious award for being a good Jew (a Jew who is always ready to give up huge chunks of the Holy Land), Shimon Peres had the decency to ask Mr. Obama to finally free Jonathan Pollard. True to long standing US policy, the White House refused.

But now that Shimon Peres, the symbol of Jewish Recognition and Acceptance, has been so accepted and embraced by the President of America, you would think that the Jews of America would finally raise their long silent voices and scream out for his release.

But no, the silence continues, deafening in its fright.

Let’s face it – most Jews in America are terrified of seeming to harbor dual loyalties.

Yes, they will lobby for Israel on certain issues, and stand by Israel when we’re at war, but come to bat for a fellow Jew convicted of spying for Israel? Except for some polite and well-mannered requests to free Pollard by less than a handful of American Jewish organizations, that’s too much to expect of the Jews of America.

After all, Pollard stole top secret American documents and passed them along to the Israelis.

It doesn’t matter that the United States had signed a pact with Israel to share all secret information regarding Israel’s security. It doesn’t matter that the information that Pollard gave the Israelis probably saved hundreds, and maybe thousands of Israeli lives.

The fact is that as an American citizen, Jonathan Pollard betrayed America, and that’s something which American Jews don’t dare identify with, even if the poor fellow has served nearly thirty years of a life sentence (a sentence unheard of for handing over secrets to an ally); even if he never received an honest trial; even if his health is in grave danger; even if the government of Israel has requested his pardon, none of this matters to American Jews.

Why?

Because American Jews are terrified of seeming to be un-American. They are terrified of making waves, lest they appear “too Jewish,” and thus make the real Americans notice of them and remember that Jews are not real Americans at all – but rather foreigners with America passports.

The Jews keep silent about the terrible injustice in the case of Jonathan Pollard because they don’t want the Americans to remember that they are strangers who don’t belong in America, just as Jews never really belonged in Spain, or Germany, or Russia, because, as everyone knows, Jews have their own Jewish Land which G-d gave them.

So the American Jews keep silent regarding Jonathan Pollard, praying that the Americans won’t notice that there are lots of Jews in their midst and suddenly remember that the Jews don’t belong in America at all. The Jews keep quiet, even though a true Jewish hero may be dying, terrified that if they raise their voices too loudly, the Americans may remember that the Jews of the United States are really once-upon-a-time Israelis who could all very well be spies for Israel too, just like Pollard.

And Jonathan Pollard suffers in prison, his health failing, his faith in his fellow Jews all but lost. And the silence of the Jews in America threatens to kill him. And nobody cares.

Obama Celebrates Jewish Petitioning of Government

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

President Obama celebrated the values of communities petitioning government at a White House reception honoring Jewish American Heritage Month.

“We don’t just celebrate all that American Jews have done for our country; we also look toward the future,” he said. “And as we do, I know that those of you in this room, but folks all across this country will continue to help perfect our union; and for that, I am extraordinarily grateful.”

Obama focused a large portion of his remarks on the 150th anniversary of an order that was issued by General Ulysses Grant, which expelled Jews “as a class” from the military department of Tennessee.

“It was wrong. Even if it was 1862, even if official acts of anti-Semitism were all too common around the world, it was wrong and indicative of an ugly strain of thought,” Obama said.

He went on to note that American Jews protested the order.

“What happened next could have only taken place in America,” he said. “Groups of American Jews protested General Grant’s decision.”

He described how a Jewish merchant from Kentucky who met with President Abraham Lincoln and following the meeting, the order was revoked.

“Like so many groups, Jews have had to fight for their piece of the American dream,” Obama said. “But this country holds a special promise: that if we stand up for the traditions we believe in and in the values we share, then our wrongs can be made right; our union can be made more perfect and our world can be repaired.”

The order by Lincoln to revoke Grant’s order was on display during the reception, as were letters from two Jewish groups asking for the revocation.

Years later, as president, Grant stated that he recognized his mistake and would apologize for the order, and a receipt for contribution to the Adas Israel congregation – which still exists – after attending an 1876 service was also on display.

President Obama opened his remarks by thanking Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren for “his work representing our great friend, the state of Israel” before emphasizing the significance of the U.S. commitment to Israel.

“Beyond our borders, we have to stand alongside our friends who share our commitment to freedom and democracy and universal rights; and that includes, of course, our unwavering commitment to the State of Israel and its security and the pursuit of a just and lasting peace,” Obama said in his remarks.

A number of Jewish members of Congress were present at the reception, including Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, Howard Berman (D-Calif.), Shelley Berkley (D-N.V.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Susan Davis (D-Calif.), Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Sander Levin (D-Mich.), Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.), and Henry Waxman (D-Calif.).

J Street Leader: Our Job is to “Move Jews” to Support Washington Politicians

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Carinne Luck, J Street’s Vice President for Campaigns, and the person who sent out the mass email announcing the new J Street political initiative , is on video explaining to J Street members that what “the Administration” and people “on the Hill” want from J Street is for them to “move American Jews” towards their views, and so that is what J Street spends most of its resources doing.

Got that? The goal of J Street is not to represent American Jews on the left, but is instead “to move American Jews” to the left and to the Administration’s/friends on the Hill’s point of view, and to “provide them with cover.”  And so J Street is “spending the bulk of its resources” doing that. See the video here. There are a few other nuggets, but we think admitting they take direction from elected officials, and that they are field operatives instead of constituency representatives, clears up the debate about who and what they are.  The video was taped and put on YouTube by J Street, but was later removed from that site by them when Pro-Israel Media recognized what it really meant and began to share it.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/j-street-leader-our-job-is-to-move-jews-to-support-washington-politicians/2012/05/17/

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