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July 24, 2016 / 18 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘fourth’

The Fourth of ‘Jewlie’ – Who Cares?

Monday, July 4th, 2016

One of the great things about Israel is that when Christmas time comes around you don’t notice it at all. Sure, if you go to Bethlehem, you’ll see Christmas decorations and maybe a manger, but what Jew goes to Bethlehem anymore? The same is true with the Fourth of July.

True, I saw somebody driving around today with American flags waving from his car windows, but I didn’t think of the Fourth of the July. My wife, who is Israeli, asked, “Why would anyone want to drive with American flags flying out of his car?” Only when I noticed a post on the Internet did I realize that the Fourth of July was on its way. In Israel, we have more important things to deal with. Who cares about the Fourth of July?

The truth is that not many Americans really care about it either. It’s a day off from work, maybe a barbecue, a chance to do some discount shopping, and see some fireworks on TV. I am sure there are still a few patriotic Americans who get misty when they hear the Star Spangled Banner and see Old Betsy wave in the wind. But for a Jew to celebrate the Fourth of July? It is as absurd as an American Indian going to a baseball game to honor the day.

Therefore, to all you Jews in America, if you want to drink beer and eat hot dogs on the Fourth of July because America has been good to the Jews, then drink your Buds and eat your mustard buns. But after you finish your meal and thank G-d for the food and the land, don’t confuse matters and think that the land in the Birchat HaMazone blessing is referring to America. The Torah wants a Jew to praise G-d for having given him the Land of Israel, not for the old US of A. In formulating the blessing, our Sages wanted a Jew to remember Jerusalem, not Washington D.C. or New York. Go ahead and eat your hot dogs, if they are kosher. Drink your beer. But don’t think that the Fourth of July is your Independence Day. If you are a You’re your Independence Days are Pesach and Yom Haatzmaut. If you are a Jew, your nation is Israel, not America. You should be saluting the Star of David, not the Stars and Stripes. Remember that you are only there temporarily because of the curse of galut. Perhaps you were born there, but it isn’t your home. When a baseball sails into the bleachers for a game-winning grand slam, the American cheering next to you may give you a brotherly smile, but he really hates your guts.

So have a happy Fourth of July if you wish. But don’t pretend it is Independence Day for you. If you still identify with your Jewishness, the “land of the free and the home of the brave” is in Israel. Hope to see you here soon!

Tzvi Fishman

Four For The Fourth

Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

It’s no secret that Jewish immigrants to the United States enthusiastically embraced their new home. It’s also well known that many American Jews felt obligated to give something back to the country that had given them freedom and economic opportunity. In this two-part series, we take a look at the contributions of four remarkable Orthodox women, whose lives span the Revolutionary War through the great wave of Jewish immigration in the early 1900s.

 

Colonial Courage: Esther Etting Hays

When Esther Etting married David Hays on May 23, 1764, they linked two of Colonial America’s most prominent Sephardic families – the Ettings of Philadelphia and Baltimore and the Hays of New York. Both families could trace their lineage back to the 1492 expulsion from Spain. While the Etting forebears eventually settled in Frankfurt-am-Main, the Hays ancestors moved to the Netherlands. But by the early 1700s, members of both families were living on American shores. Thus, David Hays was born in Rye, NY, in 1732, while Esther was born in Philadelphia in 1746.

Bedford Village Courthouse

Bedford Village Courthouse

After their marriage in New York City, David took his new bride to Bedford Village, NY, where his family had set down roots. David’s older brother, Michael Hays, had a farm in nearby North Castle, while his younger brother Benjamin operated a tavern in Bedford. As for David, he was the proprietor of Bedford’s general store. Remarkably, they were all Torah-observant Jews.

After the American Colonies declared their independence from Great Britain on July 4, 1776, Michael’s farm was confiscated by the British and he was forced to leave. While we don’t know for sure why he was singled out for this treatment, it’s generally assumed it was because the Hays brothers were known supporters of the American patriots. Michael had more than 70 head of cattle and other supplies on his farm, and the British probably didn’t want any of that going toward feeding the American troops.

Their fears were not unfounded, because three years later the Hays family would be accused of doing just that.

Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton

Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton

In the summer of 1779, Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton, one of the most despised British officers – he was nicknamed Bloody Ban – had orders to make a surprise raid on Pound Ridge, terrorize the inhabitants and capture Major Ebenezer Lockwood, a widely respected patriot who was the commander of the local militia. Tarleton and his troops reached Pound Ridge on the morning of July 2, but the bird had flown. An American spy had warned the troops stationed there of the upcoming attack and Lockwood managed to escape in time.

Tarleton vented his anger on Lockwood’s house – which was being used as a hospital – and church, burning both to the ground (he allowed the hospital’s patients to be evacuated beforehand). On his way back to Mile Square, where he and his troops were stationed, Tarleton passed through Bedford and he was still fuming. Although Bedford was mostly a Tory stronghold loyal to the British cause, there were some patriots living there and they fired on Tarleton’s troops. Tarleton responded by burning down Benjamin Hays’s tavern, a known hotbed of patriot support.

Tarleton and his troops continued on to their camp at Mile Square. But this wasn’t the last attack on Bedford. Nine days later, on July 11, British troops returned, this time under the command of Lt. Samuel Birch.

During this time, both David and Benjamin Hays were serving in the Continental Army and so they weren’t in Bedford. But Esther Etting Hays and her young children, including her newborn son, were in their house when the British troops returned. Also in the house were the family’s two slaves, Darby and his wife.

Bedford Village General Store

Bedford Village General Store

According to the account that has come down to us from the Hays family’s personal records, a group of Tory sympathizers gathered outside and shouted to Esther to open the door. Although she was still weak from childbirth, she rose from her bed and went to confront them. They had learned that a group of young patriots was attempting to drive a herd of cattle through British lines to an American camp near White Plains, and they demanded that Esther reveal the details of the plan.

Since Esther’s seven-year-old son Jacob was among the group, it’s almost certain she knew the route. But she refused to say a word. Even when the mob threatened to kill her children that were in the house, she refused to give them any information.

The mob forced her back inside her home and began to barricade the windows and doors. When the last means of escape had been closed off, they set the house on fire. But during the chaos, Darby and his wife spirited Esther and her children out of the house, and they hid the family until the danger was over.

The Hays’s home wasn’t the only building set on fire that day. Almost the entire village was burned to the ground in what is today known as the “Burning of Bedford.”

David Hays

David Hays

Both David and Benjamin survived the war. Benjamin rebuilt his tavern. David and Esther also rebuilt their lives. Their son Jacob would later serve as New York City’s chief of police for almost half a century. As for the child who was a newborn during the Burning of Bedford, Benjamin Etting Hays became a prosperous and exceptionally well-liked resident of Pleasantville, NY, where he lived for 75 years. He gave pastureland to the town to build its first public school “for the full enjoyment and benefit of all inhabitants, without any discrimination whatsoever.” He also lent money at no interest and became a shochet so there would be kosher meat. Known as “Uncle Ben,” Benjamin remained an observant Jew throughout his life – although the town’s admiring Methodist minister would often refer to him as “the best Christian around.”

***

Jewish Benevolence in the

City of Brotherly Love:

Rebecca Gratz

Rebecca Gratz painted by Thomas Sully 1831

Rebecca Gratz painted by Thomas Sully 1831

During her 88 years, Rebecca Gratz founded and oversaw several social welfare organizations, and in the process became a role model for generations of communal-minded Jewish-American women. She was also the model for the fictional Rebecca who appears in Sir Walter Scott’s novel Ivanhoe. How did this Jewish woman who never married and never left American shores become so admired and influential?

Rebecca Gratz was born into a wealthy Philadelphia family in 1781. Her father, Michael, who hailed from Germany’s Upper Silesia, arrived in America in the mid-1760s. Her mother, Miriam Simon, was born in Lancaster, PA. The family, which made its wealth from trading with the Indians, land speculation and coastal shipping, were loyal patriots of the American cause. They were also founding members of Philadelphia’s first synagogue, Congregation Mikveh Israel.

During the 1700s and early 1800s, Philadelphia’s Jewish community was small, and intermingling with the surrounding Christian society was common. One result of this intermingling was that the literary-minded Rebecca became acquainted with several authors, including Washington Irving. When the American author made a trip to England, he became friendly with Sir Walter Scott and told him about Rebecca Gratz. After Ivanhoe was published in 1820, Scott wrote to Irving: “How do you like your Rebecca? Does the Rebecca I have pictured compare well with the pattern given?”

Astaire-070116-ScriptureMore importantly for Rebecca’s future endeavors, the intermingling with Christian society made her aware of efforts being made to assist Philadelphia’s poor. When Quaker women decided to help single mothers and their children, 20-year-old Rebecca became part of the organization, which was called the Female Association for the Relief of Women and Children of Reduced Circumstances in Philadelphia. Although Rebecca was the youngest founding member, she immediately took on the job of the organization’s first executive secretary and she remained in that position for many years. She also helped found the Philadelphia Orphan Asylum and served as its secretary for 40 years.

In her role as executive secretary, Rebecca did much more than keep a record of the organization’s activities. She also compiled the annual reports, which discussed and recommended policy and were presented to the board of directors. Therefore, when she turned to helping the Jewish community, she had already acquired the skills she needed to be an effective manager and policy maker. And early 19th-century Jewish Philadelphia needed her skills.

Mikveh Israel 1835

Mikveh Israel 1835

When Rebecca grew up, the Jewish community of Colonial Philadelphia was primarily comprised of well-to-do merchants and their families, but the 1800s brought changes in the demographics. One problem that Rebecca tackled early on was the missionary activities of the Christian women helping the poor. To counteract their influence, in 1818 she founded the Female Hebrew Benevolent Society (FHBS), which provided food, fuel, and shelter to Jewish women and children. It was the first Jewish charitable organization in America that wasn’t run by a synagogue, and therefore its services weren’t limited to a synagogue’s members. All Jewish woman could turn to the FHBS for help, and they did.

In the late 1840s, Jewish immigrants fleeing from economic and political upheavals in Central Europe began to arrive in Philadelphia and elsewhere in the United States in large numbers. Like most new immigrants, they needed help to get established. Some of them died before that happened, leaving behind young orphans. Once again Rebecca stepped forward to solve the problem and established the Jewish Foster Home and Orphan Asylum.

Mikveh Israel Today

Mikveh Israel Today

Yet she wasn’t concerned only about the material needs of the poorer members of the community. Assimilation and intermarriage was rampant; members of her own family had intermarried and she herself had turned down a Christian suitor when she was young. Realizing the importance of a Jewish education, in 1818 she began to host an afternoon Jewish school for 11 children in her home. The teacher was a young rabbi from Germany, and when he went to another city the informal school closed. While she didn’t lose interest in the topic of Jewish education, she had to wait until 1838 to found the institution that she is perhaps best known for: the Hebrew Sunday School.

This was the first time the Christian Sunday School model was adapted for a Jewish-American community and the experiment was considered a great success. Sixty children enrolled in the school, but finding appropriate textbooks for the English-speaking students was a problem. The only thing available for teaching “Scriptures” was an illustrated publication put out by the Christian Sunday School Union. Rebecca therefore had her teachers paste pieces of paper over text that was unsuitable for Jewish children – although, of course, the children tried their best to discover what was being hidden from their eyes. This lack of appropriate texts would lead to the establishment of the first Jewish Publication Society of America, which was headed by Rabbi Isaac Lesser, the spiritual leader of Mikveh Israel.

After Rebecca passed away in 1869, she was eulogized by the new rav of Mikveh Israel, Rabbi Sabato Morais, who said, “She devoted her best energies to service for the lowly and hapless, to improving the rising generation of her own brethren … She loved her people and prized her religion above all territorial objects; and she determined, doubtless when still young, that her conduct through life should reflect luster upon both.”

Astaire-070116-Hays-Chart

 

In Part II, meet Civil War nurse Rosanna Dyer Osterman and early 20th-century social activist Alice Davis Menken.

Libi Astaire

InterNations Report: Israel Fourth Best Place to Raise your Children

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

According to the InterNations survey’s Family Life Index, in a roundup of the world’s 41 top countries to raise a family in, the best three countries are Austria, Finland, and Sweden. And right behind those wealthy, industrialized European nests of socialized everything and the baskets of goodies from the nanny state, in fourth place, you’ll find a country that’s been fighting for its life for almost 70 years, with a huge security budget, supposedly enormous gaps between rich and poor, and ceaseless ethnic strife — and there, according to the survey’s criteria, is the fourth best place on the planet to raise your children. Go figure.

For comparison — the UK came in at 22nd place. The US in 25th place. France in eighth. New Zealand came fifth. Saudi Arabia is in 41st place, so, in case you were planning to go raise your kids in the Kingdom, we can advise you, based on these findings — don’t.

After the success of InterNations’ first Expat survey in 2014, the second annual survey report involved 14,400 expatriate respondents, in one of the biggest topical surveys worldwide. The information benefits mainly the group’s 1.8 million members, who are interested in moving, living, and working abroad. By providing insights into expat life in 64 countries, from Argentina to Vietnam, the report is a valuable resource for people seeking temporary or long-term relocation.

The Expat Insider survey included questions on demographics, basic facts about moving abroad, and daily life in the respective country. The questionnaire especially emphasized individual satisfaction with various aspects of expat living. Survey participants cover a variety of people from 170 countries of origin and all kinds of backgrounds. The section regarding the “family life index” evaluates the best places to raise children, based on three categories:

Availability of Childcare and Education — Israel was ranked 4th, behind Austria, Finland and Sweden. The US ranked 12th, France 13th, the UK an abysmal 24th.

Cost of Childcare and Education — there Israel was ranked 13th, with Sweden, Austria, Finland and Denmark at the top of the list for state-paid education for everyone. France was ranked 8th, the US 37th, right behind the United Arab Emirate, and the UK was in 31st place.

Quality of Education — OK, Israel was ranked only 16th on that one, which could, to be honest, bring into question the entire celebration we’ve been having here. So, it’s available and it’s relatively cheap, but maybe you get what you pay for? Finland, Austria and Singapore—where they cane you for spitting on the sidewalk—lead the bunch, with Kenya, surprisingly, in 7th place (it’s where US presidents get their diplomas, after all). The UK is in 9th place (which is still behind Kenya), France is 11th, the US is 25th. ‘Nuff said.

Finally, there’s the category of Family Well-Being — Israel is ranked 3rd on that one, behind Australia and Austria. Because, let’s face it, Israel is essentially one big family, occasionally happy. The US is 16th (better than we expected, to be honest), Sweden is 10th (on account of the suicides and those truly depressing movies), The UK is in 21st place, and France in 24th.

So the result of the survey, in terms of recommendations to Jews wishing to move abroad with their families, has to be Israel, because, let’s face it, if you’re making the move because you fear the growing anti-Semitism in your country, are you really going to move to Austria or Sweden?

JNi.Media

Goodbye Columbus, Goodbye America

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Originally published at Sultan Knish.

Columbus may have outfoxed the Spanish court and his rivals, but he is falling victim to the court of political correctness.

The explorer who discovered America has become controversial because the very idea of America has become controversial.

There are counter-historical claims put forward by Muslim and Chinese scholars claiming that they discovered America first. And there are mobs of fake indigenous activists on every campus to whom the old Italian is as much of a villain as the bearded Uncle Sam.

Columbus Day parades are met with protests and some have been minimized or eliminated.

In California, Columbus Day became Indigenous People’s Day, which sounds like a Marxist terrorist group’s holiday. While it’s tempting to put that down to California political correctness, in South Dakota it was renamed Native American Day.

The shift from celebrating Columbus’ arrival in America to commemorating it as an American Nakba by focusing on the Indians, rather than the Americans, is a profound form of historical revisionism that hacks away at the origins of this country.

No American state has followed Venezuela’s lead in renaming it Día de la Resistencia Indígena, or Day of Indigenous Resistance, which actually is a Marxist terrorist group’s holiday, the whole notion of celebrating the discovery of America has come to be seen as somehow shameful and worst of all, politically incorrect.

Anti-Columbus Day protests are mounted by La Raza, whose members, despite their indigenous posturing, are actually mostly descended from Spanish colonists, but who know that most American liberals are too confused to rationally frame an objection to a protest by any minority group.

About the only thing sillier than a group of people emphasizing their collective identity as a Spanish speaking people, and denouncing Columbus as an imperialist exploiter is Ward Churchill, a fake Indian, who compared Columbus to Heinrich Himmler. Ward Churchill’s scholarship consists of comparing Americans in past history and current events to random Nazis. If he hasn’t yet compared Amerigo Vespucci or Daniel Boone to Ernst Röhm; it’s only a matter of time.

The absurdity of these attacks is only deepened by the linguistic and cultural ties between the Italian Columbus Day marchers and the Latino Anti-Columbus Day protesters with the latter set cynically exploiting white guilt to pretend that being the descendants of Southern European colonists makes them a minority.

If being descended from Southern Europeans makes you a minority, then Columbus, the parade marchers, the Greek restaurant owner nearby and even Rush Limbaugh are all “people of color.”

Italian-Americans are the only bulwark against political correctness still keeping Columbus on the calendar, and that has made mayors and governors in cities and states with large Italian-American communities wary of tossing the great explorer completely overboard. But while Ferdinand and Isabella may have brought Columbus back in chains, modern day political correctness has banished him to the darkened dungeon of non-personhood, erasing him from history and replacing him with a note reading, “I’m Sorry We Ever Landed Here.”

But this is about more than one single 15th century Genoan with a complicated life who was neither a monster nor a saint. It is about whether America really has any right to exist at all. Is there any argument against celebrating Columbus Day, that cannot similarly be applied to the Fourth of July?

If Columbus is to be stricken from the history books in favor of ideological thugs like Malcolm X or Caesar Chavez, then America must soon follow. Columbus’ crime is that he enabled European settlement of the continent.

If the settlement of non-Indians in North America is illegitimate, then any national state they created is also illegitimate.

It is easier to hack away at a nation’s history by beginning with the lower branches.

Columbus is an easier target than America itself, though La Raza considers both colonialist vermin. Americans are less likely to protest over the banishment of Columbus to the politically correct Gulag than over the banishing America itself, which was named after another one of those colonialist explorers, Amerigo Vespucci. First they came for Columbus Day and then for the Fourth of July.

The battles being fought over Columbus Day foreshadow the battles to be fought over the Fourth of July. As Columbus Day joins the list of banned holidays in more cities, one day there may not be a Fourth of July, just a day of Native Resistance to remember the atrocities of the colonists with PBS documentaries comparing George Washington to Hitler.

These documentaries already exist, they just haven’t gone mainstream. Yet.

We celebrate Columbus Day and the Fourth of July because history is written by the winners. Had the Aztecs, the Mayans or the Iroquois Confederation developed the necessary technology and skills to cross the Atlantic and begin colonizing Europe, the fate of its native inhabitants would have been far uglier. The different perspectives on history often depend on which side you happen to be on.

To Americans, the Alamo is a shining moment of heroism. To the Mexicans who are the heirs of a colonialist empire far more ruthless than anything to be found north of the Rio Grande, the war was a plot to conquer Mexican territory. And neither side is altogether wrong, but choosing which version of history to go by is the difference between being an American or a Mexican.

A nation’s mythology, its paragons and heroes, its founding legends and great deeds, are its soul. To replace them with another culture’s perspective on its history is to kill that soul.

That is the ultimate goal of political correctness, to kill America’s soul. To stick George Washington, Patrick Henry, Jefferson, James Bowie, Paul Revere, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and all the rest on a shelf in a back room somewhere, and replace them with timelier liberal heroes. Move over Washington, Caesar Chavez needs this space. No more American heroes need apply.

This is how it begins. And that is how it ends. Nations are not destroyed by atomic bombs or economic catastrophes; they are lost when they lose any reason to go on living. When they no longer have enough pride to go on fighting to survive.

The final note of politically correct lunacy comes from a headline in the Columbus Dispatch about the Columbus Day festival in the city of Columbus, Ohio. “Italian Festival honors controversial explorer with its own Columbus Day parade”.

Once the great discover of America, Columbus is now dubbed “controversial” by a newspaper named after him, in a city named after him .And if he is controversial, how can naming a city after him and a newspaper after the city not be equally controversial?

Can the day when USA Today has a headline reading, “Some cities still plan controversial 4th of July celebration of American independence” be far behind?

Daniel Greenfield

Two Arabs Caught Vandalizing Tomb of the Patriarchs

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Two Palestinians were arrested last night after being caught red handed in the commission of an act of vandalism in the Cave of the Patriarchs. The two were recorded on security cameras as they were ripping a Mezuzah off the wall in the hall of Ya’acov and Leah.

Superintendent Barak Arusi, commander of the police unit guarding the site, stated that the two, aged 20, were charged with attempted theft and with an attempt to offend religious sentiments. During their questioning one of the detainees denied his involvement, but the confessed to the charges and implicated his accomplice as well. They are both held in custody.

This is the fourth reported act of desecration by Muslims against Jewish religious symbols over the month of Ramadan. Tazpit News Agency reported yesterday that Mezuzahs were desecrated for a third time by Muslims frequenting the Tomb of the Patriarchs. Following the incident Sunday, Muslims age 18 – 35 were barred temporarily from entering the Tomb of the patriarchs, but Major General Nitzan Alon, chief of the IDF Central Command, rescinded the directive. A short while later, the two vandals were caught in the act.


Aryeh Savir, Tazpit News Agency

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/two-arabs-caught-vandalizing-tomb-of-the-patriarchs/2013/08/05/

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