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January 23, 2017 / 25 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘founder’

Why Moving The U.S. Embassy To Jerusalem Is A Big Deal: An Interview with Keep Jerusalem founder Chaim Silberstein

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

Talk to any Zionist these days about the upcoming Trump presidency and chances are the conversation will quickly turn to the hoped-for relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

It is similarly likely that many do not know that the transfer of the embassy is actually rooted in United States law. The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 stipulates that Jerusalem “should remain an undivided city” and “should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel.”

The law further states that the above should occur no later than May 31, 1999 – but adds the famous “presidential waiver” clause allowing the president to suspend the law’s implementation for six months “if he determines and reports to Congress in advance that such suspension is necessary to protect the national security interests of the United States.”

All three presidents since then – Clinton, Bush, and Obama – have availed themselves of this privilege, and the embassy has remained in Tel Aviv.

This situation may very well change when Donald Trump becomes president. Expectations are high not necessarily because of his campaign promise to move the embassy – the same promise was made by previous presidents when they ran for office – but due to his selection of David Friedman as his ambassador to Israel. Friedman says he looks forward to fulfilling his new job “from the U.S. embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”

The KeepJerusalem-Im Eshkachech organization (www.keepjerusalem.org) has been working on behalf of Jerusalem for over a decade. Chaim Silberstein is its founder and president. He and I write a bimonthly column on Jerusalem for The Jewish Press, and I recently took the opportunity to ask him his thoughts on what the relocation of the embassy would portend for Israel and the region.

Hillel Fendel: U.S. presidents have been promising for 20 years to move the embassy to Jerusalem, yet it has never happened. What are we lacking?

Chaim Silberstein: For one thing, this status quo, according to which the American government does not recognize Jerusalem as our capital, leads to U.S. condemnations every time Israel announces building projects in neighborhoods such as Gilo or Pisgat Ze’ev. So that’s one reason why we need this change.

On a broader level, however, American recognition of Jerusalem as our capital would inspire other countries to move their embassies to Yerushalayim, leading to its broad international recognition as Israel’s capital.

Are we not jumping the gun? How about first just getting the U.S. to recognize western Jerusalem as part of sovereign Israel, and then we can talk about eastern Jerusalem later.

You’re right that the U.S. does not yet recognize western Jerusalem. But the fact is that the Jerusalem Embassy Act calls for recognition of all of Jerusalem – both west and east – as our capital. The law calls for Jerusalem to “remain an undivided city,” and that this undivided city be “recognized as the capital of the State of Israel.” This is our goal, nothing less.

Ambassador-designate David Friedman is famously in favor of moving the embassy. Do you think it will actually happen in the coming months?

The six-month presidential waiver that President Obama most recently signed was on Dec. 1, meaning the implementation of the law is suspended until June 1. It is my fervent hope that President-elect Trump will not renew the waiver, and the law will then take effect.

Keep in mind that the Embassy Act provides for financial penalties if the embassy is not moved: the withholding of at least 50 percent of funds appropriated to the State Department specifically for “Acquisition and Maintenance of Buildings Abroad.”

Interestingly, the date of June 1 is very close to the actual date of the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem during the Six-Day War. We hope that, as a result of strong advocacy and diplomatic work, for the first time in nearly twenty years a U.S. president will not sign the waiver and the embassy will be moved to Yerushalayim. In anticipation and in honor of this, we at KeepJerusalem are hoping and planning to hold a special commemoration and celebration.

Do you see the PA taking any concrete action against Israel if the embassy is moved? 

Some violence can likely be expected at first, but let’s not forget that this is an American move, not an Israeli one. We certainly wouldn’t expect that the PA would frontally attack U.S. interests. On the other hand, they will definitely exert pressure – politically, diplomatically, even taking up arms – to have the relocation canceled.

Will moving the embassy to Jerusalem have a positive effect on American Jewry?

I don’t think most of American Jewry is really aware of what’s going on with the official status of Jerusalem. I’m also not convinced that the move will happen in one fell swoop. It will probably happen in stages – first moving some offices to the consulate in Talpiyot, Jerusalem, then finding a building large enough to house more of the offices, and so on. The embassy in Tel Aviv has some 400 employees, while the building in Talpiyot has only a few dozen.

Having said that, though, I think that U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital will have a gradual and important influence on American Jewry. It will lead the Israeli government to facilitate significant construction of more affordable housing, and more middle-class American Jews will then be able to afford to buy here, either for investment or for actual aliyah. All in all, the Jewish population of the city will receive a large boost from this move.

But moving the embassy alone will not guarantee the future of Jerusalem; there are imminent threats facing Jerusalem demographically, security-wise, and in other ways. More steps are necessary. By the time Trump takes office, KeepJerusalem plans to complete a comprehensive position paper, outlining the steps we believe the Israeli government must take to ensure that Jerusalem is maintained as a united city under Israeli sovereignty.

In sum, the combination of the relocation of the U.S, embassy to Jerusalem and Israel’s implementation of a concrete development plan for the future is the optimal way of securing Yerushalayim as Israel’s united and eternal capital.

Hillel Fendel

Anti-Trump Jews Petition Against Simon Wiesenthal Museum Founder Attending Inauguration

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

Rabbi Marvin Hier, the founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Museum of Tolerance, is one of six religious leaders who were invited take part in President Elect Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony January 20 (That’s Tevet 22 to you and me).

Which is why Mya Stark, a businesswoman from Los Angeles, is calling on the Hebrews to sign her petition which she titled: “Rabbi Marvin Hier: do not offer a ‘prayer’ at Trump Inauguration.” No idea why she put quotes around the word prayer.

President George W. Bush appointed Hier to serve on the Honorary Delegation to accompany him to Jerusalem for the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel in May 2008. He is working on a A $100 million Museum of Tolerance and Human Dignity to be built in Jerusalem.

Inaugural Committee Chairman Tom Barrack said that “since the first inaugural ceremony, our leaders have paid tribute to the blessings of liberty that have been bestowed upon our country and its people,” which is why “I am pleased to announce that a diverse set of faith leaders will offer readings and prayers at the swearing-in of President Elect Trump and honor the vital role religious faith plays in our multicultural, vibrant nation.”

“I am shocked and dismayed to see no such protest from Jews over Rabbi Marvin Hier’s agreement to deliver a ‘prayer’ at the Inauguration. Hier is the head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, named for the heroic Nazi-hunter, and the Museum of Tolerance – normalizing Trump with his participation will turn these organizations into a mockery and be a shame on the Jewish name forever.”

To justify her bizarre ire, Stark pulls the tried and true KKK card, writing: “Apparently, Hier thinks it is acceptable to legitimize and collaborate with a political figure who the KKK is literally marching in the streets to celebrate.”

Don’t forget Vladimir Putin and Naftali Bennett…

“Even more shameful and disgusting,” she continues, “it has just been revealed that the Simon Wiesenthal Center under Hier has been the recipient of donations from Jared Kushner (Ivanka Trump’s husband) family foundation.”

Note the absence of an explanation as to why a donation from the Kushner foundation is impure. Stark relied on a hatchet job report by Judy Maltz in Ha’aretz Monday, which revealed to the world the shocking facts about the Kushner donation, and using – for irony – the fact that the Weisenthal Center 2016 list of “Top 10 Worst Global Anti-Semitic Anti-Israel Incidents” had in the No. 5 spot white nationalist leader Richard Spencer, “who celebrated the Trump victory with a Nazi-style salute.”

Looks like guilt by association is back in style big time.

Stark reaches a kid of height of chutzpah when she concludes: “Rabbi Hier, redeem your name and the name of the important organizations you lead by dropping out of the Inauguration proceedings,” and, “Simon Wiesenthal Center, take disciplinary action against Hier if he refuses to desist from this shameful action.”

We’re actually looking forward to hearing the good rabbi. The petition, incidentally, as of Wednesday, is still shy of 1,000 signatures.


Report: Trump Connected to Hasidic Court Whose Founder Lived in Gold Palace

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

If you had to find the one Hasidic Rebbe that would attract President Elect Donald Trump’s attention, it would have to be Reb Israel Friedman of Ruzhin (1796-1850), “Der Heiliger Ruzhiner.” The Ruzhiner Rebbe lived in a palace with splendid furnishings, rode in a silver-handled carriage drawn by four white horses and with an entourage, dressed like a nobleman, wore a golden yarmulke and clothing with solid-gold buttons, and was attended by servants in livery. This very unusual manner was actually accepted and even praised by many of his contemporaries, who believed that the Ruzhiner was elevating God’s glory through himself, the tzadik.

Turns out that of all the ultra-Orthodox leaders Trump could connect with, he picked an heir of the Ruzhiner, the Rebbe of Boyan, Rabbi Nachum Dov Brayer, an American Rebbe who made aliyah as a teenager and has been leading the Boyan movement since 1985. According to the website B’Hadrei Haredim, Donald Trump has been a heavy donor to the Ruzhin-Boyan Tiferet Israel yeshiva in Jerusalem.

The President Elect, whose daughter Yael (Ivanka) is possibly the most renowned convert to Orthodox Judaism in recent years—and visited the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s graveside on the Saturday night prior to the election, has maintained his own ties with the Boyanner Hasidim, including attending their events, donating to their appeals and buying up pages in their journals.

Hadrei Haredim on Wednesday cites a Boyan Hasid who said that it is clear Trump is “connected to the heart of the Jewish people and there’s no doubt he is one of the righteous among the gentiles who will bring only good things to the nation dwelling in Zion.”

It should be noted that, despite his reputation for a palatial life, Der Heiliger Ruzhiner was known for his ascetic personal demeanor. A famous tale relates how one winter night, after standing outdoors to sanctify the New Moon wearing his solid-gold boots studded with diamonds, the Ruzhiner’s Hasidim noticed blood on the snow where he had been standing. They discovered that the extravagant boots had no soles, and so, when the Rebbe walked outside, he was actually barefoot. This is when people realized that the Rebbe’s lifestyle was meant solely for the sake of Heaven.


Israeli Millionaire Philanthropist, Founder of Emanuel, Motti Zisser Dies at 61

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

Israeli businessman Motti Zisser passed away Thursday morning after a lengthy struggle with cancer. He had been in remission since the 1990s, when he first came down with the illness and became sick again two years ago. Zisser, who made his fortune in real estate and construction across Europe and in South Africa, was engaged of late in a lengthy dispute with Bank Hapoalim over a debt that was growing to close to $300 million.

Mordechai Kalman Zisser was born in the poor neighborhood of Hatikvah in south-eastern Tel Aviv to Polish Holocaust survivors who belonged to the Hassidic dynasty of Sochatchov. When he was two, his family moved to the Haredi city of B’nei B’rak, where he joined the religious youth movement Ezra. He studied at the Netiv Meir Yeshiva and served in the IDF as an Armor officer while attending the hesder yeshiva Kerem d’Yavne. He acquired a BA in Economics from Bar-Ilan University.

Zisser captured the Israeli public’s imagination, especially in the religious sector, in the early 1980s, when he initiated the founding of the city of Emanuel in Samaria, the first urban settlement in the newly captured territories. Since then Zisser went on to build across Israel and in Eastern Europe. He was known as a generous philanthropist, especially focusing on Jewish communities in Hungary.

In the 1990s, after recovering from a bout with cancer, Zisser and his wife established the first bone marrow bank in Israel. The couple also contributed to the Oranit rehab center for children and teens with cancer. The Zissers also contributed millions of dollars to charity and educational organizations in Israel and around the world.

In 1999 Zisser purchased Elbit Medical Imaging, a holding company with activities in real estate, medical imaging, hotels, shopping malls, and retail, for an estimated $128 million. Zisser integrated his real estate activities into the company and restructured Elbit Medical Imaging as a holding company, focusing on real estate and hotels development, shopping and entertainment malls, industrial manufacturing and supply of components for the medical imaging, as well as venture capital investments in high-technology and bio-technology companies.

At some point Zisser’s company started a downward spin which eventually landed it in Israeli court, which wiped out close to half a billion dollars of its debt in exchange for transferring 95% of its stock to the creditors. Zisser, who lost control over his company, still owed more than a quarter of a billion dollars to the bank, which asked the court to declare him bankrupt.


A Founder of Dimona Reactor Calls on Govt. to Shut It Down Over Numerous Faults

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

Prof. Uzi Even, one of the founders of the nuclear reactor in Dimona, called on the government to shut it down after numerous faults had been discovered in its core and its mantle. Prof. Even told israel Radio on Tuesday that the Dimona reactor has completed its mission and is no longer needed. He added that he had been warning for a long time that the reactor, which has been in operation for 53 years and could be the oldest operating reactor in the world, must follow the example of its contemporary facilities, in keeping with international safety rules.

But Even pointed out that the Dimona reactor is much smaller than the failed reactors in Chernobyl and Fukushima. According to him, even if the Dimona reactor springs a leak, the resulting damage would be minimal.

According to Ha’aretz, citing a research work that was presented in a Tel Aviv conference this month, an ultrasound examination has discovered 1,537 faults in the reactor’s metal core, which are being monitored continuously by scientists. Other topics that were discussed by the same researchers were ways to protect the reactors against earthquakes and missile attacks.

David Israel

Failing in Order to Succeed

Monday, August 19th, 2013

The rabbis teach that we can only truly understand Torah when we allow ourselves to fail at it (Gittin 43a). Unless we push ourselves to reach for deeper understanding, where we inevitably get it wrong before we can get it right, we will not grasp the very essence of the Jewish enterprise. Rashi here seems to think that it’s the public shame of getting it wrong (and the concomitant rebuke) that strengthens one’s intellectual rigor. It is not hard to think about giving constructive feedback (“rebuke”) when it comes to moral matters, but do we care enough about ideas that we (respectfully) challenge others when ideas are misinterpreted or misapplied? How much do we really value the marketplace of ideas and the assurance that we as individuals and as a society get it right?

History is full of examples of leaders who acknowledged that persistence in the face of failure was more important than individual failures. President Abraham Lincoln, whose army suffered many crushing defeats in the early years of the Civil War, said: “I am not concerned that you have fallen — I am concerned that you arise.” A century later, Robert F. Kennedy echoed the optimistic spirit of youth when he said, “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” Besides for being tragically assassinated, what these presidents have in common in that their causes lasted, their legacies carried on, and they are remembered as being among the greatest and most successful men to occupy the Oval Office.

Very often, one can be lured by the traps of conformism (just follow others’ ideas or practices) or isolationism (just follow one’s own marginal ideas and practices). Our job as Jews is to break free from these ploys for mediocrity. We must challenge ourselves and the status quo to reach higher by engaging with societal ideas but without blindly accepting them.

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, the great-grandson of the Baal Shem Tov (the founder of the Chassidic movement) and founder and intellectual-spiritual leader in his own right, was anything but a conformist. He not only told his followers to be happy, but he also encouraged them to do silly things, highly unusual for a religious leader. Rebbe Nachman stated that each person had to fall in order to rise, and stressed the universality of this concept:

[E]ach person who fell … thinks that these words weren’t spoken for him, for he imagines that these ideas are only for great people who are always climbing from one level to the next. But truthfully, you should know and believe, that all these words were also said concerning the smallest of the small and the worst of the worst, for Hashem is forever good to all.

However, Rebbe Nachman went further, stating that it is “a great thing for a person to still have an evil inclination.” Even the tendency to evil could serve G-d, as people worked through these passions and eventually overcame them. To Rebbe Nachman, it seems, spiritual stasis is the only unacceptable path.

We must be willing to learn and debate with others. Ideas matter. Inevitably that will lead to some level of shame when we get it wrong, but the promise land afterwards is much greater. It offers a culture of more honest, informed, connected individuals who are willing to be vulnerable for the sake of truth and who are willing to be wrong in order to get it right. Our great rabbinic and presidential leaders wouldn’t have it any other way.

Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/failing-in-order-to-succeed/2013/08/19/

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