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May 25, 2016 / 17 Iyar, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘face’

Heroism on a Crowded Planet

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Two weeks ago, Nadav Ben Yehuda received from President Shimon Peres the distinguished service award, for rescuing a Turkish climber in the Himalayas.

Now Ben-Yehuda has climbed 5000 meters (16404.2 ft.) to the summit of Mount Kazbek in the former Sovier Republic of Georgia, and flew there a flag he had received from the President. When he reached the top, to his surprise, Turkish soldiers serving in a multinational force up there called him by name, greeted and hugged him.

I was touched by the story of the Turkish soldiers’ gratitude, as I had been touched by the story of the heroic rescue, back in May.

Then I started wondering, Wait a minute, the guy climbed up 5000 meters to singularly make it to a mountaintop full of soldiers?

But maybe they had been brought up there by air. Or maybe there’s a perfectly usable road going up to the top, but Ben Yehuda chose the really difficult face of the mountain.

This must be the nightmare of heroic travelers everywhere: that they’ll risk their lives going down some unimaginably dangerous path, through jungles or up mountains or under the face of the Earth, only to reach a destination populated by thousands of utterly civilized dwellers, complete with Starbucks and Gap outlets.

Which can be good, in case their iPhone 5 malfunctions.

Yori Yanover

The Curse Of Family Breakdowns

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Several weeks ago I shared a letter from a heartbroken mother whose children had shut the door in her face. Time and again she tried to open that door, but despite all her attempts she did not succeed. No matter how she humbled herself and begged, no matter how many people interceded on her behalf, it was to no avail.

Subsequently, I received many e-mails from people who, to one extent or another, found themselves in similar predicaments. The question we must ask is this: How can such tragedy befall the Jewish people, who throughout the millennia were renowned for their exemplary family life?

As I write this column, we are in the closing parshiot of the Torah. In Ki Savo, a litany of curses is proclaimed. Is that the way to bid farewell to the past year of Torah readings? It does seem odd, but those familiar with Torah study know that every word, dot and syllable is a blessing, even if at first glance it appears to be a terrifying proclamation. One of the curses pertinent to our subject is “Cursed be the one who curses his father and mother.”

How are we to understand this? The answer is simple and should give us all pause. The alienation between parents and children that shuts doors is in and of itself a terrible curse. It is a curse that is self-inflicted and does not require an outside force. Can there be anything more painful for parents than to have children and yet not have them? For children to have living mothers and fathers and yet feel like orphans? If that is not a curse, what is?

Surely that should serve as a wake-up call for families who have built walls of animosity, contempt and hatred in their homes. In short, that is the catastrophe we too often see nowadays.

So now perhaps we can understand why the Torah speaks of all these horrific situations as the curtain comes down on another cycle of Torah readings. Paradoxically, through these curses G-d offers us a blessing: “Leave behind the nightmare; consign it to oblivion; bring an end to your splintered, dysfunctional family. Start a new life and open a fresh, clean page in your book of life.”

But how we are to go about this? Perhaps our first step should be to attempt to comprehend the complexity of human nature.

“The heart of man is wicked from its very start,” we read in Bereishis. Contrary to what most believe, humans are not born good, compassionate, kind, giving or respectful. These are traits that must be learned and developed from early childhood.

When Hashem proclaimed the Fifth Commandment – “Honor your father and mother” – He provided us with the tools to enact it. In contrast to animals, who soon after birth are able to go off and fend for themselves, humans many years need the loving care, devotion and commitment of their parents. This is in order that a sense of gratitude, of indebtedness, might forever be engraved in the hearts of children.

As we noted above, these traits do not come automatically. They are not spontaneous. They have to be taught, and that is an education that can only be imparted in the home. It is something that even the finest schools or universities cannot teach. Tragically, however, in our 21st century culture this is a teaching that escapes most parents. Children’s obnoxious behavior is indulged and even considered “natural.”

Just contrast the manner of child rearing of years gone by with what we see today. Yesterday, we were taught to rise for our parents and our elders; to share our goodies with relatives and friends; to speak respectfully to one and all. Expressions such as “thank you,” “please,” “excuse me” and “I’m sorry” were all a part of our vocabulary. Even as we learned to speak we were taught these words; they weren’t just token phrases.

When a parent would come home, we rose in greeting. When grandparents came to visit, we ran to the door and kissed and hugged them, and when they departed we accompanied them to the door.

It goes without saying that curse words were foreign to us, as was violent and hostile behavior. On a personal level, I would like to share with you that in our family, every Shabbos eve when our parents blessed us we kissed their hands with reverence and love – a tradition that in our generation is unheard of.

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Winners of “Face of the German Tourist” Contest Arrive in Israel

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

An Austrian couple is enjoying the sites in the Holy Land after winning an Israel Government Tourist Office competition for “the face of the German tourist in Israel.”

Some 350 couples registered to compete for the Grand Prize – a 10-day visit to Israel and participation in a film for the German tourist campaign, designed to encourage tourism from Germany, Switzerland and Austria to Israel.

The winners are Barbara and Roman Egger, a Christian couple from Salzburg, Austria, aged 38 and parents to  a 4-year-old girl.

In their application, the couple wrote “Whether it is in the desert, at sea, at the Western Wall or the Galilee, Israel has fascinated us for a long time. We are eager to visit and hope our smile will pave the way for our journey.”

Upon their return to Austria, the couple will hold a press conference and will participate with the Israel Government Tourist Office for a year on various advertising campaigns.

During the first half of 2012, approximately 132,000 tourists from Germany arrived in Israel, a 4% increase over the same period last year.

Malkah Fleisher

U.N. Head Rejects Calls for Israel’s Annihilation

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

What’s wrong with that title? Why does it fill me with anger?

What do you mean he “rejected” the call for Israel’s annihilation? UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon attended the Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Tehran. That’s right – Ki-Moon went to Tehran, a nation calling for Israel to be wiped off the face of the map…to tell them that he rejects this?

Honestly, that message could have been delivered from New York.

I guess what really bothers me, what I reject, is the word “reject.” It is a relatively passive voice compared to the genocide it discusses. No, Tehran is not planning on asking Israelis to politely leave the region. What he wants to do – what he will do if he manages to cross the nuclear barrier, is try to blow Israel up; to erase us; to murder us – all of us.

He will aim missiles at my home, my children, my land. He will fire those missiles and really not care where they land – even if it obliterates my Palestinian neighbors, Ahmadinejad will be happy so long as we join them.

I’ve written about this before – but I’ll write it again. Thirty years ago, and I still remember the exact words written in the New York Times. I remember the feeling deep in the pit of my stomach; the shock of going outside and seeing the sun still shining.

Israel had offered to host a conference on genocide – who better than the Jews, who were the victims of Hitler’s genocidal “final solution.” It was to be a conference on not just the Jewish Holocaust, but other historical acts of injustice – including the Armenian massacre that claimed the lives of 1.5 million people.

Turkey was enraged – you see, the perpetrators yet live. There was no Armenian genocide, claim the Turks, and to prove it – they threatened the Jewish community of Turkey. According to the New York Times – some thirty years ago, “Turkey cannot guarantee the lives, nor the livelihoods of Turkey’s Jewish community.”

Those were the words – burned into my brain. I was sitting in the dining hall, eating breakfast and reading the newspaper – I can even tell you where the article appeared – front page, lower right hand corner…I stared at it. I read it again. I heard the noise around the room and everyone was talking and I was in shock.

They just threatened tens of thousands of people – what is WRONG with you all? I wanted to shout. I took a deep breath, left my food where it was, and walked outside. Surely, the cars would have stopped in the street – everywhere, people would be rallying. The world would not be silent again!

I went outside and stood in the street and watched as people walked past me, the sun shining brightly. The cars moved; the lights changed. What was WRONG with these people?

It is happening now – Iran IS threatening Israel. We are prepared, this time, to defend ourselves. We are protecting our own – we even have gas masks for our babies. A new design, isn’t that wonderful – better, longer lasting, whatever.

Ban Ki-Moon “rejects” calls for Israel’s annihilation? He REJECTS them? I do not for a moment believe it will happen. I do not believe missiles will rain down on Israel but that is because I believe in God, a God who has chosen my people long ago. He brought us to this land; promised it to us. He has returned us to Israel and He has returned Israel to us.

No, God won’t allow Israel to be annihilated. I know this – but Ban Ki-Moon does not; Obama does not; the presidents and prime ministers of the western world do not know this great secret of the Jewish people. God will stop the missiles – and it is likely that His Hand will be the Israeli army, our sons.

But Ban Ki-Moon’s “rejection” is too mild for the words, for the threat. To be worthy of his post, he should be slapping Ahmadinejad in the face – in the wallet, and in the face. “Who do you think you are?” He should be demanding. “Do you think that the world will stay quiet this time? Never again will we allow genocide such as you are threatening. If you dare, it will not be Israel that will be annihilated, but YOUR land, YOUR country, YOUR life, YOUR government.”

Paula R. Stern

How to Retire When You Don’t Have Enough Money

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Very often, life doesn’t turn out the way you expect it. For example, over the years you may have dreamed of having a certain income or level of savings when you retire. For various reasons, however, that has not happened. Maybe certain things occurred within your personal life that meant that you had to spend the savings that you worked so hard to accrue, such as a serious illness, major, unexpected repairs to your home, or more. Perhaps you started investing too late, or you put your money into investments that did not bring you the returns that you anticipated. Or maybe you were just one of those people who spent too much every month.

Whatever the reason, if you reach retirement age and you see that you are not going to have enough money for your anticipated needs, what should you do?

First of all, don’t stress about it. Although this is not the ideal situation, you won’t necessarily end up on the street. There are some steps that you can take to make your life a little easier if your nest egg isn’t as large as you would like it to be:

Keep working part time. Consider partial retirement instead of full retirement. Though older people do not always find it easy to get new employment, there are still places where the experience of a senior citizen is appreciated. Any income you receive means that you will be withdrawing less from your savings account.

Turn down the volume. As you are going to face a cut in your income, learn to cut down your expectations. A trimmed budget doesn’t necessarily mean you need to cut out recreation, just find cheaper or free means of entertainment. Visit the library, not a bookstore. Visiting free public museums, going for walks along the sea front, and offering to take your grandchildren for one afternoon may not be as glamorous as a luxury cruise, but they cost a lot less and believe it or not, they can be just as rewarding.

Pay attention to your spending habits. While some people watch their budgets for most of their lives, there are plenty who don’t. If you fall into that second category, it’s time to change. Start taking note of your budget now, even before you retire, and you will be better able to cope with living in reduced circumstances when the time comes.

Keep up with your investments. If you do have a few investments, don’t panic when you retire and start selling them all. Consult with a financial adviser on how to make the best of the investments that you have and what you can do to make the best of your retirement years under the circumstances.

There aren’t any magical solutions to retiring comfortably without adequate savings, but there are certain strategies you can use to avoid and fix personal finance mistakes.

Doug Goldstein, CFP®

Why US Ambassador Condemned IDF Probe, Boosting ISM’s Rachel Corrie Myth

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

This Tuesday the verdict is expected in a wrongful death suit against the government of Israel brought by the family of an American girl who died when she acted as a human shield against Israeli military anti-terrorism efforts.

As if there weren’t already enough drama and media attention surrounding the Rachel Corrie trial, it appears that U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro this week lent credibility to the plaintiffs’ case against the government of Israel when he reportedly criticized the Israeli investigation into Corrie’s death.

According to several news reports, Ambassador Shapiro told the Corrie family that the U.S. government believes the Israeli investigation was not “thorough, credible and transparent.”  That was enough to feed the liberal blogosphere, which touted the US support for the Corries, convicting Israel in their own court hearing.

But is that really the case?

The Israeli investigation, conducted immediately after Corrie’s death, concluded that what happened was a tragic accident brought on largely because Corrie insisted on entering and remaining in a military zone, and ignored repeated and escalating efforts to leave the area.  Further, that investigation found that the bulldozer operator could not have seen Corrie when she was struck and killed.

A little background, first.

In late January, 2003, Rachel Corrie moved from Olympia, Washington to Gaza, where she joined the virulently anti-Israel International Solidarity Movement and volunteered to act as a human shield in order to stop Israeli efforts to combat terrorism. She died on March 16, 2003, when she placed herself in the path of an Israeli army bulldozer that was in the process of leveling ground and removing booby traps planted by terrorists.

Between the time that Corrie arrived at the site and her death, the IDF issued multiple warnings and attempted to remove Corrie and her colleagues with shock grenades, tear gas and warning shots. The protesters refused to leave the site.

An Israeli military investigation took place immediately after Corrie’s death. The IDF concluded its investigation in June, 2003, finding that the bulldozer driver could not have seen Corrie, that the death was a tragic accident, and that Corrie had endangered herself by entering and remaining in a combat zone.  The investigation determined there was no fault on the part of the Israeli bulldozer driver, and that no charges would be brought.

What happened next within the US government on this issue is nearly as much of a deep mystery as many of Corrie’s supporters believe events surrounding her death is.

When Amb. Shapiro met with the Corries in advance of the court verdict last week, he was representing the US government, speaking to an American family, and discussing the death of an American citizen.  Although much has been made of his statement by supporters of the Corries, in fact he was simply repeating what has been described as the official position of the US government with respect to the Israeli investigation into Corrie’s death.

But where did the position come from?  Upon what was it based?

It turns out, the position appears to simply be the opinion of Rachel Corrie’s parents, the plaintiffs in the case against the government of Israel.

During his confirmation hearing in May, 2011, now Ambassador Dan Shapiro was asked by Massachusetts Senator John Kerry what steps he would take to ensure, as the State Department Spokesperson had called for, “that the Israeli government would continue a thorough, transparent and credible investigation of the circumstances concerning [Corrie’s] death.”

The State Department spokesperson was echoing what, in 2008, Senator Joe Biden asked during the confirmation hearing for Ambassador James Cunningham, now ambassador to Afghanistan, who was leaving his position at the US Consulate in Hong Kong.

Biden asked the future ambassador to Israel about the Rachel Corrie incident.  He asked whether, “in your opinion, has a thorough, credible, and transparent investigation taken place?” The Ambassador did not answer in the affirmative.  Instead, Cunningham stated that “The Department remains committed to providing the highest standards of citizen services  to the Corrie family. If confirmed, I will continue to press the Government of Israel for a thorough and transparent investigation of the tragic death of Rachel Corrie.”

Curious.

For those few who have followed the path of the “official US administration position” regarding Israel’s investigation into Corrie’s death, the trail leads to a letter allegedly written in June, 2004, to the Corries by Lawrence B. Wilkerson, Chief of Staff to then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.  Wilkerson was replying to the Corries who asked him whether, in his opinion, the investigation conducted by Israel was “thorough, credible and transparent.”  According to legend, Wilkerson replied: “no.”

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

School Resumes, Pro-Israel Advocates Get Busy

Monday, August 27th, 2012

Visit http://israelcampusbeat.org for the latest Israel trends and events on campus.

As students prepare for the new academic year, the campus Israel community is stocking up with new ideas for attracting participants, as well as using some tried-and-true approaches from past years. Israel advocates face the challenge of creating techniques that focus on retaining old students and recruiting new ones who have yet to become active on campus.

Many pro-Israel groups see the first month of school as a crucial period—a small window of time in which they must draw students to their cause. They focus much of their efforts on students who have demonstrated interest by visiting Israel recently.

At the University of Texas at Austin, Tracy Frydberg, a sophomore who serves as vice president of Texans for Israel (TFI), said, “At the beginning of the school year, TFI will contact any student who went on Birthright or other trips to Israel, talk to them about their experience and find ways for them to stay involved.”

At Penn State, sophomore vice president of Penn State Israel Alliance (PSIA) , Melissa Saks, said, “It is critical to branch out to those students who have visited Israel over the summer, especially at the beginning of the semester, because they are still on that ‘Israel high’ and really feel compelled to be involved with helping Israel.”

However, not all students have been to Israel and advocates must find ways to make Zionism and the Jewish state appealing to them.

Some activists plan to work with like-minded campus groups that can help them reach large new audiences. At the University of Nevada at Reno, junior Elliot Malin described an environment in which he and other pro-Israel students seek “to reach out to a larger group this year by doing more events with Christians United for Israel (CUFI).

“Since our Jewish population is so small,” Malin said, “we figured if we can engage with another energized group we can be more successful. We want to diversify the leadership to get those who aren’t as involved more involved.”

Reaching out to students in the 21st century involves a mix of traditional and innovative approaches. Many campus Israel groups use social media such as Facebook and Twitter to highlight their activities. PSIA has embraced another technology — television — to spread their message. They have crossed into relatively new territory by appearing on their University’s news channel. With approximately 40,000 undergraduate students on Penn State’s campus, the university channel provides an easy and effective way to reach a broad segment of the student population.

Advocates at schools without a university news channel can still reach a large and diverse student body during the activities fair; a day early in the semester when every club on campus is allowed to set up shop at a table and display materials, pamphlets and other unique club attributes to campus.

Nonetheless, sometimes the most effective pitch for advocates to give is a simple, face-to-face discussion.

“I hope to sit down over coffee with as many people that I can and find them specific roles and jobs within TFI to keep them excited and engaged for the rest of the school year,” said UT’s Frydberg.

Visit http://israelcampusbeat.org for the latest Israel trends and events on campus.

Ryan Yuffe, Israel Campus Beat

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/on-campus/school-resumes-pro-israel-advocates-get-busy/2012/08/27/

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