President Obama was asked on 60 Minutes Sunday: “You‘re saying you don’t feel any pressure from Prime Minister Netanyahu in the middle of a campaign, to try to get you to change your policy and draw a line in the sand…?”
The president responded: “When it comes to our national security decisions—any pressure that I feel is simply to do what’s right for the American people. And I am going to block out any noise that’s out there. Now I feel an obligation, not pressure but obligation, to make sure that we’re in close consultation with the Israelis—on these issues because it affects them deeply. They’re one of our closest allies in the region. And we’ve got an Iranian regime that has said horrible things that directly threaten Israel’s existence.”
Obama sounded belligerent later on, when he commented on Mitt Romney’s charge that his foreign policy is “a policy of paralysis,” blurting: “If Gov. Romney is suggesting that we should start another war, he should say so.”
Romney’s Press Secretary Andrea Saul commented:
“Tonight on 60 Minutes, President Obama called Israel’s legitimate concern about the impact of an Iran armed with nuclear weapons ‘noise’ and referred to Israel as merely ‘one of our closest allies in the region.’ This is just the latest evidence of his chronic disregard for the security of our closest ally in the Middle East… As president, Governor Romney will restore and protect the close alliance between our nation and the state of Israel.”
Romney worked hard to make “more elegant” his secretly taped remarks to an audience of wealthy donors in May, that 47 percent of the American people paid no income taxes, were dependent on government and would never vote for him.
He also distanced himself from his running mate’s reputation regarding the future of Social Security and Medicare.
Congressman Paul Ryan wanted to reduce payments to the Medicare program by about $700 billion.
“Yeah, he was going to use that money to reduce the budget deficit,” Romney said of Ryan’s proposal. “I’m putting it back into Medicare, and I’m the guy running for president, not him.”
Romney discussed his plan to reduce income tax rates by 20%, adding that the plan would also limit deductions and exemptions. Responding to criticism that his tax reductions would favor the rich, Romney said in his tax plan “there should be no tax reduction for high income people.”
He said he wants to give middle class families a tax reduction by cutting taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains. But he wouldn’t name the specific tax deductions and exemptions he would cut.
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Rosen’s grandsons have combined state-of-the-art technology with their grandfather’s dream of teaching Hebrew to anyone who wishes to learn it, at any age, anywhere in the world. The Internet has provided the ideal medium to realize such a vision, bringing the best teachers in Israel to the homes of students throughout the world.
eTeacherHebrew.com is a friendly and intimate niche in the often impersonal online environment. Teachers and students – though separated by oceans and time differences – form strong bonds, in many cases traveling overseas and actually visiting each others homes in person.
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Students at eTeacherHebrew.com have expressed their satisfaction with the program, and have been pleasantly surprised by the ease and effectiveness of the online learning method. Sanne Terlouw of the Netherlands says, ” I had never expected that I would benefit so much from an internet school, but it really works.” Coyle Pam of South Carolina, USA particularly enjoyed the student contact. ”
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eTeacherHebrew.com’s history is a heartwarming tale of one family’s success – of immigrant beginnings to international achievement, across the generations. It is also your opportunity to learn Hebrew from the comfort of your own home, yet truly connect with the land of Israel and its people.
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For the past 15 years Abdullah Faarruq was the Muslim chaplain at Northeastern University in Boston. This week, Faarruq was revealed to be an Islamic extremist who encouraged acts of violence and who has publicly supported multiple convicted terrorists. But all traces of Faarruq suddenly disappeared from the Northeastern University website just days after his ties were announced in an article, and just before a shocking and carefully sourced video was released.
Dr. Charles Jacobs, a Boston-area human rights activist and president of Americans for Peace and Tolerance, created the video revealing Faarruq as a supporter of convicted Islamic terrorists, such as Aafia Siddiqui, a close associate of the Blind Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, the convicted mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
In 2004, FBI Director Robert Mueller described Aafia Siddiqui as one of the seven most wanted Al Qaeda terrorists. Siddiqui, who used to attend Farruuq’s mosque, was also assisted by him in distributing jihadist literature.
In 2008, Siddiqui was arrested in Afghanistan and charged with attempting to use an assault rifle on FBI agents. In her possession were plans for a chemical attack on New York City and a large amount of cyanide. In 2010, she was convicted and sentenced to 86 years in jail.
In lectures around Boston, Faaruuq had called on Boston Muslims to defend Siddiqui because “after they’re finished with Aafia, they’re gonna come to your door.” He told worshippers to not be afraid to “grab onto the gun and the sword, go out into this world and do your job.”
Faarruq has publicly supported other known terrorists, such as Tarek Mehanna. Mehanna who was arrested and convicted in April 2012 on terror charges, including plans to murder American soldiers and politicians, and another plan to attack a mall in Massachusetts, patterned on the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India. Mehanna had taught evening classes on Islam at Northeastern.
Faarruq is shown with Northeastern students in APT’s video at a rally outside the courthouse where Mehanna was denied bail, in February, 2011. Mehanna was indicted with another man with Northeastern University connections, Ahmad Abusamra. The two considered themselves to be the “media wing” of al Qaeda in Iraq.
On April 3, 2011, the student members of the Islamic Society of Northeastern University, whose spiritual advisor was Faarruq, held a seminar and concert in support of Tarek Mehanna.
Jacobs told The Jewish Press that, although he was “pleased that Northeastern University removed Faarruq from a position of influence over university students,” much more needed to be done.
“It’s very hard to understand why Northeastern administration has for so long tolerated the troubling and extremist influence of Chaplain Faaruuk on Northeastern’s Muslim student organization,” Jacobs said. “Until we began exposing Faaruuq in 2010, the ISNU website openly promoted to Northeastern Muslim students radical books and extremist leaders who call for jihad, the genocide of Jews, and death for homosexuals.
“We are concerned,” Jacobs said, that extremist influence on Muslim students at Northeastern might be a factor in inciting terrorism. Recently another Northeastern graduate, Rezwan Ferdaus, pleaded guilty to plotting an attack on the Pentagon and Capitol buildings in Washington.”
But more importantly, Jacobs made the point that if a person with so many public connections to terrorism has been permitted to mentor students at a place like Northeastern University – “we’re not talking about Irvine, for goodness sake,” then it is clear that “the same kind of thing can happen anywhere.”
Jacobs believes that what happened with Faarruq provides an extremely instructive lesson for everyone who cares about the condition of our universities.
“For one thing,” Jacobs explained, Northeastern had to be aware of Faarruq’s activities, or they are not running a tight ship. “So if they knew, how come no one took any action to put a stop to it?”
It was only the public exposure created by Jacobs’ article and the announced release of a meticulously detailed video that caused action to be taken.
“Northeastern University president Joseph Aoun is a good person. We do not believe he is someone who supported what Faarruq was saying and doing,” explained Jacobs. “But he had to know that if he took action on his own, the blowback would have been enormous, given the heavy influence of political correctness on campuses, and the willingness of Muslims to stand up for their own.
“If people want university officials to take the right action, there has to be pressure,” he continued, “otherwise, unless an administrator is a saint, they will avoid the pain of taking a negative step like removing even someone who is doing things that are clearly wrong.”
Expanding on this theme, Jacobs instructed that “Jews like to believe that it is reason, rather than pressure, that guides action in the world.” However, “that’s just wrong, and, my goodness, we should have learned that long ago.”
When asked whether he thinks, as a general matter, Jews are reluctant to openly pressure decision makers to take action in support of their positions, Jacobs responded affirmatively, and went further: “Jewish communal leadership is weak, they are conflict-averse.” Adding, mostly seriously, he said, “Jews would rather schmooze than fight.”
In response to a request for an interview with Northeastern University President Joseph Aoun regarding the removal of Chaplain Faarruq, the school’s communications director sent the following statement to The Jewish Press:
Northeastern recently reorganized its office of spiritual life to better serve our students and more closely align with our educational mission. The newly created Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service is under the leadership of a new executive director, and we are currently expanding the number and diversity of our spiritual advisers. Some of our previous spiritual advisors, including Abdullah Faaruuq, are no longer affiliated with the university.
The university refused to respond to any other questions surrounding this matter.
When it comes to modesty in dress there is a wide variety in the way various segments of Orthodox Jewry put it into practice. But the basics are the same for all. Without getting into the details of the basic Halacha, I will just say that modesty for women requires that she cover those parts of the body that are considered “her nakedness” (Erva). Those are the biblical parameters which apply in all places – at all times in public. The rabbinic parameters (Tznius) go beyond the biblical requirement and are relative to the culture where one resides.
So that in places like Iran, a Jewish woman may be required to follow the modesty customs of that culture which go far beyond what is biblically required. In places like America, the biblical and rabbinic parameters are the same. Modesty in western cultural terms do not meet even the biblical Erva standard.
Some of the more right wing segments of Orthodoxy insist on taking matters of Tznius to much greater lengths than Halacha requires – even those that live in westernized cultures like America and Israel. For example, even though an exposed lower leg below the knee is not considered Erva, Chasidic – and many other Charedi communities require that it be covered anyway. And consider it highly immodest if a woman’s leg below the knee is fully exposed.
Which brings me to two articles in the Forward. One by Judy Brown, a woman who is Charedi. The other by Simi Lampert who is Modern Orthodox. It is interesting to see the similarity of attitude expressed by both.
One might think that a Modern Orthodox woman would be put off by the attitude expressed by the Charedi woman. But in both cases they seem to be saying the same thing. Which is that they understand the purpose behind those modesty rules. And both expressed the desire to follow them.
Both women have the desire to look attractive by western cultural standards and have tried on immodest clothing in private just to see how they would look. Both thought they looked great, and both would never consider wearing such clothing in public. They both feel a level of comfort in following the modesty rules.
The difference between them is cultural and not Halachic. In the Charedi culture, the idea of not wearing stockings is considered a Tznius violation. So much so that when an error in perception was made about the Mrs. Brown not wearing stockings even though her legs were covered below the knee, all hell broke loose. Here is how she tells the story:
[T]he young man passing by the yard declared that he had seen me with bare legs. Like a careless whore…
It was Tuesday, mid-August, a (very hot) day… I filled up the baby pool for my children in the yard settled on a plastic chair with cherry ices and dunked my legs in the pool, right where the water spurted from the hose.
It was then that the Hasid passed. It was then that he saw me — beige pantyhose transparent, legs seemingly bare — and, looking quickly away, hurried to tell the rav. I had not seen him at all. I did not know of the bewildered chaos going on in his mind until later that night, when my husband came home and stared at me quizzically.
The rav had called, he said. Could it be true? That I had sat outside with no pantyhose at all?
Of course she was wearing stockings and it was just a misperception on the part of a passerby. The point here is how seriously this Chumra is taken in the world of Chasidim. As ‘modern’ as Mrs. Brown became in other areas, this area is sancrosanct to her.
This would never happen in Modern Orthodoxy. Of course modern Orthodox Jews do not have the infra structure or the desire to dictate how its members dress. As Mrs. Lambert points out:
If my rabbi approached my husband about what I was wearing in my own yard, I’d almost definitely move. The very next day.
While both communities follow the same Halachos of modesty there is no mechanism, or really any pressure in Modern Orthodoxy that would force a violator to adhere to Halacha. One will find that modesty laws are occasionally breached by those I would call MO-Lite. The kind of guilt described by Mrs. Brown does not exist in MO circles, at least not on the level she seemed to have about it.
Monday night, Bar Ilan University president Professor Moshe Kaveh informed lawyers representing the committee of heads of Israeli universities that he is withdrawing Bar Ilan University from the petition to the Supreme Court to annul Ariel University’s accreditation, Walla reported.
The Committee responded that it was sorry that Bar Ilan gave in to political pressure.
The petition was submitted after all the university directors, including Professor Kaveh, who met at the beginning of the month and agreed to pursue it. But, according to an inside source, Bar Ilan’s directors have been under pressure by right wing political figures as well as supporters of the university to retract their name from the petition.
The committee of heads of Israeli universities said it was “very sorry that political pressure caused Bar Ilan University to remove its name from the petition which had already been approved by the university’s president and rector. We are sure that the defense minister will wait for the Supreme Court decision on the matter and will not give in to coalition pressures.”
The universities are planning to continue to advance the petition.
“After it became clear that the university heads were required to sign on a separate power of attorney for each university to submit the petition, Bar Ilan’s president Professor Kaveh announced that he is opposed to it and will not sign the power of attorney for two reasons: Bar Ilan University helped to establish the institution in Ariel and provided it with academic sponsorship for many years; and Bar Ilan signed an academic cooperation agreement with the institution for joint guidance/training of Ph.D. candidates at Ariel university.
While generally peer pressure is viewed as a negative trait, emulating successful people may help increase your own chances of success. Indeed, if you want to build your wealth, look at successful businesspeople and copy their secrets to success. Try following these golden rules in order to increase your net worth:
1. Have patience. Build your wealth carefully and patiently. As any successful businessman will tell you, wealth doesn’t grow overnight. Each decision was weighed carefully and thoughtfully, without making any rash or impulsive mistakes.
2. Create a financial plan. Successful businesspeople don’t just make random decisions. They have a specific business plan, and they employ others (money managers) to help them. You can do the same thing, albeit on a smaller scale.
3. Invest carefully. Successful companies reinvest their profits in their own development. Keep building your business rather than taking out dividends and resting on your laurels.
4. Consistently monitor. Don’t just open a portfolio and walk away. Keep an eye on your levels of risk and asset allocation, consulting with your financial advisor on a regular basis. Markets and personal circumstances never remain static. So monitor the changes and make sure that your investments keep apace with your changing world.
Dor Yeshorim’s take on a reader’s argument… (See Chronicles July 20)
We at Dor Yeshorim saw your response to the recent letter about our program and appreciate your thoughtful answer.
As you stated, we have upheld our rules for over 29 years, and as you discerned, the rules are based on experience and care. While some would accuse us of being self serving, we would only point out that serving the program to make sure it works as well for future generations as it works today would be described as “serving klal Yisroel.”
Due to genetic screening and shidduchim being such sensitive issues, you can imagine how someone who doesn’t understand why we have a particular rule would tend to believe that there couldn’t be a good reason for it. Rather than go through all the reasons for the many rules the program must impose, we would like to ask that Torah observant Yidden at least give us the benefit of the doubt – even if they cannot “think favorably” – and assume that in light of our vast experience and knowledge of our program, we are doing the best we can, in their best interest and in the interest of klal Yisroel.
With regard to your reader’s specific concern, please know that it pains us not to be able to break the rules for him, but the program’s integrity and its confidentiality for all participants are at stake.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Sincerely, Rabbi Yosef Ekstein Dor Yeshorim Inc.
Marijuana: A menace in our midst
With sadness and distress, I wanted your opinion and advice about the terrible predicament – the rise in marijuana abuse within the frum community. I believe that this abuse has come about due to the mistaken notion that the use of marijuana is, firstly, not against halacha, and secondly, not harmful to one’s health. While to me it seems obvious that both of these notions are completely wrong, I feel that many find being a Torah Jew and drug addict not contradictory.
The use of marijuana is a violation of halacha. As Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l writes in Igros Moshe, Yoreh De’ah Vol. 3, Siman 35: “smoking marijuana is in violation of many of the basic laws of our Torah.” He explains that marijuana (1) causes physical harm to the person, (2) mentally affects the person by destroying the mind (one cannot properly perform any mitzvos, and doing them mindlessly is considered as if they were not done at all).
Rav Moshe also explains that a marijuana abuser has similar attributes to a Ben Sorer U’Moreh (the rebellious son), since they cannot control their addictions. He also sees marijuana abuse as a violation of the mitzvah of Kedoshim Ti’Hiyu (You shall be holy) and the mitzvah of Kibud Av v’Aim (respecting parents).
Marijuana is very harmful to one’s health as it damages the cells in the bronchial passages which protect the body against inhaled microorganisms and decreases the ability of the immune cells in the lungs. Regular smoking has been shown to weaken the smoker’s various natural immune mechanisms, affecting the body’s ability to defend itself against infection.
As someone who knows many Torah Jews who justify the abuse of marijuana, I was curious what we as individuals can do about this horrific plight. I realize that your column is a forum for important issues facing our community, and it has been a source of inspiration and help to many in need.
What do you think is the most effective way to combat this pervasive problem facing the young Orthodox Jewish community?
You certainly have right and reason to be concerned. As you so persuasively point out, the habit of smoking pot is detrimental to one’s physical and mental wellness. Are our young smokers aware that the cannabis plant contains over 400 chemical compounds and that use of its dried flowers, leaves and stems (marijuana) is known to affect not only their brains but their lungs as well — that marijuana smoke is more than twice as carcinogenic than cigarette smoke?