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October 30, 2014 / 6 Heshvan, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Jewish community’

Jewish Cemetery South of Prague Vandalized

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

The Jewish cemetery south of Prague has been vandalized, with over 26 tombstones being knocked over, according to Czech police.  Many of the stones were broken into pieces.

The cemetery is not conducting further burials, and is located in the village of Prudice, 40 miles south of Prague.

Prague is famous as the hometown and burial place of the Maharal, who is said to have used Kabbalistic means to create a large monster called a Golem to protect the Jewish community from anti-Semitic attackers.

 

For Victims of Abuse – A Warm Embrace

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Note from Harry Maryles: I usually take this time on the eve of the New Year to reflect on what kind if a year this was for me. The sudden death of my grandson Reuven who suffered from cancer was unexpected. Although his prognosis was never great, he had defied the odds by living as long as he did. People all over the world davened for him and for that I am still grateful.  But it was not meant to be.

On one unusually warm morning in early March of this year Reuven was taken from us as he suddenly collapsed – never to resuscitated. That was one of the hardest days of my life.  But I am grateful to God for all the blessings he as otherwise given me.  And with God’s help I look forward to a much better year ahead.
 
Aside from that personal note, I am going to relinquish the space I give here to any additional reflection or the Dvar Torah I usually give on Erev Yom Tov- to Rabbi Yakov Horowitz. He asked me if I would cross post an essay from his website on my blog. After reading it, I decided that there is no Dvar Torah that I could deliver that would be more important than his words.
With all the troubles facing Klal Yisroel now, I don’t think there is a single issue more important than the issue of sex abuse in our community. We all know the horror stories the survivors of abuse tell us. And we all too often hear of the devastating consequences they face – some for many years after.
 
In part the altered lives they live are a result of the abuse itself. But it is in part also because of the unfortunate negative reaction to the victims by their own community.  It is to this sad reality that Rabbi Horowitz speaks. The new year is not only a time for reflection. It is a time for change. If there is one thing we need to change as a community it is how we treat victims of abuse.
 
Ksiva V’Chasima Tova to all. The following are Rabbi Horowitz’s words.
As we prepare to stand before Hashem in the days to come, and daven (pray) for ourselves, our families and all of Klal Yisroel, those of us who work with survivors of abuse and molestation ask you to publicly show your support for them in these yemei rachamim (days of mercy).
Part and parcel of the strategy employed by many of the predators in our community is to discredit their victims who have the courage to step forward and press charges against them. Typically, the molester will point to the victim’s 1) diminished level of religious observance and/or 2) self-destructive behaviors, like substance abuse, to “prove” his own innocence.However, for those of us who work with at-risk teens, the fact that one of our tayere kinderlach engaged in hard-core drug use, self-mutilation, suicide attempts, or left Yiddishkeit, makes it MORE likely that the accusation is true, not less. Why? Because we have known for many years now that the vast majority of our kids who have descended into the gehenom of these destructive activities have done so because they were molested.Of all the horror committed by predators against our innocent, precious boys and girls, the premeditated and deliberate defamation of their character is perhaps the most unforgivable; since it abuses them all over again and adds to their disconnect from our kehila – when what they need most is our acceptance and love.
With that in mind, I respectfully ask our readers to please stand with the brave survivors and their families who have the courage to take the lonely path of coming forward and pressing charges, with the other silent and silenced victims who are watching the high-profile cases unfold very carefully to determine whether they too should risk going to the authorities, and with all survivors of abuse and molestation.Precisely because the predators attempt to discredit and disgrace the victims and their families, is all the more reason why we need to reach out to them and let them know how much we respect and care for them.Kindly take a few minutes from your busy schedules and post a Rosh Hashana bracha in the thread* following these lines, and have them in mind in your Tefillos. Previous efforts to garner public support for victims were extraordinarily comforting to them, as they help restore their faith in humanity and let them know that the vast majority of our community members are behind them.
Please include your real names and the names of the cities where you live to personalize your message and to send a clear message that we proudly stand with the survivors and their families.
Abuse survivors are our heilege neshamosour holy souls. They have endured unspeakable trauma in their lives and had their childhood cruelly stolen from them, because they learned at a very young age, at the mercy of cunning and evil predators, to never trust again. Nonetheless, the vast, overwhelming majority of survivors seek no revenge or retribution. They only hope and pray that today’s children be spared from the horror they endured.
Regardless of their observance level, we ought to welcome these survivors as full and respected members of our kehilos. We ought to commit to them that we will do everything possible to remove from our community those who prey on our innocent children and speak truth to power if necessary in the coming year to keep all our children safe and secure.If the great tzadik, Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev zt’l were alive, I imagine that he would embrace abuse survivors in his shul on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur and proclaim to Hashem, “Master of the Universe, look at these heilige neshamos who have endured so much with such dignity, and in their ze’chus inscribe us all in the Book of Life.”
Best wishes for a k’siva v’chasima tova and may Hashem answer our tefilos b’rachamim u’vrazon.
*Harry Maryles: As always, I welcome all comments to this post. Rabbi Horowitz is also taking comments in the form of Brachos to survivors on his website. If you can, it would be wonderful to get as many readers of this blog as possible to do so. Once again, Ksiva V’Chasima Tova to all!

President Obama’s Rosh Hashanah Greeting (Video)

Friday, September 14th, 2012

At sundown this Sunday, the Jewish community here in the United States and all over the world will celebrate the start of the new year. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur mark a time of prayer and self-reflection, and offers Americans of all faiths an opportunity to focus on what unites us instead of what divides us, to work together to make this a more perfect union and to continue the work of repairing the world.

As we look forward to the beginning of the Jewish High Holidays Sunday night, I want to extend my warmest wishes to all those celebrating the New Year.

This is a joyful time for millions of people around the world. But Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are also opportunities for reflection. They represent a chance to take stock of our lives and look forward to the coming year with clear eyes and renewed purpose.

In that spirit, the Jewish Tradition teaches us that one of the most important duties we have during this period is the act of reconciliation. We’re called to seek each other out and make amends for those moments when we may not have lived up to our values as well as we should.

At a time when our public discourse can too often seem harsh; when society too often focuses on what divides us instead of what unites us; I hope that Americans of all faiths can take this opportunity to reach out to those who are less fortunate; to be tolerant of our neighbors; and to recognize ourselves in one another. And as a nation, let us be mindful of those who are suffering, and renew the unbreakable bond we share with our friends and allies – including the State of Israel.

In that spirit, Michelle and I wish you and your families a sweet year full of health, happiness, and peace. L’Shana Tovah.

Voter Registration Drive In South Florida

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

The Orthodox Union and Jewish Leadership Coalition for School Choice (JLCSC) are pleased to announce a joint nonpartisan voter registration campaign in Hollywood and Boca Raton, South Florida.

September 10 through 24 will be designated for voter registration in local organizations, synagogues and schools. At these locations, voter registration forms, instructions and eligibility resources will be available. The purpose of the campaign is to increase the level of participation and engagement by Jewish Floridians in the upcoming federal, state and local elections.

Florida’s Jewish community is certainly mindful that the presidential and congressional election will impact key national policies including U.S. policy toward Israel, the economy and the healthcare system. However, many voters often overlook other important issues decided by state and local governments – issues such as tuition scholarships for their children and critical aid for parochial schools, including Jewish day schools, are often directly influenced by elections at the state and local level.

Jesse Hervitz, deputy political director for the Orthodox Union, has made the Jewish day school community’s involvement in state and local government one of the OU’s main focuses in South Florida. “There are many issues of importance in state and local governments on which the Jewish community’s voice must be heard. This will not take place until our community as a whole makes the most of their civic responsibility.”

Eliot Schreiber, director of the South Florida Chapter of the JLCSC, noted the potential impact of the Jewish community in local races as it pertains to issues of importance to the local Jewish schools. “A number of races of importance in North Miami and Miami Beach were decided by only 800 or so votes,” he said. “The Jewish community needs to understand how important each vote is. We need to get more involved and send the message that our community values this fundamental American right and takes it seriously.”

Rhoda Jacobs Meets With The Jewish Press

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs recently met with the editorial board of The Jewish Press at the newspaper’s New York office. Jacobs, who is the Assembly member for New York State’s 42nd Assembly District, has been in the Assembly since 1979. Her district, which is very ethnically diverse, is primarily made of Flatbush neighborhoods and part of Midwood.

Jacobs, who is assistant speaker of the New York State Assembly, discussed her past accomplishments as well as her plans for the future in the Assembly. Currently, Jacobs is the senior member on several Assembly committees: health, insurance, ways and means and rules. She formerly chaired the social services committee with jurisdiction over all Medicaid legislation. She has an extensive legislative record including preventive health care and child care.

She said that she credits getting re-elected in a minority district because she’s able to provide extensive, compassionate constituent services to all individuals who walk through the doors of her office.

With roots in the Orthodox community and extended family here, Jacobs believes that her knowledge and sensitivity to the Jewish community’s needs are very important. “My staff in Brooklyn is very responsive to local concerns,” she said. “For example, Orthodox families were experiencing power surges causing outages, related to Shabbos usage. We contacted Con Edison and were able to get them to make the necessary adjustments that solved the problem.”

“Some constituents need to feel comfortable and understood, when trying to obtain assistance, for example, in getting help for a chronically ill child or any other problem that may come their way.”

In Albany, she said, she works with colleagues like Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and State Senator Eric Adams to advance legislation to protect the rights and interests of the Jewish community and that she also works with her many other colleagues to get them to help them understand and support this legislation.

She also noted her accomplishments in getting budget increases for non public schools, expanding transportation for yeshiva students and more money in tax credits for yeshiva parents.

Jacobs had received a range of endorsements including from The Jewish Press, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senator Eric Adams, Councilman David Greenfield and many other community leaders.

Jewish Press Endorsements

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

For the New York State Legislature in the September 13 primaries for the Democratic designation in the November general election:

Assembly:

Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs
(Assembly District 42)

Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs, the assistant speaker of the Assembly, has fought hard for her Brooklyn community, leading successful efforts to strengthen social services. She helped establish parameters for the Community Services Block Grant program, which provides for food and nutrition programs, job training and other services. She is a member of the board of the Hillel Foundation and a member and past officer of the National Association of Jewish Legislators. A strong advocate for the Jewish community, Ms. Jacobs has also been at the forefront of issues relating to Medicaid and has authored legislation that has served as a national model for preventive health care for women and children. She has earned renomination.

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz
(Assembly District 45)

We urge Democrats in the 45th Assembly District to support Assemblyman Cymbrowitz, who has represented the district since 2000. He has always been an important voice for the Jewish community. He is a staunch advocate for Jewish social service organizations that provide legal and financial services and help feed the hungry. He played a leading role in legislation, signed into law last year, requiring insurance companies to provide the same coverage for prescription fertility drugs purchased in local pharmacies as those purchased via mail order, something of great concern in the Jewish community. The son of survivors, Mr. Cymbrowitz has been a leader in educating children about the horrors of the Holocaust and he has been a great friend to other survivors and their families. He has always been a reliable ally in the fight for the rights of Jews as members of a religious minority. Ben Axelrod, Assemblyman Cymbrowitz’s opponent in the primary, brings much to the table but has simply not made the case against Mr. Cymbrowitz’s long record of service.

Assemblyman Michael Miller
(Assembly District 38)

Assemblyman Miller, a lifelong community activist, has made public safety a priority during his career in public service. He has pushed legislation to crack down on drunk and distracted drivers, urging a ban on the use of electronic devices while driving. Miller is one of our state’s great advocates for the disabled, founding an organization for adults with mental disabilities and consistently leading efforts to bring more resources for the disabled. He has shown sensitivity to the importance of protecting the rights of Jews as a religious minority.

Assemblyman Dov Hikind
(Assembly District 48)

Dov Hikind is a 30-year incumbent who has been publicly identified with almost every issue of importance to the Jewish community. He has kept the issue of anti-Semitism on the public radar and has been a forceful advocate for Jewish rights generally and for Israel. In the last general election a virtual unknown named Doherty ran against Mr. Hikind on the Republican line in the mostly Jewish district and secured a remarkable 40 percent of the vote. This time he will have no Republican opponent but is being challenged in the Democratic primary by Moshe Tischler, a spirited young man of 20 who claims he would do better on the issues of importance to our community. As the incumbent, Assemblyman Hikind ordinarily would presumptively deserve community support unless compelling reasons surfaced to the contrary. To this point, this has not occurred. However, even if Mr. Tischler loses the primary election, he has secured and will run on the School Choice line in the November general election and have another, broader opportunity to make his case against Mr. Hikind.

Jerry Iannece
(Assembly District 25)

Jerry Iannece, the chairman of Queens Community Board 11, is seeking the Democratic nomination to run in the November general election for the Assembly seat being vacated by Rory Lancman. Iannece has a long record of public service and is the paradigm of the indefatigable civic activist dedicated to addressing the needs of the community. He reached out to The Jewish Press to present his positions and impressed us with his sensitivity and grasp of the Jewish community’s special concerns. He deserves the nomination.

German Jews to Israeli Chief Rabbi: Your Circumcision Commotion Did More Harm than Good

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Israel’s Foreign Office and the Jewish community in Germany have criticized the intervention of Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Israeli Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger in the issue of the ban on ritual circumcisions in Germany.

Dr. Dieter Graumann, president of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, criticized Yishai’s call on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to intercede in the matter, as well as Chief Rabbi Metzger’s comments during his visit to Germany last week.

“We are concerned that Interior Minister Yishai didn’t think of becoming better informed about the details,” complained Graumann, suggesting Yishai had not paused to consider “whether his intervention was necessary or beneficial.”

In a polite but strongly worded letter to Israel’s ambassador to Germany Yaakov Hadas, Graumann declared: “There’s no need to elaborate – it’s not beneficial.”

Accoring to Graumann, Yishai chose to “ignore the fact that the Chancellor had clearly expressed her position supporting the right to perform ritual circumcisions.”

Referring to Rabbi Metzger’s visit, Graumann accuses him of meeting with high level government officials without notifying or even consulting with the local Jewish community or rabbinic institutions.

“This is an unprecedented example of interference in religious and political issues in an independent Jewish community outside the State of Israel,” Graumann stated.

In reference to Rabbi Metzger’s proposal of mohalim (ritual circumcisers) being trained by German doctors, Graumann wrote that “it raises doubt regarding the training being provided for the mohalim.”

Graumann concluded that “if the intervention of Interior Minister Yishai and Rabbi Metzger yielded some limited benefit, it was outright inefficient by causing needless harm and introducing additional mistrust.”

A source in the Foreign Office told Maariv that “the Jewish community in Germany is in the midst of several moves, both public and confidential, on the political, judicial and legislative levels, that are ripening. Suddenly the arena is invaded by forces like Minister Yishai or Rabbi Metzger who are unfamiliar with the local rules of the game, the create a a big commotion that damages our efforts.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/global/europe/german-jews-to-israeli-chief-rabbi-your-circumcision-commotion-did-more-harm-than-good/2012/08/28/

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