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October 22, 2016 / 20 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘extreme’

Shalva Challenge: Josh Strahl Raises The Tzedakah Bar To The Extreme

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

How far would one person be willing to go to raise vital funds for a worthy charitable cause? For Joshua Strahl, surviving a ferocious storm in Iceland or climbing the foreboding Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, in order to assist special needs children at Shalva in Jerusalem is actually an “adrenaline rush.”

Strahl, a Brooklyn native, who made aliyah to Beit Shemesh in 1996, could actually be construed as a real-life contestant on “Survivor.” He is an avid lover of extreme sports who has used his passion to push his body and soul to the max for personal and charitable goals, even after surviving open-heart surgery.

“I’ve always been drawn to extreme sports and have always wanted to go to Iceland, ever since I had to write a paper for my Master’s Degree at NYU on international trade, where I chose Iceland,” Strahl fondly recalled. “Even before I made aliyah, I had done about 50 skydives and planned on going to Iceland one day. That country always fascinated me. But after I made aliyah, I had no more time to indulge in skydiving or other extreme sports because I had to earn a living for my family.”

Strahl dabbled in both the hi-tech and plumbing industries. Along the way, he began suffering from various health problems, culminating in open-heart surgery six years ago. Rather than getting depressed and feeling sorry for himself, Strahl decided to whip himself back into shape by running. “I started to do half-marathons in Beit Shemesh and graduated to other marathons in Jerusalem and Tiberias,” he said.

Strahl ascends Mt. Hermon

Strahl ascends Mt. Hermon

During a particularly enjoyable marathon run through Jerusalem, Strahl noticed a sign about raising funds for Shalva by engaging in challenging treks, including adventures in Iceland.

“Wow, that was like the perfect storm for me because I am extremely motivated to do stuff for tzedakah,” Strahl admitted. Raising money for Shalva had extra meaning for him because one of his young cousins, a special needs child, was enrolled in one of its educational programs.

Strahl said, “Shalva is a wonderful organization that has opened its doors to thousands of special needs children and puts them within a warm and loving environment. It is an incredible place where the staff is so kind, where both the children and their parents benefit from their services every single day. So, when I heard that they were going to raise funds by doing various treks, like cycling in Iceland and climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, I had had no problem training for and participating in these events. I’d deal with the achy feet and getting to the finish line, as long as people would donate to the cause.”

Shalva’s “Fire & Ice Challenge” in Iceland, which took place between July 4-15, consisted of trekking 37 miles across one of the world’s most active volcanic regions and then bicycling 155 miles through Iceland’s remote terrain.

The calendar said July, but this was Iceland.

“There were times when my legs were telling me ‘What the heck are you doing?’ because the terrain is so hard,” Strahl recalled. “The last few days were really challenging because you were biking into head winds of 30mph and the weather started to get really cold and snowy. It was brutal. But even when my legs were burning and my face was freezing up, I kept going because I was thinking about my cousin and the other kids at Shalva. This was also my once-in-a-lifetime Iceland thrill, where I got out and did my physical challenges on a glacier. All of these things, especially raising money for needy kids, add value to the challenge and even goes beyond my health issues.”

That’s not to say Strahl also didn’t experience a spiritual epiphany or two during a Shabbat pit-stop with other “Fire & Ice” participants. “We spent an incredible Shabbat together, where we were able to daven, eat delicious vegetarian food and even enjoy some good whiskey. It was something that I’ll never forget because it was fun and a way to unwind after enduring the physical challenges,” he kvelled.

Surviving Iceland whetted Strahl’s appetite to conquer Kilimanjaro in February 2017. During August and September, Strahl began a new and intensive training regimen by climbing up and down Mt. Hermon, Israel’s northernmost point, several times a day! The Israeli side of the impressive mountain rises to about 7,300 feet, far below Mt. Kilimanjaro’s dormant volcano peak of over 16,000 feet from its base.

“Mt. Hermon isn’t the toughest mountain to climb, and Mt. Kilimanjaro is no walk in the park. Which is why I wanted to see what my body would feel like after going up and down Mt. Hermon five times in one day. My motivation is to climb that mountain and raise $20,000 for Shalva’s kids.”

Yes, Strahl and his doctors closely monitor his health. And while there are always concerns lurking in the background, the word “quit” isn’t in Strahl’s dictionary, especially when Mt. Kilimanjaro beckons to be conquered.

For more information about how you can become a part of Joshua Strahl’s Shalva tzedakah challenge, you can surf his special landing page at:  climb4shalva.org/profile.php?id=11.

Shlomo Ben-Yissachar

Ethics Committee Reprimands MK Zoabi ‘Severely’ over ‘Extreme’ Comments

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

The Knesset Ethics Committee on Monday issued a severe reprimand to MK Hanin Zoabi (Joint Arab List) over her “extreme” comments during a recent plenary debate on the reconciliation agreement between Israel and Turkey.

During a June 29 debate on the deal with Turkey, under which Israel agreed to compensate the families of Turkish terrorists who were killed when they attacked IDF soldiers attempting to take over a Gaza-bound vessel, Zoabi, who had been on the ship during the May 2010 raid, said: “I stood here six years ago, some of you remember the hatred and hostility toward me, and look where we got to. Apologies to the families of those who were called terrorists. The nine that were murdered, it turns out that their families need to be compensated. I demand an apology to all the political activists who were on the Marmara and an apology to MK Hanin Zoabi, against whom you’ve incited for six years. I demand compensation and I will donate it to the next flotilla. As long as there’s a siege, more flotillas need to be organized.”

During the plenary debate, Zoabi also said the reconciliation deal is an admission of guilt by Israel regarding the flotilla raid. Several MKs began shouting and moved toward the podium to complain about her inciting statements. As MKs were pushing against the podium, Zoabi shouted, “They murdered,” and “Shut up,” repeatedly. The Ethics Committee described the debate as “Exceptionally caustic,” saying that “at moments it seemed that it could deteriorate into physical violence and undoubtedly harm the dignity of the Knesset and its members.”

The Ethics Committee said it had received complaints against Zoabi from nine different lawmakers. The majority of the committee members said Zoabi’s statements were “extreme, provocative, not anchored in reality, and at the very least pushed the boundaries of freedom of expression for MKs.”

“However, because of the broad freedom of political expression MKs enjoy, together with the fact that the disturbances to her speech didn’t actually allow her to complete a sentence or an organized argument from the moment she had stepped up to the podium, there are no grounds at this time to increase her punishment for the content of her remarks themselves,” the committee ruled.

In her defense, Zoabi pointed out that she did not say the words “IDF soldiers are murderers,” as she had been accused, but the committee noted that the majority of its members accepted this explanation “with difficulty” and that other MKs and the public “justifiably” understood from her comments that she was accusing IDF soldiers of being murderers. They also said Zoabi misled Deputy Knesset Speaker Hamad Amar (Yisrael Beitenu) by telling him that she intended to apologize for her remarks, and when he allowed her back at the podium, ostensibly to apologize, repeated her inflammatory remarks, making the incident even worse than it already was.

Zoabi submitted complaints against several MKs who shouted at her, including MK Oren Hazan (Likud), whom she said yelled “offensive” things at her.

Hazan was also severely reprimanded by the Ethics Committee, which said he “undoubtedly was the one who instigated the commotion in the plenum and continued to fan the flames, breaking all acceptable codes of behavior.”

MKs Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid), Nava Boker (Likud), Hilik Bar (Zionist Camp) and Aliza Lavi (Yesh Atid) were reprimanded with a “comment,” the lightest sanction by the Ethics Committee, for their conduct during the debate.

In its decision, the Ethics Committee called on MKs to “show restraint and allow appropriate discussions in the plenum, even when extreme remarks are made. As for getting threateningly close to the stage, the committee believes that doing so has the potential to erupt into violence and breaks the rules of behavior in the Knesset plenum. The committee wishes to warn the MKs that from now on it will consider serious sanctions in such cases, including suspension.”

David Israel

Study: German Extreme Left also Extremely Anti-Semitic

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

An online survey of 36,000 people conducted by the Free University Berlin (FU) suggests that anti-Semitic attitudes among the German far-left are more widespread than has been generally believed, Die Welt reported.

34% of individuals identified by the study as belonging to the “extreme left” agreed with the statement that Jews had “too much influence” in Germany.

Among the “radical left,” — which, unlike the “extreme left,” supports democracy and the German constitution, 16% agreed with the statement.

Altogether, 10% of Germans surveyed agreed Jews had “too much influence” in Germany.

The Freie Universität Berlin, often abbreviated as FU Berlin or just FU, is one of the most prominent universities in Germany.

Individuals identified by the survey as being on the extreme left and radical left made up 17 percent of respondents.

A high proportion of the far left agreed with the anti-Semitic stereotype that Jews are “greedy.” 34% of the extreme left, and 13% of the left agreed with the statement, while across the entire political spectrum only 8% did.

The researchers, Monika Deutz-Schroeder and Klaus Schroeder, also examined the use of violence by the far left, concluding that while the far left does not represent an immediate threat to German democracy, its propensity to violence is probably going to increase.

14% of respondents on the extreme left consider politically motivated violence to be justified, compared with only 7% across German society.

Schroeder complained to Die Welt that the extreme left’s connections to many politically motivated acts of violence are not reported. For example, according to the official report, 600 violent crimes each year are carried out by leftists who are not identified as “extremists.” But Schroeder argued that, by definition, “anyone who tries to create political change through violence is an extremist. Period.”

David Israel

New Republic Article on Feminism from Zion Is All About the Stakes

Monday, August 5th, 2013

The new issue of The New Republic cover story (The Feminists of Zion An unlikely alliance between Orthodox and progressive women will save Israel from fundamentalism) is about us. It is about Haredim, modern Orthodox, and women. These are things we discuss regularly online and at our Shabbos tables, and in our coffee rooms. The story is remarkably accurate and balanced, displaying a very deep understanding of the issues in Israel today. I recommend reading the article immediately.

Imagine a spectrum of religious fundamentalism in the orthodox Jewish community. On one end you have extreme Haredi sects and on the other end you have completely secular Israelis. On most things and for most of time the people in the middle, let’s call them modern orthodox, skewed their allegiences toward the Haredi side. Orthodoxy is the great uniter. The assumption is that any two orthodox people will have more common interests than an orthodox and a secular Jew. This is how things were.

In essence, the article argues that while naturally aligned with their fellow orthodox Jews, women from the modern orthodox community in Israel are finding themselves aligned with secular feminist Jews in Israel. The collective pain that is felt due to the oppressiveness toward women in the extreme and not so extreme Haredi world is taking a toll. Women have been attacked physically, verbally, and psychologically for a long time and it is starting to create a negative reaction.

Several times the article mentions signs that tell women how to dress. We have become accustomed to these signs. But the women in the article argue that the signs give license to thugs who want to make a statement to women. To them, the signs mean much more than “Please be sensitive to our religious beliefs.” Part of that is because these standards are entering the public sphere and are no longer just limited to the private insular neighborhoods. But the other part of it is that the signs are somehow justifying the negativity and violence toward women.

What has happened is that women who feel hurt and abused are turning to secular and Reform Jews for salvation. Feminism is a dirty word in many orthodox communities, even in some places within the modern orthodox community. But it’s becoming a necessary evil for modern orthodox women who are not feminists at all to ask for help from feminists. It’s odd when orthodox people are funding they have more in common with secular and very liberal Jews than fellow orthodox Jews. But that is what is happening.

The article also talks about modern orthodox women who sympathize with the Women of the Wall. I wish they would be more vocal but i was heartened to hear it.

Last week I wrote about finding common ground and room for dialogue between modern orthodox and yeshivish Jews in America. (See:
Maybe Rabbi Birnbaum Has a Point: A Solution) I think what we are seeing in the article in TNR is what will happen if we can’t work together. If the people in the middle start to feel like the liberal and secular Jews are more sympathetic to their way of life, the great split that has been predicted for years, will finally happen. Modern orthodox Judaism will become an independent group.

Some might say, what’s so bad about that? Well there are plenty negative consequences to mention. But I will mention the two biggest issues. First, the Haredi institutions will fall without modern orthodox support. Some might say that’s not so bad either. I disagree. Their services are necessary, as is their trap door into engagement with society. On the other side, without a connection the Haredi community, the modern orthodox community will be hard pressed to support its own institutions for lack of qualified teachers and rabbis.

It’s not in our best interests to see a formal split. It might happen in Israel and it might happen in America. I think we should do everything we can to prevent it. The first thing we need to do, is get together and talk.

Visit Fink or Swim.

The Feminists of Zion An unlikely alliance between Orthodox and progressive women will save Israel from fundamentalism

Rabbi Eliyahu Fink

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/fink-or-swim/new-republic-article-on-feminism-from-zion-is-all-about-the-stakes/2013/08/05/

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