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January 23, 2017 / 25 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘letter’

A Soldier’s Mother: An Open Letter to Senegal

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

Years ago, I gave a lecture at the MASHAV (Golda Meir Center) for guests of the Foreign Ministry. As I arrived a bit early for the lecture, I was asked to be the “judge” of the presentations each team delivered. Most of the participants were from Africa and the task they were assigned involved creating a social media campaign to promote the topic. As I listened to a group (I believe one of the men was from Senegal), I realized that the very foundation of their presentation was wrong.

They were trying to raise awareness that domestic violence was wrong. The presenters spoke about how proud they were that African countries, such as Senegal, got around to signing the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, including the rights of women in 2005. They spoke about media campaigns, television shows, etc. What they missed, I explained to them as gently as I could, was that their campaign was all wrong. To a man, I bet if you asked a Senegalese man if domestic violence was wrong, he’d say, “oh, absolutely,” and then, in too many cases, if he went home and found that dinner was cold, he’s smack his wife. That’s not domestic violence, he would say, it was a well-deserved punishment for her crime.

Into this picture of cultural norms, poverty, and tremendous need, Israel stepped in, bringing light, experience, assistance. We didn’t preach to them, we helped, we taught. About 75% of the workforce in Senegal is involved in agriculture (that’s a fancy way of saying they are farmers). So says Wikipedia and many others. Wikipedia continues, “Production is subject to drought and threats of pests such as locusts, birds, fruit flies, and white flies.”

Agriculture in Senegal

Agriculture in Senegal

Well, Israel is pretty lucky with most of those things – pests, locusts, fruit flies, etc. but drought, now that’s a serious thing here in Israel and so back in the early 1960s, an Israeli named Simcha Blass, invented this amazing thing called, “drip irrigation.” And a few years back, Israelis flew to Senegal in 2014 to help them implement this and other water-saving technologies.
In fact, Senegal and Israel ties go back much farther. In fact, one year after Senegal declared independence (in September 1960), Israel’s Defense Minister, Shimon Peres, represented Israel at the celebrations. This was after numerous interactions between the countries – all one-sided, of course. Senegal sent military delegations to learn about the Israeli army (the kibbutz movement and ways to combine agricultural development with the armed forces: Israel sent seed cultivation experts (Middle East Record, published by Tel Aviv University, Volume II, Edited by Yitzchak Oron, Page 341-342).
Israel continued to assist Senegal for about 13 years…until Senegal thanked Israel by breaking diplomatic relations in the wake of the Yom Kippur War defeat. Yes, that was one of the wars in which WE were attacked, defended ourselves, gained the upper hand and handed back a stunning defeat…and so Senegal, of course, had no other option but to break relations to cater to their apparently deeper ties in the Arab world.

And yet, twenty years later (when the Senegalese were probably running out of water) diplomatic relations with Israel began to develop once again. Israel has…um…had…an Ambassador to Senegal and according to Aminata Toure, a former prime minister and an adviser to the current president, relations with Israel would be long-lasting (that was about 8 months ago).
In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, Toure said, “We can maintain good relations with Israel and the Arab countries. “We see no contradiction, even if we have our opposition to some issues.”
So, they see no issue in taking our aid and then supporting an anti-Israel resolution, one-sided, unfair, completely out of proportion to what Palestinians are doing and problems around the world. Okey-dokie. Clearly this calls for an Open Letter to Senegal.

Dear Senegal,
Let’s make this short and sweet. Israel has been giving you assistance for the last 55+ years. In light of your recent vote, we are re-evaluating our Friends list and find that we’ve been wasting valuable time, energy, resources, faith and hope on you.

We just want to reassure you and the world that we are not leaving you helpless and abandoned. Your good friends,the Palestinians, have offered aid. Yes, I know, they have never sent economic aid to a foreign country, never sent humanitarian assistance. They have no trained search and rescue forces (but they ARE pretty good at demolition if you need any buildings, schools, homes, etc. blown up).
They have never invented any great medical devices, medicines, procedures and yes, I know, they regularly send their sick patients to Israel (including those of their President, Prime Minister, leaders and more) but the good news is after a visit to one of their doctors in Gaza hospitals, there are rarely any follow up visits needed (or possible).

Agriculture? Well, um…they did have green houses, amazing green houses that produced some of the most desired and delicious bug-free, organic celery, peppers and other produce. Although, to be fair, I think they only had them for about 24 hours before they burned them to the ground, so that might not be much help given that the ones who created the hot houses were the people you just betrayed last week.

Telecommunications and cellular networks and cyber-security? Well, no, sorry, I don’t think they have any of that, but you still have telephone polls, right? And, pigeons, maybe?
Look, I know this might look bad if Israel told you to go to hell, but it’s okay. First, becasuseThe Palestinians have got your back now that you’ve decided to stab Israel in our backs.
Don’t worry…be happy. Oh, and if you need any more help from Israel…yeah…that’s funny.
Um. No.

Shalom, Senegal.

Paula Stern

The Day After: An Open Letter to Orthodox Jews

Monday, November 21st, 2016

Last Tuesday night, Donald Trump stunned the world with his election as the forty-fifth President of the United States. Wednesday morning the rejoicing, recriminations and rioting began. One of the most fascinating stories is the “Jewish vote.” Exit polls showed that Hillary Clinton took about 70% of the Jewish vote—far from historical highs, but still an overwhelming majority. This landslide means that Jews voted for Clinton (or against Trump) in higher proportions than almost any other ethnic or religious demographic I including Latinos (65%), whose vote was touted as a lock for Clinton based on the media’s relentless spin of Trump’s immigration stance as racist. Yet interestingly and meaningfully, exit data and anecdotal evidence about Orthodox Jews suggest that we broke massively for Trump. Among other things this means that non-Orthodox Jews likely voted well over 80% for Trump. Thus the two Jewish voter demographics are not only distinct but oppositional: Jews appear to have been among the most anti-Trump and the most pro-Trump of all demographics.

Liberal congregations around the country announced grief services. Parallels to Kristallnacht exploded across the Internet. Reform temples held “shivah” events. Left-wing Jewish publications and organizations decried the abandonment of their own cherished “Jewish values” –political correctness, open borders, redefined marriage, gender and family, and abortion on demand.

Meanwhile, spontaneous dancing broke out Wednesday morning at relieved and overjoyed frum congregations in America and Israel. Giddy jokes were made about whether to say Hallel. Of the fifteen New York City neighborhoods in which Trump was strongest, ten were on Staten Island. The other five were: Boro Park, Midwood, Brighton Beach, West Brighton, and Ocean Parkway South. In Nassau County, the Five Towns similarly delivered a huge Trump landslide. Ocean County, NJ – where Lakewood is located – voted overwhelmingly for Trump, far more so than any other place in that state. Exit polls of the thousands of charedi American citizens who live in Israel showed more than 85% voting for Trump.

Orthodox Jewry has taken another great step forward as a distinct voting bloc, revealing concerns and priorities very different from those that animate Jewish progressives.

Orthodox voting priorities are not hard to understand. The Orthodox commitment to Jewish continuity and knowledge of Jewish history has always been far stronger than that of non-Orthodox Jews. Combined with the imminent connection of virtually every frum family to Jews in Israel and the norm for Orthodox Jews of all stripes to spend at least a year and often many years in batei medrash and seminaries in Israel, most Orthodox Jews – regardless of conflicting religious views on the medinah – count the security of the

Israel’s Jews as a top priority. By way of contrast, when polled among all Jews, concern for Israel hovers low on the priority list, consistently between eight and tenth –far behind a raft of liberal causes and concerns far more central to contemporary progressivism than to traditional Judaism.

The assault by the left on our rights as Jews has gotten more and more aggressive. Democrats have ceased speaking of religious liberties and now concede only that there is a “right to worship”. That is intolerable to frum Jews. We see what is happening again in Europe – the challenges to bris and shechita in the name of progressive secular values – and know that many groups (too often led by ethnic Jews) are agitating for the same battles here. Just weeks ago a judge in California at the instigation of chickens’ rights advocates prevented Jews from performing the ancient pre-Yom Kippur custom of kapporos. Traditional religious institutions and consciences – Jewish and otherwise – already are under siege from activists seeking to strip away religious exemptions, not satisfied with equality under the law, but demanding the surrender or destruction of any traditional worldview. The specter of Democrats having the power to appoint more federal judges was terrible to contemplate.

Jews make up less than 2% of the American population. As a subset of American Jewry, frum Jews are an anomaly – a small albeit growing minority. Considered this way, it’s unclear why this sociological and demographic tale is of anything but marginal interest to the political calculations of those in Washington.

Yet upon closer scrutiny, this election provides evidence of vast potential power untapped by Orthodox Jews. The mass of ethnic, unaffiliated and “social justice” Jews have depleted their political significance even as they have enervated their religious identity. They appear willing to follow the Democrats everywhere, no matter how extreme, immoral, anti-religious, anti-Israel, or anti-Semitic. Orthodox communities, on the other hand, stand on the cusp. If we choose to see ourselves as just another ethnic minority engaged in the kinds of transactional politics that sells out our principles and our future to the highest bidder, we will have failed, relegated to footnotes as an outlier. If however we take stances for our principles and for our survival we will emerge as spiritual, moral and intellectual leaders in the battle that now rages between left and right in this country.

It is no coincidence that the party that grants nuclear weapons to the “Death to Israel” Iranian mullahs and that stands poised to be led by a BDS_supporting Member of Congress who slanders Israel as an apartheid oppressor of innocents, also opposes traditional morality at home. It is no fluke that those who elevate the protection of innocent life and religious exercise and conscience above almost all else, also see the security of the Jewish state as America’s most important foreign policy goal.

Those who carry the Torah’s messages have always been few in number, but they have transformed vast civilizations. For decades, we have been turned inward, focused on rebuilding a community almost lost in the European inferno, while secular progressives have dominated the Jewish presence in Washington. Today, their communities are in crisis, having assimilated and eroded to the point of tragedy. Meanwhile, Orthodox communities which have maintained fidelity to ancient Jewish law and custom are flourishing as in the first vigor of youth. But we too stand at a crossroads. We can continue to ignore the world around us and be essentially irrelevant, losing sight of our people’s raison d’être. Or we can be the tip of a mighty spear: leaders of the literally tens of millions of American Faith and Values voters for whom religious freedom and the security of the Jewish state are also always top priorities.

Bruce Abramson and Jeff Ballabon

Open Letter To An Anti-Semite

Sunday, November 13th, 2016

I am Jewish, and I know you hate me for that reason.

Can we talk about this in a rational way?

We have never met. I have never done anything to harm you. You probably wouldn’t even know I’m Jewish if you were to see me on the street (assuming my yarmulke was covered by a hat), so I feel like you are hating a stereotype, and stereotypes are not real people.

Maybe you hate me because you were taught that Jews are greedy.

Or maybe you hate me because you were taught that Jews are dirty or have horns on their heads.

Or maybe you hate me because you were taught that Jews are dishonest or drink the blood of Christian children.

I can assure you – the very fact that I still have to do so, in this day and age, is disconcerting, to say the least – that these and many other disparagements like them are utterly false.

You can argue that stereotypes are rooted in truth, but more often than not what some people hold to be “truth” can very quickly become distorted in the service of nefarious ends. Stereotypes, which can endure for hundreds or even thousands of years, are nothing more than spurious old tales or pernicious lies.

These tales and lies can grow out of the all-too-human human fear of the unfamiliar, and something as simple as one individual’s distaste for another can take on a life of its own as the individual harboring the distaste talks about it to a friend, and the friend tells an acquaintance, and the acquaintance mentions it to a family member, and on and on. Before you know it, a dangerous and even lethal stereotype is created.

Unfortunately, we Jews know from history what lies can do. As Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister, put it, “If you repeat a lie a thousand times it becomes the truth.”

Now let’s look at the facts. I am a human being, just like you. But I am also part of a people, just like you are part of a people. The people from which I am descended goes back thousands of years and has suffered endlessly at the hands of anti-Semites.

Can you empathize even the slightest with our plight? Do you have no compassion at all for a people that has been stigmatized, quarantined, tortured, slaughtered, decimated?

I would like to think you do because we are all part of the human family and I have faith in the human family. But by singling out a group of people for opprobrium and worse, you reveal a mind that somewhere along the way was poisoned by any of a myriad of factors –propaganda, low self-esteem, jealousy, fear, narrow-mindedness, a need to find a scapegoat, etc.

And yet, I repeat my belief that as a member of our human family you have an underlying spirit of goodness in you. No doubt you exhibit that goodness in your personal relationships and in many other settings and circumstances. You weren’t born with hatred in your heart. Young children generally don’t trouble themselves over the differences among people and they tend to make friends with peers of every background.

I may be wrong, and heaven knows how many of my religious forebears had the same idealistic notion only to meet a harrowing demise, but as a Jew I’m an optimist at heart – it’s the only way my people have been able to endure, survive, and ultimately thrive, outliving our enemies and contributing so much to the world.

Maybe you condemn me because you condemn the state of Israel. Israel is not perfect – no nation is – but I defend it with every fiber of my being not just because it is the Jewish homeland but also because I fervently believe its actions are for the most part necessary, warranted, and fair. You can disagree, and that is your prerogative, but instead of channeling your anger into hate, wouldn’t it be better to engage in civil discourse, to make a sincere attempt at understanding why Israel sometimes needs to adopt policies you find difficult to accept?

Hating is such a waste of time and energy, and I am sure you could put yours to better use. Besides, whatever depraved ideas you may have about the eventual disappearance of Jews from the world, do you really think we will ever be eliminated?

We know from recent history that not even the mass extermination of the Holocaust succeeded in making the world judenrein. To the contrary: a mere three years after the defeat of the Nazis, the Jews rose from the ashes of Auschwitz and Treblinka and, in the face of an indifferent world and Arab armies bent on finishing Hitler’s job, reestablished the first sovereign Jewish state in two thousand years.

There is a divine element to the survival of the Jews through millennia of unquenchable hate and unspeakable persecution. So it is destined for failure and futility, this business of anti-Semitism, and really, the sooner you wake up to that the better it will be for all of us.

Harvey Rachlin

An Open Letter to the Pope

Sunday, October 23rd, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s eponymous blogsite}

Your Holiness:

I must start off by telling you that as an Orthodox Jewish rabbi, I am not generally in the habit of writing to the Pope. However, these are special times in which we live and, as such, I believe I must reach out to you, for your assistance.

As you are no doubt aware, UNESCO recently voted in committee and then ratified at an Executive level that there is no historical connection between the Temple Mount, the Western Wall and Judaism. And while this may seem like a trivial matter, I assure you that it is not in the least bit trivial.

Before I request your help, perhaps a national mea culpa would be in order. It has been pointed out to me and to many others: how in the world can we expect differently from UNESCO if Israel herself is not seen as claiming its natural dominance over the site. Yes, we have not done well at this at all, and that is a separate issue we need to grapple with here in Israel.

The vote by UNESCO is one of gargantuan anti-Semitic proportions. And while it is clearly anti-Semitic, their action does one other thing: It attempts to erase the historical connection of a people from its past. Since, we are speaking here about JEWISH history, why would I be contacting the leader of the 2 billion plus Catholics of the world? Simply put: the UNESCO decision is a slap in the face to you personally and not only to the Jewish people.

Since I am not well-versed in the Scriptures, as promulgated by the Church, I turned to the internet to gain some rudimentary language regarding the connection between Jesus and the Temple Mount. Here is an example of what I found.


The Temple Mount holds significance for Christians as the place where Jesus issued his challenge against the Temple authorities, an act which can be seen as leading directly to his arrest and crucifixion.
Jesus deplored the corruption of the authorities of that time, as well as the use of one of the Temple gates for trade. According to the gospel of Mark, Jesus performed a “cleansing” of the Temple, whereby he chased away the merchants and money changers in the Temple’s vicinity.
 The Temple Mount also holds significance for Christians as the place where Jesus attended festivals as a child.

It seems that this vote not only attempts to erase JEWISH history, it also is erasing that which you hold near and dear to YOU, personally and to the 2 billion plus devotees of your church. While Pope Pius XII was given a bad rap about his action/inaction during WWII, the truth has come out, that he was responsible for saving over 850,000 Jewish lives.

It is now your turn to stand up for your people and the people from whom your roots sprung forth. This is not about good and evil. This is not about right and wrong. THIS IS ABOUT TRUTH. And the truth is that the statement that passed by UNESCO is a global slap in the face to Jews and Christians.

As the leader of the billions of Catholics on Earth, I implore you to take a stand and make a public statement. If you do not make such a statement, this will allow the re-writing of history and the acceptance of said changes. If you don’t think that to be true, then how is it that the Muslim world celebrates a holiday for the Binding of Ishmael…and not ISAAC as stated in the Bible. The re-writing of history by the Muslim world has indeed worked for them and to their advantage.

Please, join Jews from all ranges of the spectrum, and condemn unequivocally, the despicable resolution of UNESCO.

I thank you in advance and wish you Godspeed.

Rabbi Zev M Shandalov

Maale Adumim , ISRAEL

Rav Zev Shandalov

Einstein’s Letter to his Son on Solving Unified Field Theory on Auction

Saturday, October 8th, 2016

A letter written around 1929 by Albert Einstein to his son Eduard (nicknamed “Tetel”), discussing his progress in solving the Unified Field Theory will be auctioned by RR Auction in Boston, estimate yield: “$100,000+.”

According to the RRA website, in 1924, Einstein finished laying the essential groundwork the Unified Field Theory, an attempt to explain the nature of gravity in terms of the laws of electromagnetism. He published the theory in 1929. The ideas he put forward conflicted with the emerging understanding of quantum mechanics, which put him at odds with much of the physics community at large, and led to his famous falling out with fellow Nobel winner Niels Bohr. Although he continued to work on the Unified Field Theory for the rest of his life, Einstein was never able to satisfactorily master the problem, and it remains unsolved to this day.

The auctioned letter reveals Einstein as both an accomplished physicist and a caring father, making it an extraordinary historic document.

The one page letter in German, signed “Papa,” reads: “Your letter made me very happy, particularly your comment regarding the hotel. Just like you, I hate it and it is with delight that I am detecting here a deep inner kinship between us, which I treasure. It seems to me it has been so long since I have seen you and I am longing to have you around me once again.


Photo credit: RR Auction


Photo credit: RR Auction

“For Easter, Albert and his wife will be visiting here. You could be coming at the same time, no matter. I would make sure you have sleeping quarters at a friend’s house while Albert is here. By the way, there is still another hurdle. On the 14th of March I have to flee to escape from my 50th Birthday Party otherwise I would run the risk of perhaps getting seasick. But there is still a lot of time until Easter. At any rate, I certainly want to see you before you graduate from High School.

“I am now very happy because I finally solved to my total satisfaction, after immensely intensive work, my gravitation-electricity problem. This, in a way, concludes my life’s work—the remainder simply is bonus material. Remarkably, how through all this strenuous work I made it in good shape and am feeling quite well. I do, however, practically live the life of a recluse and follow a frugal way of live. When we see each other again, I shall try to explain to you and describe this lifestyle a bit. In no way do I expect your approval and perhaps desire to join this guild. I could not care less.

“Don’t get overwhelmed by that heavy volume of a book I sent you. One should read it in small segments, always keeping in mind that this represents chosen selections of intellectual work through the centuries, expressed by an unimportant, but decent and clear thinking human being.”

Einstein added a PS: “I have been reading with great admiration Bernard Shaw’s new book on Socialism and Capitalism. I will be sending it to you soon and strongly recommend you definitely read this remarkable book.”

Online bidding for the document began on September 27 and will conclude on October 12. Other offerings in the same auction: Albert Einstein’s letter to the widow of NY Dr. Isidore W. Held, who helped Jewish intellectuals escape from Nazi Germany; an Albert Einstein typed letter from WW2, in which he pledged “my influence” to a would-be Jewish refugee; and a vintage glossy press photo of Einstein in a candid moment, signed in the lower border.


Aaron Katsman Show – Have you Received the ‘Move your Account’ Letter? [audio]

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

If you are a US citizen living abroad there is a good chance that you have received a letter from your US brokerage firm saying that you have a month or two to move your account to another firm. If you have received this letter it’s important that you listen to the show, as Aaron will provide a solution. If you have any questions or comments email: aaron@lighthousecapital.co.il

Aaron Katsman Show 19Sept2016 – PODCAST

Israel News Talk Radio

The Tamar Yonah Show – Another Angry Letter… [audio]

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

Israel News Talk Radio received an angry letter from a listener saying that they did not want to hear about Jews moving to Israel after reading an article about a family found living in a succa hut. But, does the article give the whole story? Shifra Hoffman of VictimsOfArabTerror.org and Shuva.net dishes it out as she rebuttals the letter and points out the faulty outlook regarding making Aliyah (moving to Israel).

Also, Uri Kelman, a new immigrant from Los Angeles to Ashkelon, talks about his new community, the beautiful parks, and his job search in his new home. Check out his Facebook page here.

Also, Tamar reads a DARING speech from the book, “The Prime Ministers,” by former PM Menachem Begin as he lambastes the United Nations for condemning Israel for calling Jerusalem its eternal capital.

Tamar Yonah Show 07Aug – PODCAST

Israel News Talk Radio

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/multimedia/israel-news-talk-radio/tamar-yonah-show/the-tamar-yonah-show-another-angry-letter-audio/2016/08/09/

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