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September 23, 2014 / 28 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘experience’

The Interview: Explaining the Latest Israel-Palestinian Controversy

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Originally published Rubin Reports.

Note: This interview is satire, but is very close to actual experience. 

Journalist: Professor Rubin, why is Israel making a two-state solution impossible by building 3000 apartments in east Jerusalem?

Me: In 1993 Israel signed an agreement with the PLO in which there was no ban whatsoever on Israel building more buildings on existing settlements. The Palestinians formed a government that received political control over all the towns and villages of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It agreed that Israel would continue to control Jerusalem. The two sides further agreed that the political status of these territories would be changed only through a mutual peace treaty.

In 2000, the Palestinian Authority (PA) rejected the offer of a Palestinian state with its capital in east Jerusalem living in peace alongside Israel.

Instead it launched a war against Israel whose main feature was terrorist attacks on Israel civilians. A few months later, it rejected an even better offer of peace with a Palestinian state having its capital in east Jerusalem on the exact amount of territory that constituted the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and east Jerusalem before 1967.

Ever since then, for 12 years now, Palestinian leaders have repeatedly said they no longer accepted a two-state solution or at least would soon stop doing so.

Israel withdrew from the entire Gaza Strip and dismantled all the settlements there in order to encourage the Palestinians to move toward a two-state solution by developing that area and showing they were willing to live in peace. Instead, Hamas took over, openly declared its rejection of all previous agreements, that it would never accepted the two-state solution, fired rockets and missiles at Israel, put on television programs teaching children that they should grow up to be suicide bombers, and that all Jews in the world be murdered.

Despite these positions of Hamas, the Palestinian Authority has tried endlessly to make a deal bringing Hamas into the government, a government that would have to be based on a platform rejecting any real, lasting two-state solution.

This policy was continued after the 2008-2009 and 2012 Hamas escalations to war with Israel.

For more than a half-dozen years the PA has refused to negotiate seriously with Israel.

PA schools teach that Israel should be wiped off the map; sermons in PA-controlled mosques say that Israel should be wiped off the map; PA officials demand that eventually Israel be wiped off the map.

Those who murdered Israeli civilians are glorified by the PA, which names, schools, squares, and soccer tournaments after them.

When Israel, at the U.S. request, froze all construction for ten months the PA refused to negotiate seriously.

For the last three years, the PA has concentrated all of its efforts on abandoning a negotiated two-state solution and getting their own state without making any such commitment. Now, the UN—including many European countries—has helped them achieve a non-member state status. Thus, due to Palestinian action the 1993 Israel-PLO agreement has been killed, every deal made since then abrogated, every concession and risk taken by Israel during this period has been deprived of anything in return.

Remember also that if the PA were to negotiate a peace deal with Israel all the settlements on Palestine’s territory would be dismantled. So if construction upsets them so much why don’t they stop it permanently by making a peace deal? You know who made that exact same point? King Hussein of Jordan. And that was in 1986. They ignored him.

Now in the wake of the UN General Assembly decision, PA leaders have been proclaiming that Israel is a racist state that shouldn’t exist, that the UN has now endorsed the Palestinian claim to all of the 1967 borders (which is not true), and that they will go to the international court to prosecute Israel for allegedly being the occupier of territory belonging to another country which has (not true) been declared sovereign over that land.

Reportedly, some of the countries that voted Palestine would be a non-member state at the UN asked the PA for assurances that they would not use this new status to launch lawsuits against Israel at the World Court. Within hours, however, the PA announced that this is precisely what it will do. The main goal is to get the court to rule that Israel is occupying the territory of a sovereign state and thus must withdraw immediately, with no peace treaty and no end to the conflict. Thus, as called for in the PLO Covenant almost a half-century ago, a state of Palestine would serve as a base for a “second stage” in which Israel would be completely eliminated.

‘Cheat the Reaper’ Event

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

The RASG Hebrew Academy staged “Cheat the Reaper,” on October 30. The program is an award-winning effort to alert high school students about the hazards of both drinking and driving and texting and driving.

Members of the police and fire departments and Hebrew Academy students simulated an auto accident staged in front of the school’s Fana Holtz High School campus, located at 2425 Pine Tree Drive. The event utilized video, live scene acting and makeup artists to bring the dangers and realities of drunk driving and texting and driving to the attention of students.

Members of the Miami Beach Fire Rescue Team and Police Department tend to mock accident victims.

As part of the scenario, all agencies that would normally be called upon to respond to this type of incident did what they normally would do. The police responded and performed the accident investigation, sobriety test and arrest. Fire rescue extricated the “victims,” stabilized them and transported them to the hospital. Funeral home attendants carried and loaded the “deceased” into a hearse.

Only the student actors and a few key personnel knew the “accident” would be staged, making the event a powerful and realistic experience to the onlookers.

For more information about this meaningful and important lesson contact Isaac Sochaczewski at (305)532-6421 ext. 136 or at isochaczewski@rasg.org.

The RASG Hebrew Academy is an Orthodox Jewish college and yeshiva preparatory school serving students from through grade 12. The Hebrew Academy’s goal is to inspire and equip students to achieve their fullest potential both academically and spiritually and instilling eternal Torah values in a changing world.

There Is A Season

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Title: Lakol Z’man: A Time for Everything
Author: Yossi Huttler

The Holidays are over (please, no applause). But if you find yourself already missing them, rejoice, rejoice. A pleasurable new compendium of poetry by newcomer Yossi Huttler will keep you warm until Chanukah, Purim and – dare we say it too soon – Pesach once again come into view.

In the collection, entitled Lakol Z’man, Huttler goes through the Jewish calendar, offering charming, one-page poems that help bring the seasons and their distinctive days into lyrical focus.

Thus, in Nissan (the sections are arranged by Hebrew months) Huttler includes poems called “Bedikas Chametz” and “Mah Nishtana,” and in Av, he has one called “Tears.”

The poems are easily accessible even for those without much experience reading poetry, but many contain a subtle and introspective beauty. Here’s one (called “Na’anuim”) whose transcendent imagery catches you by surprise:

hands shaking
lulav rustling
shuddering
like a G-d fearing man
now how do I
turn my palm
frond around
shake me up
likewise

Each one individually is certainly enjoyable (and that’s how they were written; as individual poems as Huttler was inspired by “the annual journey through the various minor and major holidays,” as he puts it). But when read together, in succession, the collective effect brings the reader on a path that both expands the inner tingling sensation that we get as we experience the Yomim Tovim and amplifies our anticipation.

Most of the poems are serious, which is to say Huttler is approaching the subject matter seriously, but he can also be lighthearted.

One Nissan entry – one of my favorites – called “Machzir Gerushato” (literally, “Returning to one’s divorcee”), and subtitled “Motzei Pesach,” goes like this:

re-acquainting myself
with you
I walk down the aisle
then, another
trying not to act overeager
you haven’t changed
(have I?)
so why do you look so different tonight
from all other nights
in the florescent light
of the supermarket
it’s only been eight days

Lakol Z’man is a pleasure. Buy one by e-mailing the author at yhuttler@aol.com, or calling him at 323-655-0973.

I Am Proud

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

As I approached the home of Irving and Miriam Borenstein in the Mill Basin section of Brooklyn, two things became clear: the pride they feel at being Jewish and their joy at living in America. On their front lawn are large American and Israeli flags with a plaque in front which reads:

Irving and Miriam

Never forget the six million murdered in the Holocaust and the three thousand murdered on 9/11.

May G-d remember them for the good with the other righteous of the world.

Inside their home the theme continues; their walls are covered with pictures, souvenirs and memorabilia related to Israel.

Where did this sense of pride come from? Join me as we learn a little bit about Miriam and Irving’s backgrounds and hear their incredible stories.

Irving: I was born in America in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn. It was like the “Yerushalyim of New York.” I went to yeshiva there and then to Harron High school. My father owned a shomer Shabbos grocery store. When I was 16 he passed away; my mother continued to run the store and at some point I began to take responsibility for it, but ultimately it wasn’t for me. I studied and excelled in electrical engineering, which helped me when I was in the military.

Miriam: I was born in Czechoslovakia in the Carpathian mountain region. I have been living in the states for 67 years. Carpathia became a hostile region to live in once the Hungarians took over. First, they put all the Jews in a ghetto. I was in a ghetto called Izah for 6 weeks before they transported us to Auschwitz.

The Borensteins in Germany after the war.

Mr. Borenstein, when did you join the service?

I was drafted into the army when I was 18, like so many others. I could have easily gotten a 4-D (a deferment) since I was a rabbinical student in yeshiva at the time but I didn’t feel that was right.

Were you scared to join the army?

No. I was happy to go. I had no fear. My mother wasn’t too happy about it but I was a strong-minded kid and running the family grocery store was not for me.

What are your thoughts about those who avoided service due to religious observance?

I am a Zionist. I told people you cannot hide behind the Torah. In fact, the Torah demands that we go and help our fellow brethren.

What was your position in the military?

Luckily, I was not in man-to-man combat. I was involved in the anti-aircraft artillery outfit. Basically, I was a utility repair soldier.

Were you ever injured?

I was hurt badly when a car near me blew up; I was unconscious for a while. I was hospitalized for 5 months in London with a fractured skull and malfunctioning kidneys. Eventually I healed, and those of us who were feeling better were given office jobs, so the office clerks could go fight.

Did you experience any anti-Semitism in the military?

Not really. I am as strong as an ox and growing up in Brownsville you knew how to defend yourself. I recall one incident where a non-Jewish man and I were reaching for the same butter during mealtime and I got it first. He said, “Just like a (expletive) Jew!” I flipped over the table and that was the end of that.

In the DP camp in 1945. Irving and Miriam are on the far right.

Were you able to be observant in the army?

Not really. It was hard. I did manage to daven with tefillin every day. One day my captain was inspecting the barracks and I was standing in the corner engrossed in my davening. He asked a fellow soldier what I was doing and when they told him I was praying he said, “If anybody bothers him they are going to have to deal with me!”

What about keeping kosher and Shabbos?

Impossible. The only thing I could do was stay away from meats. As for Shabbos, that was out of the question. The first time I drove a car on Shabbos, I thought it was going to blow up. They did let me go home for the holidays when I was in basic training.

Were there other Jews stationed in your outfit?

It was a 25% Jewish outfit with mostly New Yorkers. This is maybe why anti-Semitism wasn’t so prevalent. I did have to tell one Southerner that Jews don’t have horns though!

Is Half a Loaf Really Better than No Loaf?

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

I do not question Rabbi Zev Farber’s sincerity. I even applaud his resolve to right what he sees to be wrong in the way we practice Judaism today. But I do not agree with him at all on the way to do it.

In a recent article on Morethodoxy, Rabbi Farber suggests that we change the paradigm with respect to a woman’s role in Judaism. His contention is that women are (at best) inadvertently ignored and mistreated vis-à-vis their public religious personae. Their current place in the synagogue is where this is mostly felt.

Rabbi Farber mentions the fact that women are excluded from any and every part of synagogue service and are basically considered a non entity in the vast majority of Shuls – having absolutely no participatory presence. Even those Shuls that try and accommodate them with things like Women’s Teffilah Groups or putting a Mechtiza down the center aisle of the shul which crosses the Bimah is at best a piece-meal approach to the problem of giving women a greater role. That – says Rabbi Farber is insufficient and does not satisfy a woman’s desire for a greater spiritual experience in the Shul.

Indeed, men do everything. They are counted toward a Minyan; Daven for the Amud; get Aliyos; get to say Brachos over the Torah; get to do Pesicha (open the ark when the prayer service requires it); get Hagbeh or G’lilah (lifting the Torah after Kriyah and/or rolling it together)! All women get to do (aside from Davening) is observe men doing it.

Rabbi Farber would like to see all that change – a basic overhaul in the role of a woman in the Shul – to the extent that Halacha allows. He claims that the only thing preventing real change is an antiquitated paradigm based on a culture that no longer exists. That paradigm stems from a time where women in every civilized society stayed home. It was for those reasons that Chazal, Rishonim and Achronim as late as the Chafetz Chaim created and maintained the current non participatory role for women in the synagogue. Here is how he puts it:

Women were rarely public figures and were discouraged from receiving too much education, taking visible public roles, participating in the power structure, and generally from being around men. If any woman were to express superior learning or knowledge than a man in front of a group it would have been a serious breach in etiquette. This is why, according to Tosafot (b. Sukkah 38a, s.v. “be-emet”), women do not lead the Grace after Meals for men or read the Megillah for men, since it would be insulting to them (zila milta). For the same reason, R. Israel Meir Kagan, in his Mishna B’rurah (281:4) argues that women should not say Qiddush for men, at least in public. The Talmud offers a similar reason why women do not read from the Torah in synagogue (b. Megillah 23a), although they are apparently eligible to do so, as it would offend the honor of the congregation (kavod ha-tzibbur).

In today’s world there has been a radical shift in societal attitudes about a woman’s role. Today we find women in all sorts of public roles. Roles that were once the sole bastion of men. There are female doctors, lawyers, scientists, politicians, Supreme Court justices, generals, CEO’s of major companies and university professors, deans, and presidents. You name the field and women can easily be found there.

Women of every Hashkafic type participate in public positions once anathema to them. One need not look any further than the ultra Orthodox Hamodia to see a woman, Ruth Lichtenstein, as its publisher. Or to note that the daughter of Charedi Gadol Rav Yitzchok Hutner earned her PhD at Columbia University.

Certainly the role of the woman has changed in our day even among the right wing.

So – says Rabbi Farber – things like Kavod HaTzibur that were based on no longer existent sensibilities should be re-visited. And he suggests that the entire paradigm be changed so as to accommodate the sincere desire of many women to more fully participate in the Shul… and thereby enhance their spiritual experience.

Here’s the problem. Rabbi Farber is an Orthodox Rabbi and as such he realizes that no matter what we do, Halacha forbids an equal role for women. Acknowledging that at least tacitly he says that we ought to do whatever we can – where ever we can – to allow as full a participation in the synagogue experience as possible.

Up And Down The East Coast On Torah Tours

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

Some of the thoughts we generally associate with Shavuot relate to the tradition of learning Torah all night or the almost overwhelming amount of dairy food that is consumed over the course of the two-day holiday. It has become a routine, something we do every year as the weather starts turning warmer and our Sefirat HaOmer calendars come to an end.

Last year’s Shavuot, however, broke the sense of a familiar routine for me. I traveled to Washington D.C. in June with a team of three other students from Yeshiva University who were participating in The Aaron and Blanche Schreiber Torah Tours program.

Run by Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future, Torah Tours sends students to various Jewish communities across America for Shavuot and Simchat Torah to assist in creating a positive Torah-filled atmosphere.

My team was fortunate enough to be able to spend Shavuot in D.C. with Ohev Sholom: The National Synagogue. Aside from boasting a beautiful large building in the Shepherd Park area, Ohev Sholom is known as being the oldest Orthodox synagogue in the area. Under the leadership of Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld, it has experienced increasing growth and popularity.

Since it was my first time participating in a Torah Tours program, I was not quite sure what to expect. It was also my first time spending Shavuot in a community other than my own. Being immersed in a specific type of community for years has a bit of an insulating effect. You get used to things being done in a certain way, you know exactly what is required of you in order to blend in seamlessly, and you already have some expectations formed in your own head of what a community is or should be, based on your limited experience. That Shavuot was a chance to go beyond that, to look past the narrow confines of my own life and my limited experience.

One of the things that stood out about Ohev Sholom and its community was the incredible warmth and hospitality of those who invited us into their homes, and the genuine friendliness and openness exhibited towards complete strangers. No matter where I went or at whose house I was, I always felt perfectly comfortable and at home.

While the rest of my Torah Tours team returned home after Shavuot, I decided to remain in DC for Shabbat. I realized once it ended what an amazing decision that had been. Shabbat in Ohev Sholom was unlike any I have ever experienced in my hometown, beginning with a beautiful and uplifting Kabbalat Shabbat that remained indelibly imprinted on my mind for long after. The first Shabbat I spent back in Brooklyn was a bittersweet one. All I could do was remember D.C. and wish I could be there once more.

Reflecting afterwards on the time spent in DC, it was clear that although I had thought that I was going to be contributing something to another community, in reality I was the one who benefitted tremendously. What I experienced there was something that would stay with me for the rest of my life and become a part of my being, a part of the way I look at and understand the world and the people around me.

A few months later, I was presented with the opportunity to sign up for Torah Tours again for Simchat Torah. I enthusiastically signed up and traveled to Richmond, Virginia to spend the holiday with the Keneseth Beth Israel (KBI) congregation, under the leadership of Rabbi Dovid Asher. Together with a team of four other members, I got to know another warm and welcoming community and experienced a good dose of Southern hospitality.

While three-day holidays generally seem too long, during our time in Richmond it proved to be a blessing, allowing us to spend more time in a community that did everything possible to make us feel at home. Between festive meals with different hosts, Torah shiurim with community members whose feedback enriched our experience, a relaxed teen tish, enthusiastic dancing with adults and children in celebration of the Torah, and a lovely afternoon walk to the beautiful University of Richmond campus, our Simchat Torah proved to be uplifting and unforgettable.

Will Your Grandma Be a Victim of Financial Abuse

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Have you ever met the kind of guy that would sell his own grandmother down the river?

Since more and more elderly people are being swindled and financially abused every day, it’s crucial to learn how to protect your grandmother and other seniors you care about.

Why are the elderly so susceptible to financial abuse? After all, chances are that they worked for many long years and have achieved the wisdom of experience. While they were young and fit, they surely had the opportunities to protect themselves, so what makes them vulnerable now?

Three reasons the elderly get scammed

1. Generally, as individuals grow older they tend to become more isolated from others. Perhaps their spouse has passed away and their children don’t live close by. The loneliness and isolation that this creates can make a person more vulnerable and open to parting with money… if it leads to companionship. For example, if Grandma is suddenly bombarded with invitations to free lunches and seminars, she may at first go simply for the company rather than any real interest in the subject of the event. She may find herself “befriended” by the organizers and convinced to invest in a dubious scheme because her defenses are down now that these people have been so “nice” to her.

2. Modern technology. An elderly person who has little experience with computers and knows only how to send or reply to an email may easily fall prey to scams such as fake charitable appeals asking for a credit card number in order to make a donation, a bank password for depositing some unexpected funds that don’t really exist into his account, and so forth.

3. The worst threat of all: seemingly concerned relatives and caregivers who have their own hidden agenda. One of my clients recently told me that she had to fire her elderly father’s home healthcare worker because he had almost managed to get the old man, an Alzheimer’s sufferer, to write him into his will. The caregiver was caught just in time. And then there are the unscrupulous relatives who have been given power of attorney for a relative and they gradually whittle away all their resources until there is nothing left at all.

Sadly many of these offenses go unreported because the victims may be too embarrassed to admit that they made such a big mistake, or no one is monitoring the situation.

If you’re caring for an elderly parent or grandparent, keep an eye on what’s going on, both with their physical health and fiscal health. If you have power of attorney over their bank account, review it periodically and investigate suspicious activity. Find out what’s happening if unexpectedly large sums are disappearing. Observe all caregivers, and do strict background checks on any much younger new “loves” or prospective new spouses who suddenly appear.

Protect Grandma and other seniors in your life from becoming victims of fraud by educating yourself about how to be vigilant against scams and implementing  tips against elder fraud. After all, a broken hip may be easier to fix than a broken bank account.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/goldstein-on-gelt/will-your-grandma-be-a-victim-of-financial-abuse/2012/10/11/

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