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June 27, 2016 / 21 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘living’

Inspirational Living

Monday, June 20th, 2016

“To infuse some thought or feeling into a person, as if by breathing; to animate or actuate by some mental or spiritual influence.” – Oxford English Dictionary

Inspiration is a difficult concept to explain.

There are hundreds of dictionary entries attempting to define this word as accurately as possible but sometimes, words don’t always conjure the perfect image or understanding in your mind.

As a kid, I found it difficult to sit still and listen to numerous stories about people who have changed the world. My mind has two modes; engaging with something in front of my eyes or wandering to find its own entertainment. Needless to say, I left school with no idea of how someone or something can positively impact my life.

Over time, I realized that without a source of inspiration, it is difficult to evolve into someone other people look to emulate. Deep down, every person wants to be remembered or admired for something. It’s not about having an ego, it’s about building purpose. If you don’t leave your footprint on earth, how will anyone know you walked upon it?

I started to question myself: What actually inspires me? What do I see or do that really leaves me speechless and breathless? I realized that I had no answer. It upset me because it proved that I hadn’t found a way of connecting myself to the world or finding the means in which to grow and discover. So I decided that it’s not about finding someone or something to change you, it’s about changing yourself.

For a number of years, I became fixated with learning what’s out there. Every month I’d find myself sat in an airport waiting for my flight to be called. For a long time, I felt like I needed to meet new people and see different things; and it really worked. I guess at that time in my life, I needed to develop and understand how to appreciate what I have because it’s easy to take it for granted. The grass truly is always greener on the other side.

But then I stopped and thought, I don’t need to do this. Gallivanting around the world isn’t essential because inspiration can come in the wildest and most random of forms.

Just last night, I attended a performance by one of the top illusionists in the world. Never did I think I would attend a magic show and come out enthused, but I did. He told us all in the audience that he wanted to pass on a message; he wanted the theme of the evening to be about a topic that means something to him.

For almost 20 minutes, he explained the true meaning of happiness. People can become obsessed with achieving career or academic goals which they think will leave them happy but that’s not the truth. If one doesn’t fulfil their aspirations, it can leave them even more miserable than when they set out. As well, these materialistic dreams can distract you from what is the real importance – your friends, family and loved ones. To be frank – you can wipe your tears with a $50 bill but it’ll never take them away.

Instead of leaving and being content with the show, I left with being content with what I wanted my outlook to become. Happiness is so important that it should come before anything else in the world. Everything in life will be miserable if your attitude is so.

Whether it’s a book, performance, a life experience or even traveling the world, it’s imperative to keep yourself evolving. Find things that make you want to be a better you, but also that make you want to be a better person so that one day, you can inspire someone else who may need it too.

Become an inspiration.

 

Selena Myers

Israelis Kickstart After IDF Wouldn’t Rehab Wounded Soldier Living in Settlement [video]

Sunday, June 5th, 2016

Decorated special forces soldier Sgt. Yehuda Yitzchak Hayisraeli who fought and was critically injured in the 2014 Gaza War, during the courageous attempt to retrieve the late Lt. Hadar Goldin who had been captured and killed by Hamas. Sgt. Yehuda was in a coma for two years, surrounded by his wife and family, who never gave up on him. His son Erez was born and was circumcised while his hero father was still in a coma, an event that focused national attention on the family one more time.

Then a miracle happened and Yehuda came out of the coma, a few months ago. Since then he has been engaged in a grueling and demanding rehab process, where he is re-learning a large variety of basic skills, on the way to full recovery. Eventually the time came for Yehuda to be discharged from the hospital to continue his rehab at home. Like every injured soldier, the defense ministry pays for adjusting his home environment to his rehab needs. But Yehuda is a resident of the community of Ofra in Judea and Samaria, and since the entire region is under a construction freeze in an attempt to please Israel’s many friends in the world, the funds could not be legally transferred to him, no matter how deserving he may be.

The family was dumbfounded at this degree of bureaucratic autism, but a group of Israeli citizens who last week heard about the case in the media decided to come to their aid. They launched a communal fundraising page on the website headstart.co.il, and asked for the equivalent of $156,000, the amount needed to pay for Yehuda’s accommodations. As of Sunday morning, the page has raised $373,061.61 from 7,778 individuals.

On the fundraising page, the organizers have thanked profusely everyone who contributed (including opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog who gave about $300), and declared that the collection will continue, at least until the official expiration time, which is in 26 days. The money will go to provide for Yehuda’s family in the next year or so.

What a wonderful example of community values in face of government deafness. (Click here for an update on the government’s response).

JNi.Media

Health & Living: May 2016

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

Jewish Press Staff

Living In Terror In The Soviet Union: An Interview With Rabbi Hillel Zaltzman

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

“Persecution of the Jewish people.” When young Orthodox Jews hear these words, they tend to think of events like the Crusades, the Inquisition, or, more recently, the Holocaust. If you were to tell them that the 1950s and ‘60s were also years of dark persecution, many would no doubt regard you with a certain degree of puzzlement.

And yet the fact is that while Jews in postwar America were living in the lap of luxury, their brethren in the Soviet Union were still being terrorized for such “sins” as keeping Shabbos and teaching Torah. In his memoir, “Samarkand: The Underground with a Far-Reaching Impact,” Rabbi Hillel Zaltzman, a 76-year-old Lubavitcher chassid, provides insight into the struggles he and other Jews experienced trying to observe Judaism under a government that considered the practice of religion counter-revolutionary.

Rabbi Zaltzman, who left the USSR in 1971, is currently president of Chamah, an organization devoted to helping Jews from the former Soviet Union. He is being honored this week in Washington, DC, as part of American Jewish Heritage Month.

The Jewish Press: You grew up Samarkand, the third largest city in modern-day Uzbekistan. How did your family wind up there?

Rabbi Zaltzman: I was born in Kharkov, Ukraine, but when the Nazis approached Kharkov in World War II, we were told on the radio that we should escape. So my parents decided to go to Samarkand and Tashkent, which is where many Jews found refuge.

You write that your defiance of the Soviet Union began as a boy when it came time to attend school. How so?

The schools in the Soviet Union wanted to build a personality. They used to call it a “Homo Sovietica,” a Soviet personality. No religion, no beliefs, no parents – if you saw your parents practicing religion, you had to tell to the school. There was no private education. The whole Soviet Union was based on Marxism and Leninism, which is against any religion. So my father was scared I would lose my Yiddishkeit if he enrolled me in school.

He hid me and my brother at home so that the neighbors shouldn’t see us and tell the government. For years, I’d walk out with a school briefcase in the morning and go to a friend’s house and then come back in the afternoon after school.

How long did that last?

Until I was nine. Local school officials used to go from house to house looking for children, and one day the neighbors reported there was a child in our home. The government found out I wasn’t going to school for religious reasons, so they told my father, “We’ll take away your son and send him to a foster home for reeducation.”

My father went to a school in a neighborhood with no Jews and told my teacher, “My son is a sick boy who must relax two days a week – Saturday and Sunday.” He also gave her a gift, and that worked for a year until they realized something was wrong and demanded that I come to school on Shabbos.

Did you?

No, never. My father tried to convince me. He said, “You’re not bar mitzvah yet. They’re going to arrest me and take you to a foster home. It will be much worse. Just go. You won’t be forced to write.”

But I didn’t want to go. I woke up early Shabbos morning and went to my friend’s house. So my father decided to take me to another school. It’s a long story, but after a few years I managed to stop attending school without the government noticing.

Elliot Resnick

Health & Living: February 2016

Monday, February 29th, 2016

Jewish Press Staff

The Two-State Solution Is Obsolete

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

The Americans, the Europeans and the international community in general are constantly demanding the implementation of a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders. For example, when French President Francois Hollande spoke at the Knesset recently, he stated, “We need a compromise through a two-state solution.” He emphasized that Jerusalem should be a shared capital city of both the Jewish and Palestinian peoples and stressed that settlement construction should come to an end. Statements by US President Barack Obama, US Secretary of State John Kerry, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, and Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron are very similar to Hollande’s.

However, any political analysis of the current situation on the ground in the Holy Land would suggest that such models are an obsolete way of thinking. For starters, the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Authority are not controlled by the same political entity. The Gaza Strip is controlled by the Hamas terrorist organization, who to date refuses to reconcile with the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority. By refusing to sign a reconciliation agreement with Fatah, Hamas has essentially ensured that there can be no united Palestinian leadership. If there is no united Palestinian leadership, there can’t be a unified Palestinian state.

History is full of examples of entities that broke up because they were separated by geographic distance and cultural differences. Bangladesh used to be East Pakistan. However, the culture in Bangladesh is very different from the Pakistani mentality. In Pakistan, they primarily speak Urdu, while the language in Bangladesh is Bangla. The Bangladeshi people felt oppressed by Pakistan. Some Bangladeshis accuse them of committing genocide against them. Furthermore, Pakistan was geographically disconnected from them and so they decided to break off to become a separate country.

The situation is quite similar in regards to the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority and the Hamas-dominated Gaza Strip. Fatah supporters in the Gaza Strip feel oppressed by Hamas and Hamas supporters within the Palestinian Authority view the Fatah leadership with disdain. Furthermore, the populations in Gaza and Judea and Samaria are very different from each other culturally speaking. The Arabs living in Judea and Samaria are more liberal and cosmopolitan than the ones living in the Gaza Strip. To add insult to injury, the two territories are geographically disconnected from each other and the two populations rarely intermarry with each other.

The Fatah-Hamas divide in itself should have killed the idea of a two-state for two peoples’ paradigm. This should be the case especially given the fact that Hamas refuses to recognize the existence of the Jewish state as well and states specifically in their charter that they are opposed to all peace negotiations. They support waging a violent jihad until Israel ceases to exist. For them, it is war until either Israel vanishes or they cease to exist.

Even if Fatah recognizes Israel’s right to exist, in the absence of a military defeat of Hamas, two-states for two peoples living in peace is a fairy tale for children. Yet interestingly enough, even Fatah remains committed to destroying Israel in phases, refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and views the two-states for two-people’s paradigm merely as the first phase towards liberating all of Palestine. Given this reality, it is time for the international community to consider other models for resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the absence of paradigms that have been proven to be unworkable.

Rachel Avraham

Not Enough Joy and Meaning

Monday, October 7th, 2013

The recent NY Times article on the newly released PEW findings on Jewish continuity paints a bleak future for American Jewry. The study, among other findings, reported that nearly six in ten Jewish respondents (58%) who have gotten married since 2000, have married a non-Jewish spouse. The study also showed that only 20 percent of those who have intermarried are raising their children Jewish by religion.

There are, I’m sure, many reasons for this worsening situation including a serious lack of Jewish education for most American Jews, a more than ever distracting world in which living any kind of religious life becomes more challenging, and many other contributing factors. However I believe there is another cause, which I have seen in my 20 years of outreach to the young and less affiliated: the sheer lack of joy or meaning that so many young Jews associate with Judaism.

More often than not, the perception young people have of Judaism is of a faith filled with rules and restrictions which offers little or no joy or meaning in return.

But why should young Jews be left with any other impression? When Yom Kippur continues to be the most celebrated Jewish experience in synagogue what else should we expect? How many American Jews are present for the somber Yom Kippur service, complete with fasting and chest-pounding/forgiveness asking but are no-where to be found the next week when joyous singing and dancing in honor of Simchat Torah takes place? That balance of reverence and joy is vital to keep our interest and it is so authentically Jewish. In the Temple of old, the Beit Hamikdash, the feeling on Yom Kippur was one of awe and even trepidation as the High Priest performed the service to secure atonement for all of Israel, but the next week that same Temple was filled with a sense of joy and exuberance during the Simchat Beit Hoshava (water drawing ceremony) on which which the Talmud tells us: “Whoever never witnessed the Simchat Beit Hashoeva has never in his life seen true joy.”

Like most synagogues, MJE has always drawn larger numbers for its Yom Kippur services than for Simchat Torah. This year however, for the very first time, we had approximately the same number of participants for both holidays. It took us 15 years but we did it. The same number of previously less affiliated 20’s/30’s who were willing to fast and pray with us on Yom Kippur returned to sing and dance with us on Simchat Torah.

Young Jews desperately need to experience both the serious and lighter sides of Judaism. We can no longer allow our beloved faith to be marketed as a religion of guilt and restriction without even trying to present it for what it truly is: a path which can ultimately bring joy and meaning to contemporary life. And we must learn to properly articulate how the limitations Judaism does place on our lives are important in helping to create that more joyous and meaningful existence.

The goal of our synagogues and Jewish institutions today must be to demonstrate this balance of reverence and joy; fealty to tradition with personnel meaning and relevance. Jewish educators need to be better trained to invest more explanation and inspiration into our prayer services and provide greater depth and insight as to how living a life of Torah can actually improve our lives and make us happier and more fulfilled people.

Otherwise, for most American Jews, why bother?

Rabbi Mark Wildes

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/not-enough-joy-and-meaning/2013/10/07/

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