The “Purple Poll” focuses exclusively on likely voters in the swing states, which explains why folks in New York haven’t heard from their pollsters, but also appears to be a sound approach to getting an interesting snapshot of the state of the elections at this moment.
So, did the Ryan appointment give Mitt Romeny the predicted 3+ points edge? You bet your hanging chad it did (as of August 15):
Tomas Lopez was a lifeguard in Hallandale, Florida who saved a drowning tourist. Then he was fired. The private company that had hired him said he broke the rules. They claimed his action had caused a liability. The struggling swimmer he saved was 1,500 feet away from the zone Lopez was hired to guard. Lopez had deserted his post.
Tomas Lopez has become a national hero. His story has gone viral. It all seems quite unlikely. Lopez, who was making $8.25 an hour in this summer job, plans to go to college in the fall. He is just two years older than the 19-year-old teenager that he rescued.
The protocol for dealing with someone outside the authorized area was clear. The lifeguards were to call 911 and summon help. Of course, in this type of emergency, every minute is important. It can be the difference between life and death.
Lopez made the decision. He called out to another lifeguard to watch his assigned area. He knew his action would result in termination from his job. He did not care. He could not just watch someone drown. He later said in an interview with CBS News, “A job is not as important as a person’s life.”
Tomas Lopez pulled Maksim Samartev, a visitor from Estonia, from the ocean. Samartev was blue. The young man was dragged to shore, where Lopez administered CPR. He was taken to a local hospital.
Things have turned around. The company that fired Lopez, along with six other lifeguards who mutinied in the wake of the incident, has reconsidered. They offered the men their jobs back. Lopez politely declined.
Hallendale Beach officials presented Lopez and his coworkers keys to the city.
A civic-minded citizen who was on the beach and helped with the rescue was also honored. Maksim Samartev was out of the hospital and attended the event. He shook Lopez’s hand and thanked him.
Lopez said he thought he didn’t deserve all the recognition. He said he only did what he was supposed to do.
Perhaps he’s right. In order for society to function in a smooth and efficient way, there is a need for rules and regulations. From childhood, we are programmed to comply. We are admonished to listen to our parents, our teachers, the doctor, religious leaders and various authority figures. When we get older, that allegiance is often transferred to our business, to our boss or to our company. We are advised to conform.
One of the lifeguards who worked with Lopez had a poignant reflection regarding his company’s directive. He said, “Nothing can make that sound right. It’s wrong to not save someone.” It is important to realize that we need to think before we follow along. We need not abandon our common sense.
Following orders is not an excuse. The Nuremberg trials of German soldiers after World War II established that even in the military an individual is responsible for his own actions and there are directives that should not be followed.
Jewish law is very clear. When it comes to preserving a life, even the observance of Sabbath laws must be put aside. The sanctity of life is paramount. We are told that one who has saved a single life has in effect saved the entire world.
Tomas Lopez and his group of fellow lifeguards look like a ragtag group of skinny teenagers. They are, in fact, role models to us all. They bucked the system. They risked their livelihood. They just did the right thing.
The day school tuition crisis is not new. It has been brewing for years. School costs continue to rise while unemployment and underemployment remain high. And one also needs money to live in a neighborhood with shuls and mikvehs, to buy kosher food, to make proper simchas, to cover Yom Tov expenses, etc.
It seems that somewhere along the line it became mandated that in order to be frum you have to be rich – or at least extremely well off.
And of course you must keep your children in private day schools – or else, we are warned, you are putting your children’s Jewish future at risk.
We are told to sacrifice as much as possible in order to provide a Jewish education for our children. Give up vacations, cars, home renovations. Stop drinking coffee. Don’t send your children to camp. Don’t buy anything. Give all your tzedakah to the schools your children attend.
Give up everything that might bring you joy because there is no joy greater than your children’s Jewish education. This, we are told, will guarantee that our children will remain safely in the Jewish fold.
But what of families who have already sacrificed everything? What of families who are receiving financial assistance from the schools and still have trouble making those monthly payments? What of families forced to decide each month which bills to pay and which to ignore? What of families who risk losing their home to foreclosure or having their car repossessed? What guarantees do they get?
In an ideal world, families in need of tuition assistance would receive it and remain anonymous. In the real world, especially in smaller communities, this is impossible. The scrutinizing, the judging, the criticism of families who receive financial aid is intolerable and should be unacceptable. Those paying full tuition are frequently – and quite publicly – resentful, accusatory and spiteful.
The benefiting families are made to feel like a burden on their community. God forbid someone sees them eating at a restaurant. Heaven help them if someone notices them at the movies on Motzaei Shabbat.
Some parents no longer wish to be a burden. They want to pay bills when they are due without worrying where they’ll find the money for tuition. They want to save something for college or retirement. So they make the difficult decision to remove their children from day school and place them in public school. Other families opt for a Hebrew language charter school.
Here in South Florida, a number of Ben Gamla charter schools have opened in the past few years. The advantage of a Hebrew language charter over the local public school is that Israeli culture is taught alongside the language. So while the children cannot daven at school or study religious texts, they can learn, for example, about Chanukah and how the Maccabees fought and beat the Greeks. Just don’t mention the miracle of the oil.
Far from being ideal for frum families, the Ben Gamla charter schools offer an intermediate solution: free secular education for your children, with the added benefit of Hebrew language and Israeli culture and history, taught by Sherut Leumi (National Service) girls.
But what about Judaics?
You tell yourself you’ll send your children to the local Talmud Torah, but then you learn they no longer exist, at least not anywhere near you. You think you’ll hire a teacher from a local day school to tutor your kids a few afternoons a week – until you discover that not a few day schools have told their teachers not to tutor children who have transferred from day school to public school.
So these wonderful educators, who as it is are underpaid by institutions heralding Torah, mitzvot and midot, are threatened with job loss by those very institutions.
Perhaps the rabbis in the community would like to advise parents on finding tutors? Maybe they would like to facilitate a group-learning opportunity for the many children now in public schools due to the tuition crisis?
Some community rabbis seem to believe the majority of families with children in public school do not care enough about Judaics. I beg to disagree. For families who pull out of yeshiva for financial reasons, the cost of private tutors (if you can find one) is too high. For them, the idea of a communal Hebrew school program, geared specifically toward kids who began life in day school, is an attractive one. Something local, affordable and communal. A program like that will cost less per child, and even if it begins with just a few children the likelihood is it will grow in numbers as people see it working and parents are happy with what is being taught.
Yishai and Malkah kick off this segment by discussing Yishai’s recent solar birthday and a trip to the coast in Netanya. They move on to talk about a new prize that was recently announced, presented to those that are influential to Jewish history. The segment continues with a discussion about a recent trip to Israel by Russian President Vladimir Putin and its affect on Israeli/Russian cooperation and wraps up talking about a missing Jewish millionaire.
Sheldon Lisbon, currently city commissioner of Surfside, has filed to run as a democrat in House District 100. The new district hugs the coastline and takes in many of the beachfront condos, home to mostly retirees from the Northeast United States.
“This new district shares many common interests and I know I am best able to serve the citizens of House District 100,” said Lisbon.
Lisbon taught American government and economics in the D.C. public school system for 36 years. He and his wife also ran a small business in the Silver Spring, Maryland area. Since relocating to Florida in 1996, he has been active in many local associations, was president of his synagogue, and is currently a part-time teacher at three high schools in the area.
Lisbon plans to bring his small-business experience to Tallahassee to create more jobs, with special focus on targeted job training for our unemployed and underemployed. He also will dedicate himself full-time to fight for seniors who deserve high quality healthcare.
“It is time our community has someone who will speak up for the taxpayers instead of the lobbyists,” he said. “My pledge to the voters on August 14 is that I will work tirelessly for the residents of Florida, not the special interests in Tallahassee.”
Motherhood is often referred to as the hardest job in the world. For families thrown into the nightmare of pediatric illness, normal feelings of anxiety and worry become a daily reality. On Sunday, May 6, 20 mothers of seriously ill children exchanged the daily fear they experience for fun, connection, and friendship at a day “Just for Us” at Tigertail Lake in Dania, Florida.
The daylong experience was part of Seasons of Respite, a series of four workshops designed to give mothers of sick children the tools to take better care of themselves. Sunday’s session, billed as “A Day Just for Us,” offered mothers a chance to test their physical endurance in a fun, safe environment, and offered practical suggestions for mirroring these activities into their challenging and demanding realities. The program is co-sponsored by Chai Lifeline and the Jewish Women’s Foundation of Broward County.
“The challenge of climbing the rock wall gave me a small insight into how our kids are challenged every day,” one mother explained.
“When a child is very sick, mothers often assumes full-time care-giving responsibilities in addition to caring for the rest of her family, and sometimes, working outside the home as well. They feel they have no time for themselves, exacerbating already considerable stress levels,” explained Ellen Weiss, director of Chai Lifeline Southeast. “Seasons of Respite are days where mothers not only relax, but learn how to help themselves even when they are harried and pressured.”
(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR THE FULL JEWISH PRESS INTERVIEW)))
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of the Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center, received an award Tuesday night for her role in fighting terrorism through international courts and defending the civil rights of Israeli terror victims.
Darshan-Leitner accepted the Moskowitz Prize for Zionism’s Lion of Zion Award at Jerusalem’s City of David, along with Dr. Yitzhak Glick, Chairman of the Efrat Emergency Medical Center, and Zvi Slonim, a founder of Gush Emunim and the Ariel University Center of Samaria.
Nitzana Darshan-Leitner accepting the Moskowitz Prize for Zionism
Shurat HaDin, established in 2003, says its goal is “to bankrupt terror groups and grind their criminal activities to a halt – one lawsuit at a time.” The legal powerhouse works with western intelligence agencies and volunteer attorneys around the world who file legal actions on behalf of victims of terror.
But they just don’t file – they win. To date, Shurat HaDin has succeeded in winning more than $1 billion in judgments, freezing more than $600 million in terrorist assets, and collecting $120 million in payments to victims and their families.
Darshan-Leitner, who has been leading the struggle against Palestinian and Islamic terrorist organizations in the courtroom since 1997, represents hundreds of terror victims in lawsuits and actions not just against terror organizations such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, PLO, and Hizbullah, but against governments such as the Iran, Syria, Egypt, North Korea, and the quasi-government Palestinian Authority.
On May 14, the US district court for Washington, DC handed down a decision in the amount of $332 million against the government of Syria for its role in an April 2006 Passover-time suicide bombing which killed 11 civilians near the Old Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv, including Floridian student Daniel Wultz, who succumbed to wounds after a 27-day battle for his life. Darshan-Leitner helped his family file suit in US civil court against the Syrian Arab Republic and other parties alleging that Damascus had allowed the Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ), which carried out the attack, to be headquartered in Syria, as well as providing them with material support. The Wultz family was represented by Darshan-Leitner, as well as NY attorney Robert Tolchin.
On May 14, 2012, the 6th anniversary of Daniel’s death, the district court awarded the Wultzes $332 million in compensatory and punitive damages against the Syrian defendants, finding that the defendants acted intentionally in a nature and to an extent “among the most heinous the Court can fathom,” and that they did so without “any semblance of remorse”.
The judgment represented the first time the Syrian government had ever been found liable in US court for supporting Islamic terror organizations targeting civilians in Israel.
Most recently, she has taken on some of the world’s largest banks, who have knowingly done business with organizations associated with Islamic terror, including UBS, The Arab Bank, Bank of China, and LCB.
A lawsuit has been filed in New York against the Bank of China for providing financial services to the PIJ prior to the 2006 bombing which killed Daniel Wultz.
According to Darshan-Leitner, who spoke with the Jewish Press’ Yishai Fleisher, thanks to the efforts of Shurat HaDin, banks have, for the most part, been scared away from dealing with terror organizations and terrorists, for fear of being sued in civil court. This has become significant for Islamic jihadists, who rely on the ability to transfer large amounts of funds in order to maintain their terror networks.
“Terror organizations need a lot of money to operate,” Darshan-Leitner told Fleisher. “We may think they need it for the bullets or for the gun or for the missile, that’s wrong – they need it to support the population, they need to provide the population with free food, free education, free medical services, in order to gain their loyalty, in order to continue firing missiles towards Israel from their backyards.”
“Terror organizations have a military, they have soldiers – not wearing uniforms – but they are soldiers that get paid month after month after month until they are called to carry out terror attacks inside Israel. And to maintain this army, the Hamas or Hizbullah need a lot of money,” Darshan-Leitner said. “So by obstructing them from getting so much money, you are obstructing them from carrying out terror attacks. I regularly meet with intelligence agents in Israel, and they all tell me the same thing – if you stop the money, you can stop the terrorism. If you stop the flow of the money, you can stop the flow of the terrorism.”
In a precedent setting decision, the Chief Judge of the Jerusalem Rabbinical Court Rabbi Eliyahu Abergel freed a woman from her aguna status (separated from her husband but unable to marry another) and annulled her marriage, because the witnesses who signed the ketubah were not Shabbat observers.
The plaintiff’s husband had fled Israel to Florida and was refusing to sign a get.
According to Israel’s Channel 2 News, twenty years ago the plaintiff, M., a resident of Jerusalem, who was only 20 years old at the time, married another resident of Jerusalem, who one day abandoned her. A few years later, when she realized he was not coming back, M. hired private investigators to try and track him down, hoping he would agree to give her a get to allow her to remarry. The investigators eventually found the husband in Florida.
With that information in hand, M.’s attorney Shlomo Avitan turned to the rabbinical court in Jerusalem and sought the judges’ help. Chief Judge Rabbi Abergel decided to take on the task. He used his contacts in the Jewish community in Florida and was amazed to discover that the husband had remarried, and has children from his new wife.
Rabbi Abergel tried to convince the fugitive to release his first wife from her aguna status.
“I offered him a few tens of thousands of dollars and various benefits,” the rabbi said. “When that did not help, I tried to just reason with him, but this also did no good. He just decided to make her unhappy. The get was out of the question.”
A Jewish divorce, the get, is constructed as the husband’s releasing his wife from their bond, which usually entails paying her the amount specified in the ketubah, the marriage contract the husband signs in front of two kosher Jewish witnesses prior to the chupa ceremony.
Rabbi Abergel took pity on M., who was sentenced to a life of loneliness by her ex husband.
According to Jewish law, the get must be given willingly and without coercion. Attempts by politicians in various jurisdictions, including New York State, to legislate a means of pressuring Jewish husbands into giving a get were rejected by the rabbinic establishment as incapable of yielding a proper get.
Looking for a creative solution, Rabbi Abergel asked the court staff to obtain the couple’s ketubahh and summoned the witnesses who had signed it at the wedding. The Rabbi questioned them at length and discovered that they are “Eaters of treif food and do not observe Shabbat and the commandments.”
In an unprecedented move, Rabbi Abergel decided to annul the marriage of M. and her runaway husband, on the grounds that the witnesses who signed the ketubah were legally improper. This means that M. and her husband had never really married, and so there is no need for a get to permit M. to marry now.
The rabbinic court judges adopted the decision, as did the Jerusalem High Beit Din, which is the final arbiter in religious Jewish cases, just below Israel’s Supreme Court.
The plaintiff M. was in tears when she thanked the court for her new lease on life. “I’m very happy the court made this precedent-setting decision,” she said. “Now I can remarry at last.”
In the early days of the Second Aliyah, before WW1, it was rumored that then Chief Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook encouraged rabbis who officiated at weddings in communes and outposts where it was clear that fidelity was not foremost on the minds of the young pioneers, to intentionally pick unqualified witnesses for the ketubah—such as witnesses who were related to each other, which is unacceptable according to Jewish law. This was done so that those marriages would not be considered valid, and the offspring of the young brides’ extra-marital liaisons would not be mamzerim, who cannot marry into normal Jewish society.