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October 31, 2014 / 7 Heshvan, 5775
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IDF Annual Enlistment Report

Friday, November 18th, 2011

The IDF released on Thursday the data from its annual report on national enlistment levels.

The Israeli territories of Judea and Samaria have the highest percentage of soldiers serving in combat units – 61% vs. the national average of 44.2%. While the city of Modi’in-Maccabim-Re’ut retains its position as the individual city with the highest percentage of male and female citizens who enlist – 92.4%.

Of the 66 cities rated, the cities with the lowest enlistment levels are Modi’in Illit, Beitar Illit and Bnei Brak. Not far above the 3 are Jerusalem (62) and Tel Aviv (52).

Major General Orna Barbivai, head of the IDF’s Manpower Directorate notes that the data indicate there will be a significant decline in the percentage of eligible Israelis who won’t be serving in the IDF by the year 2020 – as low as 60%.

Jerry Manuel – Brainy, But Is He Fiery Enough?

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

Mets general manager Omar Minaya hired Willie Randolph as manager prior to the 2005 season and fired him last month with the team’s record stuck at a mediocre 34-35.

 

Many Mets fans blamed Randolph for losing the last game of the 2006 playoffs against St. Louis and being eliminated from the World Series. The blame game gained momentum late in September last season as the Mets collapsed down the stretch.

 

Under Randolph, the Mets in three and a half seasons won 302 games and lost 253, a .544 winning percentage. Pretty good numbers, but not good enough for New York. Don’t feel too sorry for the 54-year-old Randolph, though: the Mets have to pay him the $3.4 million remaining on his contract.

 

I don’t understand Minaya’s choice of Jerry Manuel (Randolph’s bench coach) as the Mets’ new manager. Not that Manuel can’t manage — he skippered the Chicago White Sox for six seasons (1998-2003) finishing first once, second four times and third only once.

 

Manuel is probably the most intellectual manager in the big leagues today. An avid reader of books and a collector of knowledge, Manuel (like Randolph an African American) has a quiet demeanor but will argue with umpires more often and longer than Randolph.

 

As much as I like and respect Manuel, I would have hired Dodgers coach Larry Bowa, who followed Joe Torre over from the Yankees. Bowa is as fiery as you can get without being locked up. He might well be the only person able to light a fire under some of the Mets’ Latin Club (members include the first baseman, shortstop and center fielder).

 

It’s not that I think Bowa is a great manager. In fact, I’d rather start a season with Manuel and I’d rather have dinner and a conversation with Manuel. But for a try at a quick fix, I’d take Bowa.

 

By the way, Manuel was the first player I ever interviewed.

 

It was 33years ago and Manuel was a 21-year-old backup rookie infielder with a terrible Tigers team. I was writing baseball for the weekly All-Sports TV Log, of blessed memory, at $15 per story.

 

The publication contained television listings and advertising spun around a couple of sports stories and was distributed free in the Detroit area. The front man for the publication was none other than Denny McLain. The loquacious former Tigers pitcher, who won an amazing 31 games in 1968, was also hosting a radio and television talk show at the time.

 

I was paid for several baseball stories, but am still owed $75. The checks signed by McLain would have been worth more uncashed. Anyway, I was quite impressed with Manuel back then. He was a polished speaker for his age and had many interests.

 

At the time, I never thought he would have the opportunity to become a big league manager. But times change. Look who’s running for president for the Democrats. Come to think of it, back then Manuel looked quite a bit like Barack Obama.

 

I’d rather vote for Manuel, though.

 

* * * * * *

 

Shawn Green’s retirement this year caught many by surprise. Green, who hit .291 with 10 homers for the Mets last season, had a very impressive September, with a .407 batting average in 59 at bats.

 

All told, his 446 at-bats in 2007 included 37 bases on balls, giving Green a .352 on-base percentage. The numbers were good enough for Green to ponder several offers outside New York. None, however, were from teams close enough to where the Greens (wife and two daughters) were building their new home in Irvine, California.

 

So Green, who turned 36 last January, opted to retire with 328 career home runs, three shy of the legendary Hank Greenberg’s total. Green’s career batting average (.283) is 30 points behind Greenberg’s, but Green had a game no other player — Jewish or not –ever had.

 

While playing for the Dodgers on May 23, 2002, in Milwaukee, Green wowed the baseball world by hitting four home runs, a double and a single for a major league record 19 total bases.

 

Over a five-year span from 1998 through 2002, the left-handed batting Green averaged 38 home runs and 112 RBIs — Hank Greenberg-type numbers. But Greenberg, who played 13 seasons compared with Green’s 15, remains the greatest Jewish slugger of all time.

 

* * * * *  *

 

            The Adam Greenberg story may have a happy baseball ending after all. The likable outfielder from Connecticut made his major league debut at age 24 with the Cubs on July 9, 2005, but was hit in the head by the very first pitch thrown to him.

 

After spending the rest of the season on the disabled list, and dealing with health problems brought on by the beaning, Adam tried to work his way back through the minor leagues.

 

With Wichita in the Texas League (Kansas City Royals organization) last year, Greenberg batted .266 with eight home runs and 43 RBIs, but was released.

 

With no offers from any major league organization this year, Greenberg, now 27, latched on with the Bridgeport Blue Fish of the Independent League. The brand of baseball there is considered lower than at any minor league level, but slightly higher than college ball.

 

After 13 games with the Bluefish, Greenberg was batting .289 with two doubles, two triples and two stolen bases. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (what a ridiculous name) signed Greenberg and assigned him to their Double-A club (Arkansas Travelers) in the Texas League.

 

Let’s hope Greenberg gets another shot at the majors as a player. If not, he should consider a minor league coaching job and working back up that way. Greenberg is smart and well thought of, and could rise rapidly.

 

Either way, he’ll have thousands of rooters.

 

* * * * * *

 

Much has been said and written about Tim Russert, who died suddenly last month at 58. Best known as the moderator of Sunday morning’s “Meet the Press,” Russert was also NBC News Washington bureau chief. As great as he was in many roles, Russert loved and knew as much about baseball as he did current events and politics.

 

Russert grew up in Buffalo in the 1950′s and early 60′s and motored south to see big league baseball in Cleveland. A great fan of the Yankees, he eventually adopted the Washington Nationals and had season tickets.

 

Russert would have been as good covering baseball for ESPN as he was covering the political scene for NBC. His passing is a great loss for those of us who like excellence and fairness in the media instead of just another pretty face.

 

Irwin Cohen, the author of seven books, headed a national baseball publication for five years before earning a World Series ring working as a department head in a major league front office. His “Baseball Insider” column appears the second week of each month in The Jewish Press. Cohen, who is president of the Detroit area’s Agudah shul, may be reached in his dugout at  irdav@sbcglobal.net.

Title: Real Jews; Secular Versus Ultra-Orthodox And The Struggle For Jewish Identity In Israel

Saturday, July 26th, 2003

Title: Real Jews; Secular Versus Ultra-Orthodox And The Struggle For Jewish Identity In Israel
Author: Prof. Noah Efron
(Bar-Ilan University)
Publisher: Basic Books, New York, NY


There may be some who would wish this book, and this subject matter, to not be discussed at all; to shove it back into some secret corner whence it came. “Don’t air dirty linen in public!”

But it has been done – published by one of America’s largest publishers, and it will be found in many Judaica bookshops, as well as in Barnes & Noble, Borders, and the leading independent bookshops.

Prof. Efron, whose own feelings remain quite professionally hidden even at the conclusion, aptly describes the struggle for the hearts and minds of young Israelis. Even before the secular Israeli public learned to demonize Palestinians, they learned to demonize charedim. In America, anyone characterizing a Jew with a long nose and payos in a derogatory cartoon would be called an anti-Semite, but in Israel, it has come to Jew against Jew.

When Israel’s government was first established, then-Prime Minister David Ben Gurion made what secular Israelis term, “A pact with the devil.” To obtain a working majority in the Knesset, Ben Gurion gained the votes of charedi parties in return for certain objectives, including exemptions from universal military service for young studying in Yeshiva.

The so-called “Ultra-Orthodox” reside in communities segregated from secular Jews and rarely interact with them. Although consisting of over 10% of the total Israel population, Yeshiva students are exempt from military service - while secular youth serve for many years. The charedi community also enjoys political (and economic) power way out of proportion to their actual numbers. A quite high percentage benefits from various forms of governmental largesse.

To the contrary, modern Israeli history venerates those secular individuals such as Ben Gurion, Golda Meir, and Moshe Dayan whose efforts built the nation in the first place and defended it during its formative years. It was Ben Gurion himself who declared that we would finally know Israel as an independent nation, when we would have our own burglars and criminals in Tel Aviv.

There is a reason why some cities built beyond the Green Line, such as Kiryat Sefer and Betar, are chareidi. The population in chareidi communities such as Meah Shearim and Bnei Brak have expanded almost to the point of explosion. Housing costs are disproportionate to the family incomes of the residents of these neighborhoods. Thus, real estate developers acquire relatively inexpensive lands from the government – especially when there is a policy to populate some given area – and build entire cities catering to charedim.

Secular Israelis also take issue with the kosher food ‘tax,’ in the form of extra cost to everyone due to the expense of kashruth supervision, which could raise food prices by as much as 4%. In places like America, where kosher-observant Jews may be a quite small percentage of the buyers of the products, the cost is evened-out by the many thousands of others, such as Moslems and Seventh Day Adventists who also rely on our kashruth supervision for their own dietary requirements. In Israel, where the costs are government-mandated, they are resented by the secular.

Here in America we Jews are concerned whenever a criminal’s Jewishness is reported in the media. In Israel a special case is made whenever it is a charedi who is charged with a crime, even if his religiosity is irrelevant to the case. Efron’s thesis is that because of social pressures, including those of kiruv work of charedim among the secular, secular Israelis are demonizing charedim. To quote: “Each new “conversion” (a secular Israeli becoming observant) is an assertion that we have failed. If we are who we think we are, why are our children leaving?”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/title-real-jews-secular-versus-ultra-orthodox-and-the-struggle-for-jewish-identity-in-israel/2003/07/26/

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