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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘London’

Israel’s 6 Million Jews Makes It Largest Jewish Center

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Israel’s Jewish population crossed the 6 million mark during Passover, a symbolic sign of peaceful vengeance for the approximately same number of Jews who were exterminated by the Nazi regime.

The Israel Jewish community, which compromises approximately 75 percent of the total population outside of Judea and Samaria, now is the largest in the world, depending on one’s definition of “Who is a Jew?”

The American Jewish population is estimated by most sources as being 5.5 million, while it is up to 2 million larger if one includes as Jewish those who were born to Jewish fathers but not to Jewish fathers and those who were not converted according to Jewish tradition.

The largest American Jewish population center is in New York City, with approximately 2 million. followed by nearly half a million in Paris.

There are approximately 380,000 Jews in Canada, with most of them living in metropolitan Toronto. Next in Line is Britain’s 290,000 Jews.

“In the world today there are 13,800,000 Jews,” Hebrew University Professor Sergio Della Pergola told the Yediot Acharonot newspaper.

“Israel has indeed experienced a growth in the number of Jews last year, but world Jewry outside Israel did not fare so well. On the contrary, world Jewry has experienced negative growth,” reflecting assimilation.

Although most of the world’s Jews live outside Israel, Israeli historian and author Tom Segev told the London Daily Telegraph, “Within five, seven or 10 years, you might be able to say that most Jews in the world live inside Israel, and it will be legitimate to use the cliché that for the first time in 2,000 years, the Jews are in Israel. Then the question will be, what do you do with the Zionist ideology?”

Israelis are attracted to metropolitan Tel Aviv, but massive government programs, including new highways and rail links, are trying to reverse the trend and encourage Jews to settle in the Negev and the Galilee.

Russian Jewish Billionaire’s Death a ‘Mystery’

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

London forensics experts found no traces of hazardous materials to explain the mysterious death of Boris Berezovsky, a 67-year-old Jewish oligarch and Kremlin critic.

Russia’s Channel One reported that his body was found on Saturday in the bathroom of his home in the London area, and that he had suffered a heart attack last week. But ThamesValley police say his death is being treated as “unexplained,” the Guardian reported.

“Officers found nothing of concern in the property and we are now progressing the investigation as normal,” said a statement from police about tests for biological or chemical poisons,

Berezovsky fled to Britain about 10 years ago, after a bitter falling out with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid fraud charges that Berezovsky said were politically motivated. He was born in Moscow in 1946 to a Jewish father and a mother with Jewish roots. He immigrated to Israel in 1993 but later renounced his Israeli passport.

Berezovsky became a strident and frequent critic of Putin, accusing the leader of ushering in a dictatorship.

He accumulated his wealth in the years following the collapse of Soviet Russia, when he acquired local firms, among them oil companies and television stations, rising to prominence during the term of Boris Yeltsin in the nineties. Russian media reported recently that Berezovsky, once the richest man in Russia, had suffered heavy losses.

A Moment of Moral Clarity in London (Video)

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

George Galloway was expelled from the Labor Party in 2003 for bringing it into disrepute. He notoriously honored the despot Saddam Hussein in a 1994 speech that ended with this formulation: “Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability”.

On Wednesday in Parliament, as the member for Bradford West for the bizarrely-named Respect Party, he put a question/comment to the prime minister, requiring that the latteradumbrate the differences between one brand of “hand-chopping, throat-cutting” terrorist of the kind to be found in Mali and some other sort of jihadist. (For the record, Galloway is no stranger to speaking publicly about terrorists; he has no difficulty praising them lavishly.)

With barely a moment’s hesitation, U.K. prime minister David Cameron rose to his feet with this first-class put-down:

Some things come and go, but there is one thing that is certain: Wherever there is a brutal Arab dictator in the world, he’ll have the support of the honorable gentleman.

To illustrate the point in a very small way, recall that the “honorable gentleman” was said (by the Times of London in August 2012) to “earn almost £80,000 a year from a new Lebanese TV station accused of having links to Syria and Iran… [Galloway] recently began presenting a show on al-Mayadeen. The Arabic-language station, launched in June, presents itself as a counterweight to channels such as the Qatari-funded al-Jazeera, which it sees as biased against Syria and its allies.

Here’s the video of Cameron’s response:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9VAHTqtXYg]Visit This Ongoing War.

Keynes vs. Hayek: Which Approach Won Over the Economies of the West? (Podcast)

Friday, November 16th, 2012

Keynes and Hayek were two of the most influential economists of modern times. But how did their economic philosophies and views affect the world today? Nicholas Wapshott, who wrote Keynes Hayek: The Clash That Defined Modern Economics and is the former New York bureau chief ofThe Times, editor of theSaturday Times of London,  founding editor of The Times Magazine, and political editor of The Observer, tells Doug about the differences in both economic systems and how the economies of the West have been shaped by them. Also enjoy listening to all of your favorite people on Goldstein on Gelt.

On Boycotting Israel

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

I am happy to say that Britain still has some exports. Sad to say, they include vicious anti-Israel boycotts and propaganda. Take developments from the past couple of weeks alone.

In recent years the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO), among other Israeli musicians, has found it increasingly difficult to perform in Britain without being subjected to interruption and protest. At last year’s BBC Promenade concerts, the highlight of the musical year in London, protestors repeatedly interrupted the IPO’s performance. The orchestra – under Zubin Mehta – carried on, but each piece on the program was at some point marred by shouting, protest songs and more.

A year earlier the Jerusalem String Quartet had its performance at the Wigmore Hall repeatedly halted by the forward reconnaissance unit of the UK’s anti-Israel brigade. There, as at the Proms, the collection of anti-classical music bravehearts sang witless anti-Israel songs of their own invention to ensure that the quartet could not play its program of Ravel and Mozart. The Wigmore Hall protestors were entirely Jewish, the Albert Hall ones mainly so, thus causing a collective sigh of despair and a smacking of hands on foreheads by sane Jews everywhere.

As though to show how swiftly bad behavior can spread, last week it was the turn of protestors in New York to oppose the IPO. Among the chants of the protestors were “Oboe, trumpet or bassoon, apartheid is out of tune” and “IPO gets no ovation, ambassador for occupation.”

If, like me, you ever labored under the misunderstanding that orchestras exist to play music and that music is an international language which brings peace and understanding between people – and all that jazz – then you are clearly unaware of the new low that Israel’s opponents have sunk to. Music today may still be an international language, but it is best listened to only once you have ascertained that none of the woodwinds section is Zionist. Or the strings. Or brass. A single self-hating Jew in the percussion section, playing the triangle for instance, might be permissible. But otherwise it should be boycott, boycott, boycott. Sing it loud: “No Israelis is our tune, is that a Jew on third bassoon?’ ‘We’d like a word with that bearded drummer, from where we stand he could be a frummer.”

The dozens of New Yorkers from the New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel (or NYCftBoI for short) who disrupted the Carnegie concert claimed that the Israeli state is engaged in “apartheid policies against the Palestinian people” and that no amount of world-class musicianship can “cover up the injustice that Palestinians face.”

Which leads one to wonder what they do think is acceptable. Both North Korea and Iran have symphony orchestras. Or at least Iran did until this month when the mullahs boycotted it for us, after not having paid the musicians for three months. Music, apparently, is Zionist – or at least Western music is, which to hard-line mullahs is evidently the same thing. Anyhow, this strikes me as a shame. Personally I would love to have heard it – and the North Korean symphony as well. If the latter could ever be persuaded to visit London or New York – and provided that their musicians didn’t perform – as is their management’s wont – with background montages of nuclear tests, I would welcome them with great enthusiasm. Indeed I would regard listening to their playing and applauding them enthusiastically as a noteworthy demonstration to them that I recognize a difference between their government and themselves.

Iranian state forces may shoot students, hang gays from cranes and seek to annihilate a whole people, but I should think it very strange if anyone thought that the appropriate response would have been to shout anti-Iranian abuses at their national orchestra or question the very existence of their country during the piccolo solo. Likewise, if the North Korean National Symphony Orchestra were engaged in a rendition of their beautiful national tune, Arirang, I would think it not only the height of bad manners but exactly the wrong moment to start hollering about their government’s creation of multi-generational concentration camps and violation of the non-proliferation agreement.

In both of these cases the sin is real. Iran and North Korea actually are states that practice the most vile oppression of their people. Israel does not. Yet it is orchestras from Israel, string-quartets from Israel and, indeed, dance-troupes from Israel that are threatened and vilified where it would be the height of bad manners and, in fact, powerful statecraft to oppose orchestras from real totalitarian societies.

As Long as We’re Guessing at God’s Message…

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

It didn’t take very long for some holy rollers to pop up and tell us why God punished the East Coast with a devastating storm. Not only didn’t it take long, there seemed to be a rush to see who could come up with a reason first. I don’t know who actually won that race. But I do know that there are a lot of people who think they have a direct line to God and know exactly what He was trying to tell us.
Well, I’m glad I now know. Or do I? It seems that not everyone came up with the same reason. There are no fewer than 6 different people who seem to have intimate knowledge of God’s purpose in inflicting damage on America’s East Coast residents. One of them commented right here in a comment thread last Thursday.

Is the Lakewood community still not Frum enough? Was it because New York legalized gay marriage? Perhaps it is because Israel’s depends too much on America? How about an environmental message? Are we ignoring climate change? Is this God’s way of getting us to stop our earth destroying ways? Or maybe it’s Iran’s fault?

I’m sure this will not be the last of it. For example I have yet to hear the classic one about Tznius. I’m sure that is yet to come up from someone.

Needless to say, I think these people all have agendas driving their claims of knowing God’s intended message. But I do not think it helps matters to use a tragedy to push an agenda. It would be far better if these people would just keep quiet and instead do whatever they can to help their fellow man in need. People in distress do not need to be harangued about why they were punished. Especially if such statements are clearly speculation sourced in an agenda.

But now that everyone else is doing it, I thought I may as well join the fray. I have a few thoughts about God’s possible message too. If anyone want’s to accuse me of being agenda driven… go right ahead.

It seems like almost every day there is another report about a religious Jew abusing another human being sexually. Just last week there was a report by Miriam Shaviv in The Times of Israel about yet another prominent Charedi rabbi in England who was accused sexual abuse – some of it apparently shocking!

London’s ultra-Orthodox establishment is investigating one of its most senior rabbis following a barrage of rumors that he engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with a woman, The Times of Israel has learned.

The rabbi wields considerable influence in the city’s Haredi institutions.

Over the past few weeks, he has been accused in blogs and on the street of a variety of sexual misdeeds with at least one woman — for whom he was allegedly acting as a counselor — and possibly with others. The allegations range from serious criminal offenses to actions which, one rabbi said, may be halachically dubious, but “in the non-rabbinical, non-Haredi world, wouldn’t raise eyebrows.”

The rabbi at the center of the rumors did not return a phone call…

One local Haredi rabbi, who like all the British interviewees for this article requested anonymity due to the case’s sensitive nature, said he did not believe the rumors, which “seem incompatible with [the rabbi's] personality.”

Because of the accused rabbi’s senior status and popularity, if the most serious allegations were proven, “it would send shock waves through the community. It would be on par with the chief rabbi being accused of such a thing,” he added.

Shock waves? I have long ago stopped being shocked by such stories. I don’t know if any of these charges are true or even exactly what they are. Or how many victims there are – if any. But it seems the charges are credible enough to have a committee investigating them:

Since mid-October, his London colleagues have met twice to discuss the handling of the case, once in the Orthodox suburb of Golders Green in North West London, and once in the considerably more Haredi Stamford Hill.

Now a prominent London rabbinical authority has appointed a small committee to investigate the claims. The committee apparently includes a mental health professional and a legal professional; at least one of them is Jewish.

As I said such stories are no longer shocking to me. But the relatively common occurrence of this type of thing does not lessen the terrible consequences for the victims. Nor does the continued protection and defense by their communities (including their rabbinic leadership) of accused molesters like Mondrowitz and Weberman help either.

Which is more devastating, Hurricane Sandy or Hurricane Weberman? Sandy may have hurt a lot more people. It will be difficult to restore their lives to some semblance of normalcy. It will certainly take time. It will also take a lot of work and help from friends and community. But Hurricane Sandy’s victims will God willing survive and resurrect their lives.

That does not happen for too many victims of sexual abuse. Far too often their lives are permanently damaged. Some to the point of death by their own hand.

Yes my friends there is a lot of Teshuva to do. And a lot of work to do to rid the Torah world of the scourge of sexual abuse in all its manifestations. In all segments of observant Jewry. All over the world. There is also a lot of work to do to try and make whole the lives of victims to the best of our ability.

Although there is progress in how we deal with these things now, we have a long way to go. As long as there are communities that protect their accused molesters and reject the pain of their victims – our job is not complete. By a long shot!

Why did the East Coast where the greatest numbers of religious Jews live get such a terrible blow last week? I don’t know. I am not a Navi. But the sex related issue of Tznius is almost always pointed to by some rabbinic leaders as the cause. I agree that it might be sex related. But not in matters of Tznius. Perhaps it is the way we deal with sex abuse. If there is any message from God in this, perhaps the first thing we ought to look at is how we still fail to recognize just how short we fall in this department.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Moses Raphael Levy – Wealthy Colonial Jewish Merchant

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

For centuries Jews have believed America to be a land of freedom and financial opportunity. One such Jew was Moses Raphael Levy, who achieved tremendous financial success as an American colonial merchant.

Levy was born in 1665 in Germany to Isaac and Beila Levy. He relocated to England and his marriage to his first wife, Richea (Rycha) Asher, took place in 1695[i] in London’s Bevis Marks Synagogue.

Three children were born in London – Bilhah Abigail (b. 1696), Asher (b. 1699), and Nathan (b. 1704). According to family tradition, Moses enjoyed some financial success in England.

“After accumulating something of a competency in London, he thought he saw in the New World opportunities for adding to it, and about the year 1705 landed in New York City.”[ii]

The Levys were accompanied by Moses’s brother, Samuel, and his wife, Rachel Asher who was Beila’s sister. (The practice of brothers solidifying family and business ties by marrying sisters was not uncommon at this time.) A young man named Jacob Franks, who would eventually marry Bilhah Abigail, also came with them.[iii]

“As Ashkenazim, the Levys found themselves outnumbered. New York had been settled by Sephardim, who constituted a majority of its Jewish residents. Because there was no organized Ashkenazic community in New York until the nineteenth century, the Levys had no choice but to turn for communal support to the Sephardic establishment. They were allowed to join the Sephardic community with the understanding that they would conform to Sephardic customs. They did, and gradually became accepted as “naturalized” Sephardim.”

Moses Levy took an active interest in New York’s Congregation Shearith Israel and served as its parnas (president) for several years. Indeed, he was serving that office when he passed away on June 14, 1728.

His main interests, however, were financial.

“Taking full advantage of business and family connections in London and the West Indies, Levy soon became so successful in exporting beaver pelts and grain and importing a variety of manufactured goods that he controlled a fleet of ships, one of which he named after his daughter, Abigail.

“With the emergence of a thriving American export economy of grains, furs, and hides, Levy became ever more involved in commerce and trade. Business was so good that in 1711 Levy joined several other wealthy Jewish merchants in contributing to a fund for the completion of a spire on Trinity Church on Broadway and Wall Street, making the church the tallest man-made structure in the city. It was an investment that paid off. Four years later, the New York Assembly passed a bill naturalizing all resident landowners of foreign birth, regardless of religion. This law entitled Levy and his heirs to the same rights and obligations their gentile neighbors enjoyed.

“In 1716 Levy’s wife Richea died, leaving Levy with five children. Two years later, in London, Levy married Grace Mears of Spanish Town, Jamaica, where a Sephardic community had existed for over half a century. Grace bore Levy seven children.” [iv]

Their first child Rachel was born in London in 1719. She was the mother of Gershom Mendes Seixas, who served as Hazzan of Congregation Shearith Israel from 1768 to 1776 and again from 1784 until his passing in 1816. (Shearith Israel did not function during the Revolutionary War, since many of New York’s Jews left the city rather than live under the British when they captured the city.  Seixas led this exodus and is often referred to as the Revolutionary War Hazzan.)

Some of Levy’s twelve children “became the ancestors of very distinguished Jews in the generations to follow. One of his sons was the real founder of the Philadelphia Jewish community, another was one of the first Jews in Baltimore. A grandson of his, likewise named Moses Levy, was considered by Jefferson for a cabinet post.”[v] The Liberty Bell was transported to America on the ship Myrtilla which belonged to Nathan Levy, Moses’s eldest son.

Levy suffered the ups and downs of the business world in his many financial endeavors.

“That the merchant-shipper of that generation only too frequently suffered reverses is eloquently demonstrated in Levy’s relations with Isaac Napthaly, a Rhode Island butcher who also aspired to be a merchant. By 1705, Napthaly, now in New York, had been granted the freedom of the city; the following year, while engaged in litigation of some sort, he succeeded in inducing Levy to become his bondsman. Two years later Napthaly ran up a debt with Levy in a commercial deal and then fled the country. He was probably hopelessly bankrupt and ran away to escape imprisonment for debt.

A Time to Perfect Ourselves and Thereby the World

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Note from Harry Maryles: R. Netanel is a young man (age 20) who learns in Yeshivas  Mir Yerushalayim. He studied at Hasmonian in London and describes his Hashkafos as moderate Charedi  influenced by Rav Shamshon Raphael Hirsch and Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik.

Netanel  runs a Torah Website  - Geshmak Torah - which he describes as “a user-friendly Dvar Torah service with compelling, “say-able” Divrei Torah. gTorahmakes them navigable, accessible, and pleasant to read; with content that will speak to everyone”.

I am pleased to post this Dvar Torah submitted by him for Erev Yom Kippur. His words follow.

As Moshe winds down in his final address to the people, he reiterates the responsibility they took on when they agreed the covenant at Sinai:

Today, Hashem your God commands you to perform these laws and statutes; to guard and keep them – with all your heart and soul. Regarding Hashem you have said today, that He will be a god to you; that you will walk in his ways, to keep his laws and statutes; and listen to His voice.

Hashem has said of you this day, for you to be a Chosen People for Him, as He has said to you; and you will keep His mitzvos. And He will place you supreme, above all the nations He made; for praise, honour and glory, that you would be a holy nation dedicated to Him, as was said (26:16-19).

The first part relates to our commitment to the relationship, and the second part to Hashem’s commitment. The transition though, is quite difficult:

Hashem has said of you this day, for you to be a Chosen People for Him, as He has said to you; and you will keep His mitzvos.

The opening is clearly Hashem speaking of us, but the ending, which discusses mitzva performance is clearly back to our commitment. How is adherence to Torah related to being called Am Segula? Whose commitment is this about? And what is the supremacy granted as a result?

Rabbeinu Bachye teaches that being called Am Segula – “chosen” – is not what it seems at face value. It is not a status we are born with; it is a title, an achievement that we have to work towards.

Similarly with circumcision. The very first mitzva a newborn is party to is a microcosm of the Jewish mission; perfecting what we have with what we are given, working towards the ultimate goal of perfection.

Rabbeinu Bachye says that the entire verse pertains to our commitment –– we just have to earn it.

So being chosen is in fact a bestowing of responsibility, but is in turn rewarded with being “supreme” over the other nations. What does this mean?

R. Shamshon Refael Hirsch writes how when the responsibilities are met, the world becomes a better place. The world is damaged, and being a better person repairs it.

Adam was commanded to “conquer” the world, when he was still all alone. His conquest was through listening to God; this is how all the animals knew to come to him to be named – they perceived godliness in him.

The same with Yakov – the Torah emphasises how he left Beersheba and went to Charan. The former seems redundant – it should only matter that he arrived somewhere – and the answer is that his departure does matter. When someone righteous leaves or goes somewhere, the environment and atmosphere of the place fundamentally change.

There is a story told of a young Chafetz Chaim, who saw the ills of the world, and decided to change the world. Seeing that the task was too monumentally large, he changed his mind, and set out to change his community. After seeing that that too was impossible, he downgraded his ambitions again, and decided that if he could not make them better, he’d at least himself.

And by making himself better, he really did change the world.

R. Hirsch teaches that by being better people, the world becomes a better place. There is famine, war, child slavery and kidnapping in the world, and while people attempt to deal with the symptoms, it is ultimately futile if humans aren’t more humane.

This is also what we mean when we make brachos, when we say Asher Kidshanu; and what we mean we say Ata VChartanu on Yomim Tovim – the very next words confirm that v’Kidashtanu b’Mitzvosecha – what distinguishes us is our mitzvos.

The Torah assures us that perfection of the world comes through perfection of self. On Rosh HaShana we daven for the world to become a better place. It’s in our hands to make it so.

Visit the Emes Ve-hmunah blog.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/haemtza/a-time-to-perfect-ourselves-and-thereby-the-world/2012/09/27/

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