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January 19, 2017 / 21 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘leader’

Netanyahu to AIPAC Leaders: We Have Solid Evidence Obama Orchestrated UNSC Resolution

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday afternoon met with a delegation of AIPAC leaders from across the US in Jerusalem and reiterated that Israel possesses “solid evidence” that the Obama Administration had collaborated in the framing of the UN Security Council anti-Israel resolution 2334 condemning the Jewish settlements enterprise and pressured UNSC members to vote in favor.

The PM repeated his charge that the president’s decision, taken in his last month in office, constitutes a breach with a long term tradition of administrations from both major parties.

Netanyahu also noted that, in the past, administrations that joined in a resolution condemning a feature of Israeli policy with which they disagreed, did not permit a wholesale condemnation of the Jewish State. He cited the example of a UNSC 1994 vote to condemn the killing of Arab worshippers in Hebron’s Cave of the Patriarchs by Dr. Baruch Goldstein when then US envoy to the UN Madeleine Albright insisted on a paragraph-by-paragraph vote, to edit out language saying Jerusalem was occupied territory.

Albright told the press at the time that the US opposes “the specific reference to Jerusalem in this resolution and will continue to oppose its insertion in future resolutions.”

Now Obama broke her promise by calling eastern Jerusalem “occupied,” a statement that included the Western Wall, where, incidentally, presidential candidate Barack Obama dropped a kvitel (request note).


Harold Jacobs: A Life Of Service – An Interview with Paul Jacobs, Son of a Legendary Community Leader

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

When Orthodox Jews think of leaders, they generally call to mind various rabbinic figures. Without devoted laymen, though, these rabbis could arguably accomplish little. One of the leading laymen of the previous generation, Harold Jacobs (1912-1995), is the subject of a recently published biography, “Building Orthodox Judaism in America: The Life and Legacy of Harold M. Jacobs” by Dr. Rafael Medoff.

Jacobs, at various points in his life, served as president of the Orthodox Union, president of the National Council of Young Israel, president of the Crown Heights Yeshiva, president of the Young Israel of Eastern Parkway, and chairman of New York City’s Board of Higher Education.

The Jewish Press spoke with Paul Jacobs, one of Harold Jacobs’s sons, to learn more about this active personality and the times in which he lived. Jacobs is president of Jacobs Capital Limited and Precision Equities, Inc.


The Jewish Press: Your father grew up in Williamsburg and was among the first students of Torah Vodaath. Why did his parents send him to yeshiva at a time when 99 percent of Orthodox Jews were sending their children to public school?  

Jacobs: My grandmother, a”h, had the good fortune to be the daughter and granddaughter of shochtim who had butcher shops on the Lower East Side that catered to those who wanted to be absolutely sure their butcher was reliable. My grandmother’s grandfather, Pinchus Aharon Bruder, was the only shochet from whom Rabbi Jacob Joseph – New York short-lived “chief rabbi” – bought his meat.

Throughout her life, my grandmother was totally unyielding when it came to halacha – so much so that she cut off almost all communication with family members who were no longer frum so that her children wouldn’t be influenced. Today, of course, when we baruch Hashem have yeshivas, mikvehs, shuls, etc., we are much more understanding and comfortable with our non-frum relatives.

Your father also attended Camps Argyle and Delawaxen, America’s first kosher overnight camps. Many readers may be surprised to learn that Orthodox overnight camps existed so long ago. What were they like?

I have limited information about them other than some pictures taken in the late 1920s. My father mentioned, though, that the camps were very primitive by today’s standards. For example, they didn’t have bunks; they slept in tents.

In Building Orthodox Judaism in America, Dr. Medoff mentions an interesting berachah your great-great-grandfather received from the Sanzer Rebbe, the Divrei Chayim. What was this berachah and what were the circumstances under which it was given?

The berachah was that his children would remain frum in America.

My great-great-grandparents were very upset that the Rebbe told them to go to “treifa” America. My great-great-grandmother, Brucha Bruder, cried profusely and was even ashamed to show her face in town. It was a big busha.

Needless to say, over the seven American generations in the 140 years since my great-great-grandparents landed in New York, there have, no doubt, been many dropouts, but baruch Hashem there are thousands of cousins who have remained frum.

Today, Crown Heights is known as a Lubavitch stronghold. But the Crown Heights in which your father lived and raised you was quite different. What was this now bygone Crown Heights like?

First of all, it was still somewhat undeveloped. My father told me he remembered farms on Empire Boulevard. Also, it was considered somewhat “out” from the main Jewish communities in Williamsburg, the Lower East Side, Harlem, etc. As difficult as it is to believe, my grandparents moved to Crown Heights to get away from anti-Semitism in Williamsburg. In any event, the community was solidly what today would be called Modern Orthodox. So were Boro Park and Flatbush.

As a child you attended the Crown Heights Yeshiva, where your father was president from 1953-1968. What was this yeshiva like?

It was one of the first day schools in America. It was co-ed, and had a truly exceptional curriculum and faculty in both kodesh and chol. It produced hundreds of balanced young people who have thrived in all walks of life. I didn’t realize it at the time, but many of my classmates did not come from shomer Shabbos homes and became frum because of the Crown Heights Yeshiva.

The school was very strict, and we feared both Rabbi Baumol, z”l, the principal, and Mrs. Singer, a”h, the English principal. But this permitted us to learn and grow up in a disciplined way.

Your father was also president of the Young Israel of Eastern Parkway, where you often davened on Shabbos. What was this shul like?

It was exceptional and, as per the aim of the Young Israel movement, it managed to blend our Americanism with our Yiddishkeit. I should mention that, in those days, the lines between Orthodox Jews and Conservative Jews were not as drawn as they are today. The Conservative movement was not a reaction to Orthodoxy; it was meant as a foil to counteract Reform and was much more halachic than it is today. Socially, therefore, many of the congregants of Conservative synagogues, such as the Brooklyn Jewish Center, which was also on Eastern Parkway, and Orthodox shuls, such as the Young Israel of Eastern Parkway, were almost indistinguishable. In fact, it wasn’t uncommon for a Young Israel member to go to work after shul in the 1930s and 1940s.

You lived on President Street, two doors down from the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Did your father, or you, have any interactions with him?

Like so many others, my father felt the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt”l, was an extraordinary person and one of the preeminent leaders of our time. He and the Lubavitcher Rebbe were well acquainted. First of all, my father chaired at least two of the annual Lubavitch dinners. They would also occasionally correspond on community matters. For example, my father explored the possibility of merging the OU and NCYI and, in one letter, the Rebbe argued against it for several reasons, among them that “kinas sofrim marbeh chochma” – competition breeds excellence.

During elections, my father would bring various candidates to meet the Rebbe, particularly to farbrengens. For example, when his good friend Abe Beame ran for mayor and my father was his campaign finance chair, they were taken to meet the Rebbe in the middle of a farbrengen. This, of course, was great politicking for Abe Beame.

Finally, every year thousands of Lubavitcher chassidim would escort the Rebbe from his house on President Street to Prospect Park for tashlich. I remember one occasion when my father and I were standing on the sidewalk watching the Rebbe walking in the middle of President Street with thousands of chassidim singing behind him. At one point, the Rebbe noticed us standing on the sidewalk and, to the amazement of the chassidim, walked over to wish a Good Yom Tov to my father. It was a bit surrealistic, to say the least.

When did the Jewish character of Crown Heights change?

The first change occurred in the late 1920s and early 1930s, when Crown Heights was predominately Reform and Conservative, and Modern Orthodox Jews started to relocate there and founded Orthodox shuls and schools. The second change occurred during the war years and after when escapees from the fires of Europe arrived and introduced what we call today haredi influences and institutions.

Elliot Resnick

Minority Leader Schumer Not Ready to Kill Iran Deal, Despite 2015 Nay Vote

Sunday, November 20th, 2016

The new Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told Politico on Friday that he is not ready to commit to working with Trump and the Republican majority to ditch President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran — which Schumer opposed back in the summer of 2015.

“I’m willing to try. I think the jury’s still out, and I’m willing to wait another year or two,” Schumer said.

In that context, Schumer was vague guidance on when or how often he and fellow Democrats plan to use the Senate’s super majority rules to deny Republicans the votes on their upcoming legislation.

“There’s a lot of troubling things coming down the pike,” Schumer said, revealing for now that the Democrats are prepared to block a repeal of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, as well as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, a.k.a. Obamacare.

As to his most famous constituent, President Elect Donald Trump, who over the years had given him $9,000 in political donations, Schumer told politico, “He was not my friend. We never went golfing together, even had a meal together. He’s called me, we’ve had civil conversations a couple of times.”

Trump, for his part, said MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” in January: “Hey look, I think I’ll be able to get along well with Chuck Schumer. I was always very good with Schumer. I was close to Schumer in many ways.”

Not very memorable ones apparently. There’s a limit to how much one should expect from a politician in return for 9 grand…

David Israel

When Is A Leader Really A Leader?

Sunday, October 16th, 2016

We know the Torah is truth. Therefore, in order to determine the right path, we have to look for truth in a leader.” – Rabbi Hayim Shimon Wahrman, of Manhattan’s Millinery Center Synagogue


What makes a good leader? Truthfulness.

In Devarim, the Torah states that the best leaders are genuine prophets: “A prophet will Hashem, thy God, raise up unto thee…unto him ye shall listen” (Deut. 18:15). Therefore, because a true prophet is the best leader and a true prophet’s words always become fulfilled, a leader’s most crucial characteristic must be the degree by which his or her predictions, expectations, and pronouncements eventually prove themselves true.

In fact, truthfulness is a requirement for leadership. Consider the fable of The Boy Who Cried Wolf, where a boy, for the sake of attention, cried for help to be saved from a non-existent wolf. Then, when a wolf really did arrive to shadow the boy, all ignored the boy’s cries for help because they assumed he was again acting.

With that social lesson in mind, consider that whenever the words of a leader are proven wrong, such a leader stops, in a de facto manner, being a leader. After all, if any leader were to lie, renege, or even misstep, his or her followers would lose at least a measure of their faith. And whenever any group or nation loses faith in its leader, it is harder for such a leader, even when he or she has plotted a truly good course, to get others to follow his or her commands.

To compensate for this lack of faith, such a tarnished leader must, to harness followers, use physical force or some other inappropriate long-run technique of coercion.

Relatedly, parshat Mattot starts with a divine command directed to the leaders of the tribes (Num. 30:2). Namely, leaders are to keep to their word. One reason this command is first directed to leaders is that, again, if leaders do not keep to their word, they are de facto no longer leaders.

Because leadership will always be fleeting when leaders are unable to make flawless pronouncements, it becomes clear why the Torah deems the best leaders to be true prophets, who never lie and are never wrong when speaking in God’s name. In such prophets one can put one’s complete faith and thereby completely follow.

Actually, as the point of leadership is to take a group of followers to some destination, a true prophet cannot help but be a leader because, via true prophecy, the expected destination is always reached. Conversely, a false or mistaken leader naturally misses the destination and thereby negates the point of leadership.

(I recently had a conversation about this subject with Rebbetzin Gitty Fishelis, eldest granddaughter of gadol hador Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, and daughter of Rabbi Dovid Feinstein. She agreed that there is an obvious need for all of Am Yisrael to pray for the return of navuah, prophecy, because without the guidance of genuine prophets, Am Yisrael will invariably make mistakes.)

Similarly, but from another perspective, many accounts in the Tanach relate true but unpopular visions of genuine prophets. In fact, sometimes a prophet with a bitter but necessary message became a victim of the people’s wrath because they did not want to hear hard-to-swallow truths. Nonetheless, it’s always better if a true prophet, no matter how unpopular the message, is the leader. After all, the truth of an unpopular vision will ultimately make itself known, and in the manner of a stitch in time saving nine it’s far better for a society to have been prepared for the difficult eventuality.

Outside the Fifth Avenue entrance of Manhattan’s main public library, a secular institution, there is the following engraved maxim: “But above all things, truth beareth away the victory.” So we see that while this article’s points about leadership have been made primarily in religious terms, they can also be appreciated by secularists and unbelievers.

After all, even those who may not believe in prophets – and thereby think it impossible to achieve a 100 percent accuracy rate – would readily accept that someone whose words are, in the end, demonstrably more true would have a greater claim on leadership.

Even more than secularists or unbelievers, Christians who follow biblical teachings certainly can understand that they – as do God-fearing Jews – have a religious obligation to consider a leader’s most important qualification to be trustworthiness.

Rabbi Chaim Yehudah Gruber

Shimon Peres, a Leader for All Seasons

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

Shimon Peres understood the Biblical verse “to everything there is a season.”

When he was a young man working for David Ben-Gurion, he saw that Israel’s very existence was endangered by the surrounding armies of Egypt, Syria, Jordan and other Arabs countries committed to the physical annihilation of the nation-state of the Jewish people. He did more than any other Israeli to prevent that from happening: he developed Israel’s nuclear arsenal, its navy and its military-industrial capacity. In his first book, “David’s Sling,” he described how he went about obtaining the assistance of other countries in allowing Israel to defend itself, using only its own soldiers. Peres would never compromise Israel’s security, even when that meant confronting American leaders who sought such compromise.

But Shimon Peres was also uncompromising in his quest for peace. When Israel became strong enough to defend itself, Peres saw a change in the seasons. He was the first to recognize the reality that a demilitarized Palestinian state would not only be just for the Palestinians, but would be good for the Israelis. He favored peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, and, at the time of his death, he was reaching out to Sunni Muslim states to create a coalition against the common enemy Iran.

Shimon Peres was both a man of principle and of pragmatism. He understood that morality, without the strength to defend it, might cause a repetition of the disaster the Jewish people faced during the 1930s and 1940s, when they lacked the strength to defeat the most immoral force in the history of the world.

Alan M. Dershowitz

Hamas Leader Khaled Meshaal’s Mother Dies in Jordan

Saturday, September 3rd, 2016

The mother of Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal died in Jordan, local media reported.

Meshaal, Chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau, was born in 1956 in Silwad in Judea and Samaria during the Jordanian occupation. He attended Silwad Elementary School until the 1967 Six-Day War, after which his father moved the family to Kuwait for financial reasons. Mashaal joined the Muslim Brotherhood in 1971. He holds a bachelor of science degree in Physics from Kuwait University.

David Israel

Frank Seddio For Kings County (Brooklyn) Democratic County Leader

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

In the Democratic primary election on September 13, The Jewish Press endorses attorney Frank Seddio for Democratic district leader in the 59th Assembly District in Brooklyn.

For years he has served as Brooklyn’s Democratic county leader – county leaders are chosen by their district leader colleagues – and has been a larger than life presence on the Brooklyn political scene. He and his family have been key to the remarkable renaissance the borough has enjoyed in recent years.

He has been a stalwart ally of the Jewish community, staunchly supporting the reelection of Judge Leon Ruchelsman, who enjoys a stellar judicial reputation, and the elevation of Judge Noach Dear to the Supreme Court bench, as well other Jewish candidates.

He has served as a judge on the Surrogate’s Court and continues as a successful practicing attorney. He was recently elected president of the Brooklyn Bar Association. From his perch as county leader he has met with much success in bringing Brooklyn’s various political delegations together for the common good. He is also widely lauded for his accessibility and loyalty.

Editorial Board

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/frank-seddio-for-kings-county-brooklyn-democratic-county-leader/2016/08/24/

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