web analytics
September 18, 2014 / 23 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘connection’

My Interview with Marvin Hamlisch

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

As the lights dimmed on Broadway for 60 seconds last night in memory of Oscar-winning composer Marvin Hamlisch, who died on Monday, I took a moment to reflect on the moment in 1976 when I interviewed Hamlisch – only 31 years old, but already famous – for The Jewish Press. At the time I was an 18-year-old Brooklyn College student unused to celebrity; Hamlisch, just 13 years my senior, had by then tucked away Oscars for his scores for The Sting and The Way We Were, not to mention a Golden Globe and a Tony for composing the songs in the Broadway musical A Chorus Line.

Our interview, though, was less about music than about the Jewishness which was, he said, the cornerstone of his life. To my surprise, he spoke a good deal about his Jewish identity. And other things, too: his religious faith; his feelings about marriage (he was still single at the time); his juggling of a very busy schedule to be home for Passover; and his deep feelings about Jewish music.

“I can empathize with the sadness in Jewish music…the listlessness that is familiar to every European Jew,” he told me. “I’m a little more sentimental than Americans because I’ve grown up on the melancholy of European music.”

While not a shomer Shabbos, Hamlisch had an unflagging belief in G-d. “When I win my awards, my first response is thank G-d…I know that He is responsible for leading me down the path of success.” He added, “There is a higher being who controls the world and I try to express my beliefs by going to shul on Shabbos whenever possible.”

His open religious sensibility was matched by a proud Jewishness. “I have never hid it from anyone,” he said. “In fact, I’ve candidly announced it on nation-wide television. People…never discouraged me from proclaiming my Jewish identity to them.”

Committed to Zionism as well, Hamlisch once raised $120,000 for Israeli bonds in a single evening.

When he described his inspiration to compose, I sensed a connection – if perhaps an indirect one – to the dynamics of ancient Jewish tradition.

“A composer is a mirror of the society,” Hamlisch said, “because he tries to get a feeling of the times and relate [to] it musically….I prefer…to write when I’m with the masses and a part of them,” he said – for instance, on New York buses or subways during rush hours. “This is the only way to compose, for it enables me to relate to what’s in everyone else’s mind.” In response, I suggested that music emanating from a connection “with the masses” dated back to Moshe: after all, the words “az yashir Moshe u’bnai yisroel” imply that Moshe could sing only when he was one with his people. Hamlisch didn’t disagree.

At one point, I asked him what he wanted from a wife. He laughed. “If I were ever to get married under the wildest conditions, with a Towering Inferno,” he said, referring to a film popular at the time, “I would marry a girl in my mother’s image.” His mother, Lilly, had in fact come by during the interview, to – what else? – cook some food for her son. She heard his answer and chuckled.

Later, Hamlisch sat down at the piano and played some original variations on “Hava Nagilah,” which he described as “a little rock, a little Jewish.” It was a playful performance I don’t think he ever repeated publicly; that he tossed off these impromptu variations just for me, a teenaged interviewer, a fellow Jew, is something I’ll never forget.

Hamlisch was a virtuoso performer and a prize-winning composer. But at his death he left behind another gift: a proud Jew, he was a source of pride to all Jews, just as he was the pride of the music, theater and movie worlds for nearly five decades. I’m very glad I met him.

Yesh Din v’Yesh Dayan

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

The first time I recall hearing about Niso Shacham was at Kfar Maimom when, with as much vulgarity as you can imagine, he gave orders to his policemen to use excessive violence against the unarmed civilians protesting against the evil order to expel all the Jews from Gush Katif.

Seven years later, almost to the day, Niso Shacham has been given leave from the police due to the investigation against him.

Perhaps it should have been obvious to those above him that someone who could speak so disgustingly, so sexually violent, that he may also be personally acting out against others in the same manner as he was speaking and telling his subordinates to act. Who else knew about him should also be investigated.

According to the reports, Shacham had possibly been harassing and assaulting policewomen under his command, including “illicit relations” – it not clear to me if that means consensual or not, but since they were under his command, that’s already a problem.

Furthermore, another of his subordinates was allegedly involved in covering up the complaints.

Since Gush Katif, we’ve been hearing ‘Yesh Din v’Yesh Dayan’, as one official after another, connected to the Expulsion has been taken down for some illegal or immoral act or another.

Here at the Muqata we pointed something out a long time ago.

It’s no accident that these people are all getting caught doing dirty deeds or not acting in a manner befitting their position.

The fact that they had no moral problem kicking out thousands of Jews from their homes already told us they had no morals. What we’re just seeing now is them getting caught in other areas which doesn’t happen to involve Settlers.

Yesh Din v’Yesh Dayan – there is Judgement and there is a Judge, but it’s their own fault.

Self Defense

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Jewish Settlers practicing the self-defense martial arts sport Krav Maga at the Jewish outpost of Ramat Migron.

A summer camp for young women was held this week in Ramat Migron, for the next generation of women in Judea and Samaria.

The three day camp included self-defense classes, painting buildings and lectures.

One of the twenty camp participants was quoted in Maariv as saying “We saw how the connection to the land of Israel connects us all.” Another camper stated that “one who comes here is looking to sacrifice for the land of Israel.”

Fleisher on ShalomTV: ‘Let’s Not Live in Fear, Let’s Live in Reality.’

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Yishai Fleisher, managing editor of JewishPress.com, appeared on L’Chaim, a show that has been running on ShalomTV for years. The segment appears on their new live channel, as well as on-demand.

Fleisher spoke with Rabbi Mark Golub about the fear preventing a strong, united Jewish future. He described the challenges the Jewish people face today and split them into three categories – delegitimization, division, and most importantly, fear. “Fear is everywhere,” he said. “[People] go silent when I talk about fear because they realize how much fear they live with…we need to be proud.” Fleisher wants to eliminate the fear, and in doing so, bring Jews home. He touched on many subjects during the interview ranging from the reasons behind the fear in the U.S. and the problems in the Middle East that induce it.

First, many American Jews fear that their own relationship with America will suffer if they move to Israel, or even develop a stronger connection with it than their own country. He revealed his desire to connect the American Jew with the Israeli Jew. Citing the Atlantic Ocean as one of the deepest physical boundaries between the two cultures, he said that he wants to make that border feel smaller. American Jews push their connection to Israel aside, due to a fear that choosing Israel makes them appear disloyal to the country they have lived in for years. “We’re culturally American, we watch Seinfeld, but the Jew always feels that at the end of the day, this is not his home,” he said. Fleisher’s determination is the reason he continues to appear on television and speak at college campuses and other communities throughout America. ”We have to put Israel first,” he said. “…We have to get together to build the Jewish state.”

Further, there is a duality among American Jews. They not only fear the Arab nation, but feel conflicted about how the Israelis treat them due to the negative media coverage. Fleisher pointed out that most American Jews are liberal. They’re liberal because they believe in the “intrinsic value of every human being.” He doesn’t sugarcoat it. There is a clear understanding that some liberties need to be abrogated in order for Jews to protect themselves. But what many American Jews don’t understand is that there is a mitzvah in place that sanctions such self-defense. It’s written in the Talmud that when someone intends to harm you, you have a responsibility to fight back. Jews want to live as a righteous community, but in order to do so they must survive first. It’s immoral for Israel to allow rockets to be amassed by people who will use them, Fleisher explained. “We are only 60 some odd years after the Holocaust,” he said. “It’s not a joke. Let’s not live in fear, let’s live in reality.”

Fleisher was born to Russian parents in Haifa, where he lived until age 8. His family moved to America for economic reasons. Although he went to Jewish schools, he craved more of a connection to Israel and couldn’t stay away for long. He skipped his senior year and at 17, went back to Israel to study in Yeshiva and serve in the army as a paratrooper. After an injury, Fleisher returned to America to study at Yeshiva University and obtain a post-graduate degree at Cardozo Law School. There, he met his wife Malkah. The two moved to Israel to get married and establish their home. In the interview, Fleisher didn’t deny that there’s an atmosphere of tension in Israel and that they have to be vigilant, but living in Israel and raising a family there is something he never questions.

Fleisher emphasized that at the end of the day Israel is the homeland of the Jews. Residents can be critical of the nation’s politics and of the current state of warfare, but they should do it without fear and argue about it in their own nation. There are many enticing countries out there, Fleisher said, but Israel needs to be number one.

Watch the interview with Yishai below:

UPDATE: Terror Attack Kills 7 Israeli Tourists In Bulgaria

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

As news of the passing of Torah sage and leader of Lithuanian Jewry Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv cast a pale of sorrow over Israel, breaking news of a suicide bombing attack against Israeli tourists in Bulgaria sent shock waves across the country.

Seven Israelis were reported killed and 30 injured when an explosion blew up an Israeli tourist bus and caught two adjacent buses on fire at the Burgas airport on Wednesday, also the 18th anniversary of the Iran-sponsored attack on the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Reports state that among the injured are at least 2 pregnant women and an 11 year old child.  Six of the deceased were pronounced dead at the scene, and one died in hospital. At least two of the 27 injured are reported to be in serious condition.

The explosion occurred while the bus was still in the terminal, after the group arrived in country at 4:45pm.. Burgas, located on the Black Sea Coast, is a popular tourist spot for Israelis.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement in which he charged Iran with conducting the attack and warned the regime that Israel would respond forcefully.

“All the signs lead to Iran. Only in the past few months we have seen Iranian attempts to attack Israelis in Thailand, India, Georgia, Kenya, Cyprus and other places,” Prime Minister Netanyahu said.

“This is an Iranian terror campaign that is spreading throughout the world,” Netanyahu said. “Israel will react powerfully against Iranian terror,”

Despite fierce political mudslinging in the wake of the angry withdrawal of the Kadima party from the coalition because of rancor over Haredi service in the IDF, politicians across the spectrum united to condemn the murders.  Opposition leader Shelly Yechimovich said “there is no doubt that instability in the region is spawned by Iran aiming expressly for Israelis and Jews throughout the world,” expressed her condolences to the families of the terror victims, and expressed her confidence in Israeli security forces.

ZAKA and Magen David Adom rescue services have already begun making their way to Bulgaria and will attempt to evacuate some of the wounded for treatment in Israel.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman called for an immediate meeting at the Foreign Ministry’s situation room.  The Israeli embassy in Bulgaria is investigating the explosion.  Initial reports indicated that a suicide bomber boarded the bus and detonated himself.  Follow-up reports suggested that a bomb may have been planted in the luggage compartment of the bus and detonated by remote control.

In January, Israel requested additional security for citizens traveling in the country after a suspicious package was found on a bus carrying Israeli tourists from Turkey to Bulgaria.

Israel has also expressed concern that Hizbullah would target Israelis overseas in connection with the assassination of Hizbullah commander Imag Mughniyeh, which Hizbullah suspects was conducted by the Mossad.

In the meantime, Hizbullah has denied any connection to the attack.  No organization has claimed responsibility.

Channel 1 quoted Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov as calling the explosion a terrorist attack.

The #1 Thing You Should Know About Real Estate Investing in Israel

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

If you buy a property as an investment, there are two ways you can profit – either you sell it for more than you paid, and/or you collect rent. Let’s look at each of these and see why they often don’t work out:

Selling for a profit

If you buy a property for an investment, hoping to sell years down the line at a profit, remember, that it’s not always easy to sell an apartment. Though people talk about the dearth of housing in Israel, there are “For Sale” signs all over, even in Jerusalem. The best way to ensure a quick sale of property is to sell it at a low price, often at a loss. But even if you don’t need the money and can afford to hold onto the property, remember you have the “friction” of buying and selling in the form of taxes, lawyers’ fees, real estate agents, assessors, mortgage costs, and more.

Collecting rent

In some parts of Israel, rental income represents 2% of the value of the property. So if you’re looking at a rental apartment to provide cash flow, you haven’t found the best return. Moreover, there’s no guarantee that you’ll have renters for 12 months a year. If you presume that, on average, you’ll only be full 10 or 11 months a year, account for the fact that your income would be around 8% lower than if you were full all year round. And if you can’t rent the property out at all, then your money is tied up in a non-performing asset.

So if you are considering investing in real estate in Israel, the #1 thing that you need to know is that buying physical real estate could be a bad investment. That’s why for real estate investing, I prefer using REITs (real estate investment trusts), which trade on a stock exchange, pay dividends, are easy to buy and sell with low cost, and can be bought in the form of a mutual fund.

There are many reasons to buy property in Israel, not only financial. Some Zionists want to solidify their connection to Israel, or hope to one day retire there. Before you buy real estate (or any investment vehicle), make sure you understand your motivation and the pros and cons.

If you want to know about practical investing in Israel, sign up for my company’s investment newsletter and get a free investment ebook as a gift.

Reb Elimelech M’Lizhensk (Part IX)

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

The Baal Shem Tov was the founder and the visionary of chassidus, but the architect who built and spread the movement was Rabbi Dov Ber, the maggid of Mezeritch.

At his death in 1772, the maggid had attracted to his center of learning in Mezeritch some of the most brilliant minds, extraordinary personalities, and dynamic leaders of his day. There he molded them into inspired teachers and holy men. The maggid was able to take a man of outstanding potential and develop him into not only the “tzaddik” that the Baal Shem Tov had described, but also the personality that would become the key to the success of chassidus.

Although Reb Elimelech was in his 40s when the Baal Shem Tov passed away, he had no attachment to either the Master or the early spread of chassidus. It is therefore rather remarkable, considering his late connection, that Reb Elimelech became the paramount leader of the chassidic movement.

The popularity of the rise of chassidus did not go unnoticed by those who did not share the same allegiance. However, as long as the movement was limited to the commoner and isolated in a few pockets of Poland, no one perceived it as a threat. But this all changed by 1772.

Because of the maggid’s agents’ outreach work, the movement flourished and expanded beyond all assumed natural, geographic borders. It extended to Central Poland and Galicia, Lithuania and White Russia.

But the spreading of chassidus not only leapt passed geographic boundaries, it also flowed up from the commoners and impacted upon important scholars and leaders. Suddenly the non-chassidic mainstay of Polish, Lithuanian and White Russian Jewry felt threatened. Overnight, everything the chassidim did was suspect.

The hitherto reluctance to consult kabbalistic texts was disregarded by the chassidim, creating panic that the influence of Sabbatai Zevi and Jacob Frank lingered yet. There was also concern that the unprecedented emphasis upon prayer would shift time-honored priorities. It had previously been assumed that only a scholar familiar with all of the intricate minutiae of the law could be considered holy and close to the Almighty. Suddenly, chassidim had hoisted the unschooled commoner to an equal level of closeness to God by opening the gateway of prayer.

Prayer did not require erudition or diligence, only sincerity. The Baal Shem Tov told the story of an ignorant shepherd boy who had entered a synagogue on Rosh Hashanah and was taken by the sincere devotion of the congregation. He too wished to offer up his voice in prayer but was unschooled in how to pray – even how to read from a prayer book. He therefore took out his recorder and began to offer the only profound expression that he knew how to articulate.

The worshippers in the synagogue were shocked, disgraced and appalled at the boorish behavior of this simpleton, who desecrated the Yom Tov with his simple flute. A shonda! They cried in unison and derision.

Only the Baal Shem Tov came to his defense, chastising those present by admonishing, “I could see that the prayers of this shul had almost made their way to the high Heavens, but they were lodged impenetrably at the gates. It was only this sincere and utterly pure blowing of the recorder that was able to ascend and transport all the prayers of this assembly into the portals of Heaven.”

Who did the chassidim think they were, supplanting the traditional “Torah study gateway” to Heaven with an artificial “prayer access way”? The fears of the opponents, or misnagdim, seemed to have been corroborated by the chassidim who adopted a non-meticulous approach to the proscribed times for prayer. If this wasn’t enough, they altered the nusach, or the liturgy, from Ashkenaz to Sephard.

For the very first time, Torah study, as it were, took a back seat to prayer that became – for the chassidim – the most dominant aspect of the day. In no time, chassidim had seriously tampered with the standard and accepted decorum of the synagogue. To wit, loud song and dance were no longer rare occurrences at specific times and on select holidays – but the daily norm. Meals consumed in a place of worship had previously been unheard of.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/jewish-columns/chodesh-tov/reb-elimelech-mlizhensk-part-ix/2012/06/14/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: