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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Coast Guard’

Parshat Shelach

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Captain Chesley Sullenberger, of “miracle on the Hudson” fame, recently wrote a book on leadership entitled, Making a Difference: Stories of Vision and Courage From America’s Leaders. Instead of focusing on his own heroic performance, landing Flight 1549, he decided to focus on a number of contemporary leaders who have influenced events in some way. The first person he wrote about is Admiral Thad Allen, former commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. Allen is best known for assuming command of the government’s rescue and relief effort in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

What fascinated me about Admiral Allen was his description of an advantage the Coast Guard has over other organizations when it comes to leading inter-agency operations. “One of the things we are really good at—and this is an ‘Allenism’—is being bureaucratically multilingual…. We can talk military to military, we can talk incident command system to local fire chief, we partner across the federal agencies, we can work with state and local governments. We are really good at partnering and collaboration” (p.15).

Every organization has its own priorities, ways of doing things and professional jargon. Fire Departments think in terms of fire houses and ladder and engine companies. Military organizations think in terms of Forward Operating Bases and armored personnel carriers. Fire departments worry about the number of alarms, incident safety and back burning. Military organizations worry about infiltration, reconnaissance and encirclement. It is therefore little wonder that when these disparate groups find it necessary to work in a joint effort, their differences can impede progress. The Coast Guard, by virtue of its versatility and broad mission portfolio, is able to effectively communicate with their partners allowing for greater and more efficient integration.

Sullenberger explained that Admiral Allen is a firm believer in such integration. “When individuals, departments, or organizations act in isolation without regard to their impact on others, it is known as a silo mentality. I noted that Allen seemed to be a leader who specialized in breaking down silos and organizing a united front when faced with chaos” (p.15).

A leader must not only know how to communicate, but he must know how to do so with different groups of people in ways that are appropriate and effective for them. When it comes to leadership communication—one size does not fit all. Yehoshua, who together with Calev were the only spies to remain loyal to G-d and report the truth about the land of Israel, ultimately became the communicator par excellence. In fact, in Parshat Pinchas, when Hashem instructs Moshe to appoint him as his successor, Yehoshua’s primary qualification for the job is his ability to deal with people on their own level and in accordance with their unique personalities. Throughout his career, Yehoshua always seemed to know exactly what to say and how to say it.

After the spies delivered their terrible report about the land of Israel, Bnei Yisrael panicked. Despite Calev’s attempt to thwart the rebellion, they continued to cry and demand a return to Egypt. At this point the Torah relates (14:6) that Yehoshua and Calev made one last try to limit the damage caused by their co-spies. Since the Torah mentions Yehoshua first, we can safely assume that he was the initiator of this last effort. Before they spoke, Yehoshua and Calev tore their clothes as a sign of mourning. The Or Hachaim Hakadosh explains that this was a tactically significant move. Had Yeshoshu and Calev not been part of the mission, tearing their clothes would not have meant that much. But since they themselves had seen the land of Israel and then tore their clothes as a sign of mourning, it impacted Bnei Yisrael in some small way – it made them stop and consider the significance of their actions. If two of the spies disagreed so vehemently with the others, maybe the other spies’ report should be reevaluated.

After they got Bnei Yisrael’s attention, Yehoshua and Calev proceeded with their argument. “If Hashem wants us, then He will bring us into this land and give us this land that is flowing with milk and honey” (14:8). The Or Hachaim Hakadosh explains that Yehoshua and Calev carefully worded their argument. They did not begin their argument with a definitive statement. Bnei Yisrael would never have let them continue. By beginning with the word “if,” they caught Bnei Yisrael’s attention and made them curious as to where they were going. That is why they were able to continue talking to them.

It’s My Opinion: Freedom

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

A boat was intercepted in the Florida Straits on July 13. A surveillance plane spotted the vessel and directed the U.S. Coast Guard to intervene. The boat held a passenger who had fled the island of Cuba.He was parched and exhaustedand was said to have been adrift for weeks. Rescuers were shocked to see that the seven-foot craft was made of Styrofoam.

 

Since the Communist takeover of Cuba, thousands of desperate men, woman and children have flocked to the shores of Florida. Often they risk their lives in homemade and rickety crafts. Some are made of inner tubes tied together with rope. Others are makeshift rafts. One amazing “boat” was an old taxicab that incredibly was set afloat. Desperation seems to have inspired ingenuity.

 

What could drive an individual to make such a perilous journey? What could motivate a human being to put himself through such danger? The answer is compelling.

 

The quest for freedom is a powerful motivator. It can cause people to act in remarkable ways. Throughout the course of time, revolutions and uprisings, revolts and freedom movements have been sparked by this desire.

 

The United States of America was created as a bastion of freedom. The Founding Fathers understood how precious this concept really was. Cubans, as well as people from around the world, are aware of this and that is why they flock to our shores.

 

My family escaped the tyranny of Eastern Europe to come to America in the beginning of the 1900s. They came from shteiblach in Poland and Jewish enclaves in Russian cities. They suffered from state-sanctioned anti-Semitism and stifling government control. They had no prospects of improving their lot. They sought freedom from these injustices. They prospered in this country. Their story is the quintessential American tale.

 

It is quite ironic that without a fight, war or declaration of intent, America’s citizens have given up many of their hard-won freedoms. Without even noticing, freedoms of choice, finances, business and privacy have been compromised, many within the last year-and-a-half.

 

The idea of an all-knowing big government (that caused so many to run away from other countries) has incrementally been introduced here. We have exchanged the American idea of free enterprise, that gave us prosperity, for a bail-out mentality that has never worked in any of the places and times that it has been tried.

 

This seems to be an age that rewards incompetence. The same federal bureaucracy that faces a failing Medicare and Medicaid system has now taken on national health care. The same federal bureaucracy that suffered the debacle of an embarrassing “cash for clunkers” car exchange, now heads General Motors. The same federal bureaucracy that has suffered many breaches of security on its most sensitive computer data has now exposed all Americans to have their most personal and private medical records on a national data bank.

 

It is time to wake up. Freedom is a priceless commodity. The American people need to be aware of how easily it can be lost.

It’s My Opinion: Never Again

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

In 1939 the Nazi regime was gaining a terrifying momentum.  Nine-hundred-and-thirty Jews tried to flee the nightmare that was about to descend.  The SS St. Louis sailed from Germany.  The terrified passengers knew what was happening.  They were desperate.  

 

The Jews on the St. Louis carried visas to Cuba, the only harbor available to them.  However, even before the ship entered the port of Havana, they were told that the Cuban Government had changed its mind.

 

The St. Louis came close enough to the coast of Miami that the refugees could see the lights of the city.  That sight proved to be just a cruel and ironic tease.

 

Incredibly, these innocent men, women and children were refused sanctuary by President Roosevelt and the United States of America.  The U.S. Coast Guard vessels that accompanied the St. Louis were not there to protect her or escort her to the shores of America.  Their presence was to assure that no Jews would jump overboard and escape. 

 

The Jewish community in America offered politely worded pleas.  The Jewish leadership failed to mount the type of irate and massive protests and demonstrations that would grab front-page headlines and shame Roosevelt into capitulating.  The 930 were shipped back to the hell that awaited them. 

 

The message was clear.  The Nazis now knew that no one really cared about the fate of the Jews.  The Jews now knew that even if they wished to escape, no one was willing to take them in.

 

How could such a shameful incident have happened?  The answers are compelling.  The economy was bad.  The country was reeling from a depression.  Americans were hesitant to take on refugees when jobs and assets were scarce.  Jewish leadership was weak and unwilling to take strong and unpopular stands. Denial of the extent of the danger involving world politics was rampant.   

 

Recently, a 70th anniversary of the St. Louis was commemorated at the Eden Roc Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida.  It was the very location that the ill-fated passengers gazed upon before they were returned to Germany.  The surviving 33 passengers attended the event.

 

There are many parallels today that mirror the circumstances that allowed the tragedy of the St. Louis to occur. As Jews, we must be especially vigilant to keep our guard up and stay informed about what is happening in the world. 

 

We are told that people who do not learn from their history are destined to repeat it.  Never again is more than a slogan.  It is a message that needs to be internalized and acted upon.  

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/community/its-my-opinion-never-again/2009/12/30/

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