web analytics
July 28, 2016 / 22 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘GREAT’

Shiloh Musings: Great Britain Reverts to its Island Isolation

Friday, June 24th, 2016

‘Leave’ scents victory as EU vote divides Britain

With results declared from 206 of 382 voting districts plus parts of Northern Ireland, Leave was ahead by 51.3 percent to 48.7 in the referendum, in which a vote to break with Europe could usher in deep uncertainty over trade and investment and fuel the rise of anti-EU movements across the continent. Initial results suggested those in favor of quitting the EU were outperforming pollsters’ expectations. They scored close to 70 percent of the vote in Hartlepool in northeast England and in Basildon, near London. It was not clear whether an expected pro-EU vote in the capital and across Scotland would be sufficient to redress the balance. In the London district of Haringey, 76 percent voted to remain. (Reuters)

I’m not really surprised. Great Britain is an island off of Europe and always treasured its independence. That is what saved it from invasions, such as the Nazis less than a century ago. Also, in terms of the demography, cultural/ethnic politics in Britain, this is probably the last chance to get a majority to leave. As in Europe, the open borders have enabled a cultural diversity unprecedented in most of Europe and Great Britain for sure.

Don’t forget that the European Union is much larger and more diversified than most people had ever expected it to be. For those who mourn the relatively monochromatic Christian Britain and Europe, they find themselves living in a nightmare, like a Twilight Zone episode.

The vote seems pretty close, so it could change directions, and then Great Britain will remain in the EU, and it will then find itself a totally different country in another couple of decades. And if it leaves, the transformation will just take a bit longer…

Batya Medad

Great Presidential Campaign Reading

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

Of the taking of polls there is no end, particularly in a presidential election year. And while it’s considered the better part of wisdom to feign at least a healthy disregard, if not an active disdain, for the preponderance of polling, the truth is that political junkies couldn’t live without a steady dose of polls.

The more obnoxiously pretentious a pundit, the more likely he or she is to routinely decry the ubiquity of polls. The common lament from the smugly high-minded is that the media’s fascination with polls gives too much weight to the horse-race aspect of a campaign, at the expense of the important and weighty discussions of policy for which voters presumably hunger.

Too much weight to the horse race? What utter nonsense. Give us more of the horse race – please!

Imagine for a moment a presidential campaign bereft of polls and the horse-race atmosphere they so helpfully foster. The mind reels at such a dreadfully dreary prospect. And since the subject at hand is books, would anyone even pretend to read campaign accounts like Theodore White’s Making of the President series if they were simply compilations of stump speeches and position papers?

Richard Ben Cramer wrote what is arguably the best book ever on presidential politics, a thousand-page opus on the 1988 campaign called What It Takes: The Way to the White House (Random House, 1992) and it’s such a great read precisely because he knew better than to indulge in detailed analysis of tax plans and trade initiatives. (The book has remained remarkably fresh nearly 25 years after publication thanks to Cramer’s deftly detailed portraits of such late 20th-century political heavyweights as George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, Gary Hart, and Joe Biden.)

All the books worth reading on presidential campaigns are heavy on the drama and blessedly light on the kind of stuff that keeps policy wonks up at night. The interest is in the narrative, the story line – the plot, if you will.

Sure, readers of the best campaign books come away possessing a not-insubstantial acquaintance with the candidates’ positions on at least some the major issues of the day, but the story is driven by the personalities, the gossip, the constant and obsessive polling by news organizations, and the campaigns themselves.

In other words, it all comes down to the much-maligned horse race.

In addition to Cramer’s What It Takes, the following are some other highly recommended books on presidential campaigns:

 

The Real Making of the President: Kennedy, Nixon, and the 1960 Election by W.J. Rorabaugh (University Press of Kansas, 2009) – A much needed counter to Theodore White’s iconic The Making of the President 1960 (the first of White’s series of books on presidential campaigns). Rorabaugh convincingly shows how White got many important things wrong due mainly to his shameless worship of John Kennedy, which makes one wonder why White’s book is still held up as a classic by people who should know better.

Maoz-062416-1960 

1960: LBJ vs. JFK vs. Nixon by David Pietrusza (Union Square Press, 2008) – Another corrective to the flaws in White’s work. Pietrusza, like Rorabaugh, wrote his book decades after the 1960 election, so he had a more expansive and dispassionate perspective than White, as well as access to information the Kennedys and their toadies worked long and hard to keep from the public.

 

An American Melodrama: The Presidential Campaign of 1968 by Lewis Chester, Godfrey Hodgson, and Bruce Page (Viking, 1969) – A finely textured account of the pivotal 1968 campaign by three distinguished British journalists – and far superior to Theodore White’s Making of the President 1968. Although some of the authors’ assumptions have aged badly (such as, for example, their thoroughly condescending view of then-California governor Ronald Reagan, who would be elected president twelve years later), their view for detail and their deeply reported narrative have stood the test of time.

Maoz-062416-American-Maelstrom

American Maelstrom: The 1968 Election and the Politics of Division by Michael Cohen (Oxford University Press, 2016) – The fact that this is the newest book on the list and the book directly preceding it is the oldest should tell you something about what a seminal year in politics 1968 was and how the divisions that came to the fore during that presidential campaign resonate across the decades. Events came at a non-stop pace: the decision by a sitting president not to seek reelection; the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy; the political resurrection of Richard Nixon; the sudden emergence of Ronald Reagan as a presidential possibility; the angry, racially charged campaign of Alabama governor George Wallace; and the rioting at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. In Cohen’s hands the story reads like a richly imagined novel.

 

Maoz-062416-NixonThe Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose from Defeat to Create the New Majority by Patrick Buchanan (Crown Forum 2014) – Not a campaign book in the usual sense, this superbly written (one would expect nothing less from a veteran speechwriter, columnist, and author) behind-the-scenes story of Richard Nixon’s 1968 victory is a gold mine of insider anecdotes and information. The candid depictions – some biting, others moving – of prominent public figures of the day add to the appeal of one of the best political books you’ll ever read. And given that some of Buchanan’s views are widely perceived to be anti-Israel and even anti-Semitic, his poignant recounting of a visit he and then-private citizen Nixon made to Israel in June 1967, shortly after the conclusion of the Six-Day War, reveals a side to him that many readers will no doubt find surprising.

 

The Boys on the Bus by Timothy Crouse (Random House, 1973) – There are several books that cover the 1972 presidential campaign, among them Hunter S. Thompson’s On the Campaign Trail 1972 (a compendium of the author’s trademark idiosyncratic and drug and alcohol-fueled reporting for Rolling Stone magazine); Bruce Miroff’s The Liberals’ Moment: The McGovern Insurgency and the Identity Crisis of the Democratic Party (a solid if somewhat wonkish account); and Theodore White’s Making of the President 1972. But if one had to recommend a single book about the 1972 race, that book would be Timothy Crouse’s no-holds-barred look at the newspaper, newsmagazine, and television network reporters (the “boys on the bus”) whose power and influence in the days before the Internet and social media cannot be overstated. By reporting on the journalists who covered the campaign, Crouse tells the story of the campaign itself.

 

Marathon: The Pursuit of the Presidency 1972-1976 by Jules Witcover (Viking, 1977) – Witcover’s occasionally plodding prose spread out over 700 pages notwithstanding, the book is as in-depth a report as one could ask for, with the longtime political journalist guiding readers through four of the most eventful years in the country’s history and the election that gave us (yikes) the Jimmy Carter presidency.

Maoz-062416-Rendezvous

Rendezvous with Destiny: Ronald Reagan and the Campaign That Changed America by Craig Shirley (ISI Books, 2009) – The inside story of Ronald Reagan’s epic 1980 victory over Jimmy Carter, told by a historian and veteran political consultant whose earlier work, Reagan’s Revolution: The Untold Story of the Campaign That Started It All (Thomas Nelson, 2005) focused on Reagan’s nearly successful 1976 battle with incumbent president Gerald Ford for the Republican nomination. Although it’s a fact that has been obscured with the passage of time and Reagan’s steadily ascending historical ranking, the election’s outcome, let alone its landslide proportions – 44 states and 489 electoral votes for Reagan, six states and 49 electoral votes for Carter – was far from a certainty through much of the campaign, which was actually a nail-biter for most of the year.

 

Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin (Harper 2010) – Purists lamented the book’s all-out gossipy tone, but no one challenged its accuracy. Heilemann and Halperin seemingly got everyone of note in both the Obama and McCain campaigns to dish freely – and often far from flatteringly – on the candidates and their families. The chapters on then-senator John Edwards (whose campaign for the Democratic nomination disintegrated amid scandal and family tragedy) and Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin are particularly devastating. The book was such a sensation that the authors were immediately paid a hefty sum for a book on the 2012 campaign. That book, Double Down: Game Change 2012 (The Penguin Press, 2013) has its moments and is a good read, especially for political junkies, but it isn’t nearly the eye-opener Heilemann and Halperin produced about the 2008 election.

Jason Maoz

Unified Jerusalem Focus of Great Political Divisions

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

During Wednesday’s special plenary session marking the annual Jerusalem Day holiday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “We remember Jerusalem before the Six-Day War, when there was no Israeli control here. We will not go back to that reality. We do not need an excuse for our existence in Jerusalem. Our fate is linked to Jerusalem, and this is part of our national and Zionist experience.”

“A solid and decisive majority within the [Israeli] public understands that only democratic Israel is capable of guaranteeing Jerusalem’s existence as a safe city for all religions,” Netanyahu continued. “Tolerance exists only when the things that are holy to the religions are respected. Regretfully, this is not the case in our region. There is a war here of who will destroy whom, who will kill whom, who will destroy national treasures – as could be seen with the incitement on the Temple Mount. People claimed that we want to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque, something that never happened. They claimed we have no connection to the Temple Mount. This is such an absurd claim. Both temples stood on the Temple Mount for some 1,000 years, and we have no connection to it? King David made Jerusalem our capital 3,000 years ago. Does anyone claim that the pyramids have no connection to Egypt? That the Coliseum is not connected to the Italians?”

Referring to the wave of terror, Netanyahu vowed that the violence “will not weaken our spirit. Jerusalem is a complex city, and there is, of course, tension between the populations; tension that is characteristic of other cities in the world. I believe that most of east Jerusalem’s residents want quiet, and I believe we should not allow anyone to light a fire and spark extremism. If they will do it again, we will act accordingly.”

Opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog (Zionist Camp-Labor) said, “Sadly, we are currently in the midst of a struggle for justice and the law in our midst us. We are getting further and further from the moral backbone our prophets wanted to give our nation. There are terrible acts of violence and racism, rifts, polarization, and harsh words are being thrown into the Israeli air as though all the lines of respect, self-restraint and responsibility have been breached. We are moving further and further away from the saying ‘Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; may those who love you be secure,’ because physical presence in Jerusalem was not necessarily the dream of the generations.”

“Jerusalem will not remain Jewish, moral, whole and safe unless a dramatic political change will occur here and unless we urgently move towards an agreement between both nations, without delay and without excuses,” Herzog stated.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein noted that during the Six-Day War the government of Levi Eshkol made the historic decision to reunify Jerusalem in a small shelter in the Knesset building. The shelter has recently been restored as a small museum.

“As a result of this historic decision, two days later the Old City, with the Western Wall and the Temple Mount, was returned to us, and the city was united,” Edelstein said.

“There are those among us who reject the notion of holding on to [all of Jerusalem]. They view the unification as a mistake and not as a right and the realization of the vision of all generations,” Edelstein continued. “In order to clarify their claim, they wave the overused argument that when we said ‘If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning’ we did not mean Shuafat or Jabel Mukaber. This is a wrong and misleading claim, because when King David wrote those words of yearning for the holy city, he was not familiar with Rehavia or Talbieh (Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem). He simply wrote about Jerusalem.”

JNi.Media

A Great Time To Be Jewish

Sunday, May 8th, 2016

Paris, Jerusalem, Copenhagen – attacks on Jews seem ubiquitous these days. Shootings, stabbings, beatings, mob attacks. The UN is consistently, flagrantly, and unfairly anti-Israel. The BDS movement promulgates malicious lies about Israel and tries to upend Jewish students and professors on college campuses everywhere. If you wear a yarmulke in certain cities around the world it’s like painting a neon target on your body.

Extreme right-wing anti-Jewish political parties have risen in Hungary, France, Greece, and other countries. Even in America there are deadly attacks on Jewish institutions. Some say anti-Semitism is more robust and virulent today than at any time since the Holocaust.

And yet this is still be one of the best times ever to be Jewish. Here are ten reasons why:

  1. The Jewish homeland is stronger than ever. Not only is there a Jewish nation that welcomes all Jews, it is a powerhouse on the world scene. Israel has one of the best-trained armed forces, is a technological innovator and leader, and finds itself constantly strengthened and made more vibrant by Jews from all over the world who make aliyah or who take refuge there. And despite threats of attack from its neighbors and nuclear annihilation from Iran, Israel knows how to defend itself.
  2. There is a universal feeling among Jews that we are one people. Camaraderie may have always existed between Jews, but today, with international travel affordable and Jews traveling all over, being embraced as a landsman by other Jews is as important as ever. If you visit a foreign country and meet a fellow Jew, an immediate bond likely will develop and you may even be invited to a nice Shabbat dinner or holiday meal. Just don’t discuss politics or religious beliefs.
  3. It’s never been easier to be Jewish. From the array of kosher foods available to synagogues in almost every country (thanks in large part to Chabad), practicing Judaism and living like a Jew can be done virtually anywhere. Of course it may be harder to practice Judaism in Odessa than in Brooklyn, but thanks to technology, the availability of Jewish products, services, and synagogues can (depending on where one lives) be just a click or two away.
  4. Jewish organizations that provide social services are everywhere. Jewish agencies that offer succor are nothing new – they’ve been around in the U.S. since the 1800s to provide relief for needy Jewish immigrants – but today there are Jewish organizations of all sorts everywhere that serve to help people not just financially but in all manner of ways.
  5. There is more Jewish information available today than ever before. Would you like to know if a particular food is kosher? What time Shabbos or Yom Tov begins and ends? What restaurants are kosher in a city you are visiting? Do you have a question about Jewish history? Jewish ritual? There are websites that provide answers to any imaginable Jewish question. With the Internet, anyone can have instant access to Jewish information.
  6. Jewish culture is flourishing. You can find Jewish themes everywhere – in art, theater, movies, television, music, literature, and more. There is a renaissance of Yiddish language and klezmer music. Indeed, Jewish culture is so pervasive that one doesn’t have to play the soundtrack to “Fiddler On the Roof” (even though it’s back on Broadway) yet again.
  7. Orthodox Judaism is in the ascendance. According to the Pew Research Center, of all Jewish groupings in America, only the Orthodox are growing – quickly and by a lot. And what could be better news than that? Orthodoxy is the historical pillar of Judaism, and more Orthodox Jews will help ensure the spread and strengthening of Torah observance.
  8. Jews are more accepted today than ever before in the U.S. Sure, there are pockets and incidents of anti-Semitism, but what else is new? Once upon a time many colleges had quotas limiting the enrollment of Jewish students and entire fields of endeavor – banking, law, etc. – were severely restricted to Jews. Today a Jew can sit on the Supreme Court or be a senator or governor or even run for president of the United States.
  9. Jewish life is being revitalized in a number of countries. Poland, Russia, and Germany are just a few that are witnessing the rebuilding of Jewish communities. In these countries, where Jews were once persecuted or worse, Jewish populations are stabilizing or growing, synagogues and Jewish schools are increasing, and kosher restaurants and supermarkets are opening.
  10. You can hold your head up high as a Jew. Jews have made spectacular contributions to the world in every endeavor known to man, and well out of proportion to their miniscule numbers. A Jew should always feel proud to be a Jew.

While we need to continue being vigilant and circumspect, we should also look on the bright side and appreciate why these are great times for Jews. Of course, there is much work to be done, and Jews will be right there to do that. Indeed, Jews will always be trying to make the world a better place – for Jews and non-Jews alike.

Harvey Rachlin

The Great Yiddishkeit Adventure

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

This week during the Passover holiday, thousands of Orthodox Jews are flocking to the Six Flags Great Adventure amusement park in New Jersey, in what the JTA reports has become an annual Passover tradition for New York and New Jersey Orthodox and “Ultra-Orthodox” Jews. Rabbi Ethan Katz, the coordinator of the Passover amusement-park program, says, “It’s a tremendous Kiddush Hashem for so many Jews to be together in one place for such an amazing event.”

From his enthusiasm, you would think he was talking about Hashem’s splitting of the Red Sea. I can’t write what I really think about this “amazing event” because the Jewish Press won’t print the article if I do. Apparently to guard their readership, they have an “Etrog” policy regarding Ultra-Orthodox Jews in America, carefully guarding them from the educational efforts of Zionists like me.

This year, because Passover coincides with the spring holiday of public schools, the park is also open to the general public, so the Ultra-Orthodox get to stroll around the amusement park with the gentiles as well, being careful to avoid gazing at immodestly dressed women, of course.

To me, the whole thing sounds more like Narrishkeit than Yiddishkeit. But it would seem that, for the thousands of Orthodox Jews filling Six Flags Great Adventure, having a fun time at an amusement park in New Jersey is the meaning of freedom on Pesach.  Undoubtedly, the teachings of Rabbi Meir Kahane,  an outstanding Torah Scholar and an editor and longtime columnist for The Jewish Press, will lend clarity to the TRUE meaning of freedom on Passover:

AND THOU SHALT TELL THY SON

The essence of Passover is the commandment of the Haggadah, of telling and retelling, of passing on to our children, the story of Passover, its concepts and lessons and commandments. Passover is the beginning of Judaism, its very birth, hence its direction and directive to pass on to our sons and daughters its fundamentals and teachings. However, the problem with a commandment to parents to pass on lessons to their children is that so few know what to pass on. Indeed, through honest ignorance or honest receipt of confusion from those who passed that down to them, Jews of befogged confusion do not pass on but rather pass over the basic truths, and the irony of the holiday name is glaring.

The need of Jews to understand the real and so-very-clear lessons of the Holiday of Freedom, is the tragic reality of a 20-centuries-old exile, that not only brutally deformed Jews, but far worse, perverted the Torah concepts that are so basic to knowing not only who we really are and from whence we came, but what we should be doing and telling ourselves and our children, so that we may know how to reach the final Redemption that is based — as our Rabbis tell us — on the first one, the Exodus from the Land of Egypt on that first Passover so long ago.

We are the victims of an agonizingly long exile that saw us change from an authentic religio-nation to a religion alone; that saw us learn to accept our crippling deformity, a religio-nation with a state of its own turned into a religion with no national or land roots. It is an exile that effectively perverted, warped and twisted Torah truth and we are the victims. That is why it is so essential to resurrect Passover and its lessons; to learn and understand them as they really are. For Passover is a festival of national faith, of a free people leaving an exile for a home of their own. Jews of the ghetto and the exile cannot understand Passover as it really is. They can only pass over it, never pass it on. And so, let us see the lessons of Passover, learn them, and throw off the leaven of the exile, and hallow ourselves with the simple sanctity of the matzot of freedom.

Passover tells us that the Jew who can go up to the Land of Israel and does not, will not be allowed by the Almighty to survive in his exile paradise. These are the words of the Rabbis (Shemot Rabbah 14; Tanchuma, Va’era 14): “Why did G-d bring the plague of darkness? Because there were, among the Jews, sinners who had patrons among the Egyptians, and they had honor and wealth and did not wish to leave Egypt. Said the Almighty: If I bring a blow on them openly and they die, the Egyptians will say: Just as he struck us down so did he do to them. Therefore he brought darkness on Egypt for three days so that they could die and be buried with no one knowing.” Indeed, that is the reason for the Rabbis telling us that only one-fifth of the Jews left Egypt, all the rest dying in the plague of darkness because they refused to leave Egypt to go up to the Land of Canaan (Tanchuma, B’shalach 1.)

This message echoes through the ages to each and every one who remains in the exile, where he enjoys honor and wealth. The echo declares: It cannot and will not be! A plague of darkness cometh and there will be no survival for those who despised the Holy Land and who chose their gentile patrons. We are also to learn to have real faith, total faith in a G-d who is stronger than Pharaoh or even an American President. The Almighty comes to the Children of Israel and tells them to do nothing less than take the god of their Egyptian masters, the lamb, tie it up for four days, and inform anyone who asks, that on the fourth day they will slaughter the animal-god, and then to actually do it.

Mindboggling! Consider what the reaction of Jews would be today to a command to degrade and to flaunt victory over a sacred religious symbol of Christians or Moslems. Say, to remove the mosque from the Temple Mount . . . . One need not have much imagination to know what the reaction of Jews from left to right, from Reform to Moderdox, would be. Terror, outrage, indignation. But Passover teaches us differently.

In order to sanctify the name of the L-rd, G-d of Israel, as against the nation who mocked Him and knew Him not, the Jew is ordered not only to take, degrade, and manifest his mastery over the religious symbol of the Egyptian — he is told to do it in the most public way possible! “And they shall eat the flesh that night, roasted . . . . Eat not of it raw, nor boiled in water, but roast with fire; its head, with its legs and its inner parts complete” (Exodus 12:8-9.)

Why? Because you are sacrificing the god of Egypt, you might say, let us not roast it completely lest the Egyptians see us; therefore the verse says “eat not of it raw.” And if you say, for the same reason, let us boil it and put it into a pot, the verse says, “nor boiled in water.” And if you say, let us cut it up so they will not recognize it, the verse says, “its head, with its legs….” Here, in the Torah, you will find no nonsense about fear of agitating the gentiles, a Chillul Hashem in a state where the Almighty demands of the Jew a proclamation and demonstration of the utmost of faith, a faith in the face of apparent danger, a faith that manifests the essence of Kiddush Hashem, a sanctification of G-d, that is total and undiluted. In the totality of faith and sanctification of G-d, there is no compromise — it must be complete and absolute. Pharaoh has just refused the Israelites permission to take their children with them. Now, with the plague of darkness, he breaks down and agrees. He surrenders almost totally. “Go, serve the L-rd, only let your sheep and cattle remain behind; even your children may go with you” (Exodus 10:24.)

Consider, dear Jew. The Israelites have been slaves for decades upon decades. They have suffered and cried out unto G-d to free them. And now, finally, Pharaoh agrees to allow them to leave. Freedom now! And he only raises one minor condition — leave your cattle and sheep. Picture the scene: the joyful Jews, rejoicing in their soon-to-be-gotten freedom, embrace Moses and thank him. And then, to their horror, to their consternation, Moses shakes his head and tell Pharaoh, NO! You too, will give us sacrifices and offerings and our flocks will go with us!

There shall not remain a hoof.

Dear moderate, non-fanatical, normal Jew. Was there ever a more fanatical, extremist, dangerous man than this Moses who refuses to compromise and insists on a stubborn policy of not one inch! Give them the sheep, Moses, give them the flocks! For freedom and peace, one must compromise. Freedom now, shout the Jews, give him the sheep! But no. Moses knows what Judaism is, what Kiddush Hashem is: total surrender and capitulation before the L-rd — for only thus does the gentile admit his acceptance of the L-rd as the one and only G-d. Sanctification must be open, unafraid, proud and tall. The tenth plague strikes Egypt. Panic, terror. In every home there is death. Pharaoh surrenders totally. There is no thought of anything except total surrender. Go, go but above all, leave now, immediately. At midnight he races to Moses and cries out: Get up, get away from my people! You and the Children of Israel . . . take your sheep and cattle, too. Finally. Surely now, Moses is satisfied. Even the worst of extremists and fanatics must surely now accept this capitulation. Hardly. Thus says Moses: “Are we then thieves that we go out at night? We shall only leave with a mighty arm, before the eyes of all Egypt” (Tanchuma, Bo 7.) And: “G-d said to them [the Egyptians]: You take My children out in the middle of the night? You will not take them out at night but rather openly in the middle of the day!” (Shemot Rabbah 18.. And: “Moses said to Pharaoh: We have been warned to leave only openly” (Mechilta, Bo, 13.) The lesson is so clear, even to all the gentilized and Moderdox. Sanctification of G-d’s Name, by its very essence, is a declaration that He is supreme, that no power on earth can touch Him or harm those who trust in Him. The slightest thought of hidden or quiet, non-provocative sanctification is a contradiction in terms. An admonition to do things quietly carries within it the seed of fear of gentile reaction and that, by its essence, is the very antithesis of Kiddush Hashem.

How many lessons there are in Passover! How many lessons that we pass over. Let us instead learn and pass them on.

 

Rabbi Kahane published this essay in the Jewish Press in 1986. Strange, he doesn’t mention the “Kiddush Hashem” of thousands of Jews flocking to Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey on Passover. I suppose we still have some lessons to learn.

Tzvi Fishman

Can Today’s Markets Be Compared to the Great Depression?

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

Should today’s turbulent markets be compared to the Great Depression of the 1930s?

Author and economist, Dr. Lawrence W. Reed explains how Roosevelt’s policies caused the economic collapse to last much longer than it should. Listen to him explain how today’s politicians may be leading us down a similar path.

Also on today’s show, Doug discusses ETFs. Why would an investor sell stocks and invest in ETFs? What are the various types of ETFs available?

Listen to the show for a link to a video explaining the S&P 100 Index and related funds.

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®

When Good Children Go OTD

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

The problem seems to be far worse than anyone thinks. We may even be at an epidemic level. Everywhere I turn these days it seems, I find a family where at least one child has gone OTD (Off the Derech–away from the religious path). Or at least does not follow the Hashkafic path laid out by their parents.

Many of them are all from fine families. Exemplars of great parenting. Nothing dysfunctional about them. The parents have many children all the rest of which are the obvious results child rearing by 2 great parents. Most of their children do fine in the Hashkafic milieu in which they were raised and in which they live. And yet it seem to be increasingly the case that at least one child has no interest in towing the family religious line.

In the families that I know about it seems the problems tend to begin in mid to late elementary school or early high school.

The question is why is this happening? What is it that is driving this OTD phenomenon in good families? It is very understandable when this happens in dysfunctional families where physical or mental abuse exists either between parents; between a parent and child; or both. It does not take rocket science to see why a child associates their strife their parent’s lifestyle. If they are a religious family, then religion is associated with that strife.

But what about the good families with good children where one of them does not want to have anything to do with their family’s religious way of life? Unfortunately I know of far too many situations like these. Hashkafos don’t seem to matter that much. I know families with an OTD child that are very right wing, moderate Charedi, and right wing Modern Orthodox. None of them are so strict as to warrant the kind of rebellion they have experienced from at least one child.

I have no real explanation. But I suspect it has something to do with the current pressure that schools and thereby parents put on their children to excel in their religiosity, Limudei Kodesh or Limudei Chol. I am constantly hearing about how schools of all Hashkafos are ‘rasining’ their standards. That is impacted negatively by the times in which we live. By that I mean the great distractions that now exists that did not exist in the past. Distractions that expose children to a much easier lifestyle than their parents insist upon. Distractions that take away from their study time. Distractions that cause them to question matters of faith. These are distractions that those of us over the age of 30 never had when we were growing up.

The internet, its ease of use and availability, and the ability to easily hide one’s involvement with it puts pressure on young people now – as never before. No matter how much we try to discourage it, limit it, or ban it, it is so pervasive that it is impossible to avoid the influence it has on children. Children can access anything they want as quickly as they can delete it from a screen. A child now has an unprecedented and unfettered window to the entire world. A little curiosity about a taboo subject will beget websites and images that can easily pull a child away from their parents’ influences. It is amazing that there aren’t even more OTD children than there are.

Coupled with this is the increased pressure put upon children in our day to be more religious and be better students than ever before.

The pressure to excel and adopt ever increasing Churmos into our lives has become so ingrained that not conform to these new standards is unacceptable.For example violating a Chumra is as painful to a family as violating a Halacha. I know one family that feels great pain that a child now uses non Chalav Yisroel products. I hasten to add that they are a very loving family – accepting of that child and allowing her to bring non Chalav Yisroel products into the home and use them freely. But it still pains them internally.

And how can any self respecting parent not want their child to excel in school? So with every increase in the amount of material to be mastered, there is a parental motive to see to it that their child measures up. Whether it is the Charedi standard of Limudei Kodesh or the MO academic standard. And in many cases – both.

If you combine the two phenomenon of increased pressure (whether religious or in the level of study)in the home and in school with the ubiquity of the internet – I think one can understand why the OTD phenomenon even in good homes might be near epidemic levels.

I would add that the fact that as the religious population increases, so too do the number of children going OTD – even if the percentages may be the same. But if I had to guess the percentages have increases too and not only the numbers.

I don’t know how to solve any of these problems. But I do have a few thoughts about it. First we ought to be aware of the problems and to recognize that we live in unprecedented times. One cannot for example ignore the internet. Nor can it be successfully banned. But one should do the best they can to set up parental controls, rules, and guidelines about its use. And avoid giving very young children hand held devices.

Of course the most important factor is to love our children unconditionally. Even – and perhaps especially – if they are at risk or OTD. They must know that they will always be loved; part of the family; and welcomed in the homes. Even if they are Mechalel Shabbos, and eat Treif. A bare headed son or daughter whose modesty does not measure up to family or community standards must be accepted. No matter what others in your community think! That may not bring them back. But it will for sure not push them away should they ever want to come back.

Another much harder thing to accomplish is to change the current penchant of religious schools to demand ever increasing religious standards for – not only their students but their parents.

The same thing is to be said with the ever increasing academic standards; or Torah study standards. I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be top schools in an area of study in either Limudei Kodesh or Limudei Chol. But they should be special schools reserved for the very best, brightest and most highly motivated students among us. Putting a child that does not have those qualifications into schools like those will almost certainly set up them up for failure. And failure should never be an option.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah .

Harry Maryles

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/haemtza/when-good-children-go-otd/2013/08/08/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: