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October 22, 2014 / 28 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘North America’

Purim Meditation: After Rush Limbaugh Insulted Me

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

On  Purim Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh made fun of me. He said I was “so morally loose,” I should make a video of my daily behavior “so everybody could enjoy it.”

I’m not sure what prompted it, I hear he’s been badmouthing many folks recently, maybe he didn’t even mean to pick me, maybe my name just happened to be on his desk while the microphone was on, stranger things have happened.

It wasn’t a biggie, really, I’ve been called worse. When my wife heard what Rush had been calling me, she said she wasn’t surprised. So maybe it wasn’t even such a bad thing that Rush did, maybe he even meant it as a caution, so I would go ahead and mend my loose morals.

I never did anything wrong to Rush, though. Once in a while I would comment that his show wasn’t really my cup of tea. Was the term “cup of tea” offensive? Did it imply that I thought Rush was the kind of person who drank tea? Was Rush offended because I said he drank tea? Because, in reality, I didn’t. I only said his show wasn’t my cup of tea, which really implied I was the one drinking tea, except not Rush’s tea, someone else’s tea, perhaps.

Maybe Rush was just on a tear, having called Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke even worse names than he did me. Maybe Rush’s show was just plateauing, and he decided to insult everyone in North America, and just to make it interesting, he started with folks who were pretty much anonymous.

“Anonymous?” Rush must have roared at that memorable editorial staff meeting, smacking Snerdley across the back of his head the way he likes to do when he’s self-satisfied. “I’ll show you how I take this supposedly ‘anonymous’ person and turn him or her into a star overnight, faster than any of those TV shows where it takes them weeks to make you famous.”

So, maybe Rush insulted me on a dare.

But here’s the funny thing, as soon as news came out that Rush insulted me, people started empathizing with me and writing Rush’s advertisers to stop sponsoring him because of what he said about Yanover.

I was particularly touched by a guns and ammo mail order service that said they’d had it up to here with Rush’s on-air brutality, and that insulting Yanover was just something you didn’t do.

As more and more sponsors were starting to leave him, Rush’s secretary called and asked what he could do to get me to forgive him. I wasn’t sure what to ask for. Finally I told her the back yard grass was a little tall, it being winter and such.

Rachel Maddow invited me to come on her show and say something bad about Rush in return, but I can’t stay up that late, not on school nights, anyway.

Many rabbis announced they’re no longer listening to Rush because of what he said about Yanover, and they asked their congregations to tune away as well.

So, after all was said and done, it wasn’t such a bad thing to be insulted by Rush Limbaugh.

When he’s finished mowing in the back, I’ll probably ask him to fix the shed door. My wife says we should just let him go. The poor man hasn’t been himself.

I bet he’ll do a fantastic job on that door.

New Olim Are Country’s Hanukah Present

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Just prior to the start of Hanukah, 76 new immigrants from North America added light and happiness to the country, landing at Ben Gurion International Airport.

Seventy-six new immigrants from North America infused Israel with the light of Zionism by celebrating the first night of Hanukkah as new Israeli citizens.

The new Israelis were provided support by Nefesh b’Nefesh.

Bar Ilan University Makes Key Stop In South Florida

Monday, December 5th, 2011

The founder and director of a new gap year program at Bar Ilan University has made South Florida a key stop on a tour of North America promoting the new program that is intended to buck the trend in falling gap year numbers.

Rabbi Tully Bryks visited high school students across South Florida on November 17 to 20, making stops in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and North Miami Beach as part of a tour of North America that will take him to more than 20 cities.

Bar Ilan Campus

Rabbi Bryks was formerly regional director for NCSY in South Florida for 15 years, leaving the post in 2008 to open ‘Israel XP’ at Bar Ilan University’s Ramat Gan campus near Tel Aviv.

“The new program Israel XP is designed to appeal specifically to students looking for more of a balanced year in Israel, where students can embrace Jewish studies in a relaxed campus setting,” Rabbi Bryks explains. There are regular tours around the country as well as professional internship options accessing different sectors of society. To address financial and career pressures, students can also earn around a year’s worth of academic credits that can be transferred to most universities across North America.

“An inspiring year in Israel strengthens Jewish values ahead of college years and helps unlock a young person’s potential. We don’t want any Jewish students to have to miss out. The idea for this program was really born in South Florida and I’m excited to promote it to students in the area.”

For more information on Rabbi Bryks’s speaking dates or the Israel XP program, e-mail rabbibryks@israelxp.com or visit www.israelxp.com.

Help Others Get On The ‘Marry-Go-Round’

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

A new shidduch initiative has created an ear-deafening buzz in frum communities across North America and beyond.  How it works and what it requires from its clients has been the hot topic of discussion at dinner tables, in shul, online chat rooms, at Simchas – just about everywhere two or more heimishe Jews have congregated.

Called the NASI Project, it has generated a storm of opinion as to its merits, its integrity and its potential in solving what has been universally viewed as a shidduch crisis.  Basically, it has been presented as a possible “cure” to the growing “epidemic” of unmarried frum women who are in their mid twenties and beyond. From what I have gleaned, its success in resolving the issue of older single women (22+) is based on the premise that if shadchanim have a greater financial incentive to set up  these girls; if they receive monetary compensation that takes into consideration the more “strenuous” effort they must make in getting dates for these “over the hill” women, then they will be more motivated to take on these challenging cases, instead of focusing on the younger, more in demand “just back from seminary” girls. To that end, older girls will be charged a considerably higher rate than their younger counterparts for shidduchim. Hence it would   cost thousands of dollars more for example, for a 29-year-old female to be set up than for a 20-year-old – since getting a date for the former is considered much more time and labor intensive.

There has been an avalanche of opinions as to the merit, effectiveness and affordability of this project; like every idea or system, there are pros and cons to what its designers have come up with and people will perceive it either as a solution to a vexing problem or something to avoid. The purpose of this column is not to lambaste the idea or praise it – everyone needs to examine it for themselves and come to their own conclusion.

However, one fact of life that the project brings to the fore, and that no one in the yeshivish/modern Orthodox community can dispute – is that with each passing year, the number of never married girls over the age of 25 is escalating, and there is much palpable despair, hopelessness, distress, resentment and anger besetting this population and their families.

We are taught that all Jews are responsible for each other – that we have a moral obligation to help one another. If we see someone floundering, it is incumbent on all in a position to do so to extend a helping hand, be it financially, emotionally or spiritually.

To this end, I feel that every adult in the community needs to get involved to prevent what to some degree should be viewed as an existential threat to our community’s viability – the huge numbers of singles who may never build batei ne’eman b’Yisrael, nor launch future generations.  We cannot afford to have a reduced birthrate due to women staying unmarried well into their child-bearing years.  The Jewish people lost too many millions to a deranged but tragically efficient Nazi genocide. We must replenish what we lost to the best of our ability. Each unmarried daughter of Israel represents a lost opportunity to do so.

At the end of the day, Hashem determines every outcome. Some women and men may never marry and create families. But we must make the effort to help them do so.

And we do so by becoming, to the best of our abilities – shadchanim – (matchmakers)!  

A daunting idea since there are no shadchan schools where we can get a PhS (a Doctor of Shidduchim) – so how do we go about doing so?

“Think Israel Summit” – Strengthening Israel Identity for Young Professionals and Singles

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

When studying the recent trends in Aliyah, it emerges that more and more young singles are realizing that their future is in Israel. However it appears that a staggering number of young Diaspora Jews have little to no knowledge or even a slight connection with Israel.

Recognizing the vital need to help maintain awareness of Israel identity and Jewish peoplehood among the Diaspora communities, a wide array of organizations are working together with Nefesh B’Nefesh to produce and promote ‘Think Israel’ – a special summit addressing future trends of Israel and Aliyah. Geared for Jewish students and young professionals, this day of interactive workshops, panels, and presentations is scheduled to take place at the UJA-Federation of New York in Manhattan on Sunday, November 20th.

The initiative comes on the heels of “Innovation Israel – Shaping Israel’s Future Today” – a recent week-long road trip that was organized by Nefesh B’Nefesh and PresenTense to engage Israel-conscious members of the Diaspora community in discussion about social change in Israel through innovative entrepreneurship. The program’s success, incorporating live events in five cities, remote live webcast, and an active twitter discussion, obviated the need to continue to generate programs of this nature.

The ‘Think Israel’ summit, which is expected to draw hundreds of attendees and many more via a  live webcast, will open with a special panel on ‘Our Visions for Israel’ with David Breakstone, Vice-Chairman of the World Zionist Organization and William Darroff, Vice President for Public Policy Jewish Federations of North America. It will also feature interactive workshops, panels and presentations designed to engage participants in discussion about Israeli identity, Aliyah and trends in Jewish peoplehood. Topics to be addressed in the various breakout sessions will include social justice, Israel advocacy, careers in Israel and Aliyah.

A wide array of organizations are working together with Nefesh B’Nefesh to create and promote the initiative, including: the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, the Jewish Agency for Israel, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the American Zionist Movement, the World Zionist Organization, MASA, The Israel Project, Stand With Us, Yeshiva University, the Torah Activities Council, Bnei Akiva, ROI and Habonim Dror of North America.

Quick Takes: News You May Have Missed

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

New Ground Zero Imam: Jail Apostates
 
   Those who leave Islam and preach against the Muslim religion must be jailed, declared the imam who has become the new face of the proposed Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero in New York City.
 
   “If someone leaves the din, leaves the path privately, they cannot be touched. If someone preaches about apostasy, or preaches their views, they’re jailed,” stated Imam Abdallah Adhami in a November lecture obtained and reviewed by this column.
 
   Adhami was discussing the Koranic view of apostasy, or Muslims who decide to leave the Islamic religion.
 
   According to Shariah, or Islamic law, the consensus view in Sunni Islam is that a male apostate must be put to death unless he suffers from a mental disorder or converted against his will.
 
   There are, however, differing views on the subject, with some contemporary Islamic scholars differentiating between public and private apostasy and arguing for actions ranging from death to nothing.
 
   Adhami, speaking to a non-Muslim audience, claimed Islamic law only calls for punishment for public apostates and that most Islamic scholars demand only that public apostates be jailed as opposed to killed.
 
   He said, “In Islam, in the Koran, theoretically, if you look over the Koran from cover to cover, you literally have the right to the choice to reject God’s message. The only thing you do not have the right to do is to spread this conviction, lest you, quote unquote, pollute others.”
 
   In a separate lecture obtained and reviewed by this column, Adhami declared Muslims have “more of a right” than Jews to the biblical prophet Moses.
 
   It was announced last week that Adhami, 44, will take on the role of senior adviser for the proposed $100 million Islamic cultural center and mosque to be built near Ground Zero in New York City, the site of the 2001 World Trade Center attack.
 
   The previous face of the Ground Zero mosque, Imam Faisel Abdel Rauf, has said he will focus on a public speaking endeavor that started last weekend in Detroit and is slated to continue in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and other cities.
 

   Rauf kicked off his nationwide speaking tour by addressing the banquet of a group that was designated as an unindicted co-conspirator in a scheme to raise money for Hamas. Rauf’s appearance in Detroit, the city with North America’s largest Muslim population, was a keynote address to the so-called “Diversity Forum Banquet” of the Islamic Society of North America, or ISNA.

 

Organization Targeting Beck

Teeming With Radicals
 
   The George Soros-funded organization attacking Fox News host Glenn Beck is led by a who’s who of the radical left. Jewish Funds for Justice, or JFJ, has been leading a crusade demanding Beck be fired in response a program in which Beck specifically targeted Soros, calling the businessman the “puppet master.”
 

   JFJ is led by individuals associated with communist and socialist groups; the children of Soviet spies; and a U.S. socialist organization that seeks to infiltrate the Democratic Party.

   As this columnist reported this weekat WorldNetDaily, JFJ is funded by Soros’s Open Society Institute.
 
   Now more information has emerged on the JFJ’s leadership. JFJ was founded by Si Khan, who serves on the board of the Rosenberg Fund for Children, which seeks to aid the children of parents the group deems “targeted, progressive activists.”
 
   The group was founded by Robert Meeropol, whose parents Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were convicted of passing crucial nuclear secrets to the Soviets and executed in 1953.
 
   JFJ board member Amy Dean meanwhile has keynoted a Communist Party event and was involved with a U.S. socialist party.
 
   JFJ board member Janice Fine was a leader of the socialist New Party and a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, another socialist group.
 
   JFJ board member Donna Katzin is a former activist with the Cuba Resource Center. She is a donor to the Oakland, Calif.-based DataCenter, which itself has close ties to Cuba.
 

   JFJ’s president and CEO, Simon Greer, previously worked as a labor and community organizer and social change leader for 15 years. Greer recently wrote that he has had the “privilege of getting to know George Soros.

 

Is Iran Scared Of ‘Iranium’?
 
   The Iranian government is afraid of a new documentary investigating Iran’s nuclear program and is attempting to stifle free speech, the film’s director charged.
 
   A screening of “Iranium” was canceled last week amid threats to the event and a report of protest from the Iranian embassy. Following uproar from conservative members of the Canadian government over the cancellation, the screening of the film was rescheduled for February 8.
 
   ” ‘Iranium’ is quickly turning into the film Iran’s leaders don’t want you to see,” Alex Traiman, the film’s director, told this column.
 
   “That Iranian leaders would try to stifle free speech in North America perfectly displays the distinct difference in values instilled in Iran versus the West,” said Traiman.
 
   “Attempting to cancel the screening shows that the Iranian regime is afraid of the film’s content and the repercussions they may face from Americans and Canadians following its release. It also goes to show how fragile the current leadership structure in Iran actually is,” Traiman added.
 
   “Iranium” is narrated by Iranian actress and Academy Award nominee Shohreh Aghdashloo.
 
   The film purports to document the development of Iran’s suspected nuclear program, beginning with the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and the ideology installed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini. It accuses the Iranian leadership of using terror as a policy tool.
 

   The film also details the Iranian crackdown on protestors following last year’s presidential elections and outlines possible scenarios the greater Middle East and the Western world may face should Iran cross the nuclear threshold.

 

   Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief and senior reporter for Internet giant WorldNetDaily.com. He is also host of an investigative radio program on New York’s 770-WABC Radio, the largest talk radio station in the U.S., every Sunday between 2-4 p.m.

Opposition Mounting To Proposed Israeli Conversion Bill

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010


WASHINGTON – Opposition to a proposed Israeli conversion bill is mounting, from the U.S. Congress to the Israeli prime minister.


Meanwhile, the bill is likely to be put on hold while the Knesset adjourns this week for a two-month recess.


The controversy over the bill erupted last week when its main sponsor, David Rotem of the Yisrael Beiteinu Party, unexpectedly put it to a committee vote. The measure passed by a 5-4 margin, sending it to the full Knesset.


Meant to give would-be converts more leeway in choosing where and how to convert in Israel, the bill also would consolidate control over conversions under the office of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate. Non-Orthodox Diaspora Jewish movements and the leadership of the Jewish Federations of North America and Jewish Agency for Israel all have warned that non-Orthodox converts would be put at risk of being disqualified as Jews by the Orthodox-dominated Chief Rabbinate.


In recent days, a Jewish U.S. senator unhappy about the bill, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), began circulating a letter asking fellow lawmakers to join him in condemning the controversial Israeli measure. Wyden’s letter is circulating among the Senate’s 13 Jewish lawmakers for more signatures before it is delivered to Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren.


Meanwhile, in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he opposes the bill in its current form. The bill “could tear apart the Jewish people,” Netanyahu told his Cabinet on Sunday.


Following its passage last week by the Knesset’s Law, Constitution and Justice Committee, the bill must pass three readings in the Knesset for it to become law. The prime minister said he would try to remove the bill by consensus, but if that fails he will ask members of his Likud Party and other coalition members to oppose it in the Knesset. With the Knesset on the cusp of a long recess, the bill is unlikely to come up for another vote until the fall.


Rotem says the bill aims to simplify the conversion process, empowering local Israeli community rabbis to perform conversions and thereby make it easier for Israelis to convert – including those who don’t intend to adhere to Orthodox observance.


But in giving the Rabbinate ultimate authority over conversions, the bill puts non-Orthodox converts at risk and may make it more difficult for non-Orthodox converts to make aliyah, critics in the Diaspora warn.


Rotem says the bill should not concern Diaspora Jews.


“It has nothing to do with Jews in the Diaspora,” Rotem told JTA last week. “It is only an Israeli matter.”


Shas Party Chairman Eli Yishai, a member of Netanyahu’s coalition government, said he supports the bill.


“The absence of a conversion law is the greatest spiritual danger for the people of Israel at this time,” he told Ynet.


In the United States, the Rabbinical Council of America, an Orthodox organization, said that “While the legislation in question may not be perfect, we who live in North America must recognize that it does contain much to commend it.”


The RCA called on Diaspora Jews not to interfere with the internal Israeli legislation, noting, albeit incorrectly, that “North American Jews have long embraced the principle that the duly elected leadership of the State of Israel should not be subject to outside interference or pressure by other governments, religious bodies, or communal entities.”


The chorus of American voices against the bill is growing, particularly in the Conservative and Reform movements, whose members make up most of American Jewry but have only a small presence in Israel.


Opponents are concerned by the bill’s clause that converts will be recognized as Jews only if they “accepted the Torah and the commandments in accordance with halachah,” which could exclude some converts from being eligible to obtain Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return because they would not be considered Jews by Israel.


The executive vice president of the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly, in an open letter to Netanyahu explaining why the bill will divide the Jewish community, wrote: “The way to really ‘solve this problem’ is to have options for multiple streams and for the indigenous Israeli expressions that will only flower in a non-coercive system.”


The Jewish Federations of North America said it supports the U.S. Senate letter opposing the Israeli bill.


“We welcome any expression of commitment from influential Jews to maintain the unity of the Jewish people and the dangers posed by this divisive legislation,” said William Daroff, vice president for public policy and director of the Jewish Federations of North America’s Washington office.


In Washington, U.S. Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.) have signed the Wyden letter.


“I am troubled by a proposal which I believe would make it more difficult for many people who want to convert to Judaism to do so,” Levin told JTA.


The letter’s text has not been made public.


Jewish members of the U.S. House of Representatives also have expressed support for Wyden’s letter. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the State and Foreign Operations subcommittee that oversees the State Department and international programs, left a message for Netanyahu and spoke directly to Oren to voice her objection to the bill.


“Congresswoman Lowey believes Israel should continue to be a welcoming place for Jews, as it has been through its history,” said Matthew Dennis, Lowey’s spokesman. “She is concerned that this bill would alienate Jews around the world and risks weakening the sense of unity within the Diaspora that is critical to Israel’s security.”

(JTA)

 

See related article titled “Religious Zionist Rabbi: Conversion Bill A ‘Haredi Ploy’” by Steve K. Walz.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/opposition-mounting-to-proposed-israeli-conversion-bill-2/2010/07/21/

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