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April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘offer’

Yankees Offer Youkilis $12 Million

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

The New York Yankees reportedly offered Jewish free agent Kevin Youkilis a one-year, $12 million contract.

Youkilis, a three-time All Star for the Boston Red Sox before being traded to the Chicago White Sox in June, was leaning toward accepting the offer, a source told The New York Times.

The offer would have Youkilis play third base, replacing Alex Rodriguez, who is expected to be sidelined until next June because of hip surgery. The Cleveland Indians are also said to be interested in signing Youkilis, according to the Times.

The Mashgiach Wore a Dress: The Fight over Opening Kosher Supervision to Women

Monday, November 26th, 2012

This January, Midreshet Emunah, a college devoted to Jewish women and family studies, will begin to train women to work as a kashrut supervisors. Training will be given in a comprehensive course that will include 150-180 hours of study, at the end of which each participant will receive a certificate that qualifies her to supervise commercial kitchens in Israel, Mynet reported.

Israel’s Chief Rabbinate is yet to give its formal approval to the initiative, but sources in the Rabbanut say they would consent to the training of female supervisors only after an organized set of rules is established to facilitate their integration into the field. But beneath the surface there are already ripples of resistance to the entire project. A source in the Rabbanut suggested that “there are fears that women’s organizations are behind the idea, in order to undermine the halakhic establishment.”

With or without chief rabbinate support, the college leadership is determined to offer the course anyway. “Until two years ago, that body that supervised the kashrut supervisors in hotels, restaurants, hospitals and other institutions were the local rabbinates in their city,” says Emuna movement spokesman Itzik Rhett. According to him, only two years ago a new law went into effect, empowering the chief rabbinate of Israel to decide who is qualified to be a kashrut supervisor.

“At the time we approached the chief rabbinate and asked their permission to open a course for women,” says Rhett. “Through informal means, we discovered that the rabbinate would not approve our course. We didn’t give up and constructed a complete course system, just like the one available to men. Laws of meat and dairy, meat preparation, kashering utensils, laws connected to the Land of Israel, Shabbat in the domestic and institutional kitchens, and keeping kashrut in hotels, hospitals and restaurants. We included every item included in the courses for men, and they still ignored our requests.”

Emunah Chairwoman Liora Minka has been very critical of the chief rabbinate. According to her, if the college is not granted rabbinical approval for the course, they will not hesitate to reach all the way up to the Supreme Court. “If they cannot embrace this rationally, let the High Court determine it,” she says.

“The notion that ‘the Torah prohibits anything new’ has become the expression of Haredi opposition to any renewal, any technological development, even if no religious prohibition is involved. The examination of insects in vegetables, adhering to the laws of milk and meat – are any of these beyond the comprehension of women? Of course not. Is there is an halachic prohibition on a woman working in a dining room or a kitchen? Is it so outlandish an idea that a woman would walk into the kitchen of a restaurant, a hospital, a banquet hall or a nursing home, open refrigerator doors and track the processing of raw materials and mixtures? These are rhetorical questions the answers to which are clear,” says Minka.

“Unfortunately, there are uneducated rabbis who cannot keep up with modern life. They are marching backwards in time. Just recently we heard statements by rabbis who still can’t accept the fact that women can cast a ballot on their own, to influence and sometimes to be elected and be excellent public representative, better than many men.”

Ten women have signed up for the course since it was announced on Sunday. Aliza Hochshtad from Efrat, one of the first women serving as kosher supervisors in Israel, says she is delighted with the news. “For years I tried to convince colleges that offered courses for kosher supervisors for men only that they should offer these courses to women, too. Unfortunately they didn’t pay attention to me.”

Hochshtad works for the rabbinic council of Efrat as a kashrut supervisor. She says she also travels a lot to conventions of kosher supervisors in the U.S.

Finally, the spokesmen for Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger and for the Rabbinic Posek (halachic “decider”), said they did not object to the idea of women kashrut supervisors in principle, but were worried about issues of… modesty and chastity.

When all else fails…

Birth Under Fire with Israel’s Doulas

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

Throughout the country, thousands of reservists have been called to the border with Gaza. These men left behind wives, mothers, children and friends. Some have had to say good-bye to their pregnant wives; whether in the first stages of their pregnancy or approaching their due-dates.

For some, the constant threat of rocket fire doesn’t matter. For the doulas of the Israel, there is work to be done. A professional doula is certified to assist at natural births. The doula, unlike a midwife, begins working with the expecting mother long before the birth, and accompanies her during and after the birth, offering both physical and emotional support.

Israeli doulas have formed a group of volunteers who are offering their services free of charge to the residents of the south, women whose husbands have been called to the reserves and any pregnant woman feeling distress due to the security situation. The doulas are divided into smaller groups, based on their residence, and offer immediate support to expecting mothers all over the south. These services include meetings in which the doula visits her client’s home and performs services such as reflexology, massages, and shiatsu. In addition, women who wish to consult a doula can do so via their Facebook group called “Women Supporting Women- Operation Pillar of Defense.”

Doulas at doulas-only tea party.

Doulas at doulas-only tea party.

This group of dedicated volunteers was established by Ravit Stern-Ginat, 33, who has nine years of experience working as a doula. Ravit lives in Alfei Menashe, a community in Samaria. The idea to establish the group came to her when she saw a picture of a pregnant woman hugging her husband as he departed for the reserves. Her immediate thought was that she finally found a way to help. ”Whether before, during or after the pregnancy, being a new mother is no easy task”, Ravit told Tazpit News Agency. “Especially for those who no longer have the support of their significant other. I wanted to help them.”

Ravit turned to her friends and fellow doulas, and their response was, “of course.” Thus began the Facebook group “Women Supporting Women—Operation Pillar of Defense,” currently numbering 1,347. Members of the group include professional doulas, women seeking advice in pregnancy related matters, and some who just seek moral support. Ravit was amazed by the success of the “operation” and at the positive results, just two days after she first thought of the idea. Besides the ever-growing Facebook group, companies have contacted her to offer free gifts for the mothers under her care.

Ravit’s goal is to reach as many women as possible to ensure that they receive the help and support they need. She was interviewed by Israel TV Channel 1. They were impressed by the initiative and the readiness of the volunteers. “We’re making a lot of noise so that we can help as many as possible. We want to help; this is the purpose of our job”, Ravit said.

Yifat and Orly are two of the hundreds of volunteers. Yifat Hovev, 26, mother of three, is living in Jerusalem. She heard of Ravit’s group and loved the idea. To her, this is proof that “we, the Israelis, are all brothers. This is the least we can do.” Yifat’s husband has not been called into the reserves yet, but has been told to be on standby. If he is called, Yifat will continue providing the support.

Orly Kalush, mother of ten and grandmother of four, has dreamt of being a doula since giving birth to her first child. She lives in Maon, a small community south of Hebron. When she saw Ravit’s Facebook page calling for volunteers, she joined immediately. “We are ready to give support everywhere, all areas are covered.” Orly has not yet had the chance to care for an expecting mother affected by the situation in the south. She explains: ”There are just too many doulas who signed on to help!”

What Were They Thinking?

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Sometimes you just have to wonder, “What were they thinking?” My wife and I speak on marriage-related topics to variant crowds. We know what we’re going to say, but we have no idea what the audience may offer. So, when we speak publicly, before we open the floor to comments or questions (which we welcome), we always preface with a cautionary word not to make any personal or disparaging remarks about one’s spouse.

Nobody wants his or her dirty laundry aired out in public. And no one wants the neighbors to be privy to his or her intimate goings-on.

A woman who attended one of my wife’s lecture series on enhancing marital harmony serves as a perfect example of the damage a few misplaced comments, delivered at the speed of sound, can cause. This (until then) respected woman aired it out in staccato fashion, spilling enough beans to render a public flogging of her soul mate. My wife cut her off as soon as possible but it was too late; her unexpected comments left the audience, who happened to be neighbors and friends from the community, aghast.

Why do that? Why let the genie out of the bottle? Once he’s out, you can’t put him back in. And even if you could, it won’t help much.

A story is told of the chassidic master, Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev. Someone once came to him after having spoken lashon hara (slander). The person asked forgiveness. Reb Levi Yitzchak instructed the penitent to take a down pillow to the town square, open it and shake out all the feathers. The person did so and returned to the rav, who promptly said “Now, go back to the town square and gather up all the feathers.” The person asked incredulously, “How can I ever do that?” Reb Levi Yitzchak retorted, “That’s what happens when you speak libelously about another. Like you can never gather up all the feathers, you can never repair all the damage.”

On a speaking tour in New York, a rabbi related a very sad story of a couple who had previously attended marital counseling. During one of their visits, the psychologist encouraged the husband to open up and share his true feelings with his wife. The husband, fortified by the psychologist’s advice, or under his protective wing, told his wife that she was ugly, he never found her attractive and that her lack of beauty has always been a sore spot for him. He finished by telling her that he never really understood how he could have married her. (It was not a case of adding a touch of make-up…)

Needless to say, the wife was devastated. Imagine her hurt. No matter what he says or does in the future, he will never rectify the terrible damage he caused. Does anyone think flowers or chocolates will repair the destruction left in the wake of “just telling it like it is”? With such pain in her heart, will it ever be possible for them to attain true marital harmony? Simply because the therapist encourages a person to “let go” doesn’t mean that therapist is correct or that one must listen.

It reminds me of the 45-year-old man who went to a psychologist because he suffered incontinence problems; wetting even during the day, which caused him terrible embarrassment. After six months of counseling, the psychologist proudly announced, “Well, we’ve successfully cured one problem; you’re no longer embarrassed by soiling yourself. Now we only have to work on your incontinence.”

When we sit down with a couple, one of the first instructions we give them is the following: “We’re here to help but remember, when you walk out that door, it’s just the two of you. You’re going home with your spouse. You two have to live with the consequences of what you say here. Think before you make any statement and do not deceive yourselves into thinking this is the forum to even scores. Neither cruelty nor unbridled ignorance has any place here. No one comes here to destroy his or her marriage. Your goal and our goal is one; to improve your marriage.”

Thinking before speaking is key.

Why Has New Jersey Been Forsaken?

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

Is there anyone who can tell us what the heck is going on? We in New Jersey have no power, no heat, no lights, in some places little food, and no gas. Yes, I know these are mere inconveniences compared to those who have suffered the unspeakable tragedy of losing family members. At least 50 are dead from Sandy, and those lives are irreplaceable. We mourn their loss. But nothing should excuse New York and New Jersey looking like Armageddon.

Aren’t we the nation that rebuilt Iraq and have done tons of nation-building in Afghanistan? Can’t we put the lights and heat back on New Jersey? Is it asking too much to bring a bunch of fuel tankers here and end the 100 vehicle long lines that are growing larger by the day? Just getting from point A to point B has been like navigating an labyrinth since the gas lines have cut off so many of the streets. President Obama declared this area to be a Federal Disaster Area. But where is FEMA? Where are the troops? Where are the gas tankers?

On the news we see cities that are still underwater. Half of Manhattan has no electricity. Staten Islanders are desperate for food and shelter. Tens of thousands of residents on the Jersey Shore lost everything. But President Obama is back on the campaign trail in Ohio. Because I don’t want to politicize this, I’ll make the same point about Governor Romney. True, he’s the challenger, not the incumbent. But both the President and the Governor need to understand the extent of the catastrophe all around us and do something besides argue about mobs overseas. This is more immediate. President Obama is campaigning with the all the advantages of incumbency. But that entails all the responsibilities as well. And coming for a photo-op with Governor Christie then running back to Ohio ten times is wholly inadequate.

The people of this area deserve better. We’re taxed up the wazoo with the highest state and property taxes in the nation. For all that, we normally get crumbling infrastructure, potholes, and rusty bridges that cost $12 just to cross. To add a dismal and slow response to such a huge natural catastrophe is too much.

In the City of Englewood where I live nearly all the residents have no power. Trees are down everywhere. It would be nice to see the occasional electric crew repairing the wires or the occasional city crew chopping up the trees. It would be nice to hear more from Mayor Frank Huttle, who is running unopposed this Tuesday (yes, that’s what passes for democracy in our city), about when the power and heat will be back on.

Since Tuesday I have driven all over the Ninth District where I’m running for Congress. The police are out in strength, stopping you from going here, preventing you from going there. They’re trying to protect us and I thank them. But where are the relief crews?

Last year at almost precisely this time we had Tropical Storm Irene that became a freak snow storm that downed endless trees and caused huge flooding. We went without power for a week, unfortunately for us, the very week before my daughter’s wedding. Family and friends came from around the world. They sat and shivered for a week, thinking they had entered a third world country. They couldn’t wait to leave.

So it’s not as if we couldn’t see this coming. They promised us last year that it would not happen again. The next time they would be ready. Granted, the devastation this time is far worse. But the response seems far worse as well.

Three of my kids drive every morning from New Jersey to Brooklyn for Chabad yeshiva and seminary. Today, they waited three hours to get on the George Washington Bridge and eventually gave up. They joined with me instead as we drove around the district meeting people and hearing their tales of woe.

Not that we have much of a campaign left. My staff and I have been reduced to charging our phones and laptops on the floors of shopping malls, crowded Starbucks where there is no place to sit, and, especially in the cars. My run for Congress has become completely mobile. In the car we have heat, light, and the occasion cord for a laptop. And truth be told, it’s been great getting out at all out hours just to meet people, so there’s your blessing in disguise.

Ki-Moon Passes on Offer to Take Flying Leap With Baumgartner

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Sound barrier-breaking world record skydiver Felix Baumgartner was politely declined by an unlikely protégé on Tuesday, after offering to teach UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to sky dive.

Baumgartner and Ki-moon met during a photo opportunity, following Baumgartner’s 24 mile-above-the-Earth dive.  When Ki-moon spoke about Baumgartner’s achievement, the death-defying Austrian offered to teach him the tricks of the trade.

Ban did not take Baumgartner up on his offer, but called him “the most courageous person in the world”.

To Tell The Truth: An Unlikely Scenario

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Despite public surveys that show the general public largely opposed to negative campaigning, the overwhelming majority of candidates in contested races have refined this strategy almost to an art form.

And why not? After all, many of these same polls also conclude that this type of campaigning – whereby the candidate too often distorts his or her opponent’s record while spewing venomous personal attacks – works, as seeds of doubt regarding the opponent’s fitness for office are planted in voters’ minds.

But imagine if Barack Obama and Mitt Romney discarded this strategy in favor of saying what they really think and what they offer the American people.

Under this unlikely scenario, here is what I’d like them to say. We’ll begin with President Obama:

I have been accused by some political detractors of supporting economic policies that have a distinct socialist bent.

Well, if governing with compassion by advocating the creation of a society that benefits the American people by equalizing the social status of all Americans makes me a socialist, I proudly plead guilty.

If ensuring that as many Americans as possible have the basic necessities of daily living, even at the cost of taking more from those who have made it and giving that share of the pie to those who, for whatever reason, have not, makes me a proponent of income redistribution, I will proudly wear the title of the “Robin Hood of American politics.”

If the cost of solving today’s economically challenging times is to spend beyond our means, a strategy nobody really likes but one that is sometimes necessary, then I will propose in a second term more stimulus spending and more entitlement programs. Yes, there are times in a nation’s life when the government must spend, even when resources are scarce, to protect the have-nots.

I realize that some describe this policy as an irresponsible means of spending other people’s money and mortgaging the fiscal future of the next generation. But, if reelected, I will continue my policy of deficit spending to rescue America from an economic catastrophe that I inherited from my predecessor – something I apologize for reminding you of yet again.

The protection of Social Security in its current form from insolvency and the maintaining of Medicare and Medicaid for our nation’s seniors and disabled are areas I will pay particular attention to in a second term. And if adequate resources in the national treasury are lacking to fix these impending problems, I will yet again tax the wealthy Americans among us.

And my justification for this is simple: If the ultra-conservative chief justice of the United States, John Roberts, concluded that it is within the government’s right to force one American to provide health insurance for his or her fellow American through higher taxes – as he ruled recently when the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of my universal health care legislation – then surely Congress and I can see to it that certain Americans, namely high-income earners, pay whatever is necessary to secure a better future for the most vulnerable among us.

If a judicial champion of conservatism like John Roberts says that any type of taxation can be left to the discretion of the executive and legislative branches of government, its imposition on anything those branches deem necessary to improve America’s human condition should logically be supported.

And speaking of government’s legal right to impose necessary revenue enhancers on taxpayers, government must have the same right to impose mandatory regulations – similar to my administration’s health care legislation’s rules – on businesses that unfairly profit off the backs of American workers. And my administration, in protecting workers’ rights, will determine what constitutes unfair profits and act accordingly.

My general philosophy of good government at work is this: The longstanding general business principle of putting greed over equality and profit over compassion must go by the wayside. For as President Woodrow Wilson once said, “we are all caught in a great economic system which is heartless.”

* * * * *

In the national security and foreign policy realms I will continue to punish the guilty, as my order to kill Osama bin Laden and my policy of using drones against terrorists in Pakistan has demonstrated. But my overall goal remains what it has always been: a secure international peace that will stand the test of time, through the values of decency and humaneness that made and that keeps America great.

Democrats: The Party of Palliation

Monday, October 15th, 2012

A month before the presidential election, we know it will be close, and it will be a choice – no mere referendum on the executive management skills of the current president.  The electorate is choosing the balance between public and private sectors, between more and less government.  But it is also choosing between the different ends to which government is directed, the different visions about what government is for, and in particular, the relationship politics has with suffering and sacrifice.

Paul Ryan offered the clearest expression of this choice, in forthrightly declaring his opposition to “the best this administration offers – a dull, adventureless journey from one entitlement to the next, a government-planned life, a country where everything is free but us.”  With nods to Rand, Hayek, and Tocqueville, Ryan presents an exaggerated but effective reductio ad absurdum of the policy and endpoint of the progressive welfare state.  The statement was also bold in its way, because all of us on our worst days, and too many of us every day, actually crave the security of a “system” that eases our cares and allays our fears, and we are moved at times to offer this peace to others worse off than ourselves.  To highlight this shared anxiety — the source of the eternal appeal of the Democratic Party – is to take a risk.  It becomes easy for one’s opponents to say, as they will do in myriad ways, We care about you and for you; we will relieve your suffering, and all your ups and downs will be smoothed and gentled; and, if the state hanging on your sleeve means you cannot jump very high or run very fast, well, at least you will never falter, fall, and be crushed beneath the crowd.  Here at last is a real choice for the electorate, but inevitably, many will select the less painful option.

This selection implies a dull and “adventureless” life, perhaps.  But what good, after all, are adventures?  As Bilbo Baggins of the famous novel Lord of the Rings said, they are nasty, disturbing, uncomfortable things that make one late for dinner.  For Bilbo to change his mind and leave the drowsy comfort of the Shire required the intervention of a wizard, in short supply these days.  Tolkein’s ultimate answer, however, is that the chance for a fuller and nobler existence is worth the discomfort of the adventurous life, and something in that vein must also be the foundation of the Republican answer.  Therapeutic competition with Democrats is obvious folly, so Ryan was right to offer something different; the open question is whether he and Governor Romney can persuade the voters to take up the offer.

The Democratic Party presents itself as the enemy of pain — no bad thing, certainly, from an electoral perspective.  On its leftist fringes is a political theodicy attributing the existence of suffering to the malign forces of some hidden power: the one-percenters, the fat-cat bankers, the rich, the greedy, the privileged, the vampire capitalists.  You suffer and lack because They take too much; you hurt because They allow it through their cruelty and indifference.  More broadly, though, the Democratic Party as a whole seems committed to the proposition that one’s suffering is contingent and corrigible, that if only the nation got the policy right pain would disappear.  At the least, it is deemed our collective duty as good utilitarians to redress pain wherever it is found.

Some voters choose Democrats to seek a palliative for their own problems, but many liberals are simply motivated by a strong emotional reaction to human suffering.  To the exclusion of other goals — honor, tradition, excellence — research has shown the psychology of the Left is singularly focused on an ethic of caring and on the consequent “sacralization of victims” and their suffering.  Progressives have prioritized pain as the world’s central evil and dedicated themselves to its alleviation.  As a corollary, they prize in leaders the supposed Clintonian capacity to “feel the pain” of anonymous masses, and the anesthetic expertise to relieve it.

No mainstream parties are friends to pain, nor should they be, for needless suffering is a great wrong.  Still, the Republican Party’s view is more complex because achievement, liberty, responsibility, and many other qualities are within its calculus, to be weighed against discomfort.  Nor does conservatism have the luxury of believing in government’s power to wholly take away the pain of human existence — its view of the limited malleability of human nature is not utopian, but instead richer, more tragic.  When Republicans centered their first day’s convention theme on the claim that individuals (rather than government) “built that,” it was not solely as a rebuttal of an awkward quote from the president; rather, it went to the larger point that suffering is endured for a purpose — that through it, through long hours, through anxiety and uncertainty, through the work of the hands and lives, something is created.  The pride and joy of creation, ennobled by the suffering that made it possible, was certainly an undertone of the Republican message.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/democrats-the-party-of-palliation/2012/10/15/

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