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October 21, 2014 / 27 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘New Jersey’

New Jersey Yeshiva Student Now an Israeli Fighter Pilot

Monday, July 8th, 2013

Notice to readers: Israeli Air Force security severely restricts private information on pilots, whose identity could be exploited by enemies. Lt. B says that many readers who know him will understand from this article that he is the subject. Both Lt. B. and the IDF request that all readers will respect Israel’s need for strict security and will not use the Internet for any communication concerning Lt. B.

 

“Lt. B.” of New Jersey has become one of a few but growing number of religious Jews to pilot Israel’s fighter jets, and he is one of a tiny number of American religious immigrants to do so.

“I had a childhood dream to be a pilot,” says Lt. B., whose name and home town cannot be revealed for security reasons.

In a special interview with the Jewish Press that was arranged through IDF spokesmen under security supervision, he spoke about his unintended venture into the Israeli Air Force. Lt. B. spoke with the Jewish Press on the Fourth of July and said, “Independence Day was a holiday for me when I was in America, but Yom Ha’Atzamaut now is my Independence Day.”

He graduated from a religious high school in New Jersey, and with the support of his father and Israeli-born mother, Lt. B. packed up his bags at the age of 17 for the common “spend a year in Israel” idea before planning to go back to the United States to attend university.

Lt. B. chose a Golan Heights “mechina,” the Hebrew word for a pre-army Torah learning academy, even though he had no intention of serving in the IDF.

He already had made some applications to universities when he was learning in Israel. He was not keen on going into the army until his experience at the mechina “brought out my love for Israel and ambition to do something more special than regular university studies,” the new pilot relates.

Lt. B.rejected the idea of joining the “Machal” program for foreign youth who want to serve for a couple of years before going back home. “I decided to join the army but not to make aliyah,” keeping his eye on university, he admits.

Once he went through the induction tests, the army saw that he was fit both physically and mentally to be a candidate for the Air Force program, in which only one percent of the candidates for pilots’ course eventually end up with their wings.

“I always had a dream about being a pilot,” relates Lt. B. “The Air Force liked my test results. That is when I decided to make aliyah. I told myself, ‘I have a dream and will try to fulfill  it.’ I was 18 and fit. If it had not worked out, I probably would have served 2-3 years and gone back to the States.”

But it did work out.

Lt. B. had a bit of family history to fall back on. “My mother served in the Air Force for five years,” he reveals. “I was not expecting to finish the course because it is difficult, but I did not look that far ahead. You don’t even know what is happening next week.

“My agenda was to take every day and every hour at a time and give 110 percent, finishing the day and knowing that I did what I could, and no less.”

At the age of 22 – yes, girls, he still is single –  Lt. B. was one of several pilots to get their wings last month. His parents were there for the ceremony but did not arrive from the United States. They already had followed Lt. B. to Israel, making aliyah with all of their children and now living in “central Israel,” which is the most specific location that can be published.

The intense pilots’ program is three years, including three semesters of nine courses leading to a Bachelors of Science degree.

Lt. B. is obligated to serve in the Air Force for another nine years.

In training, he flew a Skyhawk fighter jet and his daily routine, after morning prayers and breakfast, is to hop into his plane and fly – every day, except for Shabbat

Lt. B. says that approximately 3-5 percent of Israeli pilots are religious, a sharp increase when compared with 30  years ago when a religious Air Force pilot was a  rarity.

Caesarstone Leads ‘Consumer Reports’ Kitchen Countertops Survey

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

The Consumer Reports magazine rates the synthetic quartz countertops made by Israel’s kibbutz-based Caesarstone Sdot Yam Ltd. the best of 14 materials that were tested.

“Quartz was tops in our tests, whether polished or matte finish. Sharp knives, abrasive pads, hot pots, and most stains didn’t damage it plus it’s easy to maintain and doesn’t require sealing,” according the survey. “Quartz also comes in vivid colors such as Caesarstone’s Apple Martini and Red Shimmer.”

Reality star Kim Kardashian recently gave a big plug for the NASDAQ-listed company by choosing its quartz countertops for her Beverly Hills mansion.

In the Hollywood “keeping up with the stars” crowd, her neighbors followed suit.

Caeserstone now is worth $1 billion and has opened a factory in New Jersey.

New Jersey Jewish Student Sues NY Cops over Immodest Frisk

Thursday, July 4th, 2013

Bard College student Samantha Rosenbaum is suing the New York Police Department for carrying out an immodest search while she was walking on a Williamsburg street on  the way from the post office back to her place of work at a store last year.

The suit, reported Thursday by The New York Post, comes amid controversy over Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s charge that the police are carrying out a disproportionate number of frisks on white people. A New York Daily News survey published today revealed that the mayor is wrong, but more troubling is the reason for frisks, whether on blacks or whites.

Rosenbaum, age 22 and from Essex, New Jersey, told the newspaper that she loves animals and stopped to pet a cat she noticed in an alley. The plainclothed police, sitting in an unmarked car, apparently did not look at it that way.

“Hey, stop!” a man yelled from his parked car. “He was really aggressive,” Rosenbaum recalled. “I had no idea who he was, [so] I just kept walking.”

That was the obvious tip-off for the two police officers that she was a criminal, and they ran after Rosenbaum and threw her against the car, asking her if she had drugs.

“This whole time, I didn’t know who these people are,” she told the Post. “Finally, after a few minutes, they tell me they are police. My face and stomach were on the hood. I don’t think anyone, no matter what color you are, deserves to be treated like that.

“I offered to show them the cat. They had two people on top of me, and my arm was really hurting.”

Her lawyer Michael Goldstein added,  “She thought she was getting kidnapped. This is a very nice young lady. This was a false arrest and imprisonment. It’s assault.”

The suit alleges that a policewoman who was part of the search-and-frisk team opened her clothing and peeked underneath at private parts of her body.

According to Rosenbaum, the police finally let her go when she started crying after they threatened several times to haul her off to the police station and charge her with a crime,

“They told me they didn’t want me to have a bad impression of cops so they were going to let me go,” the newspaper quoted her as saying.

Why would anyone even think of such a thing?

There are plenty who would think so.

The New York Civil Liberties Union found in a survey two years ago, quoted by Slate, “Only 11 percent of stops in 2011 were based on a description of a violent crime suspect.” The rest of them were carried out at random, and most of the victim was found to be innocent.

The numbers are astonishing. Hundreds of thousands of people are stopped every year for frisks that turn out to be needless but which the police justify when they file forms after each search. All a police officer has to write is that a person was “carrying a suspicious object” or “wearing clothes commonly used in a crime,” or was wearing “inappropriate attire for season.”

Or, “The suspect was petting a cat.”

Christie Declares Special August Primaries for Lautenberg’s Seat

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

New Jersey’s Republican Gov. Chris Christie announced Tuesday a special primary election will be held August 13, followed by general elections Oct. 16, to fill the seat left vacant by the death on Monday of Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg. By law, he could have appointed a temporary replacement.

“I want to have an elected senator as soon as possible,” Christie told reporters at a news conference. “I firmly believe that the decisions that need to be made in Washington are too great to be determined by an appointee for a period of 18 months.”

The new senator who will be elected will serve only a year because Sen. Lautenberg’s term of office expires in 2014, when the seat again will be up for grabs.

Frank Lautenberg, Senate’s Oldest Member, Dies at Age 89

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

World War II veteran and New Jersey Jewish Sen. Frank Lautenberg died Monday at the age of 89. His health had failed the past several months, and the Democratic senator has not been seen on the Senate floor for most of the year because of what his office said was “muscle weakness and fatigue.”

Republican Gov. Chris Christie will appoint a replacement until a special election this year, followed by another election in 2014, when Lautenberg’s six-year term of office expires.

Last week, the Hillel Foundation for Jewish Campus life honored Sen. Lautenberg for his contributions to the Jewish community and Israel. The celebration was broadcast to his home, where he was confined because of his illness, and his wife Bonnie accepted the organization’s Renaissance Award.

He was the son of poor but hard-working Russian and Polish immigrant parents in Paterson, New Jersey, and he succeeded in business and helped found the nation’s first payroll services company, Automatic Data Processing. He served in the Senate for 18 years, retired in 2000 and returned to the Senate in 2002.

Sen. Lautenberg was a strong liberal. He was pro-choice, supported gun control, introduced bills increasing penalties for carjacking and car theft, and criticized the Bush administration on national security issues.

He was vigorous in his opposition to the war in Iraq.

The senator was heavily involved in various anti-smoking and airline safety legislation and co-sponsored legislation to increase drunken driving penalties.

One of his best known bills that passed into law was the prohibition of smoking from most commercial airline flights.

He also authored the Ryan White Care Act, which provides services to AIDS patients.

Two New Jersey Men Plead Not Guilty in Synagogue Bombings

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

Two New Jersey men, indicted in March for arson and attempted murder and terrorism, pleaded not guilt in a New Jersey court this week.

Anthony Graziano of Lodi and Aakash Dalal of New Brunswick, both 21, were arrested after the northern New Jersey’s Bergen County bombings, one of which injured Beth El Congregation Rabbi Nosson Schuman.

The attackers hurled a firebomb at the family’s residential unit in the synagogue, setting fire to a bedroom.

Lakewood’s $10 Million Coup

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

This is one of those stories that worry me. VIN and NJ.com report that Lakewood Yeshiva (BMG) has been approved by the State of New Jersey for an over ten million dollar grant in what Governor Chris Christie is calling a “new era” for the state’s institutions of higher learning.

I’m sure that Lakewood applied for that grant legally and truthfully. I do not believe for a second that there was any fraud involved. And I congratulate them on a successful outcome. Lakewood certainly needs the money. But I remain with some serious concerns.

The grant was given for the construction of a library and research center. Governor Christie’s goal is “keeping New Jersey’s “best” and “brightest” in-state, while attracting new research and business partners who will bring new and better paying jobs.”

What worries me is that in spite of what I am sure was a completely honest presentation of Lakewood’s plans to the state; I am not convinced that the state’s purpose in granting them that money is even a dream in the back of the minds of Lakewood’s leaders. Nor do I believe for a minute that such a library will serve any other purpose than the stated mission of such an institution – Torah study. The kind of research that library will offer will no doubt be only in that vein. Neither am I convinced that it will result in anything near attracting new business partners.

This project will help to retain some of the finest minds in Torah Judaism. Lakewood is the premier “Torah Only” Yeshiva in the United States. It attracts the best and brightest among its constituents. Expansion means attracting more of the same. Some of whom may settle there and eventually have good jobs (and some – not such great jobs).

But even so, Lakewood cannot claim that as its goal. It can only say that this is a by-product of their ‘Torah Only” system. This is a yeshiva that forbids its students to take any secular courses while enrolled there and discourages it even after they leave. This is a yeshiva whose rosh yeshiva (dean) made disparaging remarks about someone who has been a pioneer in providing higher education for students of yeshivos like Lakewood so that they could get decent jobs… basically referring to him as a second class citizen (…full time students of Torah being first class citizens). One might even say that the rosh yeshiva would view someone like that as undermining the goals of Lakewood!

It is also no secret that Lakewood uses the welfare system legally for students who qualify for aid. Most of them probably do – since they do not have jobs but do have large families. Even those whose wives work (most of them, I’m sure) do not make enough money to disqualify them from some sort of government assistance. Again, nothing legally wrong with that.

I have to ask, is there not a moral or ethical issue of misrepresenting yourself to the world in this way – even if you qualify legally? Is there not something wrong with able bodied people choosing not to work and using the welfare system as a means of income?

And by the same token, is there not something wrong with taking over $10 million knowing what the government thinks you are going to do with that money – and using it for something else – even though it technically qualifies? A Beis HaMedrash may be a library. But is a $10 million Beis HaMedrash going to attract business partners who will bring new and better paying jobs?

Even if it truly a research library and not a Beis HaMedrash – it will certainly only contain Seforim – religious books – even if some of them will be in English. What kind of research will this foster – other than research in Torah studies?

I of course have no problem with such a library. I think it will be a valuable resource for student of Torah. But is this what the State of New Jersey had in mind in approving $10 million dollars to Lakewood?

Lakewood’s goal is not Governor Christie’s goal. Lakewood wants to expand its student base. The enormous growth in the numbers of Orthodox Jews, especially among Haredi Jews of the “Torah Only” persuasion, demands such an expansion. For some time now, Lakewood has been talking about doubling its capacity to over 10,000 students!

I guess they have found a way of doing that. But is it ethical? Will the state be happy with the results? And how will this be perceived by the secular public? Will they not see this as being unethical? Is this ultimately the wisest way of raising money for their cause? Will the potential negative fallout be worth it if it happens?

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/haemtza/lakewoods-10-million-coup/2013/05/03/

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