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December 5, 2016 / 5 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘CEO’

The Scream

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

“The Scream,” a unique and evocative painting by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch (1863-1944), sold recently at Sotheby’s for nearly $120,000,000. The price was attributed to its being the last of four editions still in private hands and the fact that it has been an icon of Western culture for over a century. The colors are vivid, the mood is stark, and the being on the bridge is overwhelmed by his surroundings. It captures a man alone in a world awry.

In explaining the experience he sought to portray, Munch wrote: “I was walking down the road with two friends when the sun set; suddenly, the sky turned red as blood. I stopped and leaned against the fence, feeling unspeakably tired. Tongues of fire and blood stretched over the bluish black fjord. My friends went on walking, while I lagged behind shivering with fear. Then I heard the enormous, infinite scream of nature.”

Munch was a secular man, not one easily led to converse with greater forces. He blamed his father’s obsessive religious practice for bequeathing him the seeds of psycosis. While historians attest that Munch did in fact touch madness, the popularity of his work and the duration of his prominence show that he also touched, through the medium of his art, a reality that underlies the human experience.

Munch was on a bridge with nowhere to turn. His hands were glued to the sides of his face, and he shouted a primal scream.

Judaism speaks to Munch’s experience. In Hebrew, the word for scream is “tze’akah.” It is used to convey the Jews’ calling out to God from slavery in Egypt – “And the Jews cried to God from their work” (Exodus 2:2).

In his classic philosophical work Gates of Prayer, Rabbi Shimshon Pincus explains that a scream is in fact a form of supplication. Prayer, he notes, is intensely primal and extensively faceted. Different words capture the different experiences – from fear to hope, confusion to inspiration – that lead one to reach out to the Almighty. A scream is a call to God from a world gone mad. It is the point where pain and fear grow so great that one cannot utter words to articulate the emotion within; all one can do is release a scream that courses through the veins and emits from the gut.

The Jews in Egypt were so aggrieved and afflicted that they could only scream. And the Torah says God listened to their screams and their ultimate redemption was set in motion.

In Jewish tradition, man calls to God and nature does, too. “The heavens declare the glory of God,” says the Psalmist, “and the firmament proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). I remember one particular night when I was a rabbinical student in Lakewood, New Jersey. It was late and I was walking from the study hall to the dormitory. The world was calm, the earth peaceful. I could sense, through my very being, creation singing to God.

I have no doubt that what I heard paralleled Munch’s experience but that my Jewish processor interpreted the signals in a very different way.

Munch and I could not be more dissimilar. He was a talented artist and I am a hard working meat purveyor. He lived a solitary life raising neither children not students, and I am blessedly married and the father of six children.

We define life differently, too. As his end came near, Munch wrote, “From my rotting body flowers shall grow, and I am in them and that is eternity.” As a believing Jew I would have said, “From my rotting body my soul will ascend, to achieve closeness to the Perfection it has always pursued, and that is eternity.”

Yet, in a way, I closely identify with Munch. I too see a world aflame. I peer out of the walls of my insular Orthodox Jewish community and see a secular culture in which the rich and pretty are portrayed as cultural authorities, and Jewish and Christian leaders are cut down to size.

I see a world in which families inspired by Judeo-Christian values are presented as born into prejudicial sin, and where the nemesis of family, secular feminism, is given award and acclaim even though it only respects women when they acquire masculine traits – hardly a celebration of femininity. It weakens the mind and troubles the spirit.

Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt

What In Obama’s Record On Israel Does Romney Oppose?

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Gov. Mitt Romney has made some outrageous comments and taken some extreme positions in this presidential campaign. But few, if any, are more baffling than his latest statement on his plans for the U.S.-Israel relationship.

Asked what he would do to strengthen America’s alliance with Israel, he said, “by and large, you can just look at the things the president has done and do the opposite.”

With this statement, given via video conference to the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in Washington, Romney clearly found a cheap applause line for a conservative audience.

Yet it also begs a few questions: What does he mean when he says he’ll “do the opposite”? Where, exactly, will he change course? What in President Obama’s strong pro-Israel record does the presumptive Republican nominee oppose?

Romney’s foray into foreign affairs may make for a good sound bite, but it is no substitute for sound policy. It reflects one of two options: Either he is willfully ignorant of the president’s record, or he’s planning to drive the U.S.-Israel partnership in reverse and undermine the security of the Jewish state.

Let’s consider the facts.

President Obama has restored and increased Israel’s qualitative military edge, which eroded under his Republican predecessor. He has provided record levels of aid for Israel’s security and supplemented U.S. assistance with more than $1 billion in new funds for the Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow missile defense systems. He has committed American troops to the largest-ever joint military exercises with their IDF counterparts.

The president has said repeatedly that Israel must be able to defend itself, by itself, from any threat. Under his leadership, the United States is ensuring Israel has the means to do so.

It’s no wonder that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has said he “can hardly remember a better period of…American support and cooperation and similar strategic understanding of events around us than what we have right now.”

And Mitt Romney wants to do the opposite?

In the diplomatic realm, the Obama administration has voted with Israel’s interests 100 percent of the time at the United Nations. It has consistently defended Israel at the UN and in other international forums. It has boycotted the Durban conferences – because America knows that Zionism is not racism.

After President Obama’s impassioned speech in defense of Israel at the UN last fall, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the president could wear his actions as a “badge of honor.”

And, again, Mitt Romney wants to do the opposite?

President Obama’s commitment to Israel’s security has shined brightest on one of the greatest challenges to regional and global security today: the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. The president knows that preventing a nuclear Iran is not only in Israel’s interests, it’s in our own national security interests.

That’s why he has imposed and implemented the most comprehensive sanctions regime against Iran in history – with more on the way. That’s why he built an international coalition dedicated to keeping the bomb out of Iranian hands. That’s why the president has promised to take no options off the table to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons – whether diplomatic, economic, political or even military.

The president has made clear that containment is not an option, that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable, and that the United States will continue to act on its promises. This president means what he says. He backs words with deeds. He does not bluff.

Indeed, just last week, Israeli President Shimon Peres – honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, our nation’s highest civilian honor – said, “Mr. President, you have pledged a lasting friendship for Israel. You stated that Israel’s security is sacrosanct. So you pledged. So you acted. So you’re acting – as a great leader, as a genuine friend.”

All this, and Mitt Romney still wants to do the opposite?

There are plenty of areas of disagreement between the president and Gov. Romney, and the distinctions will certainly stand front and center from now until Election Day in November. The American people will have a clear choice. Part of that choice will be between a president who has strengthened and solidified Israel’s security and a candidate pledging to “do the opposite.”

David A. Harris

Installing My Internet Filter

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Tonight I installed an Internet filter. I have always disliked filters as they slow down my computer and have been an annoyance. But the asifa at Citi Field focused my attention and an extra safeguard is worth infinitely more than the discomfort it engenders.

I live on the Internet and crave a fast connection to it. Every second I wait for a click-through slows my thought process and reaction time, and puts me at a disadvantage in a business climate where quick responses and rapid absorption of information are points of entry.

I’m in the meat business. I begin my workday on the Internet, scanning the latest news. Going around the world in ten minutes leaves me feeling refreshed, energized and ready to take on another day.

Then I check cattle prices and news related to the meat packing industry. It takes about another ten minutes to know all I need to know from news reports that relate to our industry.

It is amazing how quickly times have changed. Had I ordered a dozen newspapers delivered to my door, I couldn’t have read one newspaper in the same amount of time.

I work with a basic product, meat. The animal hasn’t changed since Hashem created it. But even our commodity business is changing at a rapid pace. There are new packaging options, changing consumer trends, new USDA regulations, and improved and creative marketing techniques. Like many small businesses, we are a company of three people doing the work of six. And like most small businesses, we consider ourselves fortunate to be remaining afloat in today’s difficult business climate.

Having cut my teeth in the non-profit world and now spending much of my time in the for-profit arena, one of the greatest distinctions I find is that the for-profit world is the world of utter reality. There are no platitudes or committees and you don’t lead by consensus. If you have a good product at a good price delivered in a timely fashion you have the business. It is about reality and performance, not intention. And you are judged daily by your clients.

The spiritual challenges of the Internet are immense. I spend much of my day in conversation with Midwest truck drivers and New York butchers, who are not prone to talk around an issue. Let’s talk reality: There is a base desire among males which is akin to a recovered alcoholic’s hankering for cheap, sweet wine. With the Internet unchecked, the tap is a click away. The potential for addiction and relapse is great.

Yet while I appreciate the severity of the problem, I am concerned about the way our community is responding to it. The longer I live the more convinced I am that the solution to moral weakness lies within self, not in external regulation. The solution to male weakness is to keep man fulfilled; and a good place to start is his primal desire to protect and provide for his wife and children.

When a man purchases a home with a yard and a tall fence, with money he earned by providing a unique skill to others in return for fair payment for his expertise, he is fortified as a man. When that same man is inspired with a mission of Kiddush Shem Shamayim, to be an ambassador of decency and Godliness to the world, he is fortified as a Jew.

Manly duty on the outside and religious fervor on the inside – yegi’as shneihem meshkachas avon.

When the goal is Kiddush Hashem and the mission is to change the world, the allure of Internet smut is weak. It is no more attractive than a shady business deal to a seasoned and respected businessman. He wouldn’t do it under any circumstances, even if the potential profit were dangled before him.

The self-control comes from manliness, pride and dignity.

Secular society weakens the male. A man’s natural leadership ability is a threat to the politically correct insistence on the sameness of the sexes. Our frum community may, inadvertently, be weakening the male as well. I remember writing an article for a yeshiva newsletter about a Halacha Chabura. Just before publication I was told by the editor to add a line that said, “Of course, no decisions can be made without consultation with a Rav.” The rosh chabura commented to me: “If someone spends months studying a subject l’halacha, should he not be able to live as he learns?” Why the weakness?

Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt

World’s Largest Haredi News Portal Suspected of Corruption, Blackmail

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

B’Hadrei Haredim (a clever wordplay switching the terms “innermost rooms” and “rooms of the ultra Orthodox,” invented in 1994 by then Yedioth America columnist David Argaman), is the largest ultra-Orthodox portal in the world. It prides itself on offering surfers “a comprehensive and updated information in a variety of areas: news, rebbes’ courtyards, economics, consumer issues, culture, health and science, computers and the Internet, personal columns, ultra-Orthodox women’s issues, transportation, food, tourism, and videos and image galleries from around the world.”

But one very important news item which has been at the center of public curiosity for two days now, is missing from this website: reports of the arrest of four of its own top managers on suspicion of pervasive blackmail operations.

On Monday, the magistrate court in Jerusalem extended the arrest of the site’s CEO, who is suspected of ongoing blackmailing of prominent public figures in the Haredi sector.

According to Police, B’Hadrei Haredim’s CEO attempted to “squeeze” the top Haredi businessmen, as well as business outfits, threatening that if they did not pay him large sums of money, he would publish negative reports about them and block the posting of positive articles.

In the current wave of arrests, which may not yet be over, four senior site employees were arrested, and several other employees were brought in for questioning. Among those arrested was the director of the news section and his sales manager, both of whom are suspected of extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars from senior community members.

Another high level suspect, in addition to the CEO, is the website’s Content Director, who, according to Police, was part of a comprehensive extortion operation run by B’Hadrei Haredim.

The suspects have allegedly threatened rabbis, politicians and business executives over the past two years. Victims were told to pay tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars – some through advertising contracts – in return for removing negative articles and talkbacks. A number of companies were asked to pay not only for blocking negative comments, but also for publishing praising comments about them.

Police suspect that much of the commenting traffic on the website was being generated and directed by site employees.

The Central Investigation Unit of the Jerusalem District Police conducted secret investigations over a long period of time, but the sudden revelation of a new, “hot” extortion attempt of a well known Haredi community activist led to the decision to go public with the case.

It began with a rumor that was spread over the site, about an adulterous relationship in which Haredi businessman Jacob Berger was supposedly engaged. Berger met with the site’s CEO (whose name and the names of the other suspects have not been released). Three recording devices which had been planted in Berger’s office failed to record the conversation – Police suspect that the CEO was carrying a disruptive signal generator. Either way, a video camera hidden inside the office wall revealed all.

According to Ynet, the CEO told Berger, “I have very few customers – very limited. I make sure they’re happy. They can sleep peacefully. My smallest client brings in ten thousand dollars a month.”

The CEO’s detention was extended until Thursday this week and the other suspects have been discharged under restrictive conditions.

Tibbi Singer

We’re Fortunate To Have Ray Kelly As Police Commissioner

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

In July 1993, I joined a group of Jewish leaders on a visit to Israel with then-Mayor David N. Dinkins. One morning as we had breakfast at the King David Hotel terrace overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem, Dinkins confided, “I wish Ray Kelly were in charge before Crown Heights blew up.” By this time, Ray Kelly had become police commissioner and had made a clear impact on the mayor.

I thought of the moment when Ray Kelly was chosen by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to reassume leadership of the NYPD not long after 9/11. Whenever there is talk of possible terrorist attacks against New York City, I look at my family, friends and neighbors and feel fortunate that the city’s security is in Commissioner Kelly’s hands (and the hands of the superb people he surrounds himself with).

When I or any member of my family is out late at night, there is a sense of ease because of the way crime has been diminished even further by the NYPD under Kelly.

Whenever there is a perceived threat, I can see the increased security at synagogues and identifiably Jewish locations. Terrorists have made it clear that Jews are significant targets for them. However, if Jews were suspected of being terrorists, I would hope the law enforcement community would be leaving no stone unturned – including surveillance at my synagogue – to get to the threats.

It is for these reasons that I cannot comprehend the recent uproar over a video that actually states at its beginning that it is only a “minority of Muslims” who are suspected of terrorism.

Commissioner Kelly has apologized for appearing in the video. Possibly he felt he had to do so to maintain continued positive relations with Muslim communities, but his upstanding record for a decade should have been enough. Mayor Bloomberg and his police commissioner have been extraordinarily gracious and effective in their outreach to the Muslim community.

And now, in addition to the ongoing concerns about lone wolf terrorists, we learn of Iran’s (and Hizbullah’s and Hamas’s) threats to strike at America and the Zionists (read Jews). Intelligence reports from Washington, D.C. law enforcement confirms that those threats center on areas with significant Jewish populations.

New York City is in the cross hairs of these types of threats. Fortunately, our police commissioner is laser-focused on preventing any attacks. His staff is thoroughly prepared – but imagine if, God forbid, an attack succeeded because somehow the politically correct among us forced the NYPD to decrease its levels of surveillance.

I am disappointed at the speed with which some have forgotten the daily risks that are taken to protect all New Yorkers. Police officers today would rush into danger, as they did on September 11th, 2001, while ensuring the safety of all others. Commissioner Kelly and his department are known to be especially sensitive about religion and ethnicity. I have seen clergy meetings with all faiths take place at One Police Plaza and this commissioner’s outreach to all communities is second to none.

I believe only a small minority of Muslims oppose the NYPD on this because the majority want their families to be protected and all recognize that even one terrible terrorist incident would lead to conditions that might include ethnic profiling or worse. The best protection against that is for the police department to be allowed to do its job.

While I agree that civil liberties must be protected, it is outrageous to suggest that the practices of the NYPD have in any serious way threatened that goal. Tragically, there are some who protested the killing of Osama bin Laden. Not surprisingly, some are now leading the attempt to tie the hands of law enforcement and particularly the NYPD during this dangerous time.

All people of good will – Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, non-believers – need to rally around Commissioner Kelly and other law enforcement leaders to keep each other and our city safe.

William E. Rapfogel is CEO of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty. He has led other Jewish organizations and served in the administration of Mayor Edward I. Koch and with Comptroller Harrison J. Goldin.

William E. Rapfogel

Autism and the Effectiveness of Augmentative and Alternative Communication

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Our understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorders has advanced rapidly in recent years. Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a family of neurodevelopmental conditions characterized by unusual patterns in social interaction, communication, and range of interests and activities. While this profile is generally applicable for the entire ASD population, much variation actually exists. No two individuals exhibit the exact same symptoms and as such, ASD is a heterogeneous disorder.

Autism spectrum disorders can often be reliably detected by the age of 3 years, and in some cases as early as 18 months. Studies suggest that many children eventually may be accurately identified by the age of 1 year or even younger. The appearance of any of the warning signs of ASD is reason to have a child evaluated by a professional specializing in these disorders.

By age 3, most children have passed predictable milestones on the path to learning language; one of the earliest is babbling. By the first birthday, a typical toddler says words, turns when he hears his name, points when he wants a toy, and when offered something distasteful, makes it clear that the answer is “no.”

Some children diagnosed with ASD remain non-verbal throughout their lives. Some infants who later show signs of ASD coo and babble during the first few months of life, but they soon stop. Others may be delayed, developing language as late as age 5 to 9. Some children may learn to use communication systems such as pictures or sign language.

Children who do speak often use language in unusual ways. They seem unable to combine words into meaningful sentences. Some speak only single words, while others repeat the same phrase over and over. Some ASD children mimic what they hear, a condition called echolalia. Even though there are children with no ASD who go through a stage where they repeat what they hear, it usually is gone by the time they are 3.

Some mildly affected children may have minor delays in language. Some seem to be very verbal with unusually large vocabularies, but have great difficulty in sustaining a conversation. The usual “give and take” of conversation is difficult for them. They often carry on a monologue on a favorite subject, giving no one else an opportunity to comment. They have other difficulties including the inability to understand body language, tone of voice, or “phrases of speech.” Sarcastic expression might often be misinterpreted. For example, if someone tells them, “Oh, that’s just great,” they would take the words literally, believing the speaker meant to tell them that it really IS great.

The body language of ASD children is also difficult to understand. Facial expressions, movements, and gestures rarely match what they are saying. Also, their tone of voice fails to reflect their feelings. A high-pitched, sing-song, or flat, robot-like voice is common. Some children with relatively good language skills speak like little adults, and do not pick up on the “kid-talk” approach so common with their peers.

People with ASD are at a loss to let others know what they need because they cannot make understandable gestures or lack the language to ask for things. Because of this, some may simply yell or just take what they want without asking. ASD children have great difficulty learning how to get through to others and express their needs. As ASD children grow up, they become more cognizant of their difficulties in understanding others and in making themselves understood, which can result in more anxiety, depression or maladaptive behaviors.

Studies show that augmentative devices are a great help in fostering language in children with autism and other disabilities, and have achieved remarkable results.

Augmentative communication is all of the ways we communicate other than speech. It includes:  Gestures  Sign Language  Vocalizations  Facial Expression  Communication Displays (boards)  Communication Devices A group of aids, starting from simple, notebook-size plastic boxes to more high-tech devices that resemble an IPod or BlackBerry, has been developed to help those with autism to express their needs. These devices range in price from about $100 to several thousand dollars. Most are portable and the simpler ones are also very durable and well-constructed, a real advantage for children with autism.

Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices are tools to allow people with severe or significant speech impairments to express themselves. These devices are used as a method to allow children to exactly say what they want and as fast as they can. It’s a valuable communicator that allows them to express their feelings, thoughts, ideas and get their needs met. These devices can range from low tech picture cards to high end speech generating devices.

However, regardless of low or high tech, the most important questions about the suitability of an AAC Device is: • can the person say precisely what they want • can they say it quickly

Dr. Joshua Weinstein

NDS Bought by Cisco for $5 Billion

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Cisco Systems, Inc. an American multinational corporation headquartered in San Jose, California, specializing in design, manufacturing, and sales of networking equipment, is purchasing NDS, developer of software solutions for multi-channel television providers which is jointly owned by European private equity firm Permira, and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., for $ 5 billion.

NDS was founded in Jerusalem in 1988, by a group of Israeli scientists from the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot. The company has specialized in the development of interactive systems for secure transmission of entertainment and information to digital TV,  digital set-tops, PCs and mobile devices. In addition, NDS is developing electronic security solutions for Web applications.

Calcalist, the financial website that broke the story, suggests the negotiations over the sale were the reason for the resignation of Dr. Abe  Peled from his post as CEO of the company in July 2011. Peled, an Israeli who had led NDS for 16 years, was appointed as Chairman of the company, being replaced as CEO by Dave  Habiger. Chief operating officer is  Raffi Kesten, who also manages the operations of the company and  its development center  in Israel.

The sale was kept secret from NDS empoyees, who only found out about it early Thursday morning.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/nds-bought-by-cisco-for-5-billion/2012/03/15/

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