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February 22, 2017 / 26 Shevat, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘anniversary’

Forty Years Since Munich

12 Tammuz 5772 – July 1, 2012

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

With the fortieth anniversary of the massacre of Israeli athletes at the Summer Olympic Games in Munich, Germany rapidly approaching, Yishai presents a series of clips from “One Day in September”, a documentary made about the massacre and the events that led up to and resulted from the murder of Israeli athletes. Following the riveting clips, Yishai presents an interview with Ankie Spitzer, the widow of Andre Spitzer, one of the athletes that were murdered by Arab terrorists in Munich. Do not miss this segment!

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
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Soldiers at the Wall of Tears

8 Sivan 5772 – May 29, 2012

IDF soldiers pray at the Western Wall. Next Tuesday, June 5, will mark the 45th anniversary of the Six Day War in which Israel liberated the Wall from Arab occupation, along with Temple Mount in the midst of historic Jewish Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and Gaza..

Palestinian Authority Celebrates PLO Arch-Terrorist Abu Jihad

11 Iyyar 5772 – May 2, 2012

The Palestinian Authority (PA) launched an all-out publicity campaign to mark the anniversary of the death of Abu Jihad, the PLO terrorist responsible for the deaths of 125 people over his odious career.

Abu Jihad, whose real name was Khalil Ibrahim al-Wazir, was one of the founders of Fatah and a long-time confidante of Yasser Arafat. In his role as commander of Fatah’s armed wing al-Assifa, he was responsible for masterminding – among others – the Savoy Hotel attack in 1975, which resulted in the deaths of 11 Israelis, and the Coastal Road massacre, in 1978, which left 35 Israeli civilians dead. He was also instrumental in fomenting the first Intifada. He was killed in Tunis by Israeli commandos on April 16, 1988.

According to information compiled by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), the PA’s week-long celebration of his life and Israeli deaths included the broadcast of several documentaries on his life and successful “operations”, the commencement of six sporting events named in his honor, and the publication of news pieces spotlighting and glorifying his exploits. The Open University in Bethlehem also marked the anniversary with an event.

The documentaries, broadcasts, events, and activities did not shy away from his murderous activities, but rather highlighted them in gory detail, for Palestinians of all ages to learn from and enjoy. For example, an article that appeared in the official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, on the anniversary of his death said this:

“Abu Jihad was killed by the Israeli Mossad in Tunisia on April 16, 1988… and was crowned the Prince of the Martyrs of Palestine… Among the military operations planned by Abu Jihad: the explosion at the Zohar reservoir in 1955; the operation to blow up the Israeli National Water Carrier in 1965; the operation at the Savoy Hotel in Tel Aviv, which killed 10 Israelis, in 1975; the blowing up of a truck bomb in Jerusalem in 1975; the killing of Albert Levi, the senior sapper, and his assistant, in Nablus in 1976; the Dalal Mughrabi operation (i.e., bus hijacking), in which more than 37 Israelis were killed, in 1978; the shelling of the Eilat Port in 1979; the Katyusha fire on the northern settlements [in Israel] in 1981…”

PA TV broadcast a documentary, which was obtained by PMW, called Abu Jihad: Revolution of a man; a man in the Revolution. In it, Abu Jihad details plans “to turn the Tel Aviv day [operation] into destruction…Tel Aviv will be closed that whole day with blood and destruction.” According to PMW, “the film was produced in 2010 under the auspices and supervision of Fatah MP Ashraf Jum’a.”

In order to appeal to the youth and retain his relevance with them, the “Abu Jihad table-tennis championship” was held, as was the “Martyr Abu Jihad judo tournament,” and the “Martyr Khalil Al-Wazir, Abu Jihad, (boxing) Tournament.”

Not to be left out of the festivities, the office of PA President Mahmoud Abbas released a statement lauding Abu Jihad’s memory:

“On days like these we recall one of the founding members and leaders who risked their lives and fought quietly, without making a show and without the media, but they created men who brought about victories, who brought about acts of heroism… Abu Jihad will remain in our hearts and in the pulse in our veins. He will never die among us; rather, he will be renewed with every young boy, with every young girl… When Abu Jihad died as a Martyr, we felt – I personally and all who knew him – that we had lost not only a symbol, but a father, a brother, a teacher and ideal; a model in every way” (emphasis added).

The perverse celebration of an unabashed and committed genocidal murderer, one that emanates from the top down and extends to sports and culture, lays waste to the Palestinian claim that “settlements” are the main obstacle to peace.

Palestinian Media Watch contributed to this piece.

Israeli Diplomats Targeted in India and Georgia, 2 Injured

21 Shevat 5772 – February 13, 2012

Two people were injured as an Israeli diplomatic vehicle was attacked in a car bombing in New Delhi. One of the injured is the wife of an Israeli diplomat. A near-simultaneous attack was reportedly thwarted in Georgia, as Israel’s Foreign Ministry stated that the bomb was discovered before it went off.

Although there was no immediate claim of responsibility, suspicions fell on Iran and Hizbollah, as the attacks took place one day after the anniversary of the assassination of Hizbollah’s deputy leader, Imad Mughniyeh.

Hachnossos Kallah of Greater Miami to Hold Benefit Tea

18 Shevat 5772 – February 10, 2012

South Florida’s Lana Ditchek Goldberg Hachnossos Kallah will observe its 28th anniversary with a delightful evening featuring Israeli singing sensation Rachel Factor. The women-only event will include delicious sushi, dessert buffet, coffee bar, boutique and raffle prizes.

The event will take place on Tuesday, February 21, at The Shul of Bal Harbour, 9540 Collins Avenue in Surfside. Complimentary valet parking will be provided.

This year’s honoree is Barbara Dahav, well known for her many acts of chesed throughout the South Florida community. She has served Hachnossos Kallah of Greater Miami since its inception and is treasurer of the group.

Hachnossos Kallah enables young couples needing financial help to have weddings they can remember with pride. The organization also provides aid in setting up a Jewish home. This is an expensive undertaking that many cannot afford.

The annual Hachnossos Kallah event provides a unique opportunity to ensure that Jewish newlyweds begin their marriage with dignity and simcha. Locals and visitors are invited to participate.

General admission is $36; Sponsors, $50; Patrons $100; Supporters, $180; Benefactors, $250; Silver Benefactors, $360; Gold benefactors, $500; and Diamond Benefactors $2,500 and up.

For more information about the event or the work of Hachnossos Kallah, call Judy Mayberg at 305-534-8635.

PM Netanyahu: Israel Will Protect Jewish People Against ‘Bitter Enemies’

27 Tevet 5772 – January 22, 2012

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke of the Israel’s “right, duty and capability” to prevent the annihilation of the Jewish people and the Jewish State, in comments marking the 70th anniversary of Wannsee Conference Sunday morning.

“There is no lack of bitter enemies today,” Netanyahu said in a clear reference to Iran. “The will to destroy the Jewish people has not changed. What has changed is our ability to defend ourselves and our determination to do so.”

Israeli Ambassador to Egypt Returns Home Again

24 Tevet 5772 – January 19, 2012

Israeli ambassador to Egypt, Yaakov Amitai, left Egypt on Thursday, reportedly in anticipation of the first anniversary of the January 25 Revolution that led to the ouster of longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak.

The Israeli government fears that the anniversary may be used by Egyptian demonstrators to incite violence against the Israeli embassy in Cairo.

Demonstrators stormed the embassy in September 2011, causing no injuries but leaving Israeli diplomats unsettled and insecure.

Sources told the Egyptian Ahram Online that Amitai would probably return to Cairo in late January if the anniversary passes without incident.

Political Groups in Egypt to Protest Abuhatzeira Pilgrimage

16 Tevet 5772 – January 10, 2012

Groups from across the political spectrum in Egypt announced a plan to form human shields to prevent “Zionist” visitors from visiting the tomb of Yaakov Abuhatzeira on Jan. 9-10, the anniversary of his death. Abuhatzeira, a venerated Moroccan rabbi who died in 1880 while on pilgrimage to Israel, is buried in the Egyptian village of Damtu.

The tomb is registered with the Egyptian Ministry of State for Antiquities as a Jewish heritage site. Nevertheless, the Nasserist Trend, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Freedom and Justice Party, and the Mohamed ElBaradei campaign all signed the group statement, claiming that the visit was unpopular, and unacceptable legally and politically.

Anti-Semitic Vandalism Under Investigation in Brooklyn

17 Heshvan 5772 – November 13, 2011

Police are lifting the fingerprints from 27 empty Corona beer bottles found in a park in Midwood, Brooklyn, in the hopes of locating a group of anti-Semitic vandals.  On Friday, a day after the anniversary of the violent pogrom known as Kristallnacht, which took place in Germany in 1938 leading up to the Holocaust and World War II, vandals attacked on Ocean Parkway between Avenues I and J, spray painting Nazi swastikas, “KKK”  and “f*** the Jews”, as well as torching three parked cars.

The New York Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating, with City Councilman David Greenfield’s office and the Anti-Defamation League offering $5,000 for information leading to the arrest of the criminals.

It’s My Opinion: Sensitivities

14 Tishri 5771 – September 21, 2010

A minister in Gainesville, Florida, recently caused a major uproar with his plan to burn a Koran on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Reverend Terry Jones’ idea was met with wide-reaching condemnation.

 

Jones certainly does not represent the American nation, nor anyone but himself and his miniscule congregation. Despite this fact, U.S. Military offered that the deed would put American troops in jeopardy. Riots were predicted. Revenge attacks were anticipated. Muslims throughout the world were enraged. 

 

Jones reconsidered and changed his mind.  Chaos was averted.

 

Certainly, the thought of setting fire to holy books is unsettling. As a Jew, I find it especially egregious. Throughout the dark days of the inquisitions, crusades, pogroms and the Shoah, our Torah Scrolls and sacred texts were regularly set ablaze. This type of action is always an outrage.

It is quite ironic, however, that the same Muslim population that is so thin-skinned to any slights to their own feelings, are intransigent when it comes to the sensitivities of other groups. Tourists routinely have bibles confiscated in many Arab countries. One could only surmise what happens to those books. 

 

Muslim clergy on Har HaBayit (the Temple Mount) ban Jews from even carrying a Hebrew prayer book. Jews who dare to move their lips in what is perceived as actual prayer are routinely arrested for “provocation.” When New Yorkers asked that the mosque on Ground Zero be moved two blocks over, the request was labeled an act of Islamophobia. In the atmosphere of this accusation, it is quite interesting to note, that it is forbidden by Islamic law for a non-Muslim to even enter the cities of Mecca and Medina.   

 

The same Muslim sensibilities that decried the infamous Mohammad cartoons are silent while the Arab press routinely run vile anti-Jewish cartoons and caricatures in state-sanctioned newspapers.

 

This one-sided demand for compliance goes on and on.  It is patently absurd for any group to demand world empathy while ignoring the feelings and concerns of all others.  Yes, Pirkei Avot advises, “If I am not for myself, who will be?”  But it also warns, “If I am only for myself, what am I?”  Perhaps it is time for the Muslim world to take notice of this concept.

Celebrating Social Security’s 75th Anniversary

9 Elul 5770 – August 18, 2010

This month Social Security, the most successful domestic program in our nation’s history, celebrates its 75th anniversary.

On August 14, 1935, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act. With one pen stroke he laid the foundation of modern American social policy. Today, millions of retirees live in dignity thanks to their monthly Social Security benefit payment.

Over the decades, Social Security expanded to not only protect against the risk of poverty in old age, but also the economic risk of career-ending disability and the premature death of a worker.

In his statement at the signing of the Social Security Act, President Roosevelt said, “If the Senate and the House of Representatives in this long and arduous session had done nothing more than pass this Bill, the session would be regarded as historic for all time.”

I could not agree more.

A little over a quarter century ago, I came to Washington to work on Social Security. Just a few months later, I got a very important lesson on how important Social Security is to families. My own father, who was almost the same age I am today, suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage. He started to recover, and then we got the bad news that he had a fatal form of brain cancer, so we began the process to apply for Social Security disability benefits.

That was a very anxious time for my family, particularly for my mother. We were all very concerned that the health care costs for my father would bankrupt her; it was a great relief when the decision came. That’s a lesson that has always stuck with me and why I push very hard as commissioner of the Social Security Administration to try to make sure that we get benefit decisions to claimants as quickly as possible.

As we celebrate 75 years, I reflect on how Social Security was there for my family, how proud I am to work for this remarkable program, and how lucky I am to lead such a talented and compassionate workforce.

I have two wonderful children who entered the workforce in the past year. One is being called up for active military duty in October and the other will teach inner-city children. It is imperative that they and millions of other young Americans have confidence that we will continue to honor the great intergenerational contract that is Social Security.

It is in this spirit that President Obama established the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform that in December will make recommendations regarding the future of Social Security.

With the 75th anniversary of the Social Security Act upon us, the agency has been revitalized despite the huge workloads caused by higher unemployment. Compared to four years ago, productivity is up, backlogs are down, and an aging IT infrastructure is being replaced with state-of-the-art systems and the best electronic services in the Federal government.

I am excited about the next 75 years of Social Security, and you should be too.

Michael J. Astrue is commissioner of the Social Security Administration. Among his various government positions he served as general counsel of the Department of Health and Human Services and associate counsel to the president during parts of both the Reagan and Bush administrations.

Mourning The Gush Katif Expulsion

26 Tammuz 5770 – July 7, 2010

It is now five years since the mass expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif. The anniversary falls on Tisha B’Av, when we mourn the destruction of the first and second Temples in Jerusalem. We also mark the modern-day destruction of Jewish life.

What happened to the thriving greenhouses, farms, schools, community centers, synagogues and homes of the Gush Katif communities? They returned to the dust and sand which had been there prior to the time the Gush Katif pioneers had arrived, with the encouragement and help of the Israeli government. In place of the communities, Hamas established its stronghold. Thousands of rockets began bombarding Israeli towns. Gilad Shalit was abducted and is still held by Hamas. The Second Lebanon war was fought, with Hizbullah, supplied by Iran, growing in power. After a long period of restraint, the Israeli government finally fought back against Hamas rockets and launched Operation Cast Lead in December 2008.

Recognizing that turning world opinion against Israel is more effective than suicide bombings, Hamas switched to the strategy of the “freedom flotilla.” Ignoring the fact that Israel supplies Gaza with tons of food, gasoline, medical supplies, electricity and water on a daily basis, Hamas created the myth of a starving Gaza population, denied all humanitarian needs by a cruel Israel. So the flotilla was launched, with one of the boats carrying thugs armed with knives, clubs, and guns, ready to lynch Israeli sailors as they boarded the ship. Once again, the international media attacked Israel, demanding investigations and an end to the Gaza blockade.

Could all of this have come out of the “disengagement” from Gaza? Yes, because it clearly was not a disengagement. The world would not allow Israel to free itself of the responsibility of caring for the humanitarian needs of the Gazans. And the so-called disengagement clearly demonstrated that Israel was willing to bargain over what land belongs to it and what doesn’t. The Arabs had won their battle. After that, it was just a matter of patience and pretend-diplomacy, talking “peace” while taking actions that put Arab control as a fact on the ground.

And what about the 10,000 Gush Katif Jews who were displaced? Where are they now? Did the government fulfill its promises to “find a solution for every settler?” The answer is a resounding no. Just last month the official investigative committee’s report admitted the failure of the state to provide for the expellees.

The recently published Gush Katif Committee status report tells us there are nine new communities where permanent homes have begun to be built. There are six locations where the infrastructure work has started or is ready. There are five locations where no work has begun. Only 9 percent of the expelled families have completed construction on their permanent homes. Some 85 percent – more than 1,400 families – continue to live in temporary caravillas, in kibbutzim, in makeshift homes, while they wait for their sites to be prepared.

Tragically, many of those who were jobless following the expulsion – and, despite many ameliorative efforts, remain unemployed or under-employed – have been forced to use for their daily needs the insufficient compensation money they received. Even when it will be possible to move into permanent homes, many families will be unable to do so because of insufficient funds.

And what about the farmers of Gush Katif, who had sold $150,000,000 each year in agricultural produce? What about the 380 farms that were destroyed? Only 28 percent of the farmers were able to start over again. The rest were left without full compensation for their land, their greenhouses, their farm equipment, the loss of international markets, and retirement wages for older farmers.

All businesses were destroyed. Today, only 50 percent of the small business owners have re-started. Agreements signed between small business owners and the government have not been implemented. The rate of unemployment is high, almost twice the national figure. Public buildings, such as synagogues, community centers and youth centers, lack the needed budget for reconstruction. Twenty-six synagogues were destroyed; only three are under construction.

What about the families? The expulsion destroyed the fabric of daily lives. The divorce rate increased, as did illness and mortality rates.

This year, fifth-anniversary commemorations will be taking place throughout the world. The Gush Katif Committee has launched the Katif Od Chai campaign. Chai means life – Gush Katif will live on – but it also represents the number 18, for the 18 locations throughout Israel where new communities will be built. Eighteen prominent rabbis have lent their names to the campaign, and here in the U.S. commemorative programs for the anniversary have been planned on at least 18 different sites.

Return to Dachau: A Unique Gathering (Part I)

25 Tammuz 5770 – July 7, 2010
Last March I received an invitation to the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp. It was signed: KZ-Gedenkstätte Dachau.”
I was taken aback. Is Dachau still a place on the face of the earth?
Sixty-five years ago I, a fourteen-year old scary skeleton, could barely comprehend the overwhelming news of freedom Americans liberation. Over the years with the birth of children, grandchildren and thank G-d, great grandchildren, the hell of Dachau has begun to recede into the distance. And now: an invitation to return.
The invitation told of a special exhibit and film commemorating a most phenomenal event: the miraculous survival of seven young Jewish mothers and their babies born in a Dachau sub-camp in the winter of 1944/45. Six of the seven babies, living in parts of the world, were expected to attend the exhibit.
In an earlier column I described the fate of my fellow Augsburg camp inmate, Miriam Rosenthal who, seven months pregnant, was shipped to Auschwitz to be gassed. The Russian occupation of Auschwitz forced her jailers to take her to Kaufering at Dachau where she was put into a wooden barrack with six other young pregnant Jewish women. Labeled the “Schwangerkommando” (pregnant commando), they had to do forced labor until their date of delivery and immediately after giving birth. They gave birth one by one without medical or nursing assistance, suffering from cold, starvation and appalling sanitary conditions — to seven healthy babies!
When  Dachau was taken by the Americans on April 29, 1945, the seven young Jewish women — Eva Fleischmann, Sara Grun, Ilboya Kovacs, Elisabeth Legmann, Dora Lowi, Miriam Rosenthal and Magda Schwartz —were liberated with their live infants born in the death camp. All seven infants – George, Jossi, Leslie, Marika, Agnes, Judit and Suzi – grew to adulthood in various parts of the world – seven saved, while one and a half million Jewish children were murdered in the Nazi hell.
Of the seven mothers only Eva Fleischmann and Miriam Rosenthal are alive today. However, neither Miriam Rosenthal from Canada nor Eva Fleischmann from Slovakia could undertake the arduous journey to attend the exhibit.
For me this phenomenal exhibit was the impetus to return to Dachau. I wanted to be present at the reunion of the Dachau babies, now sixty-five year old grandmothers and grandfathers. I wanted to experience first-hand the commemoration of seven divine miracles.
When I met Miriam’s baby, Dr. Leslie Rosenthal and his wife, grandparents of nine, Miriam’s brother, Mordechai Schwartz, came painfully to mind. I agonized over the irony that while Miriam and Leslie survived the Nazi hell in Germany, Mordechai lost his life to British Jew-hatred in the Jewish National Home. A committed Zionist, Mordechai went to Eretz Yisrael in 1934 and as a committed Jew was executed in 1939. During the bloody Arab riots against Jews, he killed one Arab as the latter hurled violent threats at him and all Jews in Eretz Israel. Despite numerous justified defense pleas the British Mandatory authorities carried out Mordechai Schwarz’s death sentence.
At the reunion of the surviving seven, Leslie Rosenthal remarked: “The babies, that’s what I call them:  my camp brothers and sisters…. We could be the last living link to the Holocaust, so that’s quite a responsibility.”

(To Be Continued)

It’s My Opinion: Celebrating Yom HaAtzmaut

7 Iyyar 5770 – April 21, 2010

            Reading through one of our local Jewish newspapers, I was delighted to see a full-page advertisement publicizing a celebration for Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel Independence Day.  The 62nd anniversary of the resurgence of the Jewish State is certainly worthy of a party.  In fact, after 2,000 years of bloodstained exile, it is an incredible, modern-day wonder.

 

A local supper club in Aventura, Florida was organizing the event.  Live music would be provided.  Two Israeli singers were scheduled to perform.  The evening seemed to be planned as a gala affair.

 

My eyes scrolled down the page and then stopped.  I was horrified to see the rest of the agenda for the evening.  A “Hot Bikini Contest” was proudly touted as part of the festive program. And to think the hot debate in many communities is whether or not to say Hallel on this special day.

 

One does not have to be a haredi rabbi to understand that a competition like the one planned to celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut was unsuitable.  A bikini contest is a totally inappropriate way to observe the commemoration of such a miraculous time in Jewish history.  In fact it was bizarre. 

 

This lack of insight to the fundamental order of life is quite disturbing.  What is wrong with people who are so out of sync with the basic concept of appropriate boundaries? Unfortunately, this behavior is endemic to a segment of secular culture.  It is a tragic problem.

 

Certainly, those who organized the Independence Day program meant no harm.  They simply wanted to create a happy and upbeat party atmosphere.    Nonetheless, we are once again reminded of the truth of the adage, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” 

75th Anniversary Reunion

2 Nisan 5770 – March 17, 2010

Israel Independence Day is a national holiday in Israel. This year it falls on Tuesday, April 20th and is celebrated either publicly or within the family circle. The ceremonies begin eight days earlier with Holocaust Memorial Day. One week later, we commemorate Israel’s fallen soldiers and terror victims on Memorial Day. As the sun sets, the national flag is raised from half-mast, the music begins to play, and the festivities begin in honor of Israel’s 62nd anniversary.

 

In Zionist religious communities, a festive Ma’ariv prayer service begins with special prayers thanking God for the establishment of the State of Israel, and concludes with the Hallel prayer. Groups in many communities gather for programs of nostalgia and Israeli songs. Peace and friendship reign throughout the country.

 

In the morning, after the special Israel Independence Day morning prayers, many families join together for picnics and hikes. Some families travel in search of an open piece of grass on which to set up their grills and beach chairs and sit with friends and family telling stories, playing ball and eating grilled meats.

 

This year, a special event is being planned for the families of the thousands of Bnei Akiva graduates who attended Camp Moshava in the USA and who came on aliyah to Israel. We plan to meet in the Neot Kedumim Nature Preserve near Modiin for a day of friendship, special events and nostalgia.

 

Dozens of American yeshiva students from all over Israel will serve as guides and supervisors. Shiurim are scheduled throughout the day, to be given by well-known rabbis who were former Moshava campers. Ball games, competitions and special children’s activities are planned, as are nature walks and tours in the nature preserve. It should be a very exciting day for former campers, their children, grandchildren and great- grandchildren.

 

The massive Machanot Moshava reunion will be celebrating the following milestones:

 

A Spark Of Hope

19 Tishri 5770 – October 7, 2009

We sat down for the Shabbat meal at our friends’ home in Yerushalayim. The table was beautifully set, but it was the centerpiece – a simple vase bursting with flowers – that caught my eye.

My friend Tova (not her real name) noticed my look of admiration, and asked her children to help me count the number of roses on display. I thought this request was a rather strange one, and waited to see what would happen.

They exchanged smiles with their mother and started to count. There were 11 roses in all. When they finished counting, they all said “Baruch Hashem” in unison.

I nodded bemusedly, wondering why there were not an even dozen, and whether I was missing an important message.

Tova explained that this was her 11th anniversary, and that her husband and children presented her with an additional rose each year on the Shabbat closest to the date.

I was completely baffled. Her oldest child was 15 and I knew my friend had not been previously married. So how could this be her 11th anniversary? I then learned that she was referring to a very different kind of anniversary – a celebration of life.

Eleven years ago, Tova was diagnosed with a very serious illness. She was a young mother, with children who needed her. When her friends learned of her predicament, they formed a group to recite the entire Sefer Tehillim in her merit each day. Then a neighbor recommended that she make an appointment with a nurse who worked in a hospital ward specializing in difficult cases like hers.

This hospital unit offered a radical medical procedure. This procedure had been known to help patients fight their illness, but it could also be lethal. During her hospital appointment, Tova was confused, anxious and disheartened.

After a few hours, she slowly made her way home. She decided to walk rather than take a bus so she could settle her thoughts before seeing her family. She walked along, looking downward. She passed by an untended garden, covered in weeds. “How appropriate,” she thought. “This garden represents how I feel – abandoned, untended, helpless.”

Suddenly, she stopped short. She saw a flash of red in the garden and decided to have a closer look. To her amazement, she saw one rose defiantly growing amid the weeds. People passing by might have wondered why the woman, bent down intently studying a lone rose, was crying.

From that day forward, Tova looked at her life differently. She felt that Hashem had given her a message that life could thrive even when things seemed hopeless. She now woke up each day with growing optimism. Hashem was giving her a chance to survive despite the odds.

Now, 11 years later, the tradition continues, with Tova and her family counting the roses and thanking Hashem for her return to health.

They anticipate the purchase of a bigger vase for next year.

Not Exactly A Collector’s Item, But…

16 Sivan 5768 – June 18, 2008

As noted here last week, the Monitor is coming up on its tenth anniversary as a weekly column. The very first Monitor ran the week of July 3, 1998, and on the chance that some (a few?) readers might be interested in what the maiden voyage looked like, it appears below.

From the beginning the Monitor decided on a Take No Prisoners approach, skewering the media – and, at times, politicians and other newsmakers – in quite unambiguous terms.

One note before we get to the actual column: The Monitor has no idea how Sue Simmons’s name got into the heading of the second item. The veteran news reader, still a fixture on WNBC here in New York, must have arched an eyebrow or pursed her lips in a manner the Monitor found most offensive shortly before the column went to press.

Fed Tabloid Slings It From The Left

Pop quiz: Which one of the following newspapers, in a front-page headline trumpeting the Israeli government’s decision to incorporate some (Jewish) suburban areas into Jerusalem proper, employed the deceptive – and politically loaded – term “land grab”?

A) The Village Voice
B) The Amsterdam News
C) Al-Ahran
D) The Jewish Week

The answer, sadly, is D, and is just the latest indication that the Federation-subsidized tabloid is in the midst of one of its politically-correct silly seasons, as when it farmed itself out earlier this year as the house organ of the Conference on Feminism and Orthodoxy.

In addition to headlining the Jerusalem story with words that would have done Pravda proud, the Fed tabloid has in recent weeks assumed the role of counsel for the defense in the matter of John Roth, hired by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to head its Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies.

Roth, whose past writings seem to equate the Israeli treatment of Palestinians with the Nazi treatment of Jews and the rise of Ronald Reagan with the rise of Adolf Hitler, has been on the receiving end of intense criticism since the nature of some of his views came to light.

However, in striking contrast to the English weekly Forward, which took the lead in reporting the story and publishing strongly-worded editorials on the subject, The Jewish Week not only came out in support of Roth, it went so far as to accuse Roth’s critic of “McCarthyism” – an epithet, like “land grab,” long favored on the Left.

Who says the alternative press is dead.

Who Needs Sue Simmons When There’s Al-Jazeera?

Of all the unexpected changes he’s instituted in the tiny Persian Gulf state of Qatar, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani’s most lasting legacy may well be an independent all-news television station that is steadily picking up viewers from all over the region.

The station, al-Jazeera, has been in operation since November 1996 and is easily distinguishable from conventional television channels in the Arab world by its iconoclastic reporting and refusal to toe a particular party line.

With its coverage of imprisoned dissidents and exiled political figures, its free-for-all-debates (which have included bitter denunciations of Islam for holding back progress in Arab countries) and reports on widespread corruption in Arab governments, the station is creating something of a stir.

“Al-Jazeera has shaken Arab society,” the editor-in-chief of the London-based Arabic-language daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi told the Associated Press. “It is a political democratic earthquake; people love it and trust it.”

Naturally, al-Jazeera has its share of detractors, as does the Sheik himself, who overthrew his father in 1995 and in short order established commercial ties with Israel and abolished his state’s censorship agency.

A Saudi engineer quoted by the AP predicted that because of al-Jazeera, Arab governments soon will be dealing with a completely different mindset among their citizens: “People now look differently at the world around them. It has made a concept that is not part of our culture – debate – a part of our lives.”

Birthright Trips For Non-Jews

25 Nisan 5768 – April 30, 2008
      Israel is about to turn 60 and the silence, outside of the Jewish community, is deafening. To date I have seen virtually no mention of the milestone in anything but Jewish publications.
 
      Israel’s monumental achievement, the fact that this tiny country with its neighbors hell-bent on eliminating it has somehow managed to survive, does not seem to be much of a story outside the Jewish world. Some would say this is appropriate. Israel is, after all, a Jewish state. Why should anyone else care?
 
      But on another level the fact that no one seems to be celebrating along with the Jews speaks volumes of our failure. Israel, it seems, has lost its ability to inspire all but Jews and evangelical Christians. These two groups see Israel’s creation and survival as possessing world-historical meaning. But to the rest of the world Israel is a country that is in the headlines because of bombs and battles. So the world is saying, no offense to you Jews, but what does your anniversary have to do with us?
 
      But wait a second. The anniversary of the death of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was commemorated recently not just by African-Americans and not just in the United States but around the world – including in Israel. And this is because the movement that King led, while focused primarily on the plight of blacks in the South, was seen as a global cry for freedom and justice.
 
      The civil rights movement portended an end to racism and irrational prejudice in every corner of the globe. Thus, it has significance for people everywhere. But was Zionism at one time not viewed in the same light? Was it not also a movement by an oppressed people, persecuted in every land in which they resided, to find a home where they could live in peace and freedom? Has it now become a movement that speaks to none but Jews alone?
 
      I believe we Jews have unwittingly contributed to the insular and exclusivist mindset that has made Israel a Jewish-only project. And sixty years into the project, we must start thinking differently.
 
      Two great mistakes have been made by the global Jewish community with regards to Israel. The first was to portray Israel as a modern entity with negligible historical roots. The second was to portray Israel as a Jewish-only entity with little relevance to the rest of the world.
 
      Mistake number one is captured by a conversation I had with a businessman who told me a few months back that he was concerned that Israel’s emphasis on its 60th birthday might feed Arab propaganda that Israel is a modern entity – created by European-Jewish colonialists – that has usurped Arab land. Instead of calling this Israel’s 60th birthday party, he argued, why not have a different motto, something along the lines of “Three Thousand Plus Sixty,” that captures the uninterrupted nature of the Jewish people’s attachment to its ancestral homeland?
 
      He had a point.
 
      Every few years I travel to South Africa for book tours. Black South Africans, while receptive to Jews, can be ambivalent about Israel. To them Israelis seem like white people who colonized the darker-skinned inhabitants of a land not their own. The parallel to apartheid South Africa creates immediate sympathy for the Palestinian side.
 
      I respond by telling my African hosts that the parallel between the two stories is really the reverse. Like black Africans in their land, the Jews were the original people who inhabited ancient Israel. Then the Romans came, colonized the land, decimated the Jewish population, and exiled the Jews to Europe and other parts of the Empire. But the Jews never lost a connection to their ancestral home, prayed every day to return, and a sizable Jewish minority remained even after the exile. Then, two thousand years later, when the opportunity and resources presented themselves, we began to reconstitute ourselves as a sovereign entity.
 
      The second mistake, making Israel something of only Jewish concern, is captured in the most successful and visionary Jewish program of our time, Birthright Israel. Birthright is nothing short of a miracle, and one of the reasons I so revere my friend Michael Steinhardt and his counterpart Charles Bronfman is because of their foresight in seeing just how inspirational the modern Jewish state could be to disaffected Jewish youth.
 
      But why stop there? Israel has the power to inspire non-Jewish youth as well.
 
      The Jews are history’s most influential people, having given the modern world its three foundations: God (universal brotherhood), the Ten Commandments (law), and the Messiah (progress aimed at perfecting the world). Those ideas were all born in the very soil of Israel, the world epicenter of faith and spiritual transcendence.
 
      But that’s not how the modern world sees it. India and Tibet have become the place of pilgrimage for Westerners seeking enlightenment. Just look at the level of sympathy the world rightly has for Tibet’s struggle against China versus the seeming lack of sympathy for Israel’s struggle against terrorism. That’s because the world feels it has a stake in Tibet’s welfare.
 
      The Dalai Lama has successfully portrayed his homeland as a place from which light shines to the entire earth and not just Buddhists. Should we not portray Israel in the same authentic light?
 
      I believe that of all the presents we can give Israel as it turns “Three Thousand Plus Sixty,” none would be more helpful than to inaugurate a Birthright for non-Jewish youth program that would seek to bring 50,000 non-Jewish students from around the world to Israel every year. Campuses are the venues where Israel is most attacked in the West today. Why not expose non-Jewish students to how stirring Israel is and give them a stake in its future?
 
      I’m supposed to be leading a press and media Birthright Trip to Israel for Mayanot this summer. Many of my non-Jewish colleagues in the media have practically begged me to attend. Birthright alumni from all over the globe will tell you the same. Their non-Jewish friends are envious of the transformative trip to Israel that right now is the preserve of Jewish youth alone.
 

      As for the cost, churches all over the U.S. would contribute, as would non-Jewish philanthropists and foundations sympathetic to Israel. And it would be the best PR Israel ever had.

 

 

      Rabbi Shmuley Boteach hosts a daily radio show in the United States and has just published “The Broken American Male and How to Fix Him.” Visit his website, www.shmuley.com.

Sixty-Five Years Since The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

11 Nisan 5768 – April 16, 2008
         In what has been one of the major memorial events in Poland commemorating WWII, Warsaw saw a gathering of world leaders this week at the 65th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

 

         This year’s anniversary, April 19th falls out on Shabbat-Erev Pesach, and in deference to the Jewish victims and surviving community, the government has scheduled to start on the 15th and continue throughout the week. Leading the Israeli delegation is Israel President Shimon Peres, who was born in Poland.

 

 



Remnants of the wall surrounding the Warsaw Ghetto.


 

 

         Polish Minister of State Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka said that Peres was invited to participate in the ceremonies because the Government wants the event “to bring together Jews and Poles.” Peres landed in Poland, where he was born, and will join survivors of the uprising at Warsaw’s Monument to the Heroes of the Ghetto. Three sections of the ghetto wall are still visible, measuring 12 to 20 feet (three to six meters) high.

 

         During his visit in Poland, Peres will address the Polish Parliament, in Hebrew. He also is scheduled to meet with Irena Sendler, a 98-year-old Polish woman who helped save 2,500 Jewish children during the Nazi Occupation, which systematically murdered more than two million Polish Jews.

 

         The uprising in the ghetto began when several hundred young Jews took up arms against the Nazis instead of letting themselves be shipped off to death camps. The Nazis were surprised by the revolt, which lasted for three weeks, before the German Army overcame the Jews and torched the Jewish area.

 

         Also attending the ceremonies will be the mayors of, approximately, 30 European and Israeli cities whose inhabitants have family ties with the victims and survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto,” said Hanna Paluba, an official of the Shalom Foundation, which organizes the annual commemoration.

 

 



Monument over Mila 18, Headquarters of the Warsaw Ghetto Fighters.


 

 

         Leading the U.S. delegation was Homeland Security Secretary, Michael Chertoff, who was among five members named by President Bush. Joining Chertoff are Victor Ashe, the U.S. Ambassador to Poland; Phyllis Heideman, a lawyer and member of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Council who is also active in B’nai Brith International and the Republican Jewish Coalition; David Mitzner, a Warsaw-born developer who is a major donor to Holocaust remembrance causes; and Bill Lowenberg, a San Francisco-based Holocaust survivor also active with the RJC and in Holocaust remembrance.

 

         The foreign dignitaries will be joined by most of the Jewish community in Poland, for whom evidence of the Shoah is ever present in their daily lives, dwelling in a city that had been destroyed by the Germans and which today is filled with monuments.

 

 


Memorial to the heroes and victims of the Warsaw Ghetto.


 

 

         Some of the guests will be visiting the present-day Jewish community to witness the growth and development of what had until recently been thought of as a dead community.

 

         Mr. Peres will also be going to the offices of the Museum Of The History Of Polish Jews, of which he serves as the Chairman of the International Honorary Committee. 

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/sixty-five-years-since-the-warsaw-ghetto-uprising/2008/04/16/

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