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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Rabbi Akiva Males’

Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Actions Speak Louder…

Re “What Does It Mean to Be Pro-Israel?” (op-ed, March 23):

While many individuals and organizations claim to be pro-Israel, their actions belie that stance. M. J. Rosenberg, one of the writers mentioned by author Jonathan Tobin, has for many years now been launching virulent attacks against Israel, first with a syndicated weekly column and more recently with the liberal organization Media Matters.

Unfortunately, false pro-Israel claims are not limited to individuals but are also made by organizations such as Peace Now, J Street, and the New Israel Fund (among numerous others). Either they are self-delusional in their claims of being pro-Israel or they are deliberately downplaying their hostility to Israel. Nelson Marans Silver Spring, MD

Obama’s New Approach

One would have to be irredeemably credulous and naive to believe that Obama’s “new and more restrained approach” to Israel’s valid security imperatives stems from anything other than the urgent need to regain support of Jewish voters and especially donors in his reelection campaign (“New Focus on Obama and Israel,” editorial, March 23).

It is surely axiomatic that actions speak louder than words – even a carefully crafted speech to AIPAC – and it is surely a given that Obama’s animus toward Israel will resurface if he is reelected. Fay Dicker Lakewood, NJ

The Lesson From Egypt

The lower Parliament of Egypt unanimously voted that “Egypt will never be the friend or ally of the Zionist entity which we consider the first enemy of Egypt and the Arab nation.”

The Parliament also called upon the government “to revise all its relations and agreements with that enemy” and further declared that Egypt should pull its ambassador from Tel Aviv and immediately end natural gas exports to Israel.

This is not the final word from Egypt. The upper Parliament can refuse to follow the lower Parliament’s vote.

Unfortunately, Israel can only watch and wait to see whether the other shoe will drop to virtually end its “peace” with Egypt. Israel will also have to adjust its defensive and offensive postures pertaining to Egypt.

This vote demonstrates that an agreement with a Muslim country’s secular government can be a worthless document if Islamists take control of the country.

This is an inkling of what could happen to any agreement between Israel and a secular Palestinian entity. William K. Langfan Palm Beach, FL

Laws Regarding Modesty

In response to reader Laurie Dinnerstein-Kurs (Letters, March 16):

Although women have “thoughts” too, there is one major difference between the genders that I don’t need to spell out here; let’s just say it can cause a man to commit what according to halacha is a very serious transgression.

What is incomprehensible to me, however, is that you would pit your human intellect against your omniscient Creator, who mandated the laws of tznius, mechitza, and kol isha. Did it ever occur to you that maybe He knows something you don’t?

Your Creator is obligating you and all Jewish women to exercise restraint in those areas, and if you fail to comply with His directives because you feel inconvenienced, restricted and burdened then you are the one who has a serious problem, and that is very sad.

Men are required to avoid situations that could compromise the purity of their eyes and thoughts, but women are required to avoid behaviors that could cause Jewish men to stumble.

Having said that, I believe the men in Beit Shemesh were totally out of line and their behavior was not condoned by the rabbis. Chavi Hornig Brooklyn, NY

One Big Jewish Family

On Thursday, February 16, I witnessed something absolutely beautiful. The previous day I had received a phone call from a young man asking if he could bring a group of twenty teenaged boys to Kesher Israel Congregation – Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s Orthodox synagogue – on Thursday.

He explained that they were touring in the area, and while they could recite their morning prayers in their nearby hotel, they wanted to stop by in order to have a late-morning Thursday Torah reading. I told the caller our shul would gladly welcome his group.

When the group arrived, everything fell into place. The boys were all members of Panama’s Jewish community. While touring America for close to three weeks, they were on their way to Baltimore. After enjoying the previous afternoon on the slopes of a nearby skiing facility, they had spent the night in a nearby hotel.

The boys were all very respectful, well behaved, and got a real kick out of Blackie (our secretary’s trusty dog – a fixture in the shul’s weekday lobby). The group was of Sephardic origin, and I really enjoyed watching them take out and read from the Torah according to their customs. Our Torah was soon returned to the ark amid calls of “chazak u’baruch!” and “gracias!” I shared a short d’var Torah with the group, and they left in good spirits to tour Hershey’s Chocolate World.

Oh, What A Small Jewish World It Is…

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Kesher Israel Congregation’s daily minyan in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is often enhanced by travelers passing through who are happy to join us. These visitors cover the spectrum of Jewish practice, yet somehow joining in prayer lets us unite our all-too-often fractured people.

The other week I received a phone call from someone named Larry (all names in this story have been changed), a traveler who was in the area for a business meeting. He was eager to join us for our Tuesday afternoon Mincha/Maariv minyan. I gave him directions and was glad to welcome him when he arrived.

After services, I talked with Larry and learned that he was saying Kaddish for his recently deceased father. He was grateful that our minyan allowed him to keep up his perfect Kaddish reciting streak.

When Larry told me his last name was Klopstein (again, the names here have been changed) I felt the urge to play a little Jewish Geography and asked him if he was related to a wonderful couple in my parents’ Cleveland synagogue named Mr. and Mrs. Abe and Sarah Klopstein.

Larry immediately told me that Abe was a distant cousin, but they had fallen out of touch years ago. Before leaving, Larry handed me his business card and asked me to give his cousin Abe his regards the next time I was in touch with him.

I figured I would call my parents for a short “what a small world it is” conversation, and dialed my father’s cell phone. My father answered in a very subdued voice and told me he was still at shul in Cleveland; their minyan was just finishing.

When I asked my father if Abe Klopstein happened to be there at the minyan with him, I was thrilled when he replied, “Sure. Let me hand him the phone.”

I went on to tell Mr. Klopstein all about the man I had just met in Harrisburg, and there was a moment of silence.

“Larry’s father – the one he was reciting Kaddish for – was my first cousin,” he told me. “I hadn’t known that he passed away. Thanks for telling me, though.”

When I began to apologize for being the bearer of bad news, Mr. Klopstein stopped me and said, “Akiva, there’s no reason to apologize. Your phone call made my night.”

Mr. Klopstein sensed my confusion and continued, “You see, it’s been many years since the last time I saw my cousin’s son Larry. I can assure you that a shul for a Mincha/Maariv minyan is the last place in the world I would have imagined anyone bumping into Larry. You have no idea how happy you made me.

“Not only has Larry found his way back to shul, but even when he’s away on business, Larry goes out of his way to be at a minyan to recite Kaddish! I can assure you his father – my late cousin – is also very pleased. Akiva, thank you so much for calling.”

I gave Mr. Klopstein the contact information from Larry’s business card, and my father told me he left the shul in Cleveland smiling from ear to ear.

I’ve always felt Kesher Israel’s daily minyan is a special place. That night, however, it also had the merit of reconnecting two long-lost relatives and giving a wonderful man in Cleveland a true sense of comfort.

Rabbi Akiva Males is spiritual leader of Kesher Israel Congregation in Harrisburg, PA. He can be contacted at rabbimales@yahoo.com.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/oh-what-a-small-jewish-world-it-is/2010/09/01/

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