web analytics
January 18, 2017 / 20 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘america’s’

Vichna Kaplan: America’s Bais Yaakov Pioneer: An Interview with Rebbetzin Danielle Leibowitz

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

Although Sarah Schenirer – the founder of the Bais Yaakov movement – is a legend in Orthodox Jewish circles, the woman responsible for bringing her vision to the United States, Rebbetzin Vichna Kaplan (1913-1986), is relatively unknown.

A book recently published by Feldheim aims to correct this state of affairs. “Rebbetzin Kaplan: The Founder of the Bais Yaakov Movement in America by Rebbetzin Danielle Leibowitz (with Devora Glickman) runs close to 600 pages in recounting the life of this pioneer in Jewish education for girls in America.

Rebbetzin Leibowitz was an early student of Rebbetzin Kaplan and the wife of Rabbi Yehuda Cohen, z”l (principal of Yeshiva of Eastern Parkway for many years), and, after Rabbi Cohen’s passing, of Rabbi Henoch Leibowitz, z”l (rosh yeshiva of the Chofetz Chaim Yeshiva).

The Jewish Press: Where did Rebbetzin Kaplan grow up?

Rebbetzin Leibowitz: She was born in Slonim in Poland in 1913 and was orphaned as a little girl. She was brought up in Baranowitz by her uncle, Rabbi Yisrael Yaakov Lubchansky – who was the mashgiach of Rav Elchonon Wasserman’s yeshiva – and his wife, Rebbetzin Faiga Malka Lubchansky, who was the daughter of Rav Yossel Horowitz, the Alter of Novardok.

How did Rebbetzin Kaplan wind up at Sarah Schenirer’s Bais Yaakov teachers seminary in Krakow?

Well, the story goes like this. In her small town of Baranowitz, Vichna saw an ad for the Bais Yaakov seminary and wanted very much to become a teacher of Yiddishkeit because many girls were going off the derech at the time. She approached her uncle, but he said, “You can’t go to a big city like Krakow. ‘Kol kevudah bas melech penima – The glory of a woman is within’ [Psalms 45:14]. A girl has to be in the house.”

She was very disappointed but she was determined, so she went to Rav Elchonon Wasserman. He approved of her plans, so Rabbi Lubchansky let her go.

What happened next?

She went to Krakow and became the star pupil of Sarah Schenirer. Later she moved to Brisk. The Brisker Rav – Rav Velvel Soloveitchik – had written to Sarah Schenirer asking for a teacher for his daughters and Sarah Schenirer sent Vichna. Vichna taught in Brisk for five years, and became very close to the Brisker Rav’s family. When she was there she would give public lectures and the whole town – both men and women – would come to listen to her because she was such a powerful speaker.

How did she wind up in America?

A shidduch with an American boy, Boruch Kaplan, was suggested to her. Rav Yaakov Yosef Herman, the hero of the book All For the Boss, had a great influence on Boruch and sent him to study in Rav Yehudah Heschel Levenberg’s yeshiva in New Haven and then later in the Chevron Yeshiva. He was there during the Chevron Massacre in 1929, and was saved by an Arab who hid him.

After that, Boruch learned in Mir and Brisk, and that’s where the shidduch was made. Vichna’s uncle, Rabbi Lubchansky, opposed her moving to America – it was a “treifa medinah” – but the Brisker Rav told her, “For a boy like Boruch Kaplan, you have my permission to go anywhere in the world.” So she left Europe and came to America in 1937 on the same boat as Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky. She married Boruch in Yeshiva Torah Vodaas with a wedding meal consisting of salami sandwiches.

The following year she started the first Bais Yaakov in America with seven girls.

Why was she determined to found a Jewish girls school so soon after her arrival in America?

Because she wanted to continue Sarah Schenirer’s ambition and she knew girls in America didn’t know anything about Yiddishkeit. She wanted to teach what it meant to be a bas melech, what the Torah was all about, what a Jewish girl’s ambitions should be.

Most of the parents she approached about starting a school didn’t want their girls to be “old-fashioned” ladies. They wanted them to be Americanized and make a good living. So the beginning was very, very difficult. Rebbetzin Kaplan had seven girls in her first class. Two of them were the daughters of Rav Shraga Mendlowitz [the founder of Torah Vodaas].

The first class met around Rebbetzin Kaplan’s table. They were a bunch of American girls who weren’t initially interested in being there. They went to public high school, and after high school they worked to help supplement their family’s incomes. They went to Rebbetzin Kaplan at 7 o’clock, four nights a week. And then on Sunday and Shabbos Rebbetzin Kaplan had a bnos group.

What was the state of Jewish education for girls in America at this time?

Negligible. Girls had very little knowledge. There were Talmud Torahs and girls learned a bit from their parents. There were also Shulamith and Ramaz, but these were elementary schools. Bais Yaakov was the first full-day Jewish high school for girls in America. It started off as an after-school program, but it became a full high school in 1944.

You note in the book that in the early years of Bais Yaakov, students came from a diverse range of backgrounds.

Yes, there were all kinds – litvish, chassidish, the daughters of roshei yeshiva and girls who weren’t even shomer Shabbos. Rebbetzin Kaplan took them all in. If they wanted to learn Yiddishkeit, she welcomed them. Her whole mission in life was to teach these girls. And she succeeded. When I entered Bais Yaakov in 1947, many of us wore very short sleeves. She said we should wear longer sleeves, so we did. Many also started wearing sheitels after they got married. Rebbetzin Kaplan was a very charismatic person and when she spoke we wanted to listen because it came from her heart and we wanted to be good.

She believed in us and only saw the good in us. To me, her aura was one of goodness and kindness, and she gave us a feeling of what we should do with our lives – that we should want to be Jewish and we should want to have a Jewish home and bring up Jewish children. She taught us Yiddishkeit and that we were princesses. And we wanted to do what she wanted because she gave it to us with such sincerity, truthfulness, and goodness. You didn’t want to disappoint her.

Elliot Resnick

What Would America’s Founding Fathers say to Barack Obama?

Monday, August 1st, 2016

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

US President Barack Obama addressed the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, PA on July 27, 2016.  The founding fathers would like to reply:

Patriots on Executive Actions:
It is not tyranny we desire; it’s a just, limited federal government.” Alexander Hamilton
“The essence of government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.”  James Madison

Patriots on Defining the Enemy:
A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it the superficial appearance of being right.”  Thomas Paine

Patriots on Gun Control:
“Are we at last brought to such humiliation and debasing degradation, that we cannot be trusted with arms for our defense?”  Patrick Henry
Americans have the right and advantage of being armed – unlike citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.”  James Madison

Patriots on Obamacare:
It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.”  James Madison

Patriots on Funding Abortion:
To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”  Thomas Jefferson

Patriots on Oratory Skills:
Well done is better than well said.” Ben Franklin

Patriots on Reducing the Military:
To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.” George Washington

Patriots on Military Exercises in Libya and Elsewhere:
The constitution vests the power of declaring war in Congress; therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they shall have deliberated upon the subject and authorized such a measure.”  George Washington

Paul Gherkin

Orlando Atrocity Highlights America’s Divisions

Friday, June 24th, 2016

In the days since the massacre of 49 people and the wounding of hundreds more by an Islamist gunman at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, America’s political leadership has sounded more discordant than ever.

Never mind the absence of a bipartisan consensus about what we should do; our politicians are engaged in unsightly squabbling about the nature of the problem itself.

In one corner, we have the Democratic Party, led by President Obama, aggressively steering the national debate toward gun control. According to this camp’s account, there was this vague, slippery phenomenon known as “hatred” that prodded and pushed the febrile mind of gunman Omar Mateen, but what really matters is the fact that he legally purchased an assault rifle to carry out his bestial attack.

In the other corner, we have presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. Listening to Trump again advocating for a ban on Muslims entering this country, one could easily picture the many Republicans who would gladly transfer to a parallel universe where a Marco Rubio or a Ted Cruz or even a Jeb Bush led their party’s response to the Orlando massacre.

That they are stuck with Trump after eight years of the Obama administration tells you all you need to know about how the American conversation about national security has degenerated.

It can and should be recognized that there are many legitimate concerns bound up with the Orlando bloodbath. But none of them should divert us from appraising the root cause of all this – that is, Islamism.

Depressingly, this argument should be obvious, but it isn’t. Most Americans have known since 9/11 that Islamism, whether in its “constitutional” Muslim Brotherhood guise, or its Shi’a Iranian variant, or in the Sunni version that has spawned both al Qaeda and Islamic State, is founded on the principle that coexistence with Western civilization and its values should be opposed at all costs.

Yet everywhere this understanding of Islamism’s essence, reinforced by each attack, is compromised by parochial agendas. To listen to many Democrats, you’d think Islamic State was just one of several extremist groups native to America, rather than a creation of the Middle East region (specifically, of the power vacuum in the region left by the Americans, and filled by the Russians and the Iranians.)

That, of course, brings us neatly to matters like gun control, hate speech, bullying, and all the other progressive bugbears. Most important, it means we can avoid a discussion about our foreign policy and ignore the reality that Islamic State is a global phenomenon that has struck in Paris and Brussels as well as in Orlando.

Trump is no better. He, too, wants to present the Islamist threat as a domestic issue, with his solution involving a ban on Muslims entering the country instead of more restrictions on gun ownership. The corollary of this offensive, lazy, and downright stupid proposal is that we leave the policing of the Middle East to Russian dictator President Vladimir Putin, the one foreign leader idolized by Trump. That means, at least in the short term, the further empowerment of the Iranian regime and its Syrian puppet, President Bashar al-Assad.

Where would that leave the U.S.? That depends on who you think is better placed to manage and leverage the next evolutions in the Middle Eastern balance of power – a former KGB officer or a reality TV star whose hair would fall out at the first crackle of gunfire. And if your answer is “Hillary Clinton,” I’m afraid that only generates another set of difficult questions, among them whether she can get tough with our enemies with the progressive wing of the Democratic Party breathing down her neck, and how she would sell a future foreign military engagement to the American public with the disastrous intervention in Libya on her record.

This is the reality that we must deal with: two presidential candidates – one compromised by her past record, the other a vulgar neophyte – competing for the votes of a deeply polarized nation. No longer do terrible events like the Orlando atrocity bring us together. To the contrary, they shine a blinding light on our political divisions.

In times of grief, it is natural to seek comfort. In the wake of Orlando, though, comfort is in scant supply. There are no soothing words to offer, nor is there much prospect of a positive change in policy on the horizon. All that is visible are the threats: more terrorist attacks here and in Europe, the collapse of the nuclear non-proliferation regime inside and outside the Middle East, the continued flow of refugees from Syria’s brutal civil war.

Ben Cohen

Memorial Day: Remember America’s Fallen Heroes

Monday, May 30th, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s website, The Lid}

The Original Order Creating the Memorial Day Holiday:

The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form or ceremony is prescribed, but Posts and comrades will, in their own way, arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

We are here to play, Comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, “of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers sailors and Marines, who united to suppress the late rebellion.” What can aid more to assure this result than by cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead? We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security, is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

If other eyes grow dull and other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain in us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains, and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledge to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon the Nation’s gratitude—the soldiers and sailors widow and orphan. 

It is the purpose of the Commander in Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to call attention to this Order, and lend its friendly aid in bringing it to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.

A Memorial Day Prayer:

Lord who grants salvation to kings and dominion to rulers, Whose kingdom is a kingdom spanning all eternities; Who places a road in the sea and a path in the mighty waters – may you bless the President, the Vice President, and all the constituted officers of government of this land. May they execute their responsibilities with intelligence, honor and compassion. And may these United States continue to be the land of the free and the home of the brave.


May He bless the members of our armed forces, who protect us from harm, on the land, in the air, and on the sea. May the Almighty cause the enemies who rise up against us to be struck down before them. May the Holy One, Blessed is He, preserve and rescue our fighters and their families from every trouble and distress and from every plague and illness, and may He send blessing and success in their every endeavor. 

May the God of overflowing compassion, who lives in the highest and all worlds, give limitless rest to those who are now under his Holy sheltering spiritual wings, making them rise ever more purely, through the light of your brilliance, and may he bless their souls forever and may he comfort the bereaved.

And let us all say, Amen



Jeff Dunetz

America’s Real ‘Dangerous Slide’ to the Wrong Side

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

Would you ever imagine that the leading American newspaper would openly advocate siding with radical Islamist forces in the Middle East against all of America’s allies and friends, and I mean with eyes wide open and with full awareness that it sought to overthrow them? Well, the day has come.

How has the argument for this strategy, which the Obama Administration is already pursuing being made?

A New York Times July 30th editorial entitled “Egypt’s Dangerous Slide” shows a real catastrophe for the United States. What is amazing is that it takes less than five minutes to deconstruct Obama Administration’s Middle East policy.

But be wary since if you do this—even once—you will be barred from 95 percent of mass media and academic jobs. [Note: What’s amazing about the previous sentence is that it is in fact accurate. That’s why the public debate is so bad.]
After all, we are at a moment when Israel-Palestinian talks haven’t even agreed on pre-conditions (a point which is usually reached before the two sides even begin talks) yet Secretary of State John Kerry predicts success within nine months (and the mass media quotes him without snickering).

“Deadly blundering by Egypt’s military rulers is making a bad situation much worse,” starts the editorial.

One of the most blatant, arrogant views of the American foreign policy establishment today is the frequency with which its members insist that leaders know nothing about their own countries. Thus, Obama, a man who has spent a few hours in Israel and has no empathy with it, can dare to say that he knows better what the country needs than does Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Last weekend’s massacre of marchers supporting the deposed president, Mohamed Morsi, will make national reconciliation and a return to democracy far more difficult.”

No kidding. First of all, there was never going to be conciliation. Second, the Muslim Brotherhood isn’t exactly eager to get national conciliation, a point  the editorial and the Obama Administration never mention.

Third, the military wants massacres because it seeks to intimidate the Brotherhood. That’s how things work in Egypt. In fact, that’s what happened last time, when the Brotherhood was crushed in the 1950s and 1960s, with its leaders sent to concentration camps, tortured, and hung. And that’s what the Brotherhood would be doing to its opposition if its regime had survived.The Brotherhood is portrayed simply as the victim.

In other words it is not Egypt’s leaders who don’t understand Egypt but rather America’s current leaders.

“The stakes are too high for any country to give up on the search for a peaceful resolution.”

No! Egyptians know that the stakes are too high not to give up on the search for a peaceful resolution. This is the Middle East. And this is true just like as with the Syrian civil war, the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and every secular/nationalist/traditionalist versus give up on the search for a peaceful resolution Islamist battle in the region.But fourth the Brotherhood is also provoking a lot of violence which is neither reported or protested by the U.S. government. The Brotherhood is portrayed simply as the victim. That’s why millions of Egyptians now say they hate Americans. See here. And here. And a brutal murder of an anti-Mursj demonstrator here.

Al-Ahram writes: “The current misinformation campaign bears the hallmarks of a fully-fledged psychological warfare campaign aimed at deceiving the population.” Funny, it hasn’t fooled Egyptians but it has fooled the American elite.By the way, we should notice that Yusuf Qaradawi, the leading Sunni Islamist in the world, has just accused the military government of recruiting Egyptian Christians to kill helpless Muslims. Look for massacres of Christians in other Arab countries and Egypt. Perhaps the Obama Administration better worry about that. It is already happening.

In other words it is not Egypt’s leaders who don’t understand Egypt but rather America’s current leaders.

“Washington’s leverage has been limited, despite…its good intentions undermined by years of inconsistent American policies. President Obama urgently needs to rebuild that trust. And he cannot hope to do so by maintaining a cautious diplomatic silence while the Arab world’s most populous and most important country unravels.”

Where to begin! First, American policies have not been undermined by inconsistent policies. Doesn’t anyone know Egyptian history?

1952-1956: America supported the Egyptian military coup and even saved the regime! Only when President Gamal Abdel Nasser behave aggressively—not so much toward Israel but by conservative Arab states–and allied with the USSR, did America turn against him.

1956-1973: An anti-American regime allied with the Soviet Union and aggressive against America’s friends was opposed.

1974-2011: The United States was allied with a moderate regime.

Get it? It must be hard for the current establishment to understand so let me capitalize it and put in bold:

As for “good intentions” may I remind you that Obama did not have good intentions at all. Just like any British or American imperialist in a previous century, Obama has sought to overthrow regimes and replace it with a Muslim Brotherhood and thus inevitably Sharia regime.
How’s that for “good intentions?”

And if Obama wanted to rebuild trust–as opposed to protecting the Br0therhood’s interests–he would rebuild trust with the Egyptian army and people by supporting the  new government rather than seek to empower an anti-Christian, anti-Western, antisemitic, anti-American, homophobic, genocidal, anti-woman totalitarian-destined regime.

The editorial continued:

“Whatever Egypt’s new military strongman, Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, thought he was doing by summoning people to Tahrir Square last Friday to demand a `mandate’ to fight terrorism, the result was to undermine Egypt’s prospects for stability even further. Whatever self-described pro-democracy groups thought they were doing by endorsing his call, the result was to strengthen the military and inflame raw divisions between civilian parties.”

He knew exactly what he was doing. He wanted to build and mobilize a civilian support base. And the civilian parties weren’t “inflamed,” they hate each other and know they are engaged in a life-and-death struggle.

“And whatever the Muslim Brotherhood leaders thought they were doing by urging followers to challenge security forces, the result was to add to the bloodshed and give the military new excuses for repression.”

Same patronizing tone. The Brotherhood knows what it is doing, too: it doesn’t want conciliation; it wants revolution.

“And things are likely to get worse until the military can be persuaded to hand over power and return to the barracks.”

Wrong again. They will get worse if the military does hand over power. For every day—except a few disastrous weeks under Mursi—during the last 61 years the army basically held power even if it was in the barracks.

“Other Arab states, particularly Saudi Arabia and its allied Persian Gulf emirates, are unlikely to help. They are more concerned with stamping out any potential political threat to their own autocratic rule at home than in encouraging democracy in Egypt.”

Of course because they understand Arab politics! And are they wrong? Listen to them. A Brotherhood takeover of Egypt would increase the political threat to them! Now you want to overthrow Saudi Arabia and any other remaining American friends in the Arab world?

“Israel has its own legitimate security concerns, mostly centered on preventing threats from Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula and Hamas-ruled Gaza.”

And in parallel you want to further undermine Israel’s security?

“That leaves the United States and the European Union.”

Right. If Egypt, the Arab states, and Israel don’t undermine their own security the United States and the EU will. People, think what you are saying here! Consider what insanity you are advocating!

In other words, the pro-Islamist forces are the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists (and in a sense the Taliban and al-Qaida) backed by the EU and United States, ([plus Turkey and Qatar along with Iran, Syria,  and Hizballah); while the anti-Islamist forces are the Arab countries and Israel?

Does that seem strange? .

“But Washington has been doing less than its share. Excessive concerns with maintaining good relations with Egypt’s generals and fears that a loosened military grip on Sinai and the Gaza border might throw off nascent Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have wrongly muffled America’s public voice.”

I’m not believing this stuff. Let’s get tough with the generals, not the Islamists? And the best way to help peace talks is to return an Islamist regime in Egypt? That will surely quiet Hamas and the jihadists in Sinai and make Israel feel real secure. Oh by the way, the main threat to even the Palestinian Authority (PA) is Hamas! No doubt the PA will thank you, too.

“Most of all, President Obama needs to clarify what America stands for as Egypt struggles over its future.”
He sure does. By changing sides away from the Islamists and toward others, including Israel.

Barry Rubin

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/rubin-reports/americas-real-dangerous-slide-to-the-wrong-side/2013/08/01/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: