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January 18, 2017 / 20 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘message’

A Message in Refugee Camp Unrest

Monday, November 7th, 2016

{Originally posted to the Commentary Magazine website}

Reuters has finally noticed what Israeli papers have been reporting for a while: West Bank refugee camps are seething. And unlike in the past, when most of the anger was aimed at Israel, “These days most of the wrath is aimed at [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas himself and his failure to keep his promises.” Western observers are watching anxiously, Reuters says, because they fear an eruption of violence. But they ought to be watching for another reason: Nothing casts more doubt on the wisdom of the West’s drive for Palestinian statehood now than the PA’s treatment of the refugee camps over its 22 years of existence.

The case for Palestinian statehood makes obvious sense in the abstract: Palestinians need a state where they can promote their people’s welfare, just as Jews need a state where they can promote their people’s welfare. It’s not that Israel did nothing for the Palestinians during its decades of governing the territories. Palestinian life expectancy jumped by 50 percent under Israeli rule, infant mortality plummeted by more than two-thirds, literacy rates and living standards skyrocketed, and so forth. Indeed, every hospital and university in the West Bank was built by Israel, as were most of those in Gaza. Nevertheless, there are many things Israel didn’t do, and the refugee camps are Exhibit A. Granted, Israel left the camps intact mainly because its one attempt to provide refugees with better housing back in the 1970s elicited such brutal opposition from the PLO–which threatened to kill refugees who accepted the offer–that it backed down. But regardless of the reason, the refugee camps are precisely the kind of open sore that Palestinian statehood is theoretically supposed to solve.

In reality, however, the PA has done nothing for the refugees. More than two decades after the PA’s establishment, the refugees’ schooling, healthcare and welfare allowances are still provided and funded wholly by UNRWA, the UN agency created especially for this purpose. Or, to be more precise, by the Western countries that fund most of UNRWA’s budget. Nor has the PA moved a single refugee into better housing. And this isn’t because Israel has somehow prevented it from doing so; most of the refugee camps are located in Area A, the part of the West Bank under full Palestinian control. It’s because the PA has no interest in doing so. As one resident of Balata, a refugee camp near Nablus, complained to Reuters, “The president [Abbas] hasn’t visited even once”–despite being in the 11th year of his four-year term.

Moreover, this neglect is quite deliberate: The PA doesn’t see the refugees as citizens to be served, but as a weapon aimed at Israel. They are kept in miserable conditions for the express purpose of creating sympathy for the Palestinian demand that they all be relocated to Israel, thereby eradicating its Jewish majority. And you needn’t take my word for that; as I’ve noted before, Palestinian officials have said quite openly that the refugees will never be granted citizenship in a Palestinian state–not even those already living in the West Bank and Gaza, the putative territory of this state.

Most of the arguments for creating a Palestinian state have long since proven false. The idea that such a state would bring peace to Israel, for instance, has been disproven not only by the upsurge in terror from every bit of territory Israel has handed over to Palestinian control to date, but also by the PA’s utter unwillingness to recognize that Jews have any right to a state even within the 1967 lines.

Similarly, the idea that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the main source of Mideast instability has been amply disproved by the meltdown of several Arab countries over the last few years, none of which had anything to do with Israel or the Palestinians.

But even with all those theories disproven, the basic desire one Balata resident expressed to Reuters–“We want dignity, we want better lives”–understandably resonates with most Westerners. And many believe this alone is sufficient justification for demanding Palestinian statehood now.

Except that a Palestinian state won’t provide that either, as the past 22 years have shown. The refugees will still be deprived of better lives, ignored by their own government, stuck in squalid refugee camps, dependent on Western charity for their healthcare, welfare and schooling, and subject to all the abuses of Abbas’s dictatorial government. As one Balata resident commented, “We don’t let the Palestinian Authority in because they will take us, torture us.”

In other words, Palestinian statehood now won’t solve a single problem, but assuredly will create a lot of new ones. If you doubt that, just consider the three wars Israel has fought with Hamas-run Gaza in the 11 years since it unilaterally withdrew from that territory. As long as Palestinians refuse to accept the Jewish state’s right to exist, an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank would almost certainly produce constant warfare just as the Gaza withdrawal has. And a Palestinian state at war with Israel will inevitably be a failed state, given the combination of Israeli military strength and Palestinian economic dependence on their larger, wealthier neighbor.

Thus, instead of continuing to push for the imminent creation of a Palestinian state, the West would do better to focus on the hard, slow work of educating Palestinians to come to terms with Israel’s existence. Demanding that the PA finally dismantle those refugee camps and take responsibility for their residents off UNRWA’s hands would be an excellent place to start.

Evelyn Gordon

A Timeless Message

Sunday, October 9th, 2016

Editor’s Note: Rebbetzin Jungreis, a”h, is no longer with us in a physical sense, but her message is eternal and The Jewish Press will continue to present the columns that for more than half a century have inspired countless readers around the world.

* * * * *

Yom Kippur approaches and memories crowd my mind. I see my saintly father, HaRav HaGaon Avraham HaLevi Jungreis, zt”l. I see his holy countenance, his beautiful face upon which the Shechinah rested. I hear his voice – a voice that penetrated the heart. Those who heard it never forgot it.

I usually sent our children to my parents for Yom Kippur so that they might stand at his side, for I knew the experience would forever be embedded in their souls. When my father came to the prayer of the martyrdom of the ten holy sages, his weeping was so powerful that the walls seemed to tremble in awe.

One Yom Kippur my son asked my father, “Why is Zeide weeping so much?”

My father told him that when Zeide pronounced the prayer of the ten holy martyrs, he always saw his own father, HaRav Ha Gaon Yisrael HaLevi Jungreis, Hy”d, being driven into the gas chambers with his year-old grandson in his arms. Many years have passed since then – my children have become grandparents – but the memories of Zeide’s tears remain forever etched on their hearts.

And then there are the memories of my saintly husband, HaRav Meshulem HaLevi Jungreis, zt”l, whom our first grandson dubbed “Abba Zeide,” which remained his name throughout his life. When my husband led his congregation in Neilah services, he was not only the rabbi but he pleaded as Abba Zeide for everyone. It was as Abba Zeide that he petitioned the Almighty and placed the prayers through the gates before they locked.

I see my beloved mother, Rebbetzin Miriam Jungreis, a”h. I see her shining face and the beautiful white tichel adorning her head. No one ever referred to my mother as “Rebbetzin”; everyone called her “Mama,” for she was a “Mama” to everyone. When the fast was over, everyone in the synagogue partook of the table Mama had lovingly prepared – not only for her children and grandchildren but for everyone. And she did this every year, even in her old age.

How did she do it? How did she find the energy? The answer is simple. She was “Mama.”

I remember my father’s words as he looked out at his congregation on Kol Nidre night. My father would speak in Yiddish, and year after year he began with the same message: “Tiere Yiddishe kinderlach – My dearest Jewish children, there are people sitting in our midst who, tragically, are not speaking to their parents, and parents who are not speaking to their children…brothers and sisters who are not communicating with each other.”

Even as my father spoke, he wept. “After we went through such a catastrophic Holocaust – a barbaric, savage slaughter never before seen by humankind – how can it be that Jews should turn against one another in animosity and hatred? How can it be that this hatred is directed against a brother, a sister, a mother, a father?

“It is Kol Nidre night. Let everyone resolve in his heart to embrace his siblings and return to his mother and father.”

It was only after speaking these words that my father would commence the Kol Nidre service.

As a young girl I always had difficulty comprehending that message. Can it be, I wondered, that there actually are children who do not speak to their parents, and siblings who do not communicate with one another?

Having been raised in a family of survivors – most of our relatives were consumed in the gas chambers and the flames of the crematoria – I saw my parents desperately searching for family members who might have survived. The most distant cousin became a first cousin, and those who came from the same shtetl or city suddenly became close relatives as well.

So I had difficulty identifying with my father’s message. I was young and naive. I automatically assumed that all parents were like my own, that all mishpachas were like ours. Sadly, today I know differently. Time and again I have encountered hatred that divides families – families in which communication has virtually ceased.

I could share many horrific stories related by victims who come to consult me, seeking solace and some guidance in their torment – like the widowed bubbie who was not permitted to attend her grandson’s bar mitzvah. She summoned the courage to go anyway, just so she might give a kiss and wish mazel tov to her grandson. Her children had anticipated this and hired guards to prevent her entry.

And then there are stories of siblings who sued each other after the demise of their parents – always over money. By the time they finished, there was very little left of the estate – nearly everything went to the lawyers. Perhaps even more tragic, the conflict resulted in walls of hatred that did not allow cousins to know each other.

Sadly, there are a thousand and one such examples – one more tragic than the next, all testimony to the reason for our long, dark, painful exile and the threats looming today as the lives of our people are once again on the line.

My father’s message rings loud and clear and is more urgently needed than ever, but those who should hear it are not listening. They have encased themselves in a cocoon of hatred, rendering them incapable of hearing or seeing.

When will we wake up? When?

May Hashem have mercy upon all of us and grant us a gemar tov – a blessed New Year.

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Yonah – Getting The Message

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

“Hashem occasioned a large male fish to swallow Yonah, and Yonah was in the fish for three days and three nights. And he prayed to Hashem, from the innards of the female fish.” – Yonah 2:1-2

 

According to the simplistic reading of the megillah, Hashem instructs Yonah to go to Ninveh and tell the people there to do teshuvah. Yonah, for some unknown reason, refuses to go and instead boards a ship setting out to sea, seemingly trying to run away from Hashem.

The mefarshim explain that nothing could be further from the truth. Yonah was a navi, a prophet of Hashem. A navi is a man of astonishing piety and greatness, who spends decades perfecting his avodas Hashem. While it is true that Yonah was running to the sea, it wasn’t because he was hiding from Hashem. Something much more complex was going on.

In that time period, the Jewish nation had veered far off course. Hashem planned to exile them from the land of Israel, and He intended to use the Assyrians to do the “dirty work.” The problem was that Assyrians themselves were so wicked, they deserved destruction. Hashem called on Yonah to go to Ninveh, the capital, to bring the people to repent, so that they could remain in existence and be the tool Hashem would use to expel the Jews.

Yonah’s reaction was: Hashem, if you wish to punish your people, you are the Master of the Universe. You know best, but count me out. I want no part of this. And so Yonah’s plan was simple. Direct prophecy was no longer given outside of the land of Israel. Hashem hadn’t yet given him the formal nevuah. So as long as he escaped the land of Israel before Hashem appeared to him to assign him the mission, he wouldn’t have to deliver it. And so he ran.

Nevertheless, Yonah understood that his running away would cost him his life (Mechilta). But he was so dedicated to his people that nothing mattered, not even his life. He was willing to die rather than play a role in hurting his nation. And so he boarded a boat.

The boat set out to sea and an enormous storm raged, threatening to destroy it. Seeing no other choice, the captain and crew threw Yonah overboard, and instantly the sea was calm. Along came an enormous fish that swallowed Yonah. Inside that fish Yonah did teshuvah. The fish spit him out. Hashem gave him the formal nevuah, and he went on to Ninveh.

Rashi makes a critical observation: When Yonah was thrown overboard the pasuk says he was swallowed by a male fish. Yet when he davened to Hashem, the pasuk says a female fish spit him out.

Rashi explains that both are correct. When Yonah was first thrown into the ocean he was swallowed by a male fish. He remained inside that fish for three days and didn’t repent. So Hashem had that fish spit him out and he was then swallowed by a female fish. This fish was pregnant, and Yonah was squashed inside and uncomfortable. The discomfort caused him to do teshuvah. Then the female fish spit him out.

This Rashi is very difficult to understand. We are dealing with an extremely idealistic man who is ready to give up everything because of his principles. He will run from his home, sacrifice his life, stand up to Hashem Himself, all because he deeply believes in the justice of his cause. How would a little discomfort change his mind?

The answer to this is based on a proper understanding of man.

The Compound Called Man

We humans are a complex breed. One minute we can be tolerant, understanding, and accepting, and the next minute we can be hard-nosed, obstinate, and rigid. In one situation we can be generous, magnanimous, and kind, and in the next situation we can be selfish and self-centered. But it’s the same person. And making sense of our actions requires a fundamental understanding of Creation.

To fashion man, Hashem took two opposing elements and synthesized them. He took a brilliant, untarnished neshamah and put it into a body. The neshamah only wants to do that which is noble, correct, and proper. Instinctively it knows exactly what is right and wrong, and it wants only to do that. The body, on the other hand, is very different. It is imprinted with appetites and cravings, needs and desires. It was formed with all the instincts needed for its preservation. It only knows these passions, and is solely focused on one agenda – staying alive.

The conscious “I” that thinks and feels is made up of both these parts. Deep within me is a desire to accomplish great things, to help others, to serve Hashem exactly as He wishes I should. And there is another part of me that just couldn’t care less. There is a full half of me that knows and experiences only physical desires. I am caught right in the middle of these competing voices, and I have the free will to choose which side I will listen to.

This seems to be the answer to the question on Rashi. As great as Yonah was, he erred. While his motivation was pure, he took a stand against Hashem. And as righteous and virtuous as his motivations were, he was wrong – and on some level he knew it. Deep within him, he knew the right thing to. But that was the problem. Because of his devotion he was willing to pay any price, endure any hardship, to keep his commitment. He had made his decision and was willing to sacrifice all for it – but it was wrong. How do you get him to reconsider? How do you get him to contemplate that he has embarked on a wrong course?

What Yonah needed was suffering. Pain is powerful tool. It can cause a person to reconsider, to think things through and view them in a different light. And pain caused him to reweigh the issue and recognize his mistake. Hashem put Yonah into the female fish so that the distress would allow him to rethink things and recognize his mistake. He knew it all along, but had pushed it down. The discomfort caused him to revisit the issue and confront the truth.

Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier

An Important Message From The Jews To The Gentiles About The Jewish Holidays

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s blogsite, The Lid}

Well folks it’s that October time of the year again. Beginning Sunday night with Rosh HaShanah (translated as head of the Year) there are three major Jewish Holidays resulting in seven days we cannot work between the evening of October 2nd and sunset on October 25th.

Many in “our tribe” will be away from our computers for two and a half days Sunday night, all day Monday and Tuesday until an hour after sundown, As for me, as usual I will also be away from my computer on Saturdays.

Along with being the celebration of the Jewish New Year and the creation of the world by God, Rosh Hashanah begins the Yamim Noraim, the ten days of awe (that’s awe as in being God’s presence, not awwwww as in what you say when see an ugly baby– but you don’t want to insult the infant’s grandparents who are showing you pictures while you are in Synagogue during the High Holidays trying to pray).

The ten days between the first day of Rosh Hashanah ending with the final blowing of the Shofar ending Yom Kippur is a time for serious introspection, a time to consider the sins of the previous year and atone for our wrongs.

Now while we are gone, allow me to give you an important reminder–we’ve built a nice little internet here, so PLEASE behave yourselves while we are gone.  Here are a few rules to consider:

  • Don’t talk about us while we’re gone. You know that stereotype about the Jews controlling the media and owning all the banks?  If it’s true we know what you are saying on the phone, radio, and the internet…. with one phone call any one of us can shut down your cash cards and empty your bank accounts. I am not saying the stereotypes are true (or not)…but if I was in your shoes, I wouldn’t want to risk it?
  • Don’t make a mess of the place, the cleaning lady was just here, and won’t be back until after Sukkot (Oct. 25)
  •  No guests while we’re gone.
  • We’ve marked the liquor we know how much is in every bottle.  Remember, we can treat you like adults or we can treat you like kids…the choice is yours.
  •  We left some brisket and kugle in the fridge in case you get hungry.
  • If you eat the brisket and/or kugle please remember:  don’t go swimming for at least an hour.
  • And for God’s Sake!!! Please put the brisket and/or kugle back in the fridge when you are done eating. Brisket makes great leftovers don’t spoil it for the rest of us.
  • Please stop slouching.
  • Don’t run with scissors!
  • We left the phone number of where we’ll be on the side of the fridge (next to the picture of Uncle Sol an me taken before he got out of prison). Uncle Sol looked good in stripes.
  • Play Nice Together: Right now you Trumpers and NeverTrumpers hate each other, I get it we have mutually exclusive objectives. We were friends before this campaign and I love’ ya’ll despite our political differences. Thankfully most of us are still friends, and for the ones who no longer talk to us because we differer, I will be praying for reconciliation while I am at Rosh Hashana services.

Oh and one more thing…summer is over–it’s getting cold, put on a sweater and a hat you will get sick and then we will all catch it.

Thank you for understanding.

To all my friends, Jew or Gentile

33-Lishana-tova

Jeff Dunetz

St. Louis Churches Reject Black Lives Matter’s Anti-Israel Message

Monday, August 15th, 2016

Bishop Lawrence M. Wooten, President of the Ecumenical Leadership Council of St. Louis, on Sunday published a letter in the St. Louis Post Dispatch headlined, “Churches reject Black Lives Matter’s platform on Israel.” Bishop Wooten, a graduate of Saint Louis University who served in the city’s public school system for 30 years, has created a Neighborhood Outreach Center, two Charter schools and a local Church that contains and supports more than 45 outreach ministries.

“Recently, Black Lives Matter issued a platform of demands. One of the demands called for the elimination of US aid to Israel. Their argument is that Israel is an apartheid state perpetrating genocide against the Palestinians,” Bishop Wooten wrote, noting that “most of the platform’s readers are likely unaware that its Israel/Palestine section was written by an activist who was born and raised as a Jew, although Rachel Gilmer says she no longer identifies as Jewish.”

Thank you, Bishop Wooten, for pointing out the smaller details of things, where all the pain usually resides, mostly personal, unresolved pain.

“The Ecumenical Leadership Council of Missouri, representing hundreds of predominantly African-American churches throughout the state, rejects without hesitation any notion or assertion that Israel operates as an apartheid country,” Bishop Wooten continued. “We embrace our Jewish brethren in America and respect Israel as a Jewish state. Jewish-Americans have worked with African-Americans during the civil rights era when others refused us service at the counter — and worse.”

Yes, dear reader, there’s an alliance between African Americans and Jews, there’s a friendship and an affinity — they just don’t exist on the extreme left of American politics. They probably never did.

“Anyone who studies American history will no doubt find the names Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman, two Jews and an African-American, who lost their lives trying to provide civil rights for blacks in the south,” Bishop Wooten noted, concluding, “We cannot forget their noble sacrifices. Neither should Black Lives Matter.”

The letter, which should bring any self-loving Jew to tears, reminded me of the joke about the European Jew who brags about Europe having the best museums and best culture, and what do you have in America, he asks? We, answers his Jewish American friend, have the best goyim.

David Israel

Rav Bina’s Shavuot Message

Friday, June 10th, 2016

Video of the Day

Analysis: Sec. Kerry’s Holocaust Memorial Day Message Minimizes Jewish Loss

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

Secretary of State John Kerry released a statement in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day which opened with drowning the memory of the Jewish victims—undeniably the focal target of the Nazi state death industry—by mixing them with all the many other, PC approved victims. And so, Jewish survivors and children of survivors were told by the honorable Mr, Kerry that “On this day, we pause to reflect on the irredeemable loss of six million Jews and countless Poles, Roma, LGBT people, J Witnesses, and persons with disabilities brutally murdered by the Nazis because of who they were or what religion they practiced.”

And so, with one infuriating paragraph, Mr. Kerry eliminated the memory of the years 1933-1939, in which the Nazi propaganda machine concentrated on the Jews of Germany and the rest of Europe, dehumanized them and prepared the citizens of the future Nazi empire for the systematic removal, processing and methodical killing of the most productive, prosperous and moral national group on the planet.

Everyone else — Polish civilians, Gypsies, Homosexuals and the infirm — were mere footnotes in the global Nazi enterprise of the “final solution.” By opening his remarks on Holocaust Remembrance Day with deliberately discounting the Jewish loss as being part of the overall sadness of the human condition, Kerry is, in effect, acting as a Holocaust denier, even as he mourns the Holocaust.

The Nazi Holocaust was planned against the Jews, only the Jews, and saying otherwise suggests the Nazis were merely those bad people who caused a lot of pain. But that was not the case at all. The Holocaust was an experience in which humanity was divided, essentially, into two groups: those who actively hunted and gathered Jews, and those who stood by and let the hunt last for as long as they could.

The US government was aware of the anti-Jewish Nazi atrocities starting in 1933, when they began, when Jews with US citizenship started filing up in the Berlin embassy to report the beating, flogging, torture and murder of Jewish American citizens who had the misfortune to be in Germany in those satanic years. It was followed by US rejection of Jewish refugees seeking shelter on American shores, and was culminated by the US military actively prolonging the operations of the death camps by refusing to bomb the camps and the railroad tracks used to haul the last remaining members of our Jewish families.

“We draw strength from the heroic survivors who summoned the courage to share what they endured so others might draw from their wisdom and experience and who answered evil in the most powerful way possible – by living full lives, raising children and grandchildren, and advancing the ideals of equality and justice,” writes Kerry with some eloquence. This after having spent last summer bringing back into the fold of civilized nations the Islamic Republic, which is engaged in the most public and unabashed fashion in a state-sponsored effort to annihilate Jews. Kerry was indefatigable in his ceaseless work, spanning several years, to endow the Islamic Republic with the hundreds of billions of dollars it will require to complete its Jew-killing endeavor. Has the man no sense of shame at all?

Kerry concludes: “It is our solemn obligation to not only preach compassion, but practice it – and to do all we can to ensure that ‘never again’ is a promise not only made, but kept.”

For one thing, never again will John Kerry serve as Secretary of State; and never again will he come barreling through Jerusalem and Ramallah trying to win a Nobel prize for himself on the backs of Jewish homesteaders. Other than that, statements like Never Again should be relegated to when you wake up after the all-night binge and can’t find the Alka Seltzer.

David Israel

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/analysis-sec-kerrys-holocaust-memorial-day-message-minimizes-jewish-loss/2016/05/05/

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