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September 21, 2014 / 26 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Connecticut’

Nephew Of Conn. Governor Arrested at Yeshiva High School

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

The nephew of Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy was arrested for trespassing in a yeshiva high school in Stamford in an apparently drunken condition.

Kerry Mallory, an actor who appears in the new movie “The Wolf of Wall Street,” was arrested Monday on the property of Yeshiva Bais Binyomin, along with his girlfriend Courtney Wilson. Both apparently were intoxicated, the Stamford Advocate reported.

Police arrived at the all-male high school to find the couple in a classroom with students, who were afraid of him, police told the newspaper.

The couple told police they had a constitutional right to ask about the Judaism being taught at the school. They were escorted off school property but returned 25 minutes later, when they were arrested.

Rare Discovery of Mikveh in New England Rewrites US Jewish History

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Researchers in  Connecticut have unearthed in a old farming community a 19th century mikveh that has totally changed view of Jewish history in the United States.

In addition to the rarity of finding a mikveh in the United States dating back approximately 120  years, the University of Connecticut researchers were astonished to see that the mikveh was more similar those in ancient Israel rather than in America.

“The stone and wood-lined structure from Old Chesterfield may be the only mikveh excavated outside a major North American city and may be the only example of its kind at one of the settlements created by a wealthy philanthropist who in the 1890s established farming communities for Jewish immigrants in New Jersey and Connecticut,” according to the university’s UCONN website.

Approximately 500 people lived in the old rural eastern Connecticut community. Historians have generally assumed that Jewish immigrants shunned tradition as part of their assimilation into the American “melting pot.”

Many immigrants clung to Jewish laws, such as kosher slaughtering, but the observance of ritual bathing was far from common, especially in a rural community.

“The image many people have of those who belonged to the earliest agricultural communities is that they were largely socialists, and that they weren’t particularly religious,” said Prof. Stuart Miller, Academic Director of the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life at the university and an expert on ritual baths in ancient Israel. “This is going to enable us to write a chapter of Jewish history which to my knowledge hasn’t been written, one that will deal with the spiritual life of these communities.”

“This mikveh is very exciting because there’s really nothing else like it in the United States,” Miller said. “It’s intact, it’s magnificent, and from a religious law point of view, it’s a marvel.”

It was a routine message from  State Archaeologist Nicholas Bellantoni that brought Miller to the site, where he later realized that mikveh was located there.

Miller was raised in New Jersey but spent several years researching ancient mikvehs in Israel. Colleagues mentioned Miller’s name to Bellantoni, who called him to ask if he would look at an old ritual slaughterhouse that had been found.

“I’ll be honest. I wasn’t really expecting anything,” Miller said. “I was thinking, ‘I write about and work at sites that are 2,000 years old. What am I going to find in Chesterfield?’”

When miller arrived. he noticed the high walls of the slaughtering house and was told that a mikveh might be located at the site, despite rabbis at the time who were bewailing the disappearance of traditional Judaism.

Previous discoveries of mikvehs, one of them dating back to the 1840s in Baltimore, didn’t prepare Miller for what he found in Connecticut because the rural mikveh was made of stone with concrete floors, unlike those found in Baltimore and elsewhere.

“I know what a mikveh is,” Miller said. “And this doesn’t look anything like a modern mikveh. What I’m expecting is a tiled pool. And suddenly I’m seeing concrete. I’m standing there staring at this and thinking, ‘Where am I? Am I in Sepphoris [an archaeological site in Israel]? Is this really Chesterfield, Connecticut?”

Miller knowledge of mikvehs, both in the United States and in Israel., led him to work with his team to excavate a pipe that provided water from a nearby slope.

“They theorize that the settlers fulfilled the religious command to use only water from the heavens or the earth by connecting the mikveh to a brook or pond about 200 yards away and relying on gravity to draw the water into the ritual bath.,” the university website reported.

Further research in archives allowed the researches to get a clearer picture of Jewish life in the farming community 120 years ago. One letter, written in Yiddish around 1915, lamented the demise of a creamery that was going bankrupt.

One surprise concerning Jewish law was that the Connecticut mikveh’s stairs were made of wood, which also lined the walls and in apparent contradiction to laws in the Talmud that forbid the use of wood in building a mikveh. Further research revealed that many Eastern European communities interpreted the law differently.

The researchers plan further excavations to uncover the remains of the old synagogue in Chesterfield, which was partially destroyed by arson in 1972 and completely destroyed eight years later.

A Muslim Perspective: Boston’s Tragedy Must Not Generate More Hate

Saturday, April 20th, 2013

First and foremost, my prayers go out to the victims and their families in Boston. Just like we have a hard time understanding psychologically unhealthy people, we cannot understand what kind of man can be at war with innocents. History has witnessed many sick people leading others to commit atrocities, but there is one thing for certain; whatever the perpetrator or perpetrators might profess as a religion, they are not believers. If someone is capable of killing innocent people without so much as blinking an eye, then they are murderers with no fear of God. That is indisputable.

However, whenever there is a bombing or a mass shooting in public places like the atrocity in Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut, or the Aurora, Colorado massacre, or the 2011 Norway massacre, and many more, the worlds’ collective gaze shifts to “Muslims,” and some begin to express hateful sentiments even before the perpetuators are announced.

Just as it has become reflexive reaction in the Western world, to associate any attacks on civilians with Muslims, Muslims also hurry up to denounce the violence and want to make clear to the whole world that it is a violation of Islam, in case the murderer happens to have a Muslim identity.

Since these are times when emotions are high and people want quick justice, they sometimes seek targets to direct their anger. But inciting hatred, raising conflict and enmity, hatemongering, engaging in one-sided, aggressive propaganda and creating a climate of hysteria, or using the internet to incite a lynch mob, are also crimes.

As we have witnessed in the latest attack, while some react with common sense, others pour out words of hate targeting all Arabs and labeling all Muslims as potential murderers. For instance, a Fox News contributor—whether seriously or as satire—had the audacity to state that Muslims “…are evil…Let’s kill them all.” And I read a good many comments suggesting the extermination of Muslims.

But even if these voices are merely the ones being highlighted, these are still the voices of a minority, and very extreme examples at that. Some act this way because of pain and fear; others lack dignity and or even humanity in their soul – they are simply psychopaths.

While I say this, I also would like to strongly criticize those who express joy at the sight of horror in America, just because they think the American government’s foreign policies are wrong. On the other hand, I watched an Egyptian “cleric” saying this attack was definitely a jihad by mujahideen, adding that their execution was amateurish, and so it could not have been an Al-Qaida operation.

This chilling mindset is as horrifying to me, as a devout Muslim, as it is to any Westerner. The use of the concept of “jihad” for acts of aggression against innocent people is a great distortion of the true meaning of the term. Jihad—meaning to strive, to show an effort—is about telling people about Islam with knowledge, culture, love, affection and compassion; and to tell people the truth kindly, to treat them warmly, to respect their ideas, not to be ruthless toward them or shed blood, kill or hurt people or kill oneself.

I gave these two extreme examples because they do not represent the majority, and those who expressed them had no right to manipulate public feelings or opinion. Hatred and anger are likely to prevent people from thinking soundly and making just decisions. People can be inclined to injustice and cannot conduct themselves rationally when they let their anger guide their actions and words. So let us not accuse innocent people of acts they have never committed, or bear false witness against them. Let us keep some common sense, maintain our balance, and let us not give people the grounds to provoke. Even if they raise their voices, let us not permit them to misuse horrific atrocities to spread their poisonous and malicious propaganda.

Ten Ways to Help Newtown’s Grieving Families

Friday, December 28th, 2012

Since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, several people have contacted me, asking how to help the families who lost young children because our family suffered its own tragedy. After my 13-year-old son Koby and his friend Yosef Ish Ran were murdered by terrorists here in Israel in 2001, I was sure that when I went outside, the whole world would have changed. That the sky would have turned red and the trees returned to rocks. I thought that there was no way that I or the world would survive my loss.

Grieving requires a new language.

Because the language once used to speak of art projects and homework and work and what’s for dinner no longer suffices. A new language must be learned instead that questions where God is and how such pain and sadness can exist in the world and how on earth we can contain this suffering and anger which threatens to undo us, as individuals and as a community. It asks: How can we live with the absence?

I can’t tell the families how to go on because at this point there is no going on. There is only the hard business of grieving. It is a job in itself. It requires courage and patience to face the emptiness and the longing and the loss and the horror and the might have been, and the if only. If only I had kept him home from school. If only we had never moved to this town. If only Lanzo had had no guns in his house.

There is no such thing as closure for the victims’ families. But there may eventually be disclosure, a sense of mission. My family began the Koby Mandell Foundation, which runs healing programs and camps for 500 bereaved children each summer. The only way to rise from tragedy is to create meaning. And the first step in the victims’ families’ journey toward creating meaning is to receive kindness.

When your life is torpedoed there is often no way to continue. The ship is sinking and you can’t bail out enough water to save yourself. No, you are dependent on the kindness of strangers. And here is the point: it’s the community that will save these families by keeping them afloat. Even when they feel that they would prefer to drown.

Everybody is talking about gun control, which is necessary. But what keeps communities safe is talking, knowing what is going on in each other’s homes, reaching out to each other because it’s okay to ask if the other is okay.

So I say this to the people of Newtown. Continue to reach out. The grieving families no doubt are receiving a lot of help right now. But eventually that help will go away. The families will be left alone. Stay with them for the long run.

I would give anything not to have learned the vital importance of loving words, helpful deeds and the embrace of community. But I hope my experience can provide guidance that will help ease the pain of others.

So here are ten ways to help Newtown’s grieving families:

1. Sometimes words can cheapen or even desecrate. It is important to use words sparingly. Let the mourning family set the tone.

2. Even if you missed the funeral, you can still visit or call the person, even if it is months or even a year later. It is better to make the connection. And the family needs ongoing support. They will receive a lot of attention at first, and then slowly, the attention and care fades away. Be there for the long run.

3. Even if you don’t know the person that well, the family will feel honored by your presence. It tells them that the person who is gone matters.

4. Every person has something to give to a person in pain. One person may not be good with words but can cook or bring drinks or pick up the other child from soccer. Know what you are good at and use that talent or skill to help the family.

5. Keep calling. Don’t tell the person that they should call you if they need you. You are responsible for calling them. You are there to support them. Don’t expect anything back from them.

Text of PM Netanyahu’s Condolence Letter to US Pres. Obama on Newtown Massacre

Sunday, December 16th, 2012

PM Netanyahu’s Letter to US President Obama

(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Following is the text of the letter that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent to US President Barack Obama:

Dear President Obama,

I was shocked and horrified by today’s savage massacre of innocent children and adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

We in Israel have experienced such cruel acts of slaughter and we know the shock and agony they bring.

I want to express my profound grief, and that of all the people in Israel, to the families that lost their loved ones.

May you and the American people find the strength to overcome this unspeakable tragedy.

With my deepest condolences,

(Signed) Benjamin Netanyahu,

Prime Minister of Israel

The US Should Learn from Israel How to Permit, Not Outlaw Guns

Sunday, December 16th, 2012

Every shooting massacre in the U.S. is followed routinely by the calls to tighten existing gun control laws and even ban guns altogether.

But, as Jews, we have an obligation to fight those calls, because they’re wrong.

As Jews, giving up the means and the right to defend ourselves is the worst mistake we could make. Imagine if Germany or Poland’s Jews had been armed. Would rounding Jews up have been as easy or even possible? The answer is, obviously, no.

Friday’s massacre in Connecticut was a horrible event, but the shooter, Adam Lanza, didn’t use any legal loopholes to get his weapons, he didn’t even own the weapons he shot, he stole them from his mother.

One of things that strike most visitors to Israel is the number of guns they see people carrying everywhere. But most people don’t realize that Israel’s gun laws are both stricter and very different from those in the U.S.

Personal weapons are more difficult to come by in Israel. A lot of vetting is done by the government, the police, a doctor, and the gun range that must train and test the potential gun owner before they, too, sign their approval. And the Israeli government prefers to limit gun licenses to those with army experience, if possible.

Even then, one normally is permitted to only own one gun, and a limited amount of ammunition (although one can buy as many bullets as one wishes at the gun range). Some admittedly feel that the single gun limit, is too restrictive.

Appearances aside, in Israel there are fewer personal weapons per capita, and fewer homicides involving guns, than in the U.K., which has very strong and restrictive gun laws.

Still, guns in Israel are ubiquitous. There are no concealed carry laws in Israel, as every visitor sees right away. Guns are plentiful in the street, carried by settlers, soldiers, and security personnel, including the guards in front of schools, restaurants and malls.

In short, people who have a good reason to carry a gun will likely be approved to do so. The difference between Israel and the U.S. regarding gun ownership is in the attitude.

Even though Israelis watch the same movies and play the same video games that glorify gun violence as Americans do, Israelis, unlike Americans, are taught from a young age a mature, respectful and structured interaction with their weapons. In America, it’s considered a right to carry a gun, but in Israel, it’s considered both right and a privilege.

Reports are now saying that Adam Lanza’s mother was a “gun nut” who took her kids shooting all the time.

I can practically guarantee that their training and interaction with guns wasn’t mature, respectful or structured in the least.

Keeping guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens is wrong and unconstitutional. But America must rethink its gun laws and make them consistent for the entire country. They must include a serious, complex vetting process, at least as demanding as the process one must endure to receive a driver’s license. In fact, I recommend letting each state’s DMV develop a process of educating and testing potential gun owners. After all, in both cases, when providing a license to drive a car and a license to carry a gun (and to register the car and gun), the state is empowering its citizen to operate a potentially lethal weapon.

Like applicant drivers, potential gun owners must undergo extensive, well structured training on the proper handling, storage and use of their weapon, before being allowed to even buy one, and repeat the process at every license renewal. And they must have a qualified doctor sign off on them too.

And a DMV, or any other agency deposited with the responsibility to vet new gun owners, along with the individual people in the vetting process, must be held accountable should someone they approve end up using their gun license psychotically.

This personal accountability in the chain of approval is the most important aspect of what works in Israel, and what should be most emphasized in the U.S.

Also, the states must get rid of the concealed carry requirement (for those that have it). It’s an idiotic idea that is actually a result of American society’s veneration of weapons, and it removes any visual deterrence it otherwise affords.

Israeli Pres. Peres Sends Condolence Letter to US Pres. Obama for Connecticut Slaying

Sunday, December 16th, 2012

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israeli-pres-peres-sends-condolence-letter-to-us-pres-obama-for-connecticut-slaying/2012/12/16/

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