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September 21, 2014 / 26 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘OK’

Hillary Giving Away Toys

Friday, October 19th, 2012

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton watches a demonstration of drone capabilities by U.S. and Ugandan military representatives at Kasenyi Military Base in in Kampala, Uganda, last August.

The U.S. supplies drones and training to the Ugandan military, which they use in their hunt for Joseph Kony and members of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a militant group operating in Uganda and other central African countries.

That’s so cool, the idea that a bunch of young adults in U.S. military bases around the world can apply their video game skills to taking out bad folks. It so stresses how huge the technological gap has become between Us and Them, that Us no longer need to show up to kill Them.

Back in 1945, the U.S. ultimately won the war because we were able to carpet bomb Germany. We all saw those films: the sky absolutely filled up with B17 bombers. Well, now we no longer have to risk the lives of crew members on those dangerous missions. They get to stay home and do it all from afar, while texting their friends and possibly even ordering pizza.

I’ve read the reports of Al Qaeda and Taliban who are afraid to leave the safety of their homes out in those exotic sounding regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan and Whereverstan – because as soon as they come out, say, to buy a pack of cigarettes at the local bodega, or just walk their goat, a satellite picks up their image and a drone driven by an American teenager with great eye-thumb coordination will surely kill them.

This is so Science Fiction, I can’t begin to tell you. I honestly feel that, starting on 9/11, 2001, we’ve all been transported in a Ray Bradbury alternate universe, where everything we knew is gone, replaced by a very different narrative.

And I’m strangely OK with this narrative, OK with our kids staying home to run our wars by remote control. Makes moms happier. Over on our side, of course.

LOL: NFL Fighting Brain Injuries

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

I recently received this press release from the Department of Defense:

Army, NFL Team Up to Fight Traumatic Brain Injury

OK, the headline itself is a dead giveaway. The two worst perpetrators of brain injuries in the world are teaming up to fight them? Seriously? Why don’t you, instead, like – stop causing them?

Read on:

The top leaders of both organizations — Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell – met at the U.S. Military Academy Aug. 30 to discuss the issue and sign a letter of agreement to continue sharing resources to combat TBI.

“Mental and physical toughness, discipline, team over self and stressing the importance of resilience are fundamental to the cultures of both the NFL and the Army,” Odierno said. “We have the Warrior Ethos, reinforced by the Soldier’s Creed.”

OK, I can accept a certain amount of TBI on the battlefield. You run into some mean people out there, you’re going to get hurt, some of it will go to your head. But on the Football field? Why? What’s the point of sending young men in the prime of their lives to hurt each other so brutally? What’s the point?

The point is it makes money. Americans, like the Romans of a couple millennia ago, enjoy this stuff. I don’t begrudge them their joy. I don’t begrudge these young men of average to high intelligence their decision to trade in their brains for some cash. Those are choices mature adults should be permitted to make.

But don’t treat us, the readers, as if we too have sustained TBI with drivel like this from NFL commissioner Goodell:

“Together, we can make a big difference, sharing medical research, and helping players and fighters and bringing a greater awareness to society as well. I believe we can change our cultures, with athletes and soldiers sharing their experiences.”

Change our culture? You are the blessed commissioner – make it a game losing violation to bang into an opposing player in ways you wouldn’t dare treat someone’s car, much less someone’s God given body.

 

The NY Times wrote in 2010:

A 2000 study surveyed 1,090 former N.F.L. players and found more than 60 percent had suffered at least one concussion in their careers and 26 percent had had three or more. Those who had had concussions reported more problems with memory, concentration, speech impediments, headaches and other neurological problems than those who had not, the survey found.

A 2007 study conducted by the University of North Carolina’s Center for the Study of Retired Athletes found that of the 595 retired N.F.L. players who recalled sustaining three or more concussions on the football field, 20.2 percent said they had been found to have depression. That is three times the rate of players who have not sustained concussions.

And if that’s not enough, read up about potential links between repetitive head trauma in football and a serious health condition, called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Originally associated with boxers, CTE is a type of neurological deterioration caused by repetitive head trauma. (Brawn and Brains: Looking at NFL Head Injuries).

I like Football, I’m a guy, I enjoy watching territorial wars, my brain is hardwired to go gaga over it. (The fact that I’m a Jet fan only means that I’m really bad at picking sides.) Still, I derive zero joy from seeing players getting hurt. I’m all for adopting the Touch Football rules. You got tagged with the ball – play stops.

It should open the field for less hefty and more agile and athletic defenders.

And would bring and end to TBI. Immediately.

This was my morning rant about things I can’t possibly change. I feel much better now and ready to move on with my day.

Israel Recognizes Reform, Conservative Rabbis – Bloggers Start Your Engines!

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

First, the key points, as listed by Australian blogger Gary Dunn:

Israel to Pay Wages of Reform, Conservative Rabbis Although the court ruled in 2009 that the state should pay up, a dispute arose over how to define non-Orthodox rabbis, which prevented the agreement from being finalized.

The Reform movement insisted its leaders be called “non-Orthodox rabbis,” while the ministry of religious services — which is controlled by the ultra-Orthodox Shas party — insisted on calling them “community heads.”

Unlike Orthodox community rabbis who are funded by the religious services ministry, the Reform and Conservative rabbis will receive their salaries from the ministry of culture and sports. Gary Dunn, The Australian Eye

I believe the intriguing headline below is a typo, I don’t think the threat of destorying Israel but rather of destroying her was upsetting the author. Still, spell checking is almost essential in disseminating one’s diatribe…

Next Target for Reform & Conservative Jews to Destory: Israel As if these movements have not caused enough damage to Judaism in Diaspora and Europe, let’s bring it to Israel too. I just read in the Ynetnews.com that Israel has recognized Reform and Conservative Rabies as Jewish Rabies and they will receive state funding. I am not going to argue these movements’ political standing because it varies from one spectrum to another. However, why is it so important for these two movements to be recognized in Israel? Don’t they have enough power in the U.S? What is left of them in the U.S? Has their membership market finally run out of members that they are looking to Israel to find supporters? Didn’t the Reform movement argue that it is a form of Judaism that is designed to address the American and European needs? Why do they need to establish themselves in Israel? For more by Ben Kahen, ESQ., go to: The Light At the end of the Tunnel

OK, now how about a Reform Chief Rabbi? Too soon? Not if you ask Dr. Mendy Ganchrow, past president of the Orthodox Union, and former Exec. VP of the Religious Zionists of America.

Reform and Conservative Clergy The decision to fund Reform and Conservative clergy in Israel is a sick perversion of Jewish Law and tradition.

These so-called religious movements have brought assimilation, mixed marriages, same sex marriages, egalitarianism and desecration of our Holy Torah.

No civil Court, no government has the power to recognize those who desecrate our Torah.

The next thing will be for some jokers to lobby for a “chief Rabbi from these groups. Mendy Ganchrow, M.D.

And now, something from our non-religious friends, who must have ambivalent reactions to the acceptance of yet another religious authority in Israel, when all they want is a little more Godlessness…

Israeli Reform & Conservative Jews Have The Wrong Idea No Zionist is opposed to Israel’s cultural expressions of Judaism such as designating holidays, employing certain symbols or speaking Hebrew.  But the approach of these liberal religious Jews betrays their own prejudice that Judaism is first and foremost a religion.

The state should remain completely neutral in all matters of faith.  No religious councils.  No state funding of synagogues.  No state rabbis. Not that long ago, certain religious types began changing the words of the IDF’s Yizkor (memorial) reading.  Instead of “Yizkor Am Yisrael…May the People of Israel Remember,” they recited “Yizkor Elohim…May God Remember.”  So the IDF had a special committee study the issue.  The original – and secularized – wording was restored.  Still Jewish, but silent about faith. Rabbi Jeffrey Falick, The Atheist Rabbi

Next, a profile of the main plaintiff in the Reform case against the state. Now, to my frummie friends (which, come to think of it, comprises all my friends), just cuz I’m citing it don’t mean I’m endorsing it. OK? Pheew…

Battling in the Courts and Planting the Grassroots: Rabbi Miri Gold speaks to the non-Orthodox Jewish experience in Israel “I didn’t fit the mold,” explains Rabbi Miri Gold of Kibbutz Gezer, “Lighting candles on Shabbat without the blessing was just too culturally Jewish for me—something was missing.” Gold recalls that Orthodox kibbutzim, “as liberal as they were in their own way,” weren’t Jewishly comfortable either. From this state of alienation, Gold went on to become a member of Kibbutz Gezer in 1977 and from there, slowly found her way to becoming an ordained Reform Rabbi.

Yori’s News Picks from All Over, Tue. 2/28/12

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

So, what have the children of Jacob and the people who hate them been up to over the past 24 hours? What can I say, it’s a violent planet. But even in a violent blue-green ball like ours, some stories still get our goat. Like this one:

YOU BULLY A JEWISH KID – YOU PAY. IT’S THE LAW

The NY Post reports on a $10.5 million federal suit that says staffers at Eagle Avenue Middle School in West Hempstead stood by as schoolmates abused Gedaliah Hoffman, calling him a “f–king Jew” for wearing a yarmulke.

Staffers caused “the bullying to become escalated by punishing only Gedaliah, although Gedaliah was the victim of the attacks,” says the lawsuit, filed last week by the boy and his mother, Lori Hoffman.

Oh, we want t see that one through. And give ‘em hell, Gedaliah Hoffman!

OK, we can’t do just nasty stuff, where’s the ray of hope thing? Well, there it is, in Borough Park!

LADIES TO THE RESCUE

Like this group of Brooklyn Jewish women who are starting their own ladies-only ambulance service.The NY Daily News reports that Borough Park lawyer Rachel Freier, 46, held the first recruitment drive Sunday for Ezras Nashim — Hebrew for “assisting women’ (but also a great pun on the Hebrew name for the ladies section in shul) — in her dining room. The News says Hatzolah leaders shot down Freier’s request last fall to let women into its 1,300 all-male corps, the city’s largest volunteer ambulance crew, which answers more than 50,000 calls a year.

Ezras Nashim member Hadassah Strauss, 26, retorts: “Women have been delivering babies for thousands of years.” Sharp lady. I strongly advise against getting into an argument with her…

WEEKDAY WARRIORS

And what religious Jewish person’s heart won’t be gladdened by this NY Times headline: In Texas, the Sabbath Trumps the Semifinals. Well, good for the Sabbath! And good for the Robert M. Beren Academy, an Orthodox Jewish day school in Houston, which won its regional championship to advance to the boys basketball state semifinals last weekend in Dallas. But the team will not make the trip. Because the Beren Academy players observe the Sabbath and do not play from sundown on Fridays to sundown on Saturdays. Their semifinal game was scheduled for 9 p.m. Friday.

Hey, I say, wasn’t any super meikel rabbi out there to give the lads an opening? A halachic three-point throw? Nobody?

According to the Times, several of Beren Academy’s opponents this season agreed to change the time of their games to avoid conflicts with the Sabbath. See? All a Jew needs to make it in America is a few nice goyim…

ARE WE GETTING ALONG, OR WHAT?

Dozens of students gathered in the Hughes-Trigg commons to hear from religious leaders of Islam, Judaism and Christianity, and balance and moderation was the main topic of the Islamic Awareness Week’s interfaith discussion panel Monday night – reports the Southern Methodist University Daily Campus.

So we scroll two-three paragraphs down and we get what we just knew had to be in there somewhere, the Jewish guy condemning intolerant Jews. Because, let’s face it. while hoards of Muslim tolerant folks have been storming the public squares of the Third World, with tolerant soldiers and police shooting tolerantly – and with moderation! – into the crowds, them extremists Jews really drowned out that peacefulness with their extremist going on living in their homes.

“Each religious leader discussed how the essential truths of their religions stress the importance of balance and moderation. However, they all spoke of extremists within their religions whose actions go against the core values of their faiths.”

Now, wait for it… wait for it… and – who’s the first panelist to take a crack at the condemn-thine-own-extremist challenge?

“Balance and moderation is a challenge,” Rabbi David Gruber said, describing extremist behavior he witnessed by some Jewish people in Israel.

First one, and ONLY one, folks. Honor murders, decapitations, mass killings, suicide bombing – not event a footnote. Horrible Israelis? Oh yeah, baby, we know all about them.

Even the Christian guy got away with it without mentioning firebombing abortion clinics and murdering abortion doctors, f’rinstance. So now we’re clear: The leasson from Islamic Interfaith Awareness Week at SMU is – we must do something about the Jews.

Good to know.

PRAYING IN BUDAPEST

And speaking of goyim, nice or otherwise, Salt Lake City’s Deseret News reports that LDS Church has been added to Hungarian government’s recognition list, along with five Buddhist groups, Methodists, J Witnesses and two Islamic communities. Well, welcome to the club, guys, and remember: keep the weird stuff to a minimum…

 POLITICS REMAINS A CONTACT SPORT

This would have been funny enough for a dream scene from a Woody Allen movie (the earlier, funny ones): FOX40 News reports that Neo-Nazis and Occupy Groups clashed at Capitol Monday, man what a story. Except two officers were hurt in the clash, and made the story distinctly unfunny.

Shidduch Challenges – How To Find The Right One

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Several weeks ago, in response to a letter from by a young woman in her thirties who wrote of the painful plight of singles, I wrote a column that has since mushroomed into a series of articles.

Originally I had planned to devote one or two columns to the subject, but the response from readers has been so overwhelming that it’s necessitated a more involved response.

In my last column I explained that making a shidduch has never been easy and that there always have been obstacles. Nevertheless, each period is different, and this week I will focus on our generation.

These difficulties apply equally to every segment of the Jewish population, and while Orthodox singles are more insulated from cultural influences, the rippling effects have impacted all of us. So the questions remain: Why can’t singles get married? What went wrong?

There are no pat answers. Many contributing factors come into play. Years ago, singles lived at home until they married. Parents were actively involved in helping their children find mates. At the very least, they pressed them to get on with it and establish their own homes. Today, however, things are different. No sooner have young people graduated from high school than they are on their way, and even if they should at some point move back home, parents often adopt a “laissez-faire” attitude when it comes to their children marrying.

Moreover, our culture encourages young people to focus on their careers while marriage is placed on the back burner. This has taken a devastating toll. Immersed in their professions, young women see their biological clocks tick on and on. They have been misled into believing they have all the time in the world, only to realize one day that years have passed and can never be retrieved. Though this is a tragedy that affects both genders, women are hit harder, not only because of their biological clocks but because by nature they are nest builders.

While it’s become fashionable for women to believe they can have children even into their forties – and, yes, there are some wonderful stories that make great copy – in real life things are quite different. Even if by some stroke of luck a woman in her forties finds her soul mate, the road to childbearing can be filled with much heartache and painful and expensive medical treatment.

A successful young woman in the corporate world came to consult with me about finding a mate. “Rebbetzin,” she said, “I have an elderly, widowed mother. I call her every day and visit her at least once a week, but I am haunted by a terrible thought. Who will visit me when I am her age? I always thought you could have it all – a successful career, marriage, children – but the truth is that men, even if they are on in years, can combine marriage and parenthood with a successful career, but this is not so simple for women. We’ve lost the best years of our lives. We’ve been misled.”

Whose fault is it? It doesn’t matter. An entire generation has been led down the garden path. Though it may be true that that men fare better in the singles world, experience has taught me that they are also suffering. Many sincerely desire to marry but can’t – they suffer from “commitment phobia.”

To be sure, there are many factors that render them phobic (these sometimes apply to women as well). Many men no longer feel they have to get married. They can just as easily have “relationships.” But these relationships not only are a negation of our Torah way of life, they come with a high price and leave indelible marks on one’s soul. You cannot be intimate with someone and then cancel that person out without consequences. Even if one is in denial, the heart, the mind, and the soul have long memories.

Little wonder, then, that today’s singles carry heavy baggage and with each passing year pick up even more, all of which mitigates against committing to marriage.

Additionally, the active social lives many singles lead serve to mask their feelings of loneliness. There is always a plethora of activities to keep them believing they are doing their all to pursue a match – whereas in reality they are just going from date to date, gathering to gathering, singles event to singles event.

I met a young man while I was speaking at a convention. I had seen him some years ago at our Hineni organization, and I asked how he was doing.

“I’m still single” he said. “Any recommendations?”

I thought for a moment and suggested a lovely young woman who had been coming to my classes. “I know her,” he said. “We are friends. She is not for me, and to be honest with you, Rebbetzin, I didn’t wait all this time to settle now!”

Placing A Stumbling Block Before The Blind (Part I)

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

It seems that whenever there is a tragedy in the heimishe olam, almost always the horrific, premature loss of life due to a car crash, a drowning, a freak accident or mindless violence/terrorism, it immediately is followed by a chorus of anguished voices screaming out the need to do teshuva.

Somehow, it seems that the two singular issues everyone deems responsible for the numerous misfortunes that have afflicted our community are lashon harah and tzniut – speaking negatively about others and immodesty. While it is never said out loud, one can’t help get the impression that the finger of fault is pointed at women, with the implication that gossiping and showing your elbows, knees or a strand of hair brings Hashem’s wrath upon us.

That attitude, in my opinion, is very misguided, as men too are guilty of a lack of modesty and indulging in idle talk. When one drives a fancy car or wears a watch that costs the equivalent of a year’s tuition, or acts in a way that calls attention to oneself like bragging about a big raise, that is immodest behaviour. And swapping stock market tips during leining or at the kiddush club on Shabbat, is the epitome of lashon harah – harah in this case being bad or very inappropriate speech.

However, equalizing blame is not the point of this article. What is, however, is my belief that across the board, the klal is oblivious of the big picture. Immodesty and lashon harah are just two of many components of a more insidious behaviour that is pandemic in our community – putting stumbling blocks in front of a blind person.

In Sefer Vayikra, 19:14, the Jewish people are exhorted to not curse the deaf, “or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your G-d.” Rashi interprets the word “blind” as being metaphoric, not to be taken literally. Blind can be read as unsuspecting, ignorant, naive or trusting. He understood that this was not merely a statement to help the visually impaired walk without impediment, but rather is a brilliant, all encompassing blueprint as to how to behave properly when dealing with your fellow man.

The basic message to be gleaned from this pasuk is that one should control their “inner beast” and not take advantage of someone weaker or vulnerable; to not “pull the wool” over someone who is uninformed and puts their trust in you; to not mislead the gullible into doing something that is not in their best interest – but is in yours.

The great sage Hillel taught that the Torah revolves around the concept of not doing to somebody that which you wouldn’t want to have done to you; and arguably, the wording of this pasuk is a foundation for this conclusion.

There are so many areas in our daily lives when this G-d given rule should be internalized and utilized, yet to our tragic undoing, voracious greed, preening arrogance, blinding jealousy, chronic apathy and indifference, and blatantly misguided good intentions have caused many to fail miserably in doing so.

I will focus on two huge arenas in our lives where “stumbling blocks” are deliberately and wilfully set up much too often with enormous consequences to the ‘blind” – these being financial matters and shidduchim.

I will begin with an epidemic of what I call the “gelt uber alles” mentality that turns what appears to be erliche Jews into predators. How many people, to their ultimate dismay, or worse, are convinced by seemingly sincere, up-right, kippah/tzitzit wearing sales people, store-owners, tradesmen or handymen to buy something or pay for a service that those selling know is shoddy, over-priced or just a bad fit for the unsuspecting individual and is an injurious waste of his/her time and money?

How many unsuspecting shoppers or diners were sold or served food that was advertised as fresh, but should have been thrown out, yet the owner of the grocery store or restaurant saw that the people were from “yenem’s velt” and not part of the “community” so it was OK to give them, for example, the “fresh” barbecued chicken that was in the refrigerator for several days, warm now from being microwaved and appearing “straight off the grill.”

How many out-of-towners, moving into a new neighborhood, were pressured to raise their offer for a property because the sheitel-wearing, “sleeves up to the wrist” real estate agent told them that there was another, higher offer? But only in her imagination.

How many hard-working baala-battim were told they were one of the lucky few to get in on an amazing money-making venture, guaranteed to double, even triple their investment, a once in a life-time opportunity, offered by a well- regarded member of the “tribe.” At best, some may have lost only money; some however, may have ended up losing their home and savings; other may have been charged as accomplishes to a crime.

In all these scenarios, people assumed that the advice, information or product they were offered was in their best interest; doubting the integrity, honesty or the purity of motive of Torah-observant Yidden was unfathomable. However, these Yidden are guilty of putting stumbling blocks in front of a “blind” person, and as expected, their victims’ physical, financial, emotional and in many cases, spiritual well-being was grossly undermined.

I have no doubt as to what kind of impact this unethical, hypocritical behavior on the part of people they are supposed to look up to, has on young people already teetering off the derech.

In my next column, I will discuss the avalanche of stumbling blocks that have ruined the lives of so many whose dream was to build a bayit ne’eman b’Yisrael – but instead ended up trapped in a nightmarish house of horrors.

What The President Got Wrong

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

When President Obama spoke last week of the opportunities presented by the Arab Spring, he got a lot right. His calling out of the Arab states was long overdue and dead on.

But he got some big things wrong.

Why the 1967 borders didn’t work in 1967: When the president said Israel should withdraw to the 1967 lines with mutually agreed upon swaps, he missed an opportunity to put the issue of borders in an important historical context for the world.

The borders of Israel changed because then, like today, the Jewish state came under attack from all sides.

The Arabs rejected the 1967 borders with Israel by waging war. Egypt cut off Israel’s only supply route to Asia and amassed troops on its borders with the Sinai. Syria attacked from the Golan Heights. Jordan started shelling Jerusalem. Before the outbreak of war, Arab terrorism had grown more frequent, with 37 attacks in just the first four months of 1967.

For anyone to discuss the ’67 borders without mentioning this is like discussing our war with Japan without mentioning Pearl Harbor.

A U.S. “plan” becomes a Palestinian demand: We saw how the ill-fated U.S. demand for a total “settlement” freeze wound up grinding peace talks to a halt when the Palestinians then demanded nothing less before they would even sit at the bargaining table.

The call for a 100 percent stop to all building activity did not take into account ongoing construction of buildings in naturally growing areas, as well as several areas like Gilo that are certainly not “settlements.” Soon even Israel’s capital was called a “settlement.”

The administration eventually withdrew this condition, but not before the damage was done. The Palestinians have refused to even start talking unless this impossible and unreasonable condition is met. The president has now repeated the mistake by giving the Palestinians yet another American-created precondition: 1967 borders.

We will now certainly hear a new refrain from them – that they won’t talk about any “swaps” until the ’67 borders are returned.

Negotiated settlement? OK, but with whom? The president expressed many important sentiments in the speech that reflect our values as a nation. For example, he rightly called Hamas a terrorist organization. But how is that fact compatible with the demand that Israel make concessions?

The sad truth is that it is no longer possible to pretend that there is a “good” and “bad” Palestinian entity. As Hamas and Fatah move closer to formalizing their reconciliation through a power-sharing agreement, the more moderate elements in Fatah are being pushed out.

Further, Hamas has yet to make any progress in moving away from its militant stand against Israel. Even the European Union calls Hamas a terrorist entity, and United States law makes this clear. The merger of Hamas and Fatah must put an end to the myth that the Palestinian Authority seeks peace in the region.

A “negotiated settlement” is what we all want, but it’s unrealistic and unfair to demand it of Israel until Hamas is gone.

I honor the president for his desire for peace. The Israelis have demonstrated they share the same aspiration. But taking a correct approach to history and being realistic in our description of today’s realities are vital to that goal.

Anthony Weiner, a Democrat, represents New York’s 9thCongressional district (parts of South Brooklyn and South Central Queens) in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/what-the-president-got-wrong/2011/05/25/

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