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April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘letter’

New Jewish Mayor of San Diego Has Dubious Record on Israel

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

On Tuesday, Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.) was elected mayor of San Diego. Filner is Jewish, born in Pittsburgh, in Squirrel Hill, and loves to reminisce about his earliest political act as a young Jewish person, when, at age 18, he was arrested in Mississippi as a Freedom Rider. Decade later, in 1975, Filner served as a staffer for Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota. He was elected to the San Diego City Council in 1987, and in 1992 was elected to Congress from California’s 50th (now 51st) district.

Congressman Filner, 70, a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, won 51.5 percent of the vote on Tuesday, to edge out his Republican opponent, City Councilman Carl DeMaio. Filner is the first Democrat to be elected mayor of San Diego in 20 years.

Filner is one of a growing list of Jewish politicians who have been embraced by J Street. And, in the spirit of J Street’s commitment to supporting Israel by trying to destroy her, back in May of 2009, the congressman, along with Barney Frank (D-Mass.), refused to sign an AIPAC-backed House letter calling for “every effort” to be made to realize an Arab-Israeli peace while laying out certain “basic principles” to achieve it.

The letter stated that “the proven best way forward is to work closely and privately together both on areas of agreement and especially on areas of disagreement,” adding that the U.S. must be both “a trusted mediator and a devoted friend to Israel.”

The letter also insisted on an “absolute Palestinian commitment to end violence, terror and incitement” and urged “far greater involvement and participation by the Arab states both in moving toward normal ties with Israel and in supporting moderate Palestinians.”

329 House members signed the letter, but out of the 31 Jewish members, only 29 did, while Frank and Filner declined.

Then, in May of last year, Congress voted 411-2 to reaffirm US cooperation with Israel. The AIPAC-sponsored, bi-partisan bill, acknowledges Israel’s right to defend herself in the face of terror attacks, stressing Congress’ support for the “unique and special relationship” between the U.S. and Israel. The bill also supported a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. J Street-supported Reps. Bob Filner, Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), and John Dingell (D.,Mich.), voted against. Later, Filner and Eshoo amended their votes to support the vote.

Congressman Filner has a +4 rating on Arab-Israeli issues by The Arab American Institute, indicating an impeccable pro-Arab and pro-Palestine voting record.

Filner supported a bill to encourage democratic aspirations in Egypt. He voted no on a bill to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to relocate to Jerusalem the United States Embassy in Israel. He voted no on a bill to withhold U.S. contributions until the UN retracts accusations of Israeli war crimes. No on opposing any unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state. No on prohibiting any US government document from referring to “Palestine.” No on defunding the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees. Yes to continue aid to the Palestinian Authority. Voted Absent on ensuring that United States taxpayer dollars are not used to fund terrorist entities in Lebanon.

Obviously, with that voting record, Israel and the Jewish people at large should offer their heartiest approval to Congressman Filner’s decision to switch from meddling with Middle Eastern issues to tending to his own back yard. We should wish him much success in his new endeavor, and perhaps even persuade him to bring over to his beautiful city large groups of enterprising Palestinians whose lives he has done so much to improve.

Some JTA content was used in this article.

Love Of Fellow Jews

Monday, November 5th, 2012

The kinship and love between Jews is one of the cardinal principles and hallmarks of Judaism and none could match Rav Eliezer-Lippa, father of the two great chassidic leaders Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk and Reb Zusha of Hanipoli, when it came to this particular characteristic.

Rav Eliezer-Lippa would spare no money or effort when it came to helping out a fellow Jew who was in desperate straits. Above all, he took a special interest in those poor Jewish tenants-farmers who were constantly being harassed by the feudal landlords because they fell behind in the staggering tax payments imposed on them.

Redeeming A Prisoner

It was the custom of the landlords to take these poor Jews and throw them into prison until they or someone else paid the debt. Rav Eliezer-Lippa was one who gave all that he owned for the mitzvah of pidyon shvuyim (redeeming the prisoners).

One time he heard that in a nearby town a certain Jewish tenant-farmer had been imprisoned by the landlord because he was unable to pay his rents and taxes. Leaping into his wagon, he took all of his money and drove off to see what he could do. When he arrived at the landlord’s home, however, he was told that the amount owed was twice as much as he had.

He pleaded with the landlord to accept the money that he had in payment of the debt and free the prisoner. His pleas were effective and the man was freed. Following this, the landlord turned to Rav Eliezer-Lippa and said, “I see that you are a truly good and righteous man and I am sure you are also an honest man in business. I have a business proposition you might be interested in.”

“What is it?” asked the rav.

The Proposition

“I have a certain relative who is a wealthy landlord in a town not far from here. He has a great deal of agricultural produce – wheat, barley, flax – that he is interested in selling, but he has been looking for an exceptionally honest merchant whom he can trust.

“I am sure you would be the perfect man and I will give you a letter to him so that he will sell you his merchandise.”

When Rav Eliezer-Lippa heard these words he replied, “I thank you very much for your trust in me but I am afraid that I have no money with which to buy the merchandise. You see, every available penny that I had, I gave you to redeem the prisoner.”

An Offer

When the landlord heard this, he said, “In that case, I will do this. Here is the money back and use it to buy produce. When you have earned your profit I am sure that you will come back and repay me.”

“I appreciate this very much,” said the rav. Taking the money and the letter he set off for the town to buy the merchandise and realize a handsome profit.

Arriving at the merchant’s home he explained why he was there and showed him the letter. The landlord read it and said, “My relative speaks very highly of you and he recommends that I do business with you. Since I have great respect for his judgment, I agree to it.”

The two men sat down and worked out a price and all the other necessary details. Then Rav Eliezer-Lippa went down to the granaries to look over the produce.

As he was walking with one of the servants he heard a terrible groan coming from one of the nearby buildings.

“What is that?” he asked in horror.

“Oh, that is a Jew who has been imprisoned by the landlord because he is behind in his debts. The landlord has decided to starve him to death.”

When Rav Eliezer-Lippa heard this he rushed back to the landlord and cried, “I wish to pay the Jewish prisoner’s debt immediately. Here is the money so you can release him.”

Prepare To Leave

When the Jew had been released, Rav Eliezer-Lippa prepared to leave. Where are you going?” asked the landlord in surprise. “What about the business deal that we have?”

Rav Eliezer-Lippa stood straight and stared at the landlord directly in the face saying, “I will be quite frank with you. Since I have seen with what cruelty you behaved towards this Jew, I have decided that I have no desire to do business with you in any way even if this means losing enormous profits.”

The Voice of a Child

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Children should be seen and not heard. It was a maxim that I heard many times throughout my childhood and which caused me a fair amount of frustration. When, I often wondered, would I cross that invisible line and move out of the periphery to which I was assigned, into the arena of adulthood and be given the chance to express an opinion that people would listen to? Life ran its course, I became an adult, was granted the right to express my opinion and found out that very few people listen to me. Interestingly, in contrast to the past, popular psychology today has touted the need to build a child’s self-confidence so successfully that children are both seen and heard quite clearly. Despite this, I wonder how many communities would make a decision based on the perception of a child. Judaism does.

Last Shabbos the clear, strong voice of the baal korei (reader) rang through the attentive synagogue as the weekly section of the Torah was read out loud. Suddenly it came to a standstill. There was a moment of utter silence and then the sudden swish of numerous prayer shawls, the thud of footsteps and the mutter of deep voices. Peeping through the lattice that separates the women’s section from the men’s, I watched the crowd of men thicken around the table on which the open Torah scroll lay.

Apparently, there was a problem with the Torah scroll. A kosher Torah scroll is treated with great respect. For example, it is not permitted to leave it unattended; a person is required to stand in its honor and may not turn his back to it. A non-kosher Torah scroll is not awarded the same level of respect. If even one letter of a Torah scroll is problematic, the entire scroll is invalidated until the problem is fixed. Most authorities maintain that a non-kosher scroll cannot be used to read the weekly portion. Since the reading must take place from a written text, reading from a non-kosher scroll is akin to reciting by heart making the reading invalid and the blessings recited over it said in vain and the Torah reading must be repeated.

Taking the above into account, every Torah scroll that is written is scrutinized for accuracy. Today, computers help out. A megiah (checker) scans the scroll into a computer running a program that checks the letters and their sequence. The computer then points out possible problems: sometimes a letter hasn’t been written correctly. Some Hebrew letters are very similar: yud, vav and nun sofit are all shaped similarly to a number one, but vary in length. Other letters are written by combining one or more two letters: for example, an aleph, which looks something like an X, is actually made up of three letters: a slanted vav, and two yuds, one above the vav and one below. Sometimes a letter is actually missing and the computer picks this up too. The scroll is then checked by the megiah himself. It seems very unlikely that any problem with the letters could creep in after all that, but, sometimes the computer and the megiah do miss problems and sometimes the problems develop later. The ink used to write a Torah scroll is usually a mixture of tannic acid, which is derived from gallnuts formed on the leaves of oak trees by wasps, copper sulphate to give it a strong black color, and gum arabic to make the glue slightly elastic so that the ink doesn’t crack when the scroll is rolled. Sometimes the letters can become smudged or cracked—after all, the scroll is being used regularly.

In this case, my son informed me, one of the congregants, a Torah scholar of standing, had spotted a letter vav that he claimed was too long—so long that it could be mistaken for a nun. That being the case, the reading was suspended while the men debated whether the letter really did pose a problem or not. In a synagogue in which number of Torah scholars rivals the number of stars in the sky on a moonless night, there was no lack of differing opinions. I watched fascinated as varying opinions of men who spent their days and night toiling in the sea of Torah were whispered urgently. Finally, the decision was made: since the mistake was debatable, a child would be asked to identify the questionable letter.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Dear Rachel,

My husband and I have been married for eight years. I am very expressive and outgoing and he is the silent type. Even among close friends, he is never the life of the party. We have three children, and although he loves them very much he hardly spends time with them. He leaves all the dealing with the children to me.

I accepted the situation all of these years because in his own quiet way we did communicate and I love him very much. However, for the last six months my husband has been even more closed than usual. He comes home, greets us briefly, then closets himself in his study and works until late.

When I ask him if something is wrong, he ignores me. I am at my wit’s end. How do you talk to someone who refuses to talk? I asked him if he is happy at work and he said he is. I told him that I can’t go on like this and that I and the children need him and he needs to spend some time with us.

I practically begged him for us to go out for our anniversary, and we did. We went to a restaurant and when I tried to talk about us, he asked me if I brought him out to spoil everything.

On Rosh Hashanah I prayed very hard for sholom bayis and to feel warmth and love from my husband, but I don’t know what more I can do. I am certain that there is no one else in his life, because he is home when he is not working and does not have late nights at work, and he is never away on weekends.

Shabbos after shul we eat and then he goes to sleep; Sundays he spends at home in his study.

Do you suggest that I just continue to live like this? Should I threaten divorce even though I don’t want to leave? Should I go for marriage counseling alone? I asked him if he would come with me to a therapist and of course he said he doesn’t believe in it and he never heard of it helping anyone.

I have not discussed this with my mother or my sisters because I thought that would make things worse, and that leaves me feeling very alone.

Any advice you can give me would be immensely appreciated.

Lonely Heart

Dear Lonely Heart,

We have to marvel at how truly amazing it is that two people – usually complete strangers to one another and raised separately – join together with the expectation of living harmoniously under one roof, sharing meals, ideas and the same bedroom, and are committed to love one another above everyone else for the rest of their lives. Whew!

Granted, a concerted effort to establish some commonality and compatibility is made beforehand, but in reality it is a deference to, and mutual respect for, one another and each other’s differences that keeps the relationship on track.

In just the second line of your letter you inform us of the distinction between the two of you; you are the “expressive and outgoing” kind while your husband is the “silent type.” In other words, you are saying that he is this way by nature and has been since the time you got to know him.

You also say you love him, that “in his own quiet way” you communicate, and that you have no interest in divorcing him. While you’ve let him know that you need more than he offers you and that you lack emotional fulfillment, at the same time you are comforted by the fact that he spends all of his non-working hours and weekends home. (Incidentally, you are wise to keep your private life private, but this needn’t prevent you from seeking professional guidance on your own.)

The sketchy details in your letter paints a picture of a man who comes home and escapes to his study — to avoid being confronted by his dissatisfied and fault-finding wife, perhaps? Not very conducive to drawing him out of his shell, if so…

In my humble opinion, the best chance you have of encouraging your husband to be more communicative is by being yourself, by showing him that you are at ease and comfortable in your environment and genuinely eager to share your day and the latest happenings with the person whom you consider to be your best friend.

Israeli Civil Rights Group Slams Modi’in on Anti-Haredi Policies

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

The Israeli city of Modi’in was slammed from an unlikely direction – Israel’s civil right’s organization, the Association for Civil rights in Israel (ACRI).  Granted ACRI doesn’t have the most objective agenda, and their voice was blatantly absent when it came to the Disengagement in 2005. Nevertheless, they are to be praised for doing the right thing when it comes to Modi’in.

Here’s their press release:

Press Release
October 30, 2012

ACRI to Modi’in Municipality: Restricting Entrance to Public Parks is Illegal Municipality’s ‘overcrowding’ rationale suspected to be a pretext for denying entry to Orthodox Jews from Modi’in Illit

Today (October 30) the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) sent a letter to the Mayor of Modi’in, Haim Bibas, demanding that that he terminate the city’s policy of restricting entrance to the Anava River Public Park during parts of the year.

The municipality of Modi’in-Macabim-Reut enacted the policy – which prohibits nonresidents from entering the park during the summer months and on holidays – prior to the festival of Sukkot in October. Despite the official rationale for the policy – overcrowding in the park – the municipality’s actions raise a suspicion that its true purpose is to exclude Orthodox Jews from neighboring Modi’in Illit.

This is not the first time a local authority has tried to restrict entry to public parks. In 2000, the Israel Union for Environmental Defense filed a petition against the Ra’anana municipality after it began charging nonresidents an entrance fee at one if its city parks. Following the petition, the national law was amended and a clear ban on charging entrance fees to public parks was established. Further discussions in the Knesset emphasized that the purpose of the amendment was to regulate access to public parks for the enjoyment and benefit of the public at large.

Some months ago, ACRI wrote a letter to the municipality of Kiryat Ata, after learning that the city was charging nonresidents entrance fees at its public park. In that case, the suspected purpose of the policy was to prevent the entrance of Arabs from nearby communities.

The letter to Mayor Bibas, written by ACRI Chief Legal Counsel Dan Yakir, warns that the restriction is illegal; it violates the right to equality, and in practice constitutes prohibited discrimination against a religious group. Although the municipality procured a legal opinion from Professor Ariel Bendor that sanctions the policy, ACRI disagrees with the opinion’s conclusions.

Attorney Dan Yakir: “The fact that the park was built on municipal land does not mean that the municipality can do whatever it wants with it. Public space, such as this park, is designated for the public at large. It is unacceptable for local authorities to attempt to restrict the public’s ability to access parks under their control. “

And while we’re on the topic of Modi’in, a friend of mine started getting Halloween orders for food…from multiple residents of…Modi’in.  I guess caroling isn’t enough.

However, one must keep in mind that living in Modi’in is still far better according to the Talmud and the Rambam, than living in the holy cities of Brooklyn, Monsey or Lakewood.

Update: For those not familiar with the story in Modi’in, you can read about it over at AddeRabbi’s blog, a resident of Modi’in. (here and here)

Quote from AddeRabbi blog:

For those not following along at home, my fair hometown of Modiin has barred non-residents from visiting its spacious and beautiful Anabe Park during vacations and on Hol Ha-Mo’ed. This is a result of a pishing contest between Modiin’s Mayor Haim Bibas and Modi’in Ilit’s Mayor Yaakov Guterman, plus it plays into a strong anti-Haredi (and occasionally anti-religious) sentiment amongst a minority of Modiin residents (a political party, Modiin Hofshit, ran on an anti-religious platform and got only a few hundred votes for city council).

The new policy upsets me greatly, and I wanted to see how the policy was being implemented generally. As I got in line to enter the park, I could see that a few cars ahead of me the line was being held up by a Haredi family insisting on entering the park. Since the new regulations allow for Modiin residents to bring guests, I went and invited the family in as my guests. After a while, the guards let us in on that basis. Serendipitously, a reporter from Haaretz was there at the time. Her report is here (Hebrew) and here (English – paywall). The paragraphs relevant to my story are:

“As the argument continued, a Modi’in resident, Eli Fischer, decided to see whether everyone was really being barred from the park, or only those in ultra-Orthodox garb.

“‘He’s my guest, let him in,’ said Fischer, in an effort to help Tirnauer, at first without success. The guards checked Fischer’s identity card, and then started questioning Tirnauer and his family about their relationship. One of the ushers called a municipal security guard to help.”

“’He’s not really your guest, he’s here to make a provocation,’ the security guard told Fischer. But Fischer persisted after the getting approval of his superiors the security guard allowed Fischer and his new acquaintances into the park.

“’The park is empty, and I wanted to see what would happen, since according to the instructions that were publicized, [the park] is reserved for Modi’in residents and their guests,’ said Fischer. ‘I don’t know why they were questioning me.’

“The municipality said that the confrontation involving Tirnauer and Fischer was the first to occur since the instructions were issued, claiming it was a planned provocation by the media.

“’During all the days that entrance to the park was restricted, there wasn’t a single incident, except for one in which a visitor who isn’t a city resident came with a reporter to create a provocation and get a headline,’ the municipality said.

The Hebrew version also includes a Gemara that I cited for the benefit of the reporter, from Sukkah 27b: “All Israel are fit to dwell in a single sukkah.”

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Daniella Weiss on The Honor of Israel

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

A letter:

That was the last paragraph in a 5-page handwritten letter that was sent to Ariel Sharon 2 Kislev 5740, or November 22, 1979 by Daniella Weiss on stationery of the Kedumim-Elon Moreh group who were then battling a government decision, in the wake of the High Court of Justice decision that ordered them moved.A selection of documents were uploadedby Israel’s State Archives. Here is the excerpt about the letter above:

Gush Emunim saw the Elon Moreh petition as a test case in their struggle over the status of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, and tied it to the Camp David Accords and the peace treaty with Egypt, to which they were opposed. On the night of 21-22 November the heads of the movement, including Rabbis Zvi Yehuda Kook, Haim Druckman and Zvi Tau met with the leaders of Elon Moreh. Following that meeting Daniella Weiss, one of the leaders of Gush Emunim and head of the secretariat of the ‘Kedumim-Elon Moreh’ settlement, sent a formal letter to Agriculture Minister Sharon, demanding that he resign. She attached a personal letter, in which she outlined her personal views and the political reasons why Elon Moreh should not be moved from Rujeib to Mt. Kabir. Among other things, she claimed that moving it would be a victory for the PLO, and that the legal status of the settlements in the territories should be changed before Israel transferred the oil fields in Sinai to Egypt, according to the peace agreement…

I have translated the last paragraph since not only is its content emotional and quite representative of the feelings of the group but its conclusion for the future is remarkably prescient. Daniella and family were locate at the Kedumin site where a part of the original Elon Moreh group stayed after the Peres compromise:

…I hope with all my heart that the Government will yet come to its senses, and if not, I will ascend to Elon Moreh with my daughters in order to assist, together with many others, with our bodies, to prevent to uprooting of Jews from their community in Eretz-Yisrael. And I will instruct them that at a time when there is an attempt to rip a Jew from out of his home, that Jew must take a tight hold, even with his teeth and fingernails, in a most very physical fashion. And if, God forbid, we come to this moment, I will make every effort to impress upon my children the power apparent in the stick-to-it-ness to this land. And if we are forcibly removed, this tragedy will remain in the minds of my children in a very powerful way in order that they will dedicate their lives for the struggle to return to Elon Moreh, and to return the honor of Israel*.

The end?

From the site:

On 16 January the Elon Moreh residents decided by a majority vote to move to Mt. Kabir. The move was carried out on 29 January; a small group of four families and several single people remained on the previous site and were forcibly removed by the IDF on 3 February 1980.

Visit My Right Word.

Golda Och Cancels Boy Scout troops over Exclusion of Gay Leaders

Friday, October 26th, 2012

A Conservative Jewish day school will not renew its Boy Scouts charter because of the organization’s policy excluding gay and lesbian adults as leaders.

The Golda Och Academy in West Orange, N.J., said in a letter to parents last week that the Scouts’ policy presents a “problematic image for many families.

“To exclude same-sex families from membership and adult volunteerism is in direct contradiction of school policies, which place high value on inclusion,” reads the Oct. 17 letter signed by head of school Joyce Raynor, the New Jersey Jewish News reported.

The Boy Scouts of America reaffirmed its ban on gays and lesbians over the summer.

There has several same-sex families at Golda Och, according to Raynor.

The day school’s scout and pack are now in search of another location in which to meet. Thirty of the school’s families have children in Boy Scout Troop 118, which started in 1995, and Cub Scout Pack 118 for younger boys.

Since 2001, the Reform movement has recommended that member congregations withdraw sponsorship of packs or troops over the issue, according to the Jewish News.

Morsi is No Secret Zionist!

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

News item:

Muslim Brotherhood leader Ahmed al-Hamrawy resigned from the group and its Freedom and Justice Party to protest a letter introducing the new Egyptian ambassador to Israel.

The letter was addressed from President Mohamed Morsy to Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Hamrawy, former secretary general of the Lawyers Syndicate in Alexandria, described the letter as “national and religious treason,” and added it a waste of the blood of the Egyptian and Palestinian “martyrs” from 1948 until the present day.

The article continues that there has been a great deal of criticism ofthe friendly tone of the letter, written to Israel’s President Shimon Peres. Some Egyptian Islamists even claimed that he didn’t write it, that it was a Zionist “fabrication.” But, interestingly, more radical Salafist elements understand that pretending to be friendly to enemies is a legitimate Muslim tactic:

Essam Zahran, former MP for the Salafi-oriented Nour Party, described the writing style of Morsi’s letter to Peres as similar to the letters sent by Prophet Mohamed to Byzantine Emperor Heraclius.

Zahran told Aswat Masriya, a political website, that what Morsy did “has its origin in Islam.”

He described the letter as “following the example of Prophet Mohamed, when he addressed the Byzantine leader, saying ‘from Mohamed the Prophet of Islam to Heraclius the Byzantine greatest,’ and the relations between Muslims and Byzantines then were very similar to our relationship with the Israelis now.”

“The way of writing the letter,” Zahran continued, “does not mean at all satisfaction of the presidency or the Islamic current with the Israeli policies toward our brothers in Palestine. We still see it as a usurper entity that has established their state on the ruins of another state.”

In Muslim tradition, the letter in question called on Heraclius to become a Muslim, and warned him that if he did not do so, “he would be guilty of misleading his subjects.” Apparently he he did not accept Islam, and his forces were defeated by the Arabs at the Battle of Yarmouk (Syria) in 636. The following year, the Muslims conquered Jerusalem.

But just in case you still think that Morsy is a secret Zionist, here is Morsy praying last week with cleric Fotouh Abd Al-Nabi Mansour. At about 25 seconds into the video, you can see Morsy’s lips move in prayer as Mansour says “Oh Allah, destroy the Jews and their supporters”:

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Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/fresno-zionism/morsi-is-no-secret-zionist/2012/10/23/

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