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May 6, 2016 / 28 Nisan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘community’

Broward Chabad’s Chanukah Celebration/33rd Birthday

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

The 33rd annual South Florida Chassidic Chanukah Festival is getting bigger and better. Over 10,000 people have attended the event since it was moved to Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach in 2007, and the upcoming festival set for Thursday, December 13, will include a star-studded show that is guaranteed to attract the largest attendance yet.

The festival (at Gulfstream Park, US1 and Hallandale Beach Blvd.) is produced and directed by Chabad of South Broward, leaders in Jewish education, social services and community outreach.

The festival will be preceded by a 100-car menorah parade, starting out from the Yeshivah Gedolah of Greater Miami, under the auspices of Florida Friends of Lubavitch.

Other festival highlights will include music by 8th Day brothers Shmuel and Bentzion Marcus; the lighting of Florida’s largest menorah led by Cantor Rabbi Yossy Lebovics, a large lineup of community leaders and dignitaries, free Chanukah gelt and goodies for the thousands of children in attendance, as well as a delicious dinner (for a nominal fee) and scores of valuable prizes.

Rabbi Levi Tennenhaus, the event’s coordinator and Chabad’s program director, encourages those who can afford it to get reserved seating, “The event, as always, is free. However, in addition to our major sponsors, individuals are entitled to reserve VIP seats for $100 per seat. This will help both the festival, which runs at an enormous cost as a service to the community, and individuals who want the luxury and convenience to sit up front with their seats reserved exclusively for them and their families.” Corporate sponsors include Gulfstream Park and Casino, and Kosher Central. The event will be broadcast live around the world courtesy of Chabad.org.

Chanukah marks the birthday of Chabad of South Broward. The first Chabad Center in Broward County. It sponsors over forty programs and institutions throughout Broward County, including Project PRIDE, a non-sectarian drug prevention and education program; The Friendship Circle, an incredible interactive program for children with special needs; Florida’s only teachers seminary for women; the fast-growing CHAI TOTS preschool and Hebrew Club; bar and bat mitzvah clubs, CTEEN Club; three mikvehs accessible to the physically challenged; Camp Gan Israel; kollel for businessmen and professionals, and twelve synagogues.

For more festival information, or to reserve VIP and box seats, call 954-458-1877; e-mail levi@chanukahfestival.com; or log on to www.chanukahfestival.com.

Shelley Benveniste

Chinese Lanterns In The Sukkah

Friday, November 16th, 2012

A Hong Kong symphony of sounds fills the air as local laborers shout across the shul courtyard in Cantonese while tossing bamboo in a pile for the sukkah: Filipino maids chatter in Tagalog hovering over the children in their charge, the radio of the Nepalese gurkhas, the Synagogue security, crackles and jackhammers provide the background music. The thick air and humidity within the walls of the partially constructed bamboo sukkah sharply contrasts with the crisp fall air of Sukkot in the northeastern corridor of the United States, where the sukkahs of my childhood were laden with dried fruit and autumn color. Dozens of colorful miniature Chinese paper lanterns dangle from the sukkah and here replace the burnt orange and golden gourds of autumn.

The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Lantern Festival or the Mooncake Festival, falls on the 15th day of the eighth Chinese month, which not coincidentally coincides with Sukkot every year. The Chinese calendar, also being lunar, has a familiar rhythm. Side by side, we celebrate our Jewish festivals with our local Chinese hosts. While they gaze up at the moon, we speak of seeing the night stars through the s’chach. Both of our festivals are reminiscent of the harvest, though we have both journeyed seemingly far from our agricultural roots living here beneath the shadows of Hong Kong’s glittering skyscrapers

Despite the exoticism that life in the Far East might evoke, our children and those of our friends certainly still sit on the floor and color, cut and paste to decorate the sukkah, just as they would had they still been living in New York, London or Melbourne. That being said though, our themes here do tend to combine more pop culture and modernity with the tradition that I remember. And while Sukkot brings about the sense of impermanence and wandering, for me it is somehow about everything but that. It is a time to reflect on the meaning of home. And to emphasize my point, this year’s Wizard of Oz themed sukkah at the Ohel Leah Synagogue features a giant banner bearing the words, “There’s no place like home.”

And for most of us, being high-rise city dwellers, the community sukkah is in fact our only sukkah. While empty it seems cavernous, but it will quickly fill with friends who are our family and congregants who are our community. As a result, we all have a sense of ownership over our synagogue’s sukkah.

And for all the talk of what my children miss by living in the Far East and in a large Asian city, I counter with all they have gained. While it is true that they will never have a sukkah in their backyard, nor will they ever have a backyard (which the British have influenced them into believing is called a garden), they live in a world where by age nine it is safe to wander around on your own and by 11 taking public transport and a taxi alone is the norm. They live in a place where they are immersed in a foreign culture, free from the dominance of Christian culture and holidays, void of anti-Semitism and where they are exposed to multiple languages on a daily basis.

They can also actually sleep in a sukkah, without freezing, so long as they remember the mosquito spray. They have an understanding of diversity and culture and don’t fear things they don’t understand. They are born travelers and adventurers and see possibilities as limitless. Living within five minutes from their Synagogue and school, and most of our closest friends, in many ways they live in a small town but with little risk of developing a small town mentality.

And Sukkot, for them, while it will certainly never conjure up a nostalgia for dried fruits and cranberries on strings, dried gourds and Indian corn, cool weather or fluttering crisp leaves painted with brilliant autumn colors, they won’t think of themselves as rootless as some think the expat experience suggests.

Sukkot, while maybe framed in memories of Chinese lanterns and bamboo, perhaps takes on a greater meaning for them. Aware that China is our adopted home, a “temporary” dwelling for them is in some ways played out here on a daily basis. Home for my children is not a solitary image. It is bigger than that. It will likely always remain somewhat fluid, not fixed to a singular place but a feeling they can carry with them. It will be connected to synagogue and Sukkot, Israel, China and the US; to the places where they can find common language and ground, where welcomed and where they are loved.

Erica Lyons

The Legacy Of Rav Aharon Kotler

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

As we commemorate the fiftieth yahrzeit this Friday, the second day of Kislev, of Rav Aaron Kotler – the greatest Jew, in the opinion of even many of his fellow Torah luminaries, ever to set foot on North American soil – we are obligated to reflect on his achievements and the lessons he taught.

This assessment of Rav Aharon isn’t hyperbole or the kind of excessive adulation that is often accorded to persons of significant achievement. How Rav Aharon was regarded by other great persons in his lifetime and what his legacy has been in Lakewood and elsewhere amply justify the view that he towered above everyone else in our community, including other Torah giants.

I knew him over the last eleven years of his life. Our first encounter was at the initial meeting he called to assist Chinuch Atzmai, the network of religious day schools he established in Israel. I had just become active in Zeirei Agudath Israel of Boro Park and attended the meeting that took place at the National Council of the Young Israel in Manhattan. As I lived a block away from his apartment in Boro Park, the driver who took him home allowed me to come as well.

Throughout the next decade, I raised money for Chinuch Atzmai on a voluntary basis. At times, I accompanied Rav Aharon when he raised funds for Chinuch Atzmai or for his yeshiva. At conventions of Agudath Israel and Zeirei he always ate privately and asked that I join with him.

* * * * *

He came here seventy-one years ago, a man in his early 50s who scarcely spoke any English and yet who somehow was able to communicate with American-born youngsters who were far more proficient in baseball statistics than in Yiddish and with laypeople who were distinctly modern in their orientation.

He came here with a mission, namely to build Torah in America, having turned back in Japan from the remnants of the great pre-Holocaust European yeshivas that were headed toward safe haven in Shanghai. When he arrived in the United States he spoke immediately of this urgent mission, though his first task was hatzalah, or rescue, activity.

In 1943, Beth Medrash Govoha was established and opened with a handful of students.

At a young age in Europe he had earned a reputation as one of the preeminent Torah scholars of recent generations. His yeshiva in Kletzk, a small town in Poland not far from Slutzk across the Russian border where his father-in-law, the great gaon Rav Iser Zalman Meltzer, had headed a major yeshiva, was recognized as one of the outstanding advanced institutions of Talmudic study in the yeshiva world. In the 1920s, when a new building for the yeshiva was dedicated in Kletzk, Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzienski referred to Rav Aharon as the “Rav Akiva Eger of this generation.”

There was more to Rav Aharon’s story during this phase of his exalted life. For all of his intensive immersion in Torah study, including giving shiurim, and the burden of sustaining the yeshiva, especially after the Great Depression of 1929, Rav Aharon never lost sight of his obligation to serve the larger community. He was an activist and his activity included Agudath Israel and many other communal causes. At one of the Agudah conventions in the 1950s, as we ate privately, he remarked about his activities in 1917 during the period between the first and second Russian revolutions that occurred that year.

The lesson he taught was of communal responsibility, of caring and working for the attainment of goals that extend far beyond a person’s ordinary four cubits of responsibility. For each of us, of course, this obligation is defined by the positions we hold, as well as by our capabilities. I have known persons whose devotion to the klal has been extraordinary. None reached the super-human level attained by Rav Aharon.

There is a collateral obligation arising from Rav Aharon’s communal activities. His yeshivas, Kletzk and Lakewood, obviously were institutions of advanced Torah study. They operated at the post-high school level and without a scintilla of secular education, even for livelihood purposes. Students could not attend the yeshiva and be enrolled at the same time in an academic program. This was not by chance but rather because Rav Aharon insisted on complete immersion in Torah study. He believed that Torah greatness could not be attained in North America unless there were students who devoted themselves entirely to its study.

Marvin Schick

The DeYoung Family: Formerly of K’far Darom; Now of Elon Moreh

Monday, November 5th, 2012

The family: Uri & Hadassa DeYoung and 5 children: Avigayil (16), Noa (14), Beruria (10), Tsuriel (8) and Devora (2).

Background: My husband and I are both from New Jersey. We met and married in Israel. My husband always lived along the New Jersey shore and when he discovered that he didn’t have to give up the beach in order to live in an ideologically motivated community he was very excited. One visit to Gush Katif was all it took to convince him that it would be home. I needed a bit more convincing to brave the blazing Negev sun, but in the end we moved into our home in Netzer Hazani one week after we got married. We lived in there for two years and then, with our neighbors’ blessings, moved to the more isolated community of K’far Darom in order to support one of the smallest communities in Gush Katif. We were the 28th family and were quickly joined by a few more who arrived during the same summer. We lived in K’far Darom for twelve years.

Our house – then:In K’far Darom we purchased one unit of a two-family house. The upstairs was unfinished so we merited building part of a house in the Land of Israel. We had actually seen the houses in K’far Darom being built while we lived in Netzer Hazani and thought to ourselves, “Ah, the people in K’far Darom will have permanent houses. How nice.” We didn’t even imagine then that we’d live in one of them.

The DeYoung home in K’far Darom.

Our house – now: After renting a small apartment for a few years in Elon Moreh we decided that it was time to move into larger quarters, and thoroughly combed the community in search of an available house. The available rentals weren’t suitable so after much deliberation we purchased a house greatly in need of renovation. The neighbors were overjoyed to see lights on once again. We’re still part of the K’far Darom community in Shavei Darom, but we value our home in the Shomron.

Day of uprooting from K’far Darom: We woke up early to the sound of helicopters flying overhead. Everyone knew that only a genuine miracle could stop the Expulsion. Our house was one of the houses closest to the entry gate and faced the synagogue. We saw the thousands, possibly tens of thousands, of soldiers marching in, some of whom encircled the K’far Darom Synagogue in approximately ten rows. So many youth, so disconnected from their own people that they could tear Jews from a synagogue in Israel! We didn’t engage the soldiers in conversation, and we certainly opposed singing or dancing with them. I spoke to foreign reporters for most of the day, until the soldiers dragged us out. I wanted to publicize K’far Darom’s story and the reporters let me speak not just of the imminent Expulsion, but of why we came to live in K’far Darom.

What we left behind: On a personal level we left behind the only place we’d lived after marrying, the first house we purchased, the only home our children knew, and the home to which we long to return. On a greater level we, as did all of Israel, left behind part of the Land of Israel. Our beautiful, vibrant Gush Katif was abandoned to the Arabs, who turned it into a terrorist training camp and missile-launching site.

Feelings towards the State: There is a difference between the State and any particular government. The State is what currently serves as the governing body in Israel and can do either good or, G-d forbid, harm. The Sharon government and the IDF at the time of the Expulsion committed an atrocity against us and all of Israel. They will be forgiven only when Gush Katif is rebuilt.

The biggest difficulty: Having to choose between permanently remaining with the community of K’far Darom expellees and living in Yesha. We are among the small minority who didn’t lose employment or have difficulty finding schools for our children so, thank G-d, we didn’t have those troubles, which were major difficulties for most families.

Jewish Press Staff

More Religious? Or Going Off the Deep End?

Monday, October 29th, 2012

They want to have total isolation from the rest of the world? I think perhaps we should finally give it to them. It pains me to say so but based on what I am reading in their very own media, going off the deep end is not an exaggeration. It may even be an understatement! It is a wonder that they do not have a bigger OTD problem than they already do. I guess that their system works very well for them that way.

First the good news. In the extremist enclaves of both Chasidic world and non-Chasidic Yeshiva world, there are very positive things that we can all look up to. Their community is very warm and loving. It is almost like having one very big extended family. They learn and promote the values of the Torah as they understand them.

Although it is true for both worlds, the Chasidic communities emphasize things like Chesed programs while in the Yeshiva world there is a stronger emphasis on Torah study. Their community is saturated with a system of family values unlike any other. They get married young and have lots of children. And have a rather effective educational system for their purposes. Chasidim even encourage working for a living albeit without the benefits of a higher education in most cases. (There are exceptions.)

They celebrate life-cycle events with great joy as they do Shabbos and Yom Tov. They live their daily lives with fervent religious devotion. But there is a negative side. A very negative side.

Theirs is a formula that combines all of the above with isolation. There is a complete break from the rest of the world by living their lives in ways that make it difficult if not impossible to participate in anything outside of their own Daled Amos.

Among Chasidim this formula is greatly enhanced by their manner of dress, their pejorative attitude towards non Jews, and their extremely negative attitude about secular education – treating the native tongue (English) as if it were spiritually unclean – as opposed to the ‘spiritually clean’ language of Yiddish. They learn English only as a second language for purposes of survival in a non Jewish culture. I can’t imagine anyone trying to escape it without major difficulty. Although the Yeshiva world does not go that far, there is no shortage of those who desire to catch up with them.

Sliding to the right doesn’t even begin to explain how far off the deep end some of these ridiculous extremes go.

How far? An article has been published by a bold and courageous women who lives in one of these enclaves. Mrs. Tzipi Caton wrote the cover story in last week’s Family First. This is the weekly woman’s supplement that accompanies Mishpacha Magazine. (Yes, I do sometimes read women’s magazines.)

Mrs. Caton is a decidedly Charedi woman. Her Shtreimal wearing Chasidic husband learns full time in a Kollel. They live in a very large Charedi neighborhood that has many exclusive Charedi schools to choose from.

She wanted her nursery school aged daughter, Dassa, to have the finest Charedi education she could provide. So Mrs. Caton applied to some of the more exclusive schools in her neighborhood. Long story short, after applying to six schools, she was rejected by them all. She is apparently not Frum enough for them. What were some of the issues? Let’s start with the contact Mrs. Caton had with the principal of one school. From the article:

She made no effort to hide the way she looked me over from sheitel to shoes. She asked exactly one question about my maiden name, and then sent me on my merry way.

Among the reasons that school rejected her daughter was the following:

(They) didn’t like that I went to an all inclusive Bais Yaakov high school. It didn’t look good for Bais Bina, a chassidish pre-school, to accept children whose mothers didn’t grow up wearing beige stockings.

Here are some of the questions on an application form of another school:

* What (bungalow) colony do you attend?
* Where is it located?
* Who owns the colony?
* List two references from said colony.
* How many times a year do you go up for Shabbos?
* (Is your daughter’s) maternal grandfather, preferred to be referred to as “Rabbi” or “Mister.”

A friend of Mrs. Caton who was granted an interview by one of those schools for her own daughter – something Mrs. Caton did not get. Here is what happened:

(T)he principal called me aside (and) said, “Mrs. Rosenberg, you are 98% of what we are looking for in a prospective parent. The 2% holding me back from full acceptance is a certain something about the way you look. If you would agree for me to take you shopping so that I can reevaluate your wardrobe and help you dress more to the manner that we find appropriate, I would be happy to allow your daughter into our nursery class.”

Another school Mrs. Caton applied to does not allow their parent mothers to chew gum. Or to use cell-phones.

Another school rejected them without any explanation simply saying that her family did not share the values of the school. What values? Keep reading:

This particular school did not allow their teachers to quote any litvish sources in their curriculum, including R’ Moshe Feinstein…

The last school she applied to ended up rejecting her because she had been rejected by so many other schools. How’s that for irony.

I have discussed this with a reliable source who lives in a community like this. Here is what I was told:

[T]he minute a school opens with the intention of being small and select, no matter what denomination they are, this is what happens.

Another thing- when one school in the neighborhood enforces a rule, all the other schools rush to copy it at the risk of seeming “less frum” than the others. So when one school told their parent body that their women were not allowed to wear “pony sheitels” the rest all sent out adjusted handbooks within the week. The same went for banning shoes that were any color but Navy or Black, and yeshivas requiring their boys wear velvet yarmulkas that are composed of “six” slices vs the more “modern” “four slice.” And now that the Chassidish schools in Monsey banned mothers from driving, the driving chassidim have to choose between a chinuch with their mesorah or being a mother who can independently shop for groceries…

Normally I might say live and let live. People have a right to choose any lifestyle they wish, no matter how ridiculous. But when it becomes the ideal of a community that considers itself to be the most religious among us, someone has to call them on it… and expose just exactly what they consider to be more religious.

To make matters even worse, it all comes with a price tag paid for in part by the government. Here is what my source told me:

All of these schools receive government funding because they “offer a service to the community.” Exactly what community are they offering services to? The non-driving community? The non-gum-chewing community? The community where they only wear white stockings on Shabbos and don’t wear earrings that hang below the earlobe? (I kid you not, these are all real examples of the rules) If the politicians knew where their community funding was going – would the schools continue to get those grants? I wonder.

Government funding?! These schools should not even be supported communally, let alone be supported by the government.

I think at this point, we ought to at least give them what they want. Complete isolation from the rest of the world. Including all normal Charedim!

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Harry Maryles

Working Toward Abuse-Free Yeshivas

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

What can a yeshiva do to institute practices that will help prevent any form of abuse?

Our community has become a focal point of scrutiny for not responding with greater fervor to the allegations and occurrence of sexual abuse. Not only does this create pain and suffering for victims and their families, it greatly undermines the very institutions built to help protect them. Yeshivas are bedrocks of our community, not only for education but also as a safe harbor for our children.

The following suggested course of action, though by no means comprehensive, provides a frame of reference for yeshivas, day-care centers and similar entities to adopt or to strengthen current action plans.

Establish standards: This gives principals, deans, executive directors and boards of directors an organized plan and a system to implement for both prevention and response.

In May 2003 Torah Umesorah issued its Statement on Behavioral Standards on the Prevention and Response to Child Molestation. Torah Umesorah reissued this in July 2007. Professor Aaron Twerski and I prepared these behavioral and reporting standards at the behest of roshei yeshiva “for principals to implement in their yeshivas and day schools, which, it is hoped, will strengthen the protection of students.”

Create a zero tolerance mindset: The proliferation of drugs in public schools in the 1980s led to the popularization of the drug-free school concept. This involved the development of a strong and active plan by administrators, faculty, parents, police and the community and greatly strengthened the ability to keep drugs out of schools, thus keeping children safer.

Key points of an abuse-free yeshiva include: training faculty in prevention and response; sending a clear message to students and parents that disclosure of any inappropriate conduct will be confidentially investigated; letting victims of abuse know they will be supported; and fostering a perception and understanding that perpetrators will be reported and prosecuted. All this creates a clear mindset of a zero tolerance policy.

Fingerprint all faculty and employees of the yeshiva: This is currently required in public schools, though not in private schools. True, it is an added expense, albeit an important one. This system would immediately alert the school of any employee previously convicted of any crime, including sexual abuse, as well as notify the school of any arrests that occur while s/he is in their employ.

There are too few child molesters in our community who have been arrested and prosecuted and few are registered sex offenders. Thus we are far away from a foolproof system. Yet if we collectively implement the fingerprinting of all yeshiva faculty and employees, yeshivas over time will become safer havens to teach and nurture our children.

Elliot Pasik, Esq, president of the Jewish Board of Advocates for Children (JBAC) has long advocated for fingerprinting in schools and he stresses that one should not underestimate how favorably parents will view yeshivas that voluntarily undertake this important step as an additional measure to protect their children.

Follow the law: The Torah Umesorah guidelines state that when there is reason to believe such a violation has occurred, the reporting of fondling, touching or any form of lewdness is not considered mesirah.

Kol Tzedek, a program under the purview of the office of Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, is a good resource for training faculty or providing guidance on mandated reporting law.

It is known that child molesters groom children, which first involves gaining their trust. This opens the door for the molester to abuse the child, subsequently instilling shame or fear in the youngster and inhibiting the victim from coming forward.

Following the law opens the door on reporting, thus hopefully closing the door on abuse.

David Mandel is chief executive officer of OHEL Children’s Home and Family Services and can be reached at dm@ohelfamily.org.

David Mandel

Rally Backing Jewish Community Held in Malmo

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Malmo Mayor Ilmar Reepalu was among some 300 marchers who demonstrated in the Swedish city in support of the Jewish community.

Saturday’s march follows a series of anti-Semitic attacks on the Jewish community in the city of approximately 300,000 in the south of Sweden. Many of the participants wore kipahs as a sign of solidarity, according to thelocal.se.

Reepalu has called on Malmo Jews to reject Zionism as a strategy for repelling violent attacks on the community.

The Swedish minister for integration, Erik Ullenhag, announced a $76,000 government grant to the Swedish Committee Against Anti-Semitism for a new initiative in Malmo schools to help address problems faced by the city’s Muslim and Jewish populations, thelocal.se reported.

Malmo police over the weekend announced the establishment of a dedicated hate crimes hotline following an increase in attacks on Jewish and Muslim targets.

Earlier this month, demonstrations were held outside the Jewish community center in Malmo and in Stockholm to show solidarity with the community following a firebombing of the JCC’s offices.

JTA

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/rally-backing-jewish-community-held-in-malmo/2012/10/22/

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