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July 31, 2016 / 25 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘city’

Weeping for Jerusalem

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

I’m in Jerusalem, the city every Jew should be in love with. The world has become a very small place; in the blink of an eye we can cross continents. We belong to the generation that can visit so many cities, so many villages, so many vacation sites. After a while we become immune to them all. But Jerusalem is different.

If you are a Jew, Jerusalem is in your blood. It’s a city engraved upon your heart. Centuries ago Yehuda HaLevi wrote, “My heart is in the East while I am in the West.” No matter where life has taken us, our hearts have forever remained in the East, in Jerusalem.

When I was a little girl in Hungary I may not have known where Paris or Rome was but I did know the location of Jerusalem. My parents of blessed memory, HaRav HaGoan Avraham HaLevi Jungreis, zt”l, and Rebbetzin Miriam Jungreis, a”h, nurtured us with the milk and honey of Yerushalayim. Nowadays, few still thirst for that sweetness. And yet, with all the distractions of modern life, Yerushalayim tugs at our hearts.

I just saw with my own eyes and heard with my own ears the veracity of this connection between the Jew and this Holy City.

I was speaking at the Great Synagogue. There was no spare seat to be had and despite the lateness of the night people kept coming. Many lingered after I finished my speech. Some sought advice and guidance. Others just wanted to talk.

Above all they asked for berachos – for shidduchim, for health, for sustenance. And then a tall, lovely, blond-haired girl stood before me. She was crying. Something prompted me to ask, “Are you Jewish?” Her voice cracking with tears, she whispered, “I’m a convert. I came to Yerushalayim to become part of the Jewish people.”

She explained that she came from a country where Jews had been beaten and tortured and maimed and killed during the Holocaust. But her soul whispered the message, “Go, join the people who stood at Sinai; go to Jerusalem!”

I naturally assumed she sought a blessing for a good shidduch. “No, no,” she protested, “that’s not why I’m here. You just related a story that entered my soul. Please bless me with the ability of not forgetting.”

And then she repeated one of the stories I had told in my address.

The story was about a mother who lost her husband and eleven of her children in Auschwitz. She made aliyah but still had no peace. She couldn’t sleep. She couldn’t work. She couldn’t come to terms with her fate.

She sought out a rebbe – perhaps he would offer her some consolation. She spilled out her heart and described each and every one of her children. The rebbe listened and wept with her. And then he said something amazing. “I think I saw someone among the newly arrived children now settled in a kibbutz who fits the description of your Dovidl.”

The rebbe told her he would try to trace the lineage of that child.

A few days later the rebbe called. “I may have some good news for you,” he said. Heart pounding, she returned to the rebbe’s home – and there was her little boy.

“Dovidl, Dovidl,” she shouted. “Mama, mama,” he sobbed as he ran into her arms. When the little boy caught his breath he asked a painful question. “Where is my father? Where are Moishele and Rochele?” As Dovidl enumerated the names of all his brothers and sisters, he and his mother cried uncontrollably. They continued to weep long into the night.

As I told that story, I remarked to the audience that it occurred to me that Dovidl’s children and grandchildren have no memory of those who preceded them. Similarly, we come to Israel, rush off the plane, pick up our luggage and make our way to Jerusalem. And what do we think about?

We’re busy asking ourselves and each other, “Where is a good place to eat?” “Any new restaurants around?” “Did you try out that new hotel?” “Is it worth it the price?”

But do any of us ask, “Where is the Beis HaMikdash?” Does anyone really miss the Beis HaMikdash? Does anyone search for it? Does anyone even think about it? Does anyone even want to remember?

The girl who stood before me begged with tears, “Please, Rebbetzin, give me a berachah that I should never forget to cry for the Beis HaMikdash. I’m so afraid I will forget and become oblivious to its loss. I do not want to be like Dovidl’s children.”

I could only look at her. She had taken my breath away. I couldn’t recall anyone ever asking me for such a berachah – to be able to remain constantly aware of the Beis HaMikdash and, yes, to weep for it.

For thousands of years we prayed, wept and hoped for Yerushalayim. To see Yerushalayim again, to behold the rebuilt Beis HaMikdash, has always been the center of all our prayers. At our weddings, in the midst of our joy, we break a glass to remember our Temple that is no more. When painting our homes we would leave a small spot empty to remind us that no home can be complete if the Beis HaMikdash has not been rebuilt.

We have a thousand and one reminders in our prayers, in our traditions, in our observance, that constantly recall to us Jerusalem and the Holy Temple. And yet, now that we have Jerusalem again we have somehow forgotten our dream – our Beis HaMikdash that we prayed for and continue to pray for.

Sadly, our prayers for the Temple have become just words recited by rote. And here comes a young woman new to our faith and she seeks a blessing not for shidduch, not for parnassah, not for good health, nor for personal happiness – but for the ability to shed tears and yearn to see the Beis HaMikdash rebuilt. Should that not give us all pause? Should that not make us think and consider?

Should we not ask again and again and still again, “Where is the Beis HaMikdash?” I miss it so. I’m in Jerusalem but the shinning crown of the Holy City is absent and my joy cannot be complete until I see its glory restored.

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

A Closer Look at Bill de Blasio’s Record

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Bill de Blasio, the current frontrunner in the Democratic primary for mayor, has been running his second television commercial of the campaign, titled “Dignity,” since Monday. Fact checking the ad, Michael Barbaro of the NY Times found it quite misleading. Mr. de Blasio argues he’s the only candidate pledging to end the way the Police Department carries out the stop-and-frisk tactic. The problem with that claim is that his opponents have all, in one way or another, pledged to reform it, too.



Nor is Mr. de Blasio, per his claim, the only candidate proposing an income tax on the rich to pay for education. John C. Liu, the city comptroller, has proposed raising the city’s marginal income tax to pay for after-school programs, among other things.

“Dropping the misleading word ‘only’ from several of his claims, or using it more carefully, would do wonders for the accuracy and credibility of his commercials,” Barbaro concludes.

Bill de Blasio’s exaggerating his role as an advocate for the issues he believes are at the top of voters’ concerns is nothing new. In fact, his record of representing the outer-boroughs, as he now promises not to let down any New Yorker, is far from exhilarating.

Back in 2001, when he first ran for City Council in the 39th district, Mr. de Blasio was examined for mismanagement and controversial ties that had put in question his credentials at the time. “[Bill de Blasio] carries a lot of baggage as well,” The Village Voice wrote in a profile on the race for council.

“De Blasio was elected to School Board 15 in 1999, and his tenure has been rocky. Many public school parents charge that de Blasio was stubbornly supportive of Frank DeStefano, the former superintendent of District 15 who resigned in the winter amid allegations of overspending and mismanagement. Reports first surfaced in the fall of 1999 that DeStefano had begun to run up big deficits, taking himself and other school officials on several expensive junkets costing a total of more than $100,000. One year later the school deficit topped $1 million, leading to the cancellation of a popular after-school reading program while DeStefano maintained an expensive car service.

“De Blasio still defends his decision to stick with DeStefano for as long as he did. “He was a visionary and a great educator, but he was a horrible communicator,” de Blasio says of DeStefano. “I was deeply concerned, but I was not going to make a final decision until I saw the evidence.” In the end, de Blasio says, “he could have made better decisions, but I don’t think the spending was wildly excessive. Both of my parents were victims of the McCarthy era. I do not take lightly the idea of ousting someone. You have to have the evidence.”

“De Blasio has also been linked to the flap over New Square, the Hasidic village in upstate New York that has been mired in pardon scandals. Candidate Clinton assiduously courted the small Rockland community last year, winning the town by the whopping margin of 1400 to 12. Six weeks after the election, Israel Spitzer, New Square’s deputy mayor, met with the Clintons at the White House, where pardons for four New Square civic leaders convicted of fraud were discussed. In January, Bill Clinton commuted their sentences, leading to a probe by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in which several Hillary Clinton campaign aides were called in for questioning. At a Manhattan fundraiser for de Blasio in December, Spitzer made a $2500 donation, the largest permitted under the city’s Campaign Finance Board. De Blasio refused to comment on that matter, including the issue of whether he was questioned by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. De Blasio would only offer this comment: “I’m waiting to hear what’s going to happen with that.”

in 2007 as councilman, Mr. de Blasio was lambasted for not living up to his promises and for a lackluster performance as representative of his district.  In a hard hitting piece by a local blogger named “Parden Me For Asking,” Mr. de Blasio was criticized for running a dysfunctional office and keeping himself distracted from the issues that mattered to the neighborhoods he represented, going back to his time he served on the Board of Education before his run for council.

Jacob Kornbluh

As Egypt Nears Civil War, Israel on High Alert

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Originally published at Gatestone Institute.

The dramatic escalation in Egypt’s domestic conflict between the Muslim Brotherhood and the military is being accompanied by an upsurge in the activities of jihadi organizations in the Sinai Peninsula.

Since Morsi’s ouster, extremist Salafi and jihadi organizations have launched waves of attacks on Egyptian security forces, and provoked this week’s extensive counter-terrorism operation by the Egyptian army.

These Al-Qaeda-affiliated forces are also seeking to strike Israel — both to satisfy their ideological demand for jihad against Israelis, and to try and force Israel and Egypt into a confrontation, thereby undermining the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.

The Israel Defense Forces are therefore on high alert in the event of further attacks by terrorists in Egypt, while also facing the dilemma of how to safeguard its own national security without infringing on Egyptian sovereignty at this most sensitive time.

Two unprecedented incidents on the southern border in just the last few days, however, served as markers for the rapidly changing situation.

First, according to international media reports, an Israeli drone struck an Al-Qaeda-affiliated organization in Sinai, as it was making final preparations to fire rockets at Israel.

While Israeli defense officials have not confirmed or denied the reports, if true, they represent the first preemptive counter-terrorism strike on Egyptian soil.

If Israeli intelligence receives word of an imminent attack taking shape in Sinai, with little time to coordinate a response with Egyptian military forces, such action might be expected.

Islamists across Egypt were quick to seize on the incident to accuse the Egyptian military of being complicit in an Israeli breach of Egyptian sovereignty.

Although this incident was quickly forgotten by Egyptians as both Egypt proper and Sinai descended into turmoil, there is evidence that further attacks by Sinai terrorists against both Egyptian security forces and Israel are being planned.

An additional signal of the deteriorating security situation in Sinai was the rocket fired by a terrorist organization at the Red Sea tourist resort city of Eilat over the weekend.

Anticipating the attack, the IDF stationed an Iron Dome anti-rocket battery in the city. The prior preparation paid off: the system fired an interceptor that successfully stopped the rocket from hitting the city.

The rocket failed to hurt anyone, but it did trigger an air-raid siren and frighten tourists, sending them scatting for cover. Unlike the cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon, which are used to Palestinian rocket terrorism, Eilat, a resort town, is not used to living under rocket fire.

Today, a shadow of uncertainty hangs over the future of the city’s tourist industry. For now, Israeli visitors to the city are displaying trademark resilience, and are continuing to pack the city’s hotels and beaches.

Nearby, however, the IDF continues on high alert, watching every suspicious movement in the desert sands near the Egyptian border for signs of the next attack.

Yaakov Lappin

GOP Choice: Dirty Suit with Full Pockets v. Reliable Republican

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

GOP voters have a tough choice to make of which candidate they’d put up as a against the eventual Democratic nominee for Mayor of New York City. On the one hand, Joe Lhota has the experience and the temperament to serve as mayor on day one, but in a City whose Republican voters are outnumbered by a 6-1 ratio, the Republican needs a chest full of coins to at the very least get out his message to voters.

On the other hand, John Catsimatidis has the money to wage a campaign against the Democratic nominee for mayor and has brilliant ideas on how to keep the city safe and move it forward. There’s one hurdle though, voters don’t seem to take him seriously.

In an interview with the WSJ, Dan Isaacs, chairman of the New York Republican County Committee, admitted that Mr. Catsimatidis is “not your conventional candidate” in terms of his “mannerisms and appearance.”

As an example, the WSJ reporter points out an appearance by Mr. Catsimatidis last Monday, where the candidate wore a dark suit with a large, eye-catching stain.

“Yeah, he’s got a dirty suit and maybe he’s got a stain on his tie or his shirt. But you know what? He’s real,” Mr. Isaacs said. “And I’d rather have a guy like that than someone who’s perfectly coiffed and is full of bull—. And that ain’t John. John calls it like he sees it. He’s honest.”

At his campaign launch on the steps of City Hall, Mr. Catsimatidis pointed to his suit as an example he’s not a Michael Bloomberg billionaire. “I’m not wearing $5,000 suits,” he said. He didn’t even shy away from showing it off, when Hunter Walker from Politicker (now TPM) came close to see what make the suit was.

“I think it was $99 at Joseph A. Banks,” he said. “So, I’m not wearing a $5,000 suit and this is what I wear every day.”

Mr. Catsimatidis is currently trailing Mr. Lhota in the GOP primary by a 6-11 point margin, but has managed to turn the race into a horse race.

Speaking to the WSJ, Mr. Catsimatidis said he’s willing to spend whatever it takes to win City Hall. “Money is not an object. It’s getting the message across to everybody,” he said, estimating he will ultimately spend about $8 million on the primary and, presuming he wins, as much as $19 million in the November general election.

As of early August, he’d spent about $4 million on his campaign, roughly 2.5 times the amount spent by Joe Lhota. Campaign finance records show Mr. Lhota with roughly $1.7 million cash on hand.

Bill Cunningham, a former communications director for billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg who helped steer Mr. Bloomberg to victory in 2001, told the WSJ that Mr. Catsimatidis faces an uphill battle in the primaries since primary voters tend to be more conservative.

“He’s running against a lifelong Republican,” Mr. Cunningham said. “On resume, and temperament and experience, [voters] may look at Catsimatidis and say, ‘He has wonderful experience in the business world but Lhota has much more experience in government and politics.’”

In order to counter that impression, Mr. Catsimatidis has argued on the campaign trail that Mr. Lhota is mean-spirited and has a bad record of raising taxes, by pointing out that as MTA head Mr. Lhota raised toll prices that ultimately hurt New Yorkers who struggle to make ends meet.

Jacob Kornbluh

Nadler: Stop and Frisk Rightly Ruled Unconstitutional

Monday, August 12th, 2013

Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, released the following statement:

Today’s ruling by a federal judge that the New York Police Department’s stop and frisk policy violated the constitutional rights of New Yorkers is a step in the right direction. It’s unfortunate that it took a lawsuit and a federal court order to safeguard the fundamental, and constitutionally protected, right to be free from unwarranted police harassment. Racial profiling and other discriminatory policies have no place in our great city or our great country.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Jewish ‘Leading Mayoral Candidate’ Needs your Help to Get on Ballot

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

The following is an email sent by NYC mayoral candidate  Ceceilia Berkowitz sent last night to her (handful of) supporters, pleading for help in the remaining days left to get on the ballot for an independent run for mayor:

Hi Friends, Colleagues, Neighbors, Friends, and Citizens,

As a leading 2013 Mayoral Candidate in New York City, I wanted to share with each of you the Youtube.com video of a Mayoral Forum I attended at Columbia University’s Teachers College in New York City on June 30th.



I wanted to show my commitment to the Arts & Culture, my strong and sophisticated and well-educated political views, and how important it is for New York City and its stakeholders (each one of you) for me to get on the ballot for our November election.

The only requirement to be on the ballot is to obtain 3,750 signatures via a signature drive. Some of you have seen in the news that Elliot Spitzer did a last minute signature drive. This costs anywhere between $20,000 and $500,000 if professionally done.

It can also be done with volunteers. At St. Peter’s University today, I met with Former Mayor of Bayonne Joseph Doria, who said he knew my father Dr. Berkowitz, from his business in Bayonne. He advised me to gather over 100 signature gatherers for shifts between now and August 12th, in order to secure our position on the ballot. We also need volunteers who can assist us with recruiting more petitioners, and others who are interested in this management and leadership building activity.

It is truly a privilege to have such a dedicated, talented, and sophisticated list of friends and contacts. I hope some of you can assist us with this, whether you are part of churches, synagogues, clubs, associations, universities, or other organizations in the NYC Metro area and beyond.

Would you be able to help me out with the signature drive, just to get the 3, 750 signatures to get on the ballot? If so, I copied my political strategy firm, Nino at Savi Political Consulting who flew in from Washington, DC to help me with this election.

I have had reoccurring severely sprained ankles from a previous injury at work in late 2010, so I cannot get all the required signatures on foot myself. In addition, I was robbed by my first fundraising firm, Apa Firm and Anastasia Apa, which the NYPD police told me was considered larceny, so I could not raise enough money afterwords.

Due to City Hall scheduling processes at 100 Gold St., I could not yet get an appointment yet from my good friend for almost two years, Mayor Bloomberg, to potentially borrow or receive enough funding for a signature drive. My credit also was stolen at work in 2006 and this identity theft was already proven in court with an affidavit -I hired some credit repair firms in Staten Island, and it will take one year to fix.

So since I have been a victim of theft and robbery, perhaps I could ask you all to assist me with a signature drive? I can perhaps give you all some compensation in pay expenses / prizes.

I think it would be great for NYC to have a younger, up and coming mayor, as they do in other cities and in Jersey City.

I just met at St. Peter’s Univ., where I taught MBA Finance this summer Mayor Doria of Bayonne and Dean of Education / former Director of HR, and he suggested to ask community groups to assist.

I also took on and hired (for pay in the future, assuming it is possible), Laurens Hunt, who is a long time member of your club and Now NYC, and who is vested in Hudson County Jersey City government with over 10 years of work experience and a graduate degree.

So we have a good and up and coming team, and NYC may need us this November if we can get on the ballot.

I am asking each of you to help do your part to email me and let me know how you can assist with recruiting signature gatherers. If you are too busy to help, perhaps you can donate $10 online to our political campaign, which will enable us to pay for commuting expenses for our volunteers who may have to work long shifts in the next week.

Also, if any of you is interested in cosigning a loan, and I can negotiate the terms and why it is good for you, please contact me.

 

Right now, we are most looking for team building activities with people of good leadership skills, interns and volunteers to help with signature gathering, and finance interns and employees who want to fundraise for some pay.”

Jacob Kornbluh

Fighter Jets…

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Every once in a while, we hear fighter jets flying over head. The first time I came to Maale Adumim – over ten years ago, I heard the jets soaring over the city and thought – wow, not just the beauty of the desert, not just the beauty of the city, but this too? I love the sound of the F15s flying low.

It was only after I moved here that I realized this wasn’t a daily occurrence. The Israeli Air Force is charged with protecting our skies. To do this, they have to fly the length and width of this land (which actually doesn’t take to long).

So they don’t fly regularly over our skies…or maybe they do. I remember friends who had just moved hear hearing them fly low over head. They called me thinking that perhaps war had broken out…

No, no war – just our sons flying our skies and protecting our land!

I once tried with my silly phone to capture it. I got the sound, but couldn’t get the image and then I thought…duh…YouTube. This morning, the jets have been flying and, child that I am inside, I keep going to my balcony and watching them.

There is such joy in seeing them, hearing them. They fly for the purest of causes – defending our land. It’s a beautiful day in August in Israel. I hope as they fly, the pilots are smiling and enjoying the most amazing view (as I am).

May God bless the Israel Air Force – fly safe! – 2 videos – one the sound I am hearing this morning and the second – an amazing, nearly impossible feat…an Israeli pilot – landing with just one wing. The manufacturers of the F15 didn’t believe the Israelis when it was reported. They insisted on seeing the plane for themselves. The proof is in the video. Enjoy.



Paula Stern

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