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September 1, 2014 / 6 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘course’

The Mashgiach Wore a Dress: The Fight over Opening Kosher Supervision to Women

Monday, November 26th, 2012

This January, Midreshet Emunah, a college devoted to Jewish women and family studies, will begin to train women to work as a kashrut supervisors. Training will be given in a comprehensive course that will include 150-180 hours of study, at the end of which each participant will receive a certificate that qualifies her to supervise commercial kitchens in Israel, Mynet reported.

Israel’s Chief Rabbinate is yet to give its formal approval to the initiative, but sources in the Rabbanut say they would consent to the training of female supervisors only after an organized set of rules is established to facilitate their integration into the field. But beneath the surface there are already ripples of resistance to the entire project. A source in the Rabbanut suggested that “there are fears that women’s organizations are behind the idea, in order to undermine the halakhic establishment.”

With or without chief rabbinate support, the college leadership is determined to offer the course anyway. “Until two years ago, that body that supervised the kashrut supervisors in hotels, restaurants, hospitals and other institutions were the local rabbinates in their city,” says Emuna movement spokesman Itzik Rhett. According to him, only two years ago a new law went into effect, empowering the chief rabbinate of Israel to decide who is qualified to be a kashrut supervisor.

“At the time we approached the chief rabbinate and asked their permission to open a course for women,” says Rhett. “Through informal means, we discovered that the rabbinate would not approve our course. We didn’t give up and constructed a complete course system, just like the one available to men. Laws of meat and dairy, meat preparation, kashering utensils, laws connected to the Land of Israel, Shabbat in the domestic and institutional kitchens, and keeping kashrut in hotels, hospitals and restaurants. We included every item included in the courses for men, and they still ignored our requests.”

Emunah Chairwoman Liora Minka has been very critical of the chief rabbinate. According to her, if the college is not granted rabbinical approval for the course, they will not hesitate to reach all the way up to the Supreme Court. “If they cannot embrace this rationally, let the High Court determine it,” she says.

“The notion that ‘the Torah prohibits anything new’ has become the expression of Haredi opposition to any renewal, any technological development, even if no religious prohibition is involved. The examination of insects in vegetables, adhering to the laws of milk and meat – are any of these beyond the comprehension of women? Of course not. Is there is an halachic prohibition on a woman working in a dining room or a kitchen? Is it so outlandish an idea that a woman would walk into the kitchen of a restaurant, a hospital, a banquet hall or a nursing home, open refrigerator doors and track the processing of raw materials and mixtures? These are rhetorical questions the answers to which are clear,” says Minka.

“Unfortunately, there are uneducated rabbis who cannot keep up with modern life. They are marching backwards in time. Just recently we heard statements by rabbis who still can’t accept the fact that women can cast a ballot on their own, to influence and sometimes to be elected and be excellent public representative, better than many men.”

Ten women have signed up for the course since it was announced on Sunday. Aliza Hochshtad from Efrat, one of the first women serving as kosher supervisors in Israel, says she is delighted with the news. “For years I tried to convince colleges that offered courses for kosher supervisors for men only that they should offer these courses to women, too. Unfortunately they didn’t pay attention to me.”

Hochshtad works for the rabbinic council of Efrat as a kashrut supervisor. She says she also travels a lot to conventions of kosher supervisors in the U.S.

Finally, the spokesmen for Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger and for the Rabbinic Posek (halachic “decider”), said they did not object to the idea of women kashrut supervisors in principle, but were worried about issues of… modesty and chastity.

When all else fails…

Who Won the Latest Israel-Hamas War? (You’ll Be Surprised)

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

Naturally the question of who won any given war preoccupies people’s minds. And I’m amused by those who think that Hamas won the recent conflict. Winning has to mean something real, not just bragging to reassure oneself.

Let’s begin by examining the causes and goals of each side. Hamas’s goal was to be able to attack Israel as much as it wanted without significant retaliation. This time, as in late 2008, the war began because Hamas escalated the level of its attacks on Israel to unacceptable levels (more on that phrase in a moment). The same might be said of Hizballah in 2006.

Israel’s goal was to force Hamas to the lowest possible level of attacks and to make such attacks as ineffective as possible. Incidentally, that was also Israel’s strategy in dealing with the PLO. Attempts to “solve” the problem once and for all, varying from the 1982 invasion of Lebanon to the Oslo peace process of the 1990s didn’t work too well.

Nevertheless, Israel was able to achieve its more limited aim against Hamas in the later 2008-early 2009 campaign to gain four years of relative quiet. With Hizballah, this goal has now held for six years. That’s not bad given the reality of contemporary international politics and the Middle Eastern situation, both of which keep Israel from gaining a “total victory.”

Ideally, of course, there is no good reason that the world ensure the survival of a terrorist, totalitarian, illegal, and genocide-oriented regime in the Gaza Strip. Nevertheless, that is the reality. If the idea of Israel going in on the ground into the Gaza Strip provoked so much international horror, imagine the reaction to Israel overthrowing Hamas altogether.

And for Israel to overthrow Hamas it would either have to govern the Gaza Strip itself, restarting the whole post-1967 process and facing daily gun battles there or to turn over the territory to someone else. Since the Palestinian Authority isn’t interested in such an arrangement and is incapable of even making a serious effort to overthrow Hamas nobody else is going to do so or take power there.

So Hamas’s survival as ruler of the Gaza Strip was not some victory in a war that lasted a little over a week but is guaranteed in effect by the international and regional order. Can Hamas continue to violate the ceasefire? Of course, because Israel’s only way of enforcing it is military retaliation and now, as has been true for the last five years, Israel has to consider how to do each one without being blamed for a breakdown in the ceasefire. That won’t stop Israel from hitting back with the goal of minimizing Hamas’s attacks.

After these two significant factors–which both existed beforehand–it’s all downhill for Hamas. Given the destruction of its weaponry, Hamas is less able to attack than it had been and while every Hamas leader denies it, the vision of their colleagues getting killed does have a deterrent effect on their boldness.

The amount of regional support Hamas received during the recent war was remarkably low. The anti-Islamist Arab states wanted Hamas to lose. Iran cheered and sent missiles which is quite significant but only gets you so far. The Arab street didn’t do much; Syria’s regime is busy with the civil war; Iraq is for all practical purposes out of the conflict. Whatever lip service it gives, the Shia Islamist Hizballah didn’t lift a trigger finger to help Sunni Islamist Hamas.

It was these factors that led Fareed Zaharia, the influential American commentator—no friend of Israel—who has Obama’s ear to write a Washington Post piece entitled, “Israel dominates the new Middle East.”

As for Egypt, while the Muslim Brotherhood regime is 100 percent pro-Hamas, it isn’t going to be dictated to by its much smaller brother. The Egyptian government has bigger fish to fry. It is busy consolidating its dictatorship and reeling in almost $10 billion in foreign aid.

Hamas didn’t consult Cairo over the escalation that led to this war. Equally bad, Hamas has become entangled with small jihadist groups that attack both Egypt and Israel. Naturally, the Cairo government doesn’t care if Israel is the only target but reacts strongly to being hit itself. So before the escalation the Egyptian government was angry at Hamas.

Jewish Mothers Have Rights

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

I’m not a fan of Shimon Peres – I have to be honest. If I look back over his career as a politician…well, I’d rather not.

By contrast, as a president, he’s been…well, not outstanding…and he’s said a lot of dumb things, like thanking the Russians for 1,000 years of hospitality to the Jewish people (to which Natan Sharansky properly responded that this was absurd … pogroms, laws outlawing Jews, refusing for decades to allow Jews freedom of practice, freedom of movement, etc.). It was, overall, a really dumb comment.

But Peres has his moments. He is very supportive of women. I heard him speak a few months ago. He spoke of men as babies and says women run the world, ground it, nurture it.

He is against the bombardment of Israel by Gaza rockets (who isn’t)…but his explanation, just one, of why this is so horrible, is sweet. Jewish mothers have the right to sleep at night, he says. He’s right, of course. I may not like his politics, but in this, he is so correct.

Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

Maker of Anti-Muslim Film Gets a Year in Prison

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

The Californian who produced the anti-Muslim film which led to anti-American violence throughout the Middle East was sentenced Wednesday to a year in federal prison, not for crimes against Islam, but for violating the terms of his probation, AP reports.

In a plea bargain between Mark Basseley Youssef and federal prosecutors, Youssef admitted in open court that he had used a number of false names, in direct violation of his probation order, including obtaining a driver’s license under a false name.

Youssef was on probation for a bank fraud case.

Youssef’s attorney, Steven Seiden, later told reporters outside the court house that he had a message for them from his client.

“The one thing he wanted me to tell all of you is President Obama may have gotten Osama bin Laden, but he didn’t kill the ideology,” Seiden said.

Asked to elaborate, the attorney said, “I didn’t ask him, and I don’t know.”

All the parties to the plea deal agreed that the violations had nothing to do with “Innocence of Muslims,” Youssef’s film that depicts Mohammad as a religious fraud, pedophile and womanizer.

But, of course, everybody also knew that, had Youssef not produced that idiotic film, he would have been allowed to go on with his grifter’s life at least until he got caught stealing something serious again.

Still, according to AP, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Dugdale argued that Youssef’s lies about his identity have caused harm to others, including the film’s cast and crew, who found themselves in the midst of an apparent plot to spread deadly violence to many parts of the Middle East.

“They had no idea he was a recently released felon,” Dugdale said. “Had they known that, they might have had second thoughts” about doing the film.

Dugdale said members of the crew had received death threats, and they fear their careers are ruined.

Youssef, 55, was arrested in late September, just weeks after he went into hiding when the deadly violence erupted.

A Pakistani cabinet minister even offering $100,000 to anyone who kills Youssef. This might force the federal prison authorities to take special measures in protecting him.

So Many ‘Things’: A Personal Account of Hurricane Sandy

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

There it was, a backyard full of my basement furniture, and bags and bags of waterlogged papers. There is something very humbling about seeing your “things” laid out on the grass. Of course, my home in Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn, is just one of many in the region devastated by Hurricane Sandy. But since possessions are by definition personal, it gives one no comfort to know others have the same problem.

In my case this is just the beginning, because the water that flooded my house rose above the basement and came up to the first floor, causing major damage. So over the next few days my daily living items will also be making their way outside.

As I stood on my porch, many thoughts came to mind. Leaving aside the enormity of what I have to deal with, I couldn’t help but think of how much we accumulate over the course of years. I am not by any means a hoarder – but I was quite surprised to see how much I had saved. Whose lock of hair is that in the water-soaked bag? My sons are in their forties with children of their own, but I guess I couldn’t part with that little lock from a long-ago upsherin. Now I would have to.

The table and chairs sitting outside were connected to a chesed I had done a while back. Actually, it was only the first part of the chesed. That probably is why we are told that if one starts a mitzvah, one has to finish it. I will not be able to finish that one.

I suppose some of the things in the basement were junk, but so many others were dear to me. There was the set of my father’s machzorim with larger print for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur that my mother gave me after my father died, with a beautiful inscription that only my mother was capable of writing. I still remember what she wrote, and that will have to be the memory I hold onto now that I can no longer hold those machzorim.

As I stood there, another memory came to me. It was about thirty-three years ago that my dear Aunt Sylvia died, and while my mother sat shiva it fell to me to empty out Aunt Sylvia’s small apartment. Everything Aunt Sylvia owned was in those two and a half rooms. And there I was trying to figure out what was valuable and what was not. Then again, valuable to whom?

I picked some things I thought my mother and my sister would like and I took some of the things that had special meaning to me. Much of the rest I discarded. But it wasn’t easy. I was crying as I worked on it. And when I was finished I promised myself I wouldn’t save so many things. Now, all these years later, I ask myself how it is that I indeed saved so very many things.

I think the answer is that while we live, different things have meanings to each of us. I saved the little card my son Zevie made for me when he was three years old in nursery school because I never could forget the joy on his face when he presented it to me.

I saved my children’s report cards, from first grade on, even those of the daughters who are now grandmothers themselves because – well, just because. I saved some of the birthday cards my parents gave me over the years because, as I mentioned above, my mother had such a wonderful way with words. And the list goes on and on.

My husband’s medical school diploma and other items related to his medical achievements were in the basement along with some of his other things. In a strange way I would feel a sense of comfort in touching them. It will soon be his second yahrzeit, and I miss him very much.

My eyes filled with tears as I stared at what was in those clear garbage bags, but then I quickly admonished myself. How could I tear up over “things” when I have my life and my health? But I stopped beating myself up about it almost as soon as I started.

Four More Years

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Once again I find myself congratulating the man I did not vote for. Barack Obama has been re-elected for a 2nd term as President of the United States.

As I said in my endorsement of his opponent, the President is a good and decent man. I don’t think he has been a bad President. He just hasn’t been a great President. His economic policies have not done enough to improve the economy. I thought a return to a more Reagan like approach was the way to go. But the country disagreed. Taxes will now increase and I don’t see how taking money out of the hands of the consumer is going to get that consumer to spend more.

When it came to Obama’s foreign policy, I gave him points for supporting Israel with deeds, if not so much with warmth. A lack of warmth that I attribute to his antipathy towards Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Not to the Jewish people. I in fact firmly believe that he has very warm feelings towards the Jewish people, genuine respect for Judaism, and a strong commitment to Israel’s survival as a Jewish State. Although I might disagree with him about how we get there.

The American people have spoken. By a very slim margin in the popular vote and by a huge margin in the electoral vote President Obama will be serving this great nation for another four years. Congratulations Mr. President.

I first want to echo what Governor Romney said in his concession speech: I hope and pray that the President succeeds in his task of restoring the economy to one of prosperity and in his goal to secure Israel’s existence. I also hope that he stays the course in his determination to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons. I only pray that he does not wait too long to take military action if (and I emphasized “if”) it is needed.

My biggest concern with respect to Israel is that comment he made to Putin about having more flexibility after the election. I’m not sure what that means. But if it means pressuring Israel to make more concessions without some sort of quid pro quo from the Palestinians, that is not a formula for peace. It is a formula for instability and terrorism on the part of the Islamists who will take advantage of any weakness caused by American pressure on Israel. But all that remains to be seen.

What direction Obama’s foreign policy will take can be seen by who the President chooses as Secretary of State for his 2nd term. My hope is that he will take someone that is not “more even handed” which is a code word for pro Palestinian.

Among the candidates I have heard mentioned by pundits for the post is John Kerry. Not a fan. He claims to be pro Israel. But I don’t trust this opportunistic flip-flopper.

I wonder if the President has considered Joe Lieberman. I know he’s available. And his foreign policy credentials are impeccable. As is his integrity. If the President does not want to be surrounded by “yes men” then Joe Lieberman would be a good choice.

Of course it will probably not be either one of those men. We’ll see. As I indicated – who the President picks will foreshadow what direction his foreign policy will take. I sure hope it is someone more like Lieberman than it is someone like Kerry.

I have also heard the name Jack Lew mentioned as a possible new Secretary of the Treasury to replace Tim Geithner. That too would be a good choice. Lew was the director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under Bill Clinton. The OMB is a cabinet level White House office that devises and submits the president’s annual budget proposal to Congress. It sure would be nice to go back to the Clinton Era economy…

I mentioned at the time of my endorsement of Romney that it took me a while to decide who to vote for. That’s because I didn’t see all that much of a difference in policy with respect to the Middle East, nor did I see any solutions to our economic problems coming out of either candidate. This is still true. We will have to wait what happens. As I said, I hope the President succeeds in returning the economy to Clinton era prosperity. I hope his foreign policy benefits the State of Israel. And that his domestic policies benefit the country.

Haveil Havalim #384

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Throwing this one together quickly, so my apologies if I miss out on some posts that were submitted (or not received at all).

Haveil Havalim is a great idea (I’m not going to post the normal shpiel here – just let me say it’s our way of sharing a whole bunch of interesting blogs and blog posts that were posted this last week in the Jewish-Israel blogsphere. What happens is a lot of bloggers submit their posts to one blogger, who puts them together to weave a post. Unfortunately, in the last few weeks, the process seems to have gotten bogged down and the mechanism for submission just isn’t going smoothly. I only received a few posts – not nearly as many as I usually do…so I’m going to try to go to some of my favorites and pull them in here anyway, in addition to those that were sent to me…here’s hoping next time goes more smoothly.

Disclaimer: I am posting links to other blogs – this does not constitute an endorsement of any political or religious views – simply a way of sharing ideas. If you have a comment about the content of a post, please make the content on that site so that the poster can respond.

Sandy and the Jews

A huge story this week was Sandy – in the United States, of course, but also here in Israel. As usual, Muqata is great for showing glimpses of life here. The post showing one cartoon spoke to me so loudly. I had to look at it a few times to “get it.” The first time, I only looked at the TV and the example of the dismay the Israelis felt at seeing the devastation. It was only the second time that I looked past the television to the rest of the living room.

Elections – Here and There

The other big story, besides Sandy, was the upcoming elections – both in Israel and, of course, in the United States. Since I’ve made my personal feelings about the upcoming US elections clear on this blog, I will use my write as host to select not a balanced view of the upcoming elections, but certainly a fair view:

Israel Matsav posted about Rudy Giuliani’s comments about Obama here.

Daled Amos presents Arlene Kushner Takes On Alan Dershowitz About Obama

Isramom kicks off the discussion of Israel’s upcoming elections in her post: The Road to the 19th Knesset. It’s an interesting read – especially for someone like me who has left the Likud party for what I believe will be greener pastures. Batya also discusses the Israeli elections in her post Polls, Elections, and the Israeli Political Spectrum.

Israel

Forever working hard to bring an awareness of the plight of Israeli citizens who live in the South of Israel, Miriam Goodman posted Israelis Under Attack! Weapons of Choice: Missiles, Firebombs, Boulders and More…. Join her Facebook group to keep up with what is happening!
This week there will be an Erez Zikaron – a gathering in memory of RivkA Matitya, who passed away two years ago. Her blog Coffee and Chemo is a lesson for all parents – those suffering from catastrophic illnesses and those blessed with health – on how to be better parents. For information on the evening (Monday night, November 5th in Jerusalem), clickhere.You can also watch an amazing series on Coping with Adversity on YouTube – part 1 of RivkA’s talk is here.
Knights and Dragons in Jerusalem? Apparently so – see Real Jerusalem Streets for a treat.

Life in General

Ever have really hard days? We all do. How you cope with them is a measure of so many things. Here are some wonderful life lessons and advice from Rickismom on how to cope with The HARD Days.

Judaism and Religion

One of the goals of Haveil Havalim, I think, is to expose ourselves to new blogs. I have to admit (perhaps with a bit of embarrassment), that I haven’t been to this one before: Frozen Challah writes asks the question, What’s your view on tattoos?

Susan Barnes presents Beginning the Visioning Process about her synagogues decision to launch a visioning process this fall.
Visit a Soldier’s Mother.

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