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April 24, 2014 / 24 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘five’

Mrs. Mike’s Lasting Lesson

Friday, August 9th, 2013

What an opportunity for 15 and 16-year-old girls! Learn the mitzvot that pertain to women and win an all-expenses paid trip to summer camp for 10 days, including the roundtrip flight from Israel to San Diego, California and back.

Our daughter Shira quickly signed up.

In fact, she was so excited, that once a week, Shira would travel over two hours in each direction to Mrs. Mike, spend the evening at her house and return well after midnight, then awake the following morning before seven a.m. for another day at Ilit, the excellent Jerusalem seminary she attends.

Mrs. Mike became something of an epiphany in our house. “I have Mrs. Mike tonight,” “I’m going to Mrs. Mike…” “Mrs. Mike…”

Who was Mrs. Mike?

A twenty-something teacher, Mrs. Mike previously taught at Ilit. In memory of her father and younger sister, who had both recently passed away, she dedicated herself to creating a program (totally independent of the seminary) for 15 and 16-year-old girls. In the merit of her beloved family members, these young women learned all the mitzvot that pertain to females. Mrs. Mike researched and prepared lessons. She taught the group from the verses in the Torah, the Commentaries, Sefer haChinuch, the Chofetz Chaim’s Sefer HaMitzvot and others.

Our daughter would tell us glowing stories about how Mrs. Mike made the pesukim come alive, tricks she taught them to memorize and recall the mitzvot, how each mitzvah perfectly fit women… It was as much Mrs. Mike as it was the material they were learning. Somehow, everything just clicked.

As sweet as the trip sounded, the girls didn’t learn for the prize. Mrs. Mike’s affinity to connect with each one of her talmidot, her inimitable teaching style and the masterful way she presented the mitzvot - the eleven girls drank her every word, they really learned l’shma… and became a tight-knit group of friends as well.

There was one catch, though. Mrs. Mike never dreamed she’d have eleven students coming to her house every week for a year, learning the mitzvot, memorizing them and being tested on them. She hoped to find four or five interested girls – in fact, she began because one person was willing to sponsor airplane tickets and camp for five girls. Overwhelmed with eleven, she spent the year attempting to raise funding for the extra tickets.

We, like all the parents, hoped Mrs. Mike would find sponsors for all the girls. In our eyes, Mrs. Mike is a hero, a role model for our daughter and the rest of her group. No, she didn’t walk on the moon or tightrope her way across the Grand Canyon, but, in an unassuming way, she did what she could to help Klal Yisrael, elevate the neshamot of her loved ones and positively affect the lives of those she could reach.

A modest woman, she valiantly tried to secure funding… but being an excellent educator and molder of seminary students and a talented fundraiser are two distinct creatures. As the year continued, her success in teaching was equaled by her inability to find a way to take more than five of the girls. It wasn’t Mrs. Mike’s fault, and no one was blaming her. She traveled to America, she was constantly contacting possible donors and making every effort to find the funds necessary… but she wasn’t blessed with success.

Nevertheless, her troops continued to digest the weekly lessons, confident that somehow they’d all be able to attend the camp.

Sadly, in June, she had no choice but to explain to the girls that she was forced to pick five – and only five – because she couldn’t finance more than five flights.

Missing the class for the first time all year, Shira was with us the night of the drawing, attending a family wedding. Towards the end of the simcha, Shira called a friend to find out the results. With a smile, she told us, “I didn’t win.” She took it well, very well. My disdain for lotteries (and my acumen for losing – now inherited by our daughter) grew even stronger.

Without missing a beat, Shira continued to attend Mrs. Mike’s class for the next few weeks as the school year was winding to an end. She remained as dedicated as ever. I was amazed at how well she took the disappointment and what a good soldier she was, marching onward as if nothing happened.

She even asked me to help her prepare a presentation she would be giving the mothers in English – Mrs. Mike assigned each girl a particular mitzvah to speak about.

A few weeks after the drawing, I was home, when Shira zipped past, in typical teenager style, head cocked to the phone, when I overheard her saying, “You need my passport number? O.K. Yes, I’m very excited. Thank you very, very much…”

After she hung up, I said “Shira, what was that?”

Was one of the girls unable to fly? Was Shira taking someone’s place? I was hesitant to express happiness… I didn’t want to hear Shira won while another girl would sit home disappointed – we knew that feeling all too well.

Shira responded, “Mrs. Mike called. She decided that if we fly Chanukah time instead of during the summer, tickets are much cheaper and all the girls can go… so she postponed the trip until Chanukah.”

That’s Mrs. Mike; she just couldn’t leave any of her students disappointed. I thought about the presentation I was preparing for Shira. It opened with a welcoming joke, a fascinating bit of Kabbalah, questions from Rishomin, a beautiful answer tying everything together… but maybe I’ll just shelve it and have Shira read this piece that you’re reading now –Mrs. Mike’s topic for her to speak about was v’ahavta l’re-echa kamocha – “love thy friend as thyself.”

For those interested in partnering; Mrs. Mike’s program is a U.S. tax deductible nonprofit and is authorized to give tax receipts. Checks should be made out to Ahavas Torah. In Israel, they can be mailed to Birkat Avraham 18/9, Ramat Shlomo, Jerusalem, Israel 97436 C/O Mrs.Tzirel Mike. In the U.S., checks can be mailed to 3226 Fallstaff Rd. Baltimore, MD 21215 C/O Mrs. Esther Samuel. Anyone with questions about joining next year’s course or creating a group in their own community can contact Mrs. Mike at ohryisroelproject@gmail.com

US, Setting Example For Israel, Releases Taliban Terrorists

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

On 28 July, Jonathan Tobin asked, at Commentary, if the U.S. would release terrorist killers as a precondition for talks – the measure Secretary of State John Kerry was demanding of Israel.

A couple of days later, in an almost supernaturally handy turn of events, we had the answer: yes.  The U.S. did exactly that at the end of July, agreeing to release five Taliban terrorists we’ve been holding at Guantanamo, in order to jumpstart the initiative – mainly ours – for talks with the Taliban.

Daniel Greenfield points out at FrontPage that in June, the Taliban offered to exchange U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl for the five Taliban at Gitmo.  The Haqqani network of the Pakistan Taliban has been holding Bergdahl since late June or early July of 2009, shortly after he went missing close to Pakistan’s northwestern tribal areas on the border with Afghanistan.

But the Gitmo Five were released without an exchange for SGT Bergdahl taking place.  This will have to be a blow to his family in Idaho (not to mention a blow to Bergdahl).

It will also be another blow to U.S. credibility, already on the ropes.  It certainly dents the credibility of detention as a deterrent to terrorism.  Kenneth Roth, director of Human Rights Watch, had a hilariously timed oped in Friday’s Washington Post online in which he argued that the Obama administration should declare that the “war against al Qaeda” – yes, that al Qaeda; the one that has our embassies shut down across the Muslim world this weekend – is over.  Instead of acting on a war footing and killing terrorists, says Mr. Roth, we should be going with President Obama’s own expressed preference to “detain, interrogate, and prosecute” them.

Now, I have been a critic myself of Obama’s overreliance on drone killings as a method.  And detention and interrogation, while important for intelligence gathering, are not methods of deterrence, nor is prosecution.  I don’t argue for them as a substitute for drone attacks.

I’m getting those points out of the way so we can focus on what matters here, which is that detention is as close to meaningless as makes no difference, if we’re just going to turn terrorists loose anyway, to everyone we might have a yen to have “talks” with.  The Obama administration, just a few days before his oped appeared, provided Kenneth Roth with a conversation-stopping answer to his proposition that we should kill less and detain more.  The answer leaves Roth in the dust:  whether we stop killing terrorists or not, we should release the ones we have detained in order to get terrorists to have talks with us.

I guess, technically, there would be a purpose for detaining a few from time to time, on the assumption that we may want to have talks with their comrades in terror in the future.  This kind of preemptive hostage-taking is gang-and-guerrilla behavior, of course.  The degrees by which the mode of thinking shifts from “responsible statesman” to “mob boss” are not subtle here.

In any case, we can reassure Mr. Roth that the U.S. ended the war on terror in 2009.  Perhaps that’s not the same thing as the “war against al Qaeda,” but in the latter regard, Roth would do well to try and keep up:  al Qaeda has been “decimated” and has been “on the path to defeat” for a year or more, according to the Obama administration.

The die seems to be cast; we can at least hope that God really does watch out for fools, drunks, and the United States, because our president certainly isn’t doing it.  Given the reigning jumble of confused soundbites and incoherent actions that now masquerades as U.S. policy on the global threat of terrorism, we may justly ask, with our former secretary of state: what difference, at this point, does it make?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/j-e-dyer/us-setting-example-for-israel-releases-taliban-terrorists/2013/08/06/

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