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December 21, 2014 / 29 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘idea’

Chic Hanging Vases

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

For many of us, there can never be too many flowers around, so here are some “bright” ideas to add to your Sukkah decoration repertoire

Supplies

Clear light bulb Small needle nose pliers Screwdriver Long screw Fishing line type thread (available at sewing/craft store) Cloth gloves and goggles for hand and eye protection

 

 

Directions

Diagram A

Using your pliers, carefully remove the metal piece from the bottom of the bulb. (Diagram A)

Diagram B

After the piece is removed there will be a hole in center. Begin breaking away the black glass insulator by inserting a screw in the hole and prying out. (Diagram B)

 

Diagram C

With the bottom of the bulb removed, begin removing the innards of the bulb carefully with the pliers and screwdriver. (Diagrams C and D). Caution: Though this task is not at all complicated, caution should be used as the glass is (obviously) fragile.

Diagram D

Measure how low you want vase to hang down, double the thread and cut accordingly.

Diagram E

Wrap the thread around the neck of the bulb and tie a double knot. (In order to insure the vase hangs straight, it is a good idea to take another string and tie it the opposite way. Then, take the strings from both sides and tie them together to form a “handle.” (Diagram E).)

 

Hanging options:

Hang from s’chach

Screw hooks into the wall and hang the vases from them – great as a filler in between decorations.

If cleaning out light bulbs is just not your thing, here’s a similar idea without the adventure.

Supplies

Clear plastic balls (available in craft stores in various sizes) Silk Flowers Fishing line type thread (available at sewing/craft store)

Directions

Remove silk flowers from stem and place in one side of the ball, close ball.

Thread the fishing line through the hole on top of the ball

Language of The Heart: A Conversation With Rabbi Moshe Tzvi Weinberg

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Rabbi Moshe Tzvi Weinberg, mashgiach ruchani of Yeshiva University’s SBMP (Irving I Stone Beit Midrash Program) was born and raised in Philadelphia. Rabbi Weinberg currently lives in Bergenfield, NJ with his wife and three daughters.

KG: You have been educating students for a long time? How did you make the transition to educating the public?

RW: I feel very fortunate to have been blessed with opportunities to speak beyond my “official” teaching positions. When we lived in Teaneck, I had numerous opportunities to give Shabbos derashos and shiurim in our young couples shul. From there I began speaking in someone’s home in Bergenfield on Thursday night, and as the shiur grew, we moved it to Bnai Yeshurun in Teaneck. The Thursday night parsha and chassidus shiur has been one of the highlights of my week for the last 2 years. The shiurim were well received and it has led to invitations from other communities, schools and camps to share the messages of our Torah.

What is it about your messages that you think resonates with younger audiences?

While it may seem somewhat obvious, I have always tried to speak to the heart of my audience. I once read a great quote from the Bendiner Rav (who was a son-in-law of the famed Gerrer Rebbe, the Sfas Emes). He said in the name of his grandfather, “Just as a person from England only understands English, so too the heart only understands the language of the heart.” I have tried (and continue to strive) to learn to speak and teach “the language of the heart” to all who are open to learning it. The shiurim I give are always filled with a wide-range of Torah sources ranging from the words of our sages to the writings of the great Chassidic masters and Mussar giants. If you offer a wide range of approaches and ideas, hopefully everyone finds something to leave them feeling inspired.

What message do you hope young audiences come away with?

There is no doubt that we live in spiritually trying times. The challenges facing today’s youth can be extremely overwhelming. I try to inspire people to believe in themselves and to strive for true greatness. We have come so far as a people and to see people lose confidence in their ability to make a difference is a real tragedy.

What do you think educators can learn from camp programs?

I love the camp atmosphere! I wish our schools would adopt some of the great benefits of informal Jewish education and try to incorporate them into the regular school year. In truth, I would love to see grades removed from all Judaic Studies classes and allow students to study the Torah for its sake. While I certainly understand the challenges of doing so, it troubles me that we have turned Torah study into just another class. Our students have to see Torah as the basis of their very lives and not some external system imposing itself upon them. Camp creates a great opportunity to grow spiritually as the religious experiences are usually presented without the pressures of a formal school environment. The past two summers I have headed a post-Israel learning program for young women returning from seminary. Their enthusiasm for Torah and religious growth is remarkable and they are a great pleasure to teach and spend time with.

What do you see as the main philosophy in chinuch?

As I see it, we have to face the harsh reality that the lure of secular society is tugging at the hearts and minds of today’s youth. We therefore have an absolute obligation to make Judaism as meaningful and attractive as possible. If we can’t inspire our children and students to believe that our relationship with our Creator is our greatest gift and privilege, then we risk losing the future of the Jewish people to the fast-paced hedonistic world around us. As a teacher, I have to know that at the end of the day, each student will choose the lifestyle that he or she wants to live. Sadly, forcing a student to be obedient to Torah will only last until he reaches an age where he can sever those ties. We must show the next generation the great beauty and depth of meaning and purpose that accompanies a religious lifestyle. Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld of Yerushalayim was once asked to give a letter of recommendation for a new yeshiva opening in his neighborhood. He responded that he would only do so if the school felt confident that Mashiach could be a graduate of their program! We need our students to be proud Jews and feel that they have endless potential to impact the world around them.

Tishrei: A Time to Examine Your Deeds and Your Portfolio

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

What did you do when you built your portfolio? Did you invest the money and then simply walk away? Did you then expect to take another look in ten years’ time and find that you had miraculously become rich?

The financial world, like many other things in life, is always subject to change. Markets go up, and markets go down. What if there is a war in your part of the world, or a huge banking crisis? The financial markets are affected by so many outside factors, a lot of which are not necessarily as dramatic as the above two examples but still have their ramifications upon investments. For this reason, it is always a good idea to take a periodic check of your portfolio to see if the level of risk is still appropriate and if you need to readjust your investments in favor of something that would be better for your present circumstances.

This fiscal check could be compared with the annual reevaluation that Jews are supposed to make at this time of the year. The months of Elul and Tishrei are a time to examine your deeds. You look at what you have done over the past year and where you are going. Are the decisions that you made in the past for yourself and your family still right for you, given the circumstances in your lives that may have changed during the year? How have various challenges that you may have undergone affected the way that you live your life? When you look at the future, what do you see? Although you cannot predict what will happen, there are certain things that you may need to keep in mind and prepare for. Are you prepared for these events?

Spiritual accounting is similar to the financial accounting. In order to be an effective investor, it’s a good idea to sit down once a year with your financial adviser and ask:

- What has happened over the past year that might have changed the balance in your portfolio? – Which of your investments have become more or less risky as a result of market performance? (Learn more about assessing whether high or low risk is good for you.)

- What are your goals for this year, and do you have the means to accomplish them?

- Do you need to change anything in order to improve your financial situation? And if so, exactly what?

- What are the pros and cons of any possible financial move that you may be considering, in terms of hidden costs and taxes, as well as potential profits?

With best wishes in starting the New Year with renewed spiritual strength…and a reevaluated, stronger portfolio.

It’s My Opinion: Hurricane Season

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

The Labor Day weekend and the resumption of school are signals that mark the end of summer in many parts of the United States. Families have one last barbecue. Women put away their white shoes. Everyone anticipates the bright colors of falling leaves and cooler weather.

Florida has its own demarcation. It’s called the hurricane season, which comes at this time every year. The population invariably stresses out while watching a series of alphabetically named storms that either miss, brush by or hit our area. The feeling is one of helpless anticipation.

The news channels always have a field day with warnings and veiled prognostications of doom. Scenes of previous disasters are flashed across television screens. Reporters, donning full rain gear give on-scene bulletins, often before the first drops fall.

People are told to purchase water, canned food and emergency supplies. Stock is quickly depleted as shoppers mob local stores. Tempers are frayed.

As I write this column, a tropical storm, predicted to become a hurricane, is barreling toward South Florida. The idea that we have no control over where and if it will hit is sobering. We want to believe that modern technology has helped us to be masters of our fate. The assumption, obviously, is mistaken.

The hurricane season and all its uncertainties are actually of some merit. It serves as a wake-up call and a reality check of life.

Rosh Hashanah rapidly approaches. It is intended as a time of introspection and examination. Hopefully, the lessons of hurricane season will be helpful as we understand we are not the ultimate arbitrators of life.

2016: Effective, Well Done, a Caveat or Two

Monday, August 27th, 2012

I was surprised to discover that Dinesh D’Souza’s 2016: Obama’s America opened in my little town on Friday. I wasn’t expecting that, given the limited release and our off-the-beaten-track charm. But there it was, so I went to the very first showing at 12:30 PM.

The effectiveness of 2016 comes from its use of imagery to overlay the narrative. It’s one thing to read D’Souza’s thesis on Barack Obama (Jr. and Sr.). It’s another thing to see images conveying its elements.

D’Souza starts the narrative with himself, which is a questionable composition choice. I know one of his chief themes is contrasting Obama’s biography with his, since they were born in the same year and both came from a background steeped in anti-colonialism. But it might have been more powerful to begin by painting Obama, and then bring in the contrast with D’Souza.

The sequence comes off like D’Souza presenting his life as the ordinary standard from which Obama, Jr. deviates. I believe what he means to convey is that it is possible – and in fact better – to overcome your philosophical roots in anti-colonialism: look what Dinesh D’Souza did, as opposed to Obama, Jr. That’s a valid point, but it could be made more explicitly. The passage with the brown hands – D’Souza observing that he and Obama, Jr. are the same color – comes off unfortunately like a cheap, throw-away impression. If it had been paired with an outright statement that “brown people” don’t have to obsess over race and a history of colonialism that is now 50 years in the rearview mirror, it would, for me, have been more effective.

D’Souza’s thesis is basically the narrow one that Obama, Jr. is an anti-colonialist like Obama, Sr.:  that that is the “dream” from the president’s father, and it animates whatever Obama, Jr. does in politics. The film is very good at putting the viewer in the milieu of Jakarta or Nairobi, which continue to feel “different” enough to engage the American viewer’s sense of distance and wonder. Conveying the difference of Obama, Jr.’s childhood and his idea of cultural roots – the difference from American life – is the movie’s most effective accomplishment.

Insofar as he makes his own point about Obama, Jr. and anti-colonialism, D’Souza does it well. I think it would have been useful to develop the idea of “anti-colonialism” more, so that it was clearer how it relates to the president’s current policies. An important point is also begging to be made, and isn’t in the movie: that anti-colonialism is a dead idea, like all the others Obama and his advisors work from. It is an antique, like Marxism, with its spirit gone and nothing left but a deformed death mask: suitable for museums but not for modern use.

Not only was anti-colonialism never usefully descriptive of reality – it doesn’t even matter anymore. The fight against colonialism was won half a century ago, and two generations have emerged that never knew it. As with the themes about “war on women” and “racism” and other rhetorical campaigns waged by Team Obama in the language of 1960s radicalism, anti-colonialism is a dead letter. It is pathetic and sad to think that policy for America today might be made on the premise of it.

Imagine carrying the elaborate grudge inside yourself for 40-odd years, as reality forges ahead around you, making it ridiculous. Obama is surrounded by practitioners who have made a set of outdated grudges their life’s work, and they are still battering on the people with their financially costly themes of anger and vengeance – none of them updated from ca. 1968.

The film predicts, in broad strokes, what America will look like in 2016 if Obama is reelected. The pattern of “grudge-holding battening” will simply drive up the national debt. 2016 suggests a figure of $20 trillion, which is perfectly reasonable. The film makes the point that if America’s monetary solvency collapses, there is nowhere else in the world to go: no refuge from the chaos. That’s true, and it’s why even our enemies are sticking with the dollar and waiting to position themselves better for the aftermath.

D’Souza’s other major prediction is that a “United States of Islam” will emerge across North Africa and the Middle East by 2016. With this, I do not agree. The emerging Islamist governments of Egypt, Turkey, and Iran will continue to compete with each other for primacy. Saudi Arabia will remain on her path of sclerotic “leadership.” Other Muslim nations will coalesce around them and loose “blocs” will form and fall apart. The prominent Islamist nations will profess friendship and unity on a regular basis, but that won’t be the governing dynamic at the deck-plate level. To unite a caliphate, you need a caliph, and there won’t be one by 2016.  There will still be several aspiring to the job.

The Greatest Misconception

Monday, August 13th, 2012

http://fresnozionism.org/2012/08/the-greatest-misconception/

The single greatest misconception about the conflict between Israel and its neighbors is that it’s about the Palestinians. A corollary to this is the idea that creating a Palestinian state would be a step toward peace.

Focusing on the relations between Israel and the Palestinians turns the conflict inside out. In fact it is driven by the absolute rejection of a Jewish state in the Middle East by all the Muslim nations in the region, which dates back to the beginning of Zionism, before the founding of the state of Israel, before the development of specifically Palestinian nationalism, and long before the 1967 war.

This rejection was founded on religious principles and ethnic hatred, and has been aggressively nurtured over the years by various parties — Muslim leaders, the Nazis, British colonialists and the Soviets — and has developed a mythical history whose consequence is that the honor of the Muslim nations and the purity of the land can only be regained by extirpating Jewish sovereignty.

A huge amount of anti-Israel propaganda and psychological warfare, much of which was guided by the Soviet KGB, amplified the conflict. In the Arab world, such things as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the idea that Israel or international Jewry perpetrated 9/11 (in order to blame it on Arabs), and numerous accusations that Westerners would call ‘crazy’, are accepted as non-controversial truths.

Since 1967, the international Left — especially including Jewish and Israeli leftists — has adopted the Palestinian cause and accepted the historical myth about Israel’s creation as ethnic cleansing of a Palestinian nation. While not as gullible as the Arabs, the Left is prepared to believe almost any accusation about Israeli mistreatment of Palestinians, including stories about massacres, murders of Palestinian children, etc.

Both Muslims and the Left have been sufficiently impacted by anti-Jewish and anti-Israel brainwashing to the point that they are not able to evaluate information inputs about the subject rationally. Israel, for them, is the Devil.

For those of us who still have open minds, the explanatory power of the idea that the basis of the conflict is the existence of a Jewish state and not the lack of a Palestinian one, is obvious.

The Arab states have been historically unfriendly to the Palestinian Arabs. During the War of Independence, they encouragedthe flight of Arabs from Israeli-held territory. After the war they repressed Palestinian nationalism in their territories except insofar as guerrillas could be used against Israel. Egyptian rule in Gaza was particularly brutal and oppressive. Arab nations except Jordan never gave Palestinians citizenship, and in some cases (e.g., Lebanon and Saudi Arabia), placed restrictions on residence, employment and education that can only be called apartheid. Jordan and Lebanon fought mini-wars against the PLO, and Kuwait and Saudi Arabia expelled Palestinians after the Gulf War.

If the Arab nations had wanted a Palestinian state in the territories, they could have established one in 1948-67. But that was (almost) the last thing they wanted! Instead, they fought every initiative to integrate Palestinian refugees, so that they could be used as a weapon against Israel.

Even the Palestinian leadership itself famously turned down the possibility of sovereignty in 1938, 1947, 2000-1, and 2008. They tell us that the offers weren’t good enough — they lied about the content of the Camp David offer, according to US negotiator Dennis Ross — but one would think that a people thirsting for a state would take an offer, even if it was initially less than what they hoped for (the Jews did).

These facts are mystifying if you think that the conflict is based on the ‘need’ for a Palestinian state. But the mystery vanishes when you understand that it is all about the existence of a Jewish state.

No technocratic compromise which would create a Palestinian state while keeping a Jewish one has ever been acceptable to the Palestinians. Currently, they keep coming up with preconditions which prevent negotiations from taking place. Why? Because they know that Israel will not agree to commit suicide. Better to get what they can unilaterally from the UN.

Today the military forces poised against Israel come primarily from Iran, and its proxy Hizballah, as well as a Syrian regime that is more and more propped up by Iran. Iranian propaganda, of course, pays lip service to the Palestinians, but is mainly focused on the idea that Zionism must be destroyed, and not that Palestine should be established. It goes without saying that if Iran launches its threatened missile war against Israel, Palestinian Arabs on both sides of the Green Line will be in harm’s way.

A Paradoxical Relationship

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

http://fresnozionism.org/2012/08/a-paradoxical-relationship/

Commentators are fond of saying that the US-Israel relationship is ‘complicated’. Actually, it’s not.

Let’s explain what is usually considered a major paradox: the US provides billions in military aid to Israel, enabling it to keep its enemies at bay. But at the same time its diplomats claim that they don’t know what the capital is, and the major thrust of US policy since 1973 has been to force Israel to withdraw to indefensible boundaries, despite the obvious damage to its security.

Israel’s foes in the US will say that the aid is extorted by the all-powerful “Israel lobby.” But this is nonsense — AIPAC (stupidly, in my opinion) brags about how powerful it is, but it has lost more than one important battle. And there are countervailing forces, like the Saudi lobby, which has been very effective in quietly working against Israel through its academic grants and “post-emptive bribery” of government officials (“scratch our backs today and we’ll feather your nest when you retire,” to mix metaphors) like Jimmy Carter.

There are several reasons for the military aid: one is that it is spent in the US, which is helpful to our economy. And where else can we sell weapons without worrying that they might some day be turned against our own soldiers? But the main reason is that the great majority of Americans strongly support Israel, want to see it survive, and express this to their members of Congress.

Walter Russell Mead, in a perceptive discussion of Mitt Romney’s attitude toward Israel, wrote,

…the idea that Israel needs us and that it is both our moral duty and a strategic interest to support it to the hilt has sunk so deeply into the American public mind that Governor Romney can hardly go wrong in standing up for it.

It sounds odd, but it is very true: Israel is as American as apple pie. By showing how much he loves Israel, Governor Romney is telling millions of voters that he is a solid and loyal American.

Don’t think that the other side doesn’t understand this. Public support for Israel is under siege from several directions.

Probably most important is the attempt to turn Christian believers against Israel, by falsely accusing Israel of mistreatment of Palestinian Christians — every Christmas we see a flood of media items to this effect — or by pushing anti-Jewish replacement theology. They have been much more successful with the “mainstream” Protestant churches like the Presbyterians, whose General Assembly came within a couple of votes of calling for divestment from companies that do business with Israel, than with the Evangelicals, although they are trying.

What about secular Americans and Jews? Here the approach is to attack the idea that Israel really is a democracy that shares American values. So we have Peter Beinart arguing that Israel is becoming an undemocratic theocracy which behaves in racist ways toward minorities. We have representatives of the Union for Reform Judaism suggesting that Israel is institutionalizing the misogyny of ultra-orthodox extremists. There are even distorted analogies drawn between the Palestinian movement and the US civil rights movement!

The really interesting question is not why average Americans support Israel, but rather why our Administration and State Department continue to implement policies that are inimical to its survival, despite the clearly expressed will of the people.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/a-paradoxical-relationship/2012/08/02/

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