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January 22, 2017 / 24 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘future’

OU’s Torah In The City Offers Blueprint For Future Events

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

Torah in the City, an all-day learning event created and presented by the OU, drew a capacity crowd Sunday to Citi Field’s indoor conference center in Flushing, Queens.

“This year we decided to turn our convention into a gathering of our entire community,” the OU’s executive vice president, Allen Fagin, told The Jewish Press. “And how better to gather them than to learn Torah together?”

The event featured more than 30 plenary sessions focused on halacha, hashkafa, Tanach, and Israel. Speakers included scholars and educators – both men and women – at the forefront of contemporary Jewish life, among them Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, Rabbi Shalom Rosner, Rabbi Mordechai Willig, Rabbi Moshe Weinberger, Charlie Harary, Shira Smiles, Prof. Nechama Price, Rebbetzin Rookie Billet, Rabbi Steven Weil, Rabbi Hayyim Angel, and Rabi David Fohrman.

The spirit of inclusiveness was palpable. “When I saw chassidim here with payos and bekishes walking around, as well as women who don’t cover their hair, and the whole spectrum of Orthodoxy, I think that’s what the OU is really great at doing,” said Judah Isaacs, the OU’s director of synagogue and community services. “And I think the fact that Torah brought everybody together is an incredible feeling.”

Health and health care were prominent themes of the day – with discussions ranging from birth control and family planning to genetic engineering and prayers for the sick. Other topics included, but were hardly limited to, balancing Torah study with other obligations; the evolution of the Oral Law; questions and answers on kashrus issues; foundations in Jewish education at home and in school; the role of violence in biblical Judaism; and the future of Jewish leadership.

Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz spoke on the topic of “Going Broke to Pay a Family Member’s Health Care.” The halachic conclusion was that there are several levels of giving. If a family member is in medical need, you give as much as you can because family comes first. A man’s wife and children are the highest priority, and a child is required to take care of the health of a parent, no matter how much money it takes, Rabbi Lebowitz stated.

Kicking off the seminar discussions was OU executive vice president emeritus Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, who spoke about religious Zionism and Rav Abraham Isaac Kook, the first Ashkenazi chief rabbi of British Mandatory Palestine and one of the most celebrated and influential rabbis of the 20th century. Rabbi Weinreb described Rav Kook as “a poet who never stopped learning.”

Rabbi Mordechai Willig spoke of the struggles young people face when considering marriage. “I do believe that large families are a blessing and that’s why I’m very much in favor of the OU initiative to solve the tuition crisis,” he said. “Tuition is the single greatest disincentive to having children in our community. From my perspective, if you’re old enough to get married, you’re old enough to have children.”

A surprise visitor to the Torah in the City event was Dani Dayan, Israel’s consul- general in New York. “I came today to learn Torah,” said Dayan. “It’s very strengthening to see that in New York City, with so many events and things to do, Jews come and learn Torah together.”

Before the speakers took center stage, the day started with a meeting of the OU Board of Directors.

Tapped to replace Martin Nachimson as OU president was Moishe Bane, a business restructuring attorney with the New York City-based law firm of Ropes & Gray. Bane has served in positions with the OU including chairman of the board of governors, chairman of the OU’s Institute of Public Affairs, and national chairman of the National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY). He is also one of six editors of The Klal Perspectives Journal, a forum for the discussion of challenges facing the Torah community.

As his last official duty before stepping down as president, Nachimson gave the State of the (Orthodox) Union address, describing a few of the issues and programs the OU tackled during his tenure.

“The tuition crisis remains at the head of the agenda,” he said. “We have raised a lot of money, we have hired lobbyists, and that is going to be a full-blown effort. NCSY continues to be the crown jewel of the Union. This year we’re looking at 1,500 teenagers going to Israel, which is double the amount when I took over as president. JLIC [Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus] has five new campuses…. Our programs continue to grow and grow.”

The strong turnout and enthusiasm surrounding the Torah in the City event confirmed to OU officials that they’d struck a chord with this format.

“Our challenge,” the OU’s Fagin told The Jewish Press, “was to invite a broad enough array of speakers and to have a broad enough array of subjects so that there would be something here for everyone.

“The real desire here is to instill in our community an even greater love for learning than they already have. We see this as an enormously important part of our mission – to be able to create opportunities to engage with Torah, to engage with text, to engage with scholars on an ongoing basis, and to create an opportunity for people to do that with greater intensity, with greater focus, and with greater opportunity. So you’re going to see a lot more of this from the OU.”

Marc Gronich

Is The Bible The Future Of Politics?

Friday, January 6th, 2017

Politics needs new ideas. The recent presidential election taught us many lessons about celebrity and scandal, inaction and consequences, the limits of media and polls, and much more.

Perhaps more than anything, the election expressed the public’s widespread dissatisfaction with the political leaders of the past decade who have presided over growing social unrest, economic malaise, and global political crises. The unexpected success of angry outsider candidates Bernie Sanders and President-elect Donald Trump reflect popular rejection of both parties’ core ideologies. The voters said loudly that the old ideas don’t work and that America needs new ideas.

Or maybe it needs timeless ideas.

In mid-December a group of Christian and Jewish thinkers gathered to consider the application of biblical ideas to contemporary politics. Organized by the Herzl Institute under the leadership of Dr. Yoram Hazony in conjunction with the Institute for Religion and Democracy led by Mark Tooley, the distinguished attendees included, among many others, David Brog of Christians United for Israel, Prof. Joshua Mitchell of Georgetown University, R.R. Reno of First Things magazine, Michael Doran of the Hudson Institute, attorney Alyza Lewin, and political adviser Jeff Ballabon.

This Christian-Jewish Alliance sought to find eternal ideas that speak to today’s problems. That this inevitably will raise alarms is due not to any real danger of oppressive theocracy but, rather, to the crass, anti-religious media culture that envelops us. No serious person wants to impose religious rule on America. However, this country – indeed all of Western civilization – was founded on biblical principles that we forget at our own peril.

A number of themes arose during the multiple days of presentations. The room was full of an impressive array of political theorists, theologians, and other experts. The following descriptions are my own recollections and phrasings of various speakers’ ideas, which I may not share completely and for which no single attendee is responsible.

One theme that emerged is the importance of local governance, or federalism. Every tribe or group has its own traditions and culture. You cannot impose a single form of government on everyone because cultural needs differ. Consider one region in which people instinctively follow civil law. They need less regulation and policing than a region in which people routinely violate agreements and steal.

Local allegiances also explain the seeming chaos in the Middle East. Foreigners who look to broad religious groups (Sunnis, Shiites) as homogeneous blocs misunderstand the complex tribal culture, the hyper-local connections that drive what is otherwise contradictory behavior. Political thinkers from centuries ago have shown the importance of local practices for effective governance. The liberal political tradition has abandoned these thinkers in favor of a globalism that ignores people’s most basic identities.

This brings us to another theme – that local identities are not just ignored but actively suppressed. Following World War II, western leaders actively attempted to weaken nationalism in order to prevent a recurrence of the war’s horrors. The vast expansion and legalization of human rights, the growth of multiculturalism, and the various modes of economic and political globalism are examples of this bold response to evil.

However, with the weakening of nationalism comes a weakening of identity, a spiritual homelessness that confuses people. The ordinary citizen wants that patriotism back and needs the sense of belonging that a strong national identity provides. We are seeing this throughout the western world with the success of nationalist movements. To understand recent trends, we must recognize that weakening national identities brings its own danger of societal collapse, against which we are now experiencing a backlash.

A third theme is the rising hostility to religion in America. The Bible is not studied in high schools or colleges as a source of wisdom. This is not because it fails in that regard – the greatest western thinkers until the modern era utilized the Bible extensively in their theorizing. It is a fear or even hatred of religion that has shut it out of intellectual history. This has created a crippling blind spot in contemporary political theory that must be repaired by reintroducing the Bible as a source of wisdom.

This is not about religious missionizing in the university any more than teaching Greek classics indoctrinates Paganism. It is about incorporating the insights of classic religious texts into a contemporary political theory.

Hostility to religion is ominously evident in the threat that identity politics poses to religious freedom. Recent Supreme Court decisions set troubling precedents about religious accommodation. Ever since the 1990 Oregon v. Smith decision about a Native American peyote ritual, the court no longer requires a compelling interest before limiting religious freedom. Over the past few years we have seen Christians lose religious freedom lawsuits where accommodation was readily available.

For example, pharmacists who believe they are religiously proscribed from selling specific contraceptives are legally required to do so – even though they can easily refer customers to other pharmacies and industry experts testify that customers will not suffer from the practice. This legal hostility to religion threatens not just religious freedom but American society, whose unstated civil assumptions emerge from religious traditions.

Is a Christian-Jewish Alliance a contradiction in terms? Aren’t the two religions mutually exclusive? Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik wrote: “When, however, we move from the private world of faith to the public world of humanitarian and cultural endeavors, communication among the various faith communities is desirable and even essential. We are ready to enter into dialogue on such topics as war and peace, poverty, freedom, man’s moral values, the threat of secularism, technology and human values, civil rights, etc., which revolve about religious spiritual aspects of our civilization” (Maggid edition of Confrontation and Other Essays, p. 119).

Jews and Christians will see things very differently sometimes. None of us should compromise on our particular beliefs or enter into dialogue about the “doctrinal, dogmatic or ritual aspects of our faith vis-à-vis ‘similar’ aspects of another faith community” (ibid., p. 118). In fact, the self-sufficiency of a religious community’s beliefs is essential to an authentic Christian-Jewish alliance. But on the many issues we have in common we must work together as religious minorities in a secular world to reassert the country’s Hebraic political tradition.

Progressives have co-opted religious terminology for their projects; “tikkun olam” is a favorite. However, religion runs deeper than ambiguous defenses of the divine image in all human beings. The Bible teaches about right and wrong, life and death, male and female, marriage and family, community and obligation. One presenter pointed out the change in rhetoric of black activists. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of biblical promises, of hope and redemption. Black Lives Matter activists have abandoned religious language and speak about victimhood and grievances. What used to be about restoring America’s promise is now all about individuals.

Can the Bible restore the society underlying American democracy? This is not about missionizing secular Americans or using politics as a tool for religious revival. It is about restoring the principles of American democracy. Even non-believing Americans will find the American heritage in the Bible. Perhaps a Christian-Jewish alliance is just what politics needs to get back on track.

Rabbi Gil Student

Tamar Yonah Show -Guess What Your World is Going to Look Like in 5 Years? [audio]

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

An amazing glimpse into our future in another 5 years, that will blow your mind. Plus: Shifra Hoffman of VictimsOfArabTerror.org and Shuva.net talks about a new business in Germany called, ‘Rent a Jew’. What’s THAT about? Listen and find out!

Tamar Yonah Show 18Dec2016 – PODCAST

Israel News Talk Radio

What the US Election Tells us About the Past, Present and Future

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

The recent election ended in a virtual tie, as did the election of 2000. Approximately half of the voters selected each of the two major candidates. According to the New York Times, Clinton may have received as much as two million more votes than Trump. This may turn out to be an exaggeration, but she certainly won the popular vote. Trump received more electoral votes. If 70,000 more of Clinton’s popular votes had been cast in Pennsylvania, 120,000 more in Florida, and 15,000 more in Michigan, she would have had more than the 270 needed to win the presidency.

That’s how close the election was. I predicted an unpredictably close vote back in August when Clinton was way ahead in the polls.

This is what I wrote in my e-book, Electile Dysfunction: “Think about the vote on Brexit. Virtually all the polls including exit polls that asked voters who they had voted for – got it wrong. The financial markets got it wrong. The bookies got it wrong. The 2016 presidential election is more like the Brexit vote in many ways than it is like prior presidential elections. Both Brexit and this presidential election involve raw emotion, populism, anger, nationalism (Britain First, America First), class division and other factors that distort accuracy in polling. So anyone who thinks they know who will be the next president of the United States is deceiving themselves.

“To be sure, the Electoral College vote is sometimes less difficult to predict than the popular vote, because it generally turns on a handful of closely contested critical states, such as Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. But in this election, there could be surprises in states that are usually secure for one party or the other. So even the electoral vote will be more difficult to predict than in previous elections.

“One reason for this unique unpredictability of the unique unpredictability of Donald Trump himself…. Hillary Clinton is more predictable, but her past actions may produce unpredictable results. …A final reason why this election is so unpredictable is because the voter turnout is unpredictable.”

In an election that was as unpredictable as this and that turned out to be a toss-up, any one of many factors may have determined the outcome. FBI Director James Comey’s ill-advised letter to congressional leaders on October 28, telling them, and the voters, that new emails had been discovered that might be “pertinent to the investigation,” may have made the difference.

In a series of TV appearances, I had urged Comey to do what he eventually did: “The FBI knows how to work that fast. They should get 100 FBI agents working 24 hours a day for three days… and in 72 hours at least release something the indicates whether there is anything, whether there is even probable cause. If there is nothing the public has to know that.”

I worried that Comey may not have considered the unintended consequences of his letter: “What if his statements about the emails produce a victory for Trump and it then turns out that there was nothing of significance in them? Or that they were merely duplicates of what had already been produced?” And I’ve urged him to explain the scope of his investigation: “Silence is no longer an option for Comey… He can’t any longer by silence allow his last statement to influence this election. Look how close it’s becoming since that statement was made. To have the FBI influence the outcome of an election and then nothing turn up would be an absolute disgrace to democracy.”

On Sunday’s CNN Tonight Don Lemon credited me with predicting what Comey would do: “Alan. To you. You hate to say I told you so, but you told me and everyone who would listen last week that this would happen. That Comey would have to speak out before the election.”

Comey did finally speak out, but it may have been too little, too late. Millions of votes were cast between Comey’s two statements. Those votes – based on a misperception that the emails were “pertinent” to the investigation – may have made the difference between a Clinton or Trump victory. No one can ever know for certain, but the election was so close, it is highly probable.

So Trump’s narrow victory doesn’t tell us much about the past or the present. Even if Trump had lost by a narrow margin, the fact that he got nearly 60 million votes would still be significant – as significant as his narrow victory – in telling us about the current mindset of the American people.

But the fact that Trump won tells us a great deal about the future, because a Trump presidency promises to be very different than a Clinton presidency would have been.

A Clinton presidency – coupled with a Republican Senate and House – would have been subject to the checks and balances of our constitutional system of separation of powers. A Trump presidency will not be subject to those constraints. There will be less gridlock, although the Senate filibuster may impose some constraints on President Trump’s expressed desire to pack the Supreme Court with “Scalias.”

Just as it was impossible to predict this election, it is impossible to predict the precise dimensions of the Trump presidency. If he is smart, he will reach across the aisle, as well as across genders, ethnicities and religions. A successful president must be different than a successful candidate. Only time will tell whether Trump acts on this historic truth.

In the meantime, the loyal opposition must remain both loyal and opposed to policies and appointments that are inconsistent with our values. We must cooperate when cooperation is warranted, but when it is not, we must use all available lawful options – political, judicial, media, academic and economic – to serve as checks and balances on a president who tries to exceed his authority. This is not the time for liberals or Democrats to become immobilized with despair, nor is it the time for violence or unlawful actions. It is a time to become energized and proactive.

Alan M. Dershowitz

Securing a Future for Religious Minorities in the Middle East

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

{Originally posted to the JNS website}

You have to wonder if the barbarians fighting under the flag of the Islamic State still believe that 72 virgins will be waiting for them in paradise once they become “martyrs.”

I say this not because the leaders and foot soldiers of ISIS have suddenly woken up to the possibility that this belief is based, according to several scholars, on a mistranslation of the relevant verse of the Qu’ran; that would be expecting too much of them. I say this because they have already had a taste of that paradise here on earth, as a result of their campaign of genocide against the Yazidi religious minority in Iraq and Syria. One aspect of this horrific slaughter has been the kidnapping of thousands of Yazidi women and girls to serve as sexual slaves to these savages.

A recent report from the U.N. Human Rights Council – a body that spends most of its time condemning Israel for alleged human rights violations – sheds some light on both the scale and the nature of the genocide, which was ignored by the international community for far too long. The campaign against the Yazidis was launched by ISIS over two years ago, in Aug. 2014, when its forces began an assault upon the Yazidi villages in Sinjar, a district in the northern Iraqi province of Nineveh. At least 5,000 Yazidis have been killed during the genocide, while 3,200 women and children remain in ISIS captivity. About 70,000, estimated to make up 15 percent of the overall Yazidi population, are reported to have fled Iraq.

The stories related by the U.N. report will be depressingly familiar to anyone who has studied genocide over the last century. Men and boys are either executed or forcibly converted, while women and girls exist solely for the use and pleasure of ISIS terrorists. The manner of the persecution is gruesome. “After we were captured, ISIS forced us to watch them beheading some of our Yazidi men,” said one 16-year-old girl. “They made the men kneel in a line in the street, with their hands tied behind their backs. The ISIS fighters took knives and cut their throats.”

Despite this reign of terror, the Yazidis have not been destroyed as a distinctive group. Before the ISIS attacks began, around 700,000 Yazidis are said to have lived in Iraq, the largest single concentration of the religion’s followers. Kurdish in terms of their ethnicity, the Yazidi faith is described by scholars as syncretic, which means it combines elements of other religions, including Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Islam. Based on that, it’s worth noting that ISIS isn’t the only Islamist group that regards the Yazidis as infidels. The theology of more mainstream Islamist groups, like the Muslim Brotherhood, assigns them a similar status.

Presently, the main focus for the Yazidis is the rescue of their women and girls from the clutches of ISIS. Often this is done through ransom payments, involving middlemen who collect huge sums from their families – one recently reunited family paid a total of $34,000 for their two daughters – which are then paid to ISIS. After their release, both girls said they didn’t expect that they would see each other again, describing their captors as “dirty and abusive,” who subjected them to regular beatings.

What this illustrates is the need for greater physical security for the Yazidis, as well as for other religious minorities in the region, if and when ISIS is defeated. Without that concrete measure, continued religious and ethnic conflict in the Middle East will target vulnerable minorities first and foremost.

For that reason, the decision of the Iraqi parliament on Oct. 4 to reject Yazidi and Assyrian Christian appeals for separate provinces should spark concern. “The Iraqi people reject any decision that partitions the Nineveh province. The people of the city determine the destiny of their city in the post-Islamic State (IS) stage,” said Ahmed al-Jabra, a Sunni member of parliament, justifying the vote. Conveniently, for the Sunni Arab population, the vote also means that Yazidis and other minorities, who have been dispossessed from the region, will be reluctant to come back. Viyan Dakhil, a Yazidi member of the Iraqi parliament, has already said that Yazidis will be wary of returning to the Nineveh province without significant changes in its administration.

It was Dakhil who first alerted the world to the slaughter of the Yazidis in 2014, when her emotional plea to the world to save her people went viral on the internet. In a speech earlier this year at the U.N. in Geneva, arranged by the dedicated staff of the U.N. Watch nongovernmental organization, Dakhil declared, “The international community has to support us, to call upon the U.N. Security Council to recognize what is happening to us as genocide, and to refer our case to the International Criminal Court.” And there are signs that process is in motion, with both the U.S. and British governments formally acknowledging that the Yazidis have experienced a genocide in the legal sense of the term.

What is worrying is that measures to protect the Yazidis from future brutalities have been set back by the Iraqi parliament decision. As Jews from Middle Eastern countries know only too well, being a minority in the midst of profound instability in Arab and Muslim societies is not a fate anyone would want. The only way to protect yourself is by exercising some significant degree of self-determination, including the right of self-defense, secured by international guarantee. After all, we Jews were only able to say “Never again” once we secured the means to prevent further persecution, in the form of the state of Israel. The other religious minorities of the Middle East deserve no less.

Ben Cohen

IDF Huge Data Consolidation Tender to Complement Future IDF Cloud

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

Israel’s Defense Ministry has issued the largest ever technology tender, aiming to consolidate all the IDF data centers, in conjunction with the future project developing an IDF cloud, to the tune of an estimated $270 million. The plan calls for the winner, which must be an Israeli company, to contract with a foreign partner for the project of consolidating the entire IDF data into a few computer centers which will serve the IDF land, air and sea units.

The move, according to the Defense Ministry’s statement, is crucial to enabling the IDF to maintain the ongoing upgrading of its systems over the next decades. The migration of all this data will require a detailed examination of the existing systems, involving millions of decisions regarding what to keep and what to discard. Which is why the ministry is encouraging local IT companies to coalesce in order to qualify for the bid, and to then work in collaboration with one chosen foreign company.

The ministry is not interested in using the services of local data farm companies, at least not directly. The IDF wants to build its own data farms. Also, the new tender does not deal with buying cloud technology, because the military is already engaged in defining a tender for an exclusive IDF cloud. In their meeting with the press Thursday, IDF and Defense Ministry spokespersons assured reporters the two projects will remain distinct, so that the development of one will not hinder the other’s. At the same time, they expect the two systems — the future IDF data farms and the future IDF cloud — to act together eventually.

As the IDF is in the process of clearing out of its very expensive real estate in downtown Tel Aviv and moving to a new military city near Beer Sheva in the south, it is safe to assume that at least part of the new storage system will also be erected there, in the Negev desert.

Many in Israel’s technology media have noted that the biggest challenge facing the new data storage system would be the requirement that the Infantry, Armored Forces, IAF, and Navy be able to share it effectively, making the system work for them instead of against them. The challenges in this case have less to do with technology and more with ego. Back in 2006, the IDF decided to kill its Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, one year after the $200 million project had been launched. The problem, according to a Globes report at the time, was that each corps selected a system that was specifically tailored to its requirements (either SAP- or Oracle-based), without regard for the need for a uniform technological and operating capacity across all branches.

Hopefully, the planners of the new tender have taken those issues into consideration. The IDF insists that the 2014 Gaza war marked a watershed in the new collaboration among the branches, and, besides, the IDF Chief of Staff has ordered collaboration as a priority, so they better collaborate.


Goldstein on Gelt: Is Being an Entrepreneur the Way of the Future?

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

Do you have more job security as an employee or as an entrepreneur? Taylor Pearson, author of The End of Jobs, explains why becoming an entrepreneur does not mean giving up the security of having a job, why jobs are becoming a thing of the past, and how entrepreneurial skills can help you write your life script. What does the future hold for traditional jobs, and what are the growing industries that today’s university graduates should be focusing on?

Should you be concerned about a drop in the bond market? Today, Doug Goldstein, CFP® looks at reasons why a bond may decrease in value, and what you can do if you decide to invest in bonds instead of stocks.
The Goldstein On Gelt Show is a financial podcast. Click on the player below to listen. For show notes and contact details of the guest, go to www.GoldsteinOnGelt.com

Doug Goldstein, CFP®

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/goldstein-on-gelt/goldstein-on-gelt-is-being-an-entrepreneur-the-way-of-the-future/2016/08/31/

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