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July 28, 2016 / 22 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘hotel’

Hillary: She Was Radiant, She Was Funny, and She Was Almost Two Hours Late

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

The lobby of the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem was quiet and calm on Monday evening as journalists trickled in to see Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speak as part of her 13-day foreign tour. The atmosphere before the event was subdued, with only a few Israeli soldiers and navy blue, blazer-clad security agents milling about to give away the magnitude of what was coming.

After going through an intense security screening, we awaited her arrival…and waited. And waited.

About 45 minutes after she was scheduled to begin, there was still no sign of her. The anticipation and excitement were building as chatter filled the press room. A lady then took the microphone…to tell the crowd that Hillary would be another 40 minutes.

Finally, at close to 10:45 PM, an hour and forty-five minutes later than promised, Hillary stepped up to the podium.

When she entered, the sound of flashing cameras immediately flooded the room. It was the only noise to be heard—minus the soft click-clacking of her shoes.

She looked serene, calm and prepared.

It was a short conference, lasting less time than the wait for her arrival. She spoke for a few minutes about her recent trip to Egypt and reiterated her commitment to peace in the Middle East. It was clear that she knew what topics would be asked about, as her eyes regularly glanced down to her notes before she responded. Even so, there was one answer that was not so expected, and actually yielded a quite shocking response:

Speaking about the fate of Jonathan Pollard, Secretary Clinton said she believed that he would never be freed from his life sentence in America. The room was stunned by the blunt nature of the statement, and jolted as that harsh reality was brought out into the open.

Clinton’s politics have been discussed only slightly more than her appearance in the media. It’s often to my disappointment (if she were a man, it would never be such a point of discussion), but I will say that she was poised, confident and well put-together. Known for pastel colors, the Secretary of State updated the inevitable pants suit look to a clean black and cream.

The media often use the pants suits as fuel to criticize a masculine air, but tonight Secretary Clinton was both feminine and assertive. She even generated laughter in the room a couple of times. A few days ago tomatoes and shoes were thrown at her motorcade in Egypt, but Clinton remained un-phased, even joking that she felt bad that good tomatoes were wasted. When referencing the incident seriously, she explained it as people expressing a new type of freedom, even though their assumptions and conclusions were wrong.

A busy woman, it was clear that she was tired. But she charmed the crowd when, in the beginning, she said that although her traveling team is anxious to get home, she’d like to be hanging out in Jerusalem.

Personally, I also wish we could have hung out with her for a little longer in the holy city. The room covered the basics, such as Iran’s nuclear threat and U.S. involvement in the future, but we were still left with unanswered questions. One reporter made a last attempt by shouting that he wanted to ask about Turkey as Hillary stepped out of the room. Whisked away immediately to her awaiting motorcade, Clinton did not respond to the shout.

In reference to Egypt’s current situation, Clinton said, “Never in the 5,000-year history of Egypt have they ever had this opportunity or challenge.”

The Obama Administration doesn’t have 5,000 years. With Mitt Romney’s visit to Israel only a month away, Obama’s side needs its Israel creds to garner the Jewish American vote.

Alex Abel

Yitzchak Shamir – Israel’s Least Appreciated Prime Minister

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

I’m not sure which is sadder, the fact that Yitzchak Shamir has died or that people didn’t really know that he was still alive. For Shamir certainly was Israel’s least appreciated Prime Minister, despite presiding over some of the state’s greatest achievements.

And what was that principal achievement? He kept the people safe. Few died under his watch. He resisted international pressure for Israel to make concessions that would have led directly to buses blowing up.

As a Yeshiva student in Jerusalem for two years of Shamir’s premiership, I remember how safe the streets were. This was a time before security guards were posted at the door of most restaurants and department stores, which largely continues till today. Why? Because Shamir was adamant. He would make no territorial compromises that would endanger Israel’s security. He would sign no Oslo agreements where the Jewish state would agree to arm some of its most lethal enemies. He would not even speak to Yasser Arafat let along countenance bringing him back to the West Bank with a small army, disguised as a police force, to set up a terror regime with Israel’s assistance.

Shamir was not perfect. In particular, when it came to the economy he was weak. I remember the hyper-inflation in Jerusalem that saw nearly everyone trading American dollars on the black market (the official white market exchange rate paid pennies on the dollar) because of Israel’s falling currency. But economics was not his strong suit. Protecting Jewish life was.

I came to know Mr. Shamir quite well when I hosted him at the University of Oxford in the mid-90’s. He seemed all but forgotten even then and told me that his dramatic drop in popularity in Israel had been due to the euphoria over the premiership of Yitzchak Rabin and his dramatic overtures for peace. He told me this with a touch of resignation. It seemed he did feel underappreciated. More importantly, he seemed to divine the coming catastrophe. It would take the murder of some 1500 Israeli civilians (proportionally equivalent to about 70,000 Americans) and the rise of countless suicide bombings for the Israeli people to realize that Shamir’s ironclad commitment to hold on to vital security territories and not allow the PLO and Hamas to set up shop in Gaza and Ramallah was what kept terrorists out.

I spent about four days with Shamir, taking him – with a heavy police escort – to tourist destinations all around Oxfordshire. He wanted to stand at the grave of Winston Churchill and we travelled to Blenheim Palace in Woodstock nearby. Apparently, the great statesmen had tried to have Shamir arrested when he was head of Lehi. Now, Shamir, diminutive in appearance but a giant in stature, loomed over the great Prime Minister’s grave paying him homage and telling me that Churchill was an inspired man of rare greatness.

Shamir impressed all he met with his humility, warmth, and commitment to Judaism despite not being religious. I walked in on him and his wife as they were having lunch at the hotel where we put them up. Startled, he told me was embarrassed because the food was not kosher. I assured him I took no offense and was grateful for the many days he gave me and my students and the outstanding lecture he had given at the Oxford Union. Still, he said, he was raised to respect Rabbis and Judaism.

Many Arab students came to the large lecture he delivered and he responded respectfully to their questions. He said he had no animosity toward Arabs whatsoever and did not see them as Israel’s natural enemies. On the contrary, he felt that Israel’s success as a democracy gave hope to the Arab residents surrounding Israel that they too could one day live in free societies with real elections.

After our time together in Oxford I became a regular visitor to his office in Tel Aviv in Beit Amot Hamishpat, where the Israeli government provides offices for former premiers. Shamir’s office could not have been more sparse. I would walk in and by and large he would be listening to the radio. Remarkably, it was one of those rigged, junk contraptions with a hanger serving as antenna. He would always emerge from behind his desk, broad smile on his face, and greet me and my children warmly. We would spend about an hour together and he never once suggested that he did not have time to greet me or discuss whatever was on my mind.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Parshas Korach: ‘Impulsive Wealth’

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

In 1978, Michael Aun won the Toastmaster’s International Speaking contest in Vancouver. He remarks that although he is well-known for winning the contest in 1978, he lost it in 1977 in Toronto, because he went seven seconds over his allotted time. In his words, “Do you know what you do after you lose a contest because of seven seconds? You go up to your hotel room and you cry. But after a while, you realize that you can go for it again. A year later I won it in Vancouver. I often say that we have to remember that you often have to go through Toronto in order to get to Vancouver.”

That’s the way winner’s think. Winner’s focus on their strengths; losers focus on their weakness. Winners are challenged by defeat while losers are paralyzed by defeat. What everyone remembers about Michael Aun is his triumph in Vancouver. But they soon forget the defeats.

Losers spend their time in the pursuit of happiness; winners spend their time in the happiness of the pursuit.

Winners search for the challenges; losers search for security!

The tragic rebellion of Korach is of the saddest accounts of the nation’s travails in the desert. Rashi[1] asks, if Korach was such a distinguished and clever individual what prompted him to mount a rebellion against Moshe Rabbeinu, the leader of Klal Yisroel?

Rashi answers that Korach’s eyes caused him to err. Korach prophetically saw that holy leaders and great individuals would emerge from his progeny, including Shmuel Hanavi, who in his time, was as great as Moshe and Aharon combined. Korach concluded that if such greatness was to emerge from him he could not allow himself to be denied greater prestige and influence. He was convinced that the merit of his erstwhile descendants would protect him, and that he had a responsibility to achieve greater renown for their sake.

Rav Avrohom Pam zt’l[2] noted that Korach should have reached the exact opposite conclusion. If he was to father such great personages he should have seen it as beneath his dignity to incite an imbroglio against Moshe. He should have concluded that it does not befit the ancestor of Shmuel Hanavi to dispute the leader of Klal Yisroel over honor and glory.

The true initiator of Korach’s tragic rebellion was his wife. She would deride him for being silent and unassuming. “Whenever Moshe blows the trumpet, you and your fellow porters come running to shlep the Holy Ark to its next location. For someone so distinguished you are treated like a nobody. Moshe ensured that his closest family members have all of the most distinguished positions, but you get nothing!” Eventually her inflammatory remarks provoked Korach to challenge Moshe’s authority.

In Mishlei (28:20) it says, “One who is impatient to become rich will not become exonerated.” The Medrash applies this verse to Korach. Korach couldn’t wait to enjoy the honor and greatness he anticipated from his descendants and so he tried to grasp it prematurely. The results proved disastrous.

Yirmiyahu (17:11) warns us, “One who amasses wealth unjustly will lose it in the middle of his days.” Prima facie, the prophets foreboding words seem puzzling. Aren’t there many individuals who employ unethical means to achieve wealth and prominence, and then seem to enjoy the fruits of their unscrupulous actions in comfort?

Rav Pam explained that such individuals represent the greatest tragedy of all. There are individuals who are predestined to become wealthy for whatever divine reason. G-d has ordained that somehow they would become rich. Had they not succumbed to immoral activities they would have had their money anyway. Thus they gained absolutely nothing by being dishonest and deceitful. What a tragedy that they could have enjoyed their wealth and not have had to be punished for it in the next world. When the prophet warns of those who will lose their wealth rapidly he is referring to one who is not predestined to become wealthy. All of his schematic efforts will ultimately prove futile and “he will lose it in the middle of his days.”

This concept is not limited to wealth but to honor and prestige too. One can only achieve what G-d wills him to achieve, and all of his efforts will accomplish nothing if it is not meant to be. This was the root of Korach’s fallacious thinking. G-d had planned a glorious future for him, albeit through his descendants. But Korach was impatient and impulsive, and he thought mounting a coup-de-tat could alter his destiny. The error cost him not only his life and the lives of his family and followers, but also his share in the World to Come.

Rabbi Dani Staum

OU To Host Annual Marriage Enrichment Retreat

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

The Orthodox Union will hold its seventh Marriage Enrichment Retreat from Friday, July 13through Sunday, July 15 at the Hudson Valley Resort and Spa in Kerhonkson, New York.

The adults-only weekend is geared toward happily married couples who wish to learn to communicate and relate on a deeper emotional level. Free from their daily distractions and routines, couples will be able to concentrate on one another and strengthen their marriage commitment.

“In the medical, accounting, and legal professions, people need continuing education credits to [complement] their credentials,” OU National Director of Community Services and Special Projects Frank Buchweitz told The Jewish Press.

“Many people think they are supposed to go into marriage knowing how to navigate it successfully. The retreat provides continuing credits for people to strengthen their relationships.”

Rachel Pill, LCSW, a popular presenter back for her fourth retreat, told The Jewish Press that “so often we are bombarded with what is wrong in our community, and this retreat is focused on the positive. It gives couples an opportunity to really focus on each other and to learn new things, gain some tips and spend the whole weekend listening to great speakers.”

Workshops such as “Make Your Good Marriage a GREAT Marriage,” “Enrich Your Relationship,” and “Enhance Your Communication Skills” will provide building blocks for lasting relationships, as will special presentations from OU Executive Vice President Rabbi Steven Weil and his wife, Yael. Buffet-style meals provide opportunities to create new relationships with people from across the country representing a wide cross-section of Orthodoxy.

Judy and Dovid Landman wrote of their experience at the retreat: “Our fears of hashkafic discordance went unfounded as we saw and heard the high caliber of the speakers and were treated to some beautiful divrei Torah. We came away relaxed and rejuvenated both physically and spiritually and were ready to synchronize all that we had learned.”

The Landmans were particularly inspired by “the array of people who attended the retreat. There was every color of the Jewish rainbow present – truly a sense of mah tovu ohalecha Yaakov. After all, we were all here for the same purpose, no matter what hue you represented in that rainbow.”

Editor’s Note: Cost includes hotel, meals, workshops, and tips for waitstaff. Spots are almost sold out, so call Hannah Farkas at 212-613- 8351 for more information and to register.

Karen Greenberg

How To Make Good Memories: Remembering The Critical Parts Of Our Lives

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Have you noticed that we seem to have preferential memory for the unpleasant things that happen to us? Try as we might to provide our children with good experiences and positive memories, it is the memories that evoke fear, pain, sadness, etc. seem to be the ones that stand out. I lived in Atlanta for six years, years of good, happy and fun times, yet the memory that stands out is my experience with chicken pox. A few years ago, my family had an amazing time at a Shabbaton in a luxurious hotel. The food, swimming, activities, and beautiful hotel room with a view of the Jersey shore, were part of a beautiful experience. Yet when we returned to the same room in the same hotel this year, they identified the room with their most striking memory of the previous experience—this was the room that their brother got (slightly) injured in while playing on the porch. Three days of sheer enjoyment, yet their recollection was of the mild injury.

The preference for the unpleasant memory makes it particularly important for parents to use positive words when reprimanding their children. We can have a long, seemingly productive conversation about working harder at school, and then we slip and use a derogatory term. The result? The negative slip of the tongue is all the child will remember from the conversation. Instead of taking the conversation as a lesson in change, the child will think his parents think that he is stupid and can’t succeed. That one word will be the only memory he or she will take from the lengthy conversation. Feedback is often important, but it should be wrapped in a nice box and topped with a bow. If we want to convince others to change and grow, it must be done in a way that will be accepted and hopefully appreciated.

The verse in Devarim (25:3) relates to the punishment of lashes, “Forty stripes he may give him, he shall not exceed; lest, if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then your brother should be dishonored before your eyes.” The verse seems to be repetitive, giving us two forms of warning to refrain from administering too many lashes. Some explain that the first warning is for the judges, a reminder to refrain from giving too many lashes, while the second warning is for parents and teachers; our rebuke of children should be done softly, not in a harsh manner and laced with anger.

The Steipler Gaon z”tl was once asked about disciplining children, and he responded that discipline must be administered according to the nature of the child. Not only should the punishment be appropriate for the “crime,” but our manner of discipline and choice of words must match the personality of the child. For example, one must be more careful with a sensitive child. The Steipler Gaon quoted the Vilna Gaon as saying that discipline which emerges from anger is always prohibited. If our goal is to evoke change in the child, then we must leave him with the impression that we love him and that it is worthwhile to listen and change.

Ironically, as adults we are fully aware of the difficulty of changing ourselves—our eating habits, smoking habits, behavior and relationship patterns—yet we expect children to change instantly just because we ask them to! We must realize that children also need help to change their habits and traits, and they may need support to calm themselves from a tantrum (more than telling them to “stop crying”!).

It is important for children to see that the purpose of rebuke or punishment is for self-improvement and to teach them a lesson, not as revenge or as an outgrowth of the parents’ anger. It is explained in halacha that rebuke must be given out of love; the person hearing the rebuke must hear words of love, and the person receiving the rebuke must feel the love that you have from them.

I recently heard a stirring eulogy delivered by a son for his father. From his father’s method of discipline, he knew that his father loved and cared for him. After misbehaving, children are often sent to a “time-out” location until they were ready to apologize or do teshuva. In this particular home, the pantry in the kitchen was the time-out location where he was sent to contemplate his misdeeds. When he was “exiled” to the pantry, his father would join him! He sat next to him, put his arm around him, and told him that, as his father, it was his responsibility to teach him to behave. The father made the son feel that he loved him and communicated the feeling that if the son misbehaves, the father was also responsible and therefore must join him in his punishment exile, until they both together were able to rectify the situation. They waited together in the pantry until the lesson was learned, whereupon they would join the family activities. Thus, the son clearly saw that his father’s rebuke stemmed from love, and the direct result of the punishment was a stronger feeling of his father’s love for him.

Rabbi Gil Frieman

A Jew on Broadway

Monday, May 7th, 2012

http://notajew-jew.com/?p=240

I am converting to Judaism.  Which means I did not grow up as a Jew.  Which means I have never felt singled out as a Jew, or persecuted for being a Jew – except the one time I was Jew-bashed and almost killed.  But that was an anomaly.  In fact it was a mistake.  And it certainly didn’t give me the feeling of what it’s like to live openly as a Jew.

Right now is one of the best times in history, and America is one of the best places in the world, to live openly as a Jew.  And one of the best places in America to don a Kippah (yarmulke) and walk around without fear is in New York City.

So, I wasn’t being a hero when I wore my Kippah to meetings in the Upper West Side and in the Theater District, or even around my hotel in Harlem.  And I’ve found the same to be true across the country; rather than singling me out, my Kippah tends to bring out the best in people, and even acts as a friendly conversation starter.

Except when I found myself in a darkened Broadway theater, watching Jesus get hoisted on a cross by Judas Iscariot, surrounded by people with tears and/or rage in their eyes.  At that moment, being the only person in the room with a Kippah on his head…made me stand out.

I’m talking about the Broadway musical Godspell, which I went to on a friend’s recommendation.  Look, I’m not much of a theater guy, folks, so what do I know?  I assumed it was about Jesus, but hey: I figured it would be a bunch of lighthearted singing and dancing – jazz-hands at the worst – not some brutal attack on Jews.

And it was fine for a while.  Until the intermission.  Walking around in the lobby, then returning to my seat in an empty row in the half-empty theater, I saw people looking at me…differently.  Not a lot of friendly conversations were started that night.  Not one.  Maybe they knew what was coming in Act 2, just like Jesus did.  Heck, we all knew that it wouldn’t turn out well for him.  What I didn’t know was how the play would radically warp the character and actions of Judas.

Look, I’m not much more of an expert on the New Testament than I am on Broadway musicals but, from my recollection of the Gospels, a spotlighted Judas didn’t personally hoist Jesus onto a cross, pause to hear him scream, then hoist him some more.  Pretty sure it was the Romans hoisting Jesus onto a Roman cross.

But it was the reaction of the crowd, and in particular one cast member, that made me feel like the spotlight was on me.  The crowd was angry.  Not “angry-at-the-rich-people-in-Titanic” angry.  Angry.  And the rage on stage was not “crocodile-tears-from-stage-actors.”  It was real.  The clenched fists were real.  The tears were real.  The rage was real. The room was buzzing with rage.

I could have left the theater.  In fact, I almost did.  When the light-hearted singing and dancing of Act 1 turned into Jesus slamming Rabbis and Jewish laws, I began looking for the exit.

But I forced myself to stay.  Because I had never experienced this as a Jew.  I knew what was coming in Act 2.  I didn’t know it would be that bad or distorted, but I knew that things would not turn out well for the male lead, which would probably not sit well with the audience.

So I stayed.  I took it.  I experienced it.  As a Jew.

It was just a Broadway play.  It was just make-believe.  I can only imagine what it must have been like for Jews in another country, in another time.

But I can imagine it a tiny bit more clearly today.

Not a Jew -> Jew

Roundup: Organ Donation, Abomination, Beer Nation, Cross-Davenation, Plus the Settlers of Tel Aviv

Friday, May 4th, 2012

It’s the 12th of Iyar. On this day in the year 70, Roman General Titus breached the middle wall of Jerusalem (it was June 5 back then). It’s the yahrzeit (in 1778) of Reb Shmuel Shmelke Halevi Horowitz of Nikolsburg. On his first day as the Rabbi of Nikolsburg, he made it rain. It was downhill from there… In 1910 on this day, the tiny settlement of Ahuzat Bayit outside Jaffa, with 66 families of Jewish settlers, changed its name to Tel Aviv. The fledgling settlement was sacked by Arabs, also on the 12th of Iyar, in 1917. The Turkish governor announced it was time to purge Palestine of its Jews. But, lo and behold, on the 12th of Iyar, 1949, Israel was admitted as the 59th member of the UN.

Let’s blog!

Craving: I’m going to have to make it Ever have a craving for something you just can’t get? I’ve got a craving for something that can’t be shipped. It can’t be bought. It can’t be found here, there, or anywhere any longer (the place that sold it closed after the owner died). I’ve got a craving for the best damn pizza I’ve ever had in my life and it didn’t even have any tomato sauce. It was a “twice-baked potato pizza pie” sold at a little pizza place in Athens, Ohio. It. Was. To. Die. For. Pizza. Yael K, Life in Israel

Mumbai Wedding As the afternoon sun hit its peak, Haran and I pulled up to his small one-and-a-half-bedroom flat on the outskirts of East Mumbai, India, some 20 minutes from the airport. The building’s shiny tin roof showed that money was in short supply. But inside the apartment, with Indian hospitality, Haran’s wife Geeta (a surprisingly non-Jewish name) served me perfectly spiced hot tea. She sat down next to her husband, and they began telling their story. Joseph Mayton, Jewish Ideas Daily

Own a Mossad Director’s Watch! Yes! Always wanted one! And not just any Mossad Director’s watch but the one worn by none other than Isser Harel who was the director of both the Shin Bet and the Mossad. The watch is coming up for auction on Sunday… CK, Jewlicious

Facebook and the End of Organ Donation Facebook’s recent introduction of an organ donor status, to boost donor participation, affords a welcome opportunity to discuss a recent comprehensive work on Judaism and the definition of death. Gil Student, Hirhurim

Long Hot Summer, Election Mode I guess it’s pretty official by now. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will end shiva (the Jewish week of mourning) for his father and announce that there will be new elections, a bit early, in Israel. Ever since Bibi put together his coalition the media and opposition have been predicting that his government wouldn’t last. Batya, Shiloh Musings

Brother, Can You Buy Me a Beer? When it comes to the nonviolent tactic of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, the United Methodist Church now has B and S covered. But without the D, is it just BS? No, not entirely. Jewschool

I Am a Cross-Davener Week after week and year after year of meaningless socializing and feeling lack of meaning in my prayers. I decided to try out Kehillat Hadar. An open orthodox style minyan with mixed seating. DovBear

Anti-Semitism in America I am absolutely convinced that in all of Jewish history, there has never been a country like the United States – that is built entirely on religious tolerance and – in the 21st century is living up to that principle. There is so much evidence of it – that I reject the notion that America is no different than any other country both past and present – countries that have made life very difficult for a Jew. To say the least. Harry Maryles, Emes Ve-Emunah

United Church Report Shows How Israel-Haters Have Lost the Argument According to a new report from the United Church of Canada, “the deepest meaning of the Holocaust was the denial of human dignity to Jews.”

Oh, really? Actually, I’d say that the “deepest meaning of the Holocaust” was the slaughter of six-million human beings. Being strip-searched by police for no good reason is an infringement of one’s “dignity.” Getting thrown into a gas chamber is a little bit more serious. I’m guessing the last thoughts of the victims at Auschwitz, as their silent shrieks left their throats, wasn’t “Oh my, but this is undignified.” Steve Lieblich, Jewish Issues Watchdog

The Life of Julia The entire paragraph seemed like a horrible parody made by Republicans to poke fun at Obama’s policies by showing that a woman could basically live her whole life off the backs of taxpayers …and then I realized that I’d skimmed too quickly and missed a few key words. Ezzie Goldish, SerandEz and Friends

Tibbi Singer

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