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December 6, 2016 / 6 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘rabbis’

A Rabbi’s Unusual Passover Message: ‘Eat Bread and Save Jews’

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

{Originally posted to the United with Israel website}

Ordinarily, a rabbi would be impressed to hear that a Jewish congressman had taken matzohs with him to an international conference that took place during the week of Passover.

Meyer Nurenberger, however, was not at all impressed by Congressman Sol Bloom’s boast about bringing matzohs to the Anglo-American conference on the refugee problem, held in Bermuda in April 1943.

It was the peak of the Holocaust. The Allies had confirmed that the mass murder of European Jewry was underway, but refused to take any concrete action to intervene.

To counter mounting public criticism of their hands-off policy, the British and American governments announced they would discuss the issue in a conference on the island of Bermuda, far from the prying eyes of demonstrators and the news media. Their intention was that “it will take place practically in secret, without pressure of public opinion,” the Zionist leader Nahum Goldmann surmised.

Congressman Sol Bloom of New York City, a former vaudeville entertainer, chaired the House Foreign Affairs Committee and strongly supported President Roosevelt’s restrictionist immigration policy. When Bloom was chosen as a member of the American delegation to the Bermuda conference, many in the Jewish community saw the choice as a ploy to deflect criticism of U.S. refugee policy. Assistant Secretary of State Breckinridge Long privately wrote in his diary that he chose Bloom because the congressman was known to be “easy to handle” and “terribly ambitious for publicity.”

The conference lasted 12 days, yet neither the U.S. delegation nor their British counterparts managed to come up with any serious rescue plans. The Roosevelt administration would not agree to the use of any trans-Atlantic ships to transport refugees, not even troop supply ships that were returning from Europe empty. There would be no increase in the number of refugees admitted to the United States. And the British refused to discuss Palestine as a possible refuge, because of Arab opposition. When the conference adjourned, the two governments decided to keep the proceedings of the conference secret, to mask how little they had achieved.

Congressman Bloom, however, announced that “as a Jew,” he was “perfectly satisfied” with the results. In his autobiography, published after the war, Bloom continued to defend the outcome of the Bermuda conference, arguing that any announcement of aid to the Jews would have led “to intensified persecutions.” Congressman Emanuel Celler (D-New York) characterized Bloom as “a sycophant of the State Department.”

Cong. Sol Bloom

Cong. Sol Bloom

Rabbi-turned-journalist, Meyer Nurenberger

Rabbi-turned-journalist, Meyer Nurenberger

 

It was shortly after Bermuda that Bloom encountered Meyer Nurenberger. The Polish-born Nurenberger, who had earned rabbinic ordination but opted for a career in journalism, arrived in the U.S. in 1939 and began working as a reporter and columnist for the Morgen Zhurnal, a leading Yiddish daily.

As Nurenberger later recalled, Bloom “told me that he took along matzohs when he left for Bermuda—it was the Passover season—because he was such a good Jew. So I told him that I thought it would have been more important for him to eat bread there and save some Jews rather than to eat matzohs. He was very angry and told me he was through talking to me.”

I asked Nurenberger’s daughter, the Canadian-Israeli journalist Atara Beck, about her father’s unusual choice of words. “My father was an ordained Orthodox rabbi, and of course he would never have wanted any Jew to eat bread on Passover,” she said. “He was making a point—and it was a powerful moral point—saving lives is more important than rituals such as eating matzoh. Every Jew, even a congressman, needs to be reminded of that from time to time.”

Nurenberger later cited a Talmudic anecdote to explain the phenomenon of prominent Jews who were more interested in fame and honor—such as serving on a U.S. government delegation—than in their welfare of the Jewish people. Nurenberger called it the “Mi BeRosh” [‘Who will be first?’] Syndrome.”

The anecdote, which appears in tractate Sanhedrin, concerns a Jewish king, Jeroboam, who caused a division of the Jewish commonwealth and even introduced idol worship, yet was given one last chance to repent. When Jeroboam died, the Talmud relates, God said to him, “If you repent, you and I and the Messiah will stroll together in the Garden of Eden.” To which Jeroboam replied, Mi beRosh? Who will be the one to walk at the head of the line? When God replied that Messiah would walk first, Jeroboam responded that he would not repent.

To which Nurenberger added this poignant commentary: “Since the days of Jeroboam, Mi BeRosh? has been the primary cause of lost opportunities and the greatest tragedies in Jewish history. Who will march at the front?  Who will sit on the dais? Who will be Man of the Year? Who will be the leader? Who will deliver the main speech? Who will introduce whom at a meeting? Who will be applauded by the ladies’ auxiliary? Mi beRosh? How many Jews would have been saved during World War II if it had not been for Mi beRosh?”

Dr. Rafael Medoff

Bennett Tells Chief Rabbi: I Don’t Consult with Rabbis on Matters of Policy

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

(JNi.media) Speaking to religious radio station Radio Kol Chai, Bayit Yehudi Chairman and Minister of Education and Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett on Wednesday morning that, “unlike Haredi MKs, I Don’t consult with rabbis on my political and actions and on policy.”

Bennett was referring to his recent row with Chief Rabbi David Lau, following Bennett’s visit to a Solomon Schechter Conservative school in the US last month. In the radio interview, Bennett said it was Rabbi Lau who chose to attack him, not the other way around: “I did not initiate the conflict, but the chief rabbi chose to attack me, and I told him ‘I’m sorry, but I’m the Minister of Diaspora.’”

Israel’s Chief Rabbi David Lau last week criticized Minister Bennett’s visit to Conservative congregations in the US and said it was clear that the minister did not consult with a rabbi about those visits. According to Lau, “the visit constitutes an acknowledgement of a movement that endangers the future of the nation of Israel.” Lau added that “if the Minister Bennett were to ask my opinion before the visit, I would have said explicitly. ‘You cannot go to a place where education is pushing Jews away from Jewish tradition, and from the past and future of the Jewish people.”

Following Lau’s remarks, Bennett stated: “Things were said today that should not be said by a senior leader of the Israeli public.” As to the rabbi’s rebuke, Bennett replied: “I, unlike Haredi MKs, don’t consult with rabbis on my political and actions and on policy. That’s the difference. In the movement which I lead, having been elected by the public, I consult in rabbis on halakhic issues, but not on policy issues. We see this a little differently. I’m not going to conduct myself as Minister of Education, nor as Minister for Diaspora Affairs by approaching the Council of Torah Sages on every issue.”

Rabbi David Lau’s cousin, the Jerusalem Ramban Synagogue’s spiritual leader Rabbi Benny Lau criticized the Chief Rabbi’s attack on Bennett. “If the chief rabbi supports Israel, he has to understand that they (non-Orthodox Jews) are our best ambassadors to the world,” Rabbi Benny Lau told Kikar Hashabbat. “If the chief rabbi has a dispute with their manner of worship — but what’s the connection to the State of Israel? Why mix things, why endanger the state?”

Rabbi Benny Lau stressed that the diplomatic relations between Israel and the United States do not allow boycotting the non-Orthodox. “You want to eliminate all our support in the world, have we gone mad? This is madness. They are our biggest supporters.”

Regarding Bennett’s decision to visit a Conservative school, Rabbi Benny Lau said: “I think Bennett did the right thing. I am the son of the Foreign Office employee who was consul in the US, and what I learned is that as a diplomat you have a responsibility to all the parts of the Jewish people without controversies, you do not engaged in the wars between different sectors and as a representative of everyone you accept responsibility for each and every one of them; so visiting the school as Bennett did was his duty. I say Naftali, more power to you.”

JNi.Media

Rivlin Embraces Reform and Conservative Jews as Part of ‘One Family’

Saturday, December 12th, 2015

President Reuven Rivlin embraced the Reform and Conservative movements in a speech to the New York UJA-Federation on Friday during his visit to the United States.

Rivlin, like his predecessor Shimon Peres, is a full-fledged secular Israeli and is silently uncomfortable with the authority of the Orthodox Rabbinate in Israel.

Two days after lighting the Hanukkah Menorah at the White House, Rivlin stated at the meeting, which included Orthodox Jewish leaders:

It is important for the State of Israel to show full respect and sensitivity to all American Jews. It is important that we remember, not only on Hanukkah that we are all one family.”

All communities represented here today share the love of Israel and a deep commitment to the future of the Jewish people and to the positive image of the State of Israel.

We must never forget that even the major differences between us are an honest expression of concern shared by all of us, whether we are Orthodox, Reform or Conservative.

No one questions his generalities, but when it comes down to specifics, Orthodox Judaism inherently cannot accept American “Jews” who are converted under non-Orthodox rabbis who do not accept traditional Jewish law.

It could be compared with the idea that the American Medical Association would accept alternative medical practitioners as “doctors” even though they have not studied in recognized medical schools.

President Rivlin tried to reach out to the common interests of all Jews, such as the nearly universal Jewish celebration of Hanukkah and the solidarity for victims of terror “in Israel and all over the world.”

Conservative Jewish Rabbi Steven Wernick complained that we “can’t do marriage, can’t do divorces [and] can’t do conversions” in Israel.

President Rivlin did not dip into the dangerous political waters of explicitly promoting the Reform and Conservative agenda for “equality in Israel, but he made it a point to call Wernick a “rav,” Hebrew for rabbi.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Arab Families Are Learning: Terrorists’ Glory Doesn’t Fill Their Bellies

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

Praises sung for the Palestinian Authority Arab murderers of four rabbis, a fifth Israeli worshipper and police officer who died in last year’s bloody massacre at the Har Nof synagogue in Jerusalem may create the illusion of Islamic family pride — but apparently the glory is filling no bellies, despite the best efforts of Arab media to pretend otherwise.

The independent Wattan news website dedicated a full article on November 18 to praising the two terrorists who carried out the hack-and-stab-and-shooting attack. The report referred to the horror as the “heroic Dir Yassin operation” and an “epos written by the heroes.” Dir Yassin is a reference to the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof, where Ghassan and Uday Abu Jamal chose to carry out their butchery and end their own lives.

The Wattan news agency also praised Ala’a Abu Jamal, another terrorist and family member of the Har Nof butchers. Abu Jamal was the terrorist who last month carried out a ram-and-stab attack in the middle of Jerusalem on Malchei Yisroel Street, murdering one rabbi and wounding three other people before he was shot and killed by a security guard.

But in a translation by the Palestinian Media Watch organization (PMW), a longer segment of the Wattan article reflects the changing reality in Arab Jerusalem, and possibly in the Palestinian Authority as well. Reading between the lines tells a tale of aching loss and real need — possibly even actual hunger. Widowed women in Arab society are placed in a very complex position, often for the rest of their lives.

“Nadia Abu Jamal, Martyr Ghassan’s wife, said in her answer regarding the first moments after she received the news of her husband’s death as a Martyr: ‘The news shocked and surprised me. Afterward, these feelings began to be mixed with pride over the scope and quality of the operation he carried out. Of course I did not expect this, and I am still hurting over his parting.’

Muawiyah Abu Jamal, Ghassan’s brother, said: …’all of the steps carried out by the occupation forces were harsh, but the harshest was the blowing up of our house that took place on the 6th of this past October, and which was meant to harm our resolve.’ He clarified that the fact that the occupation forces blew up the house of Martyr Ghassan caused direct damage to the homes of his 4 brothers, out of clear, methodical policy to collectively punish the family… Likewise, he noted that the Jerusalem district announced in the past, in a news item published in the media, that it would stand by the Martyrs’ families, but that until now it had not given any services or aid to the families who were harmed!

I called Martyr Uday Abu Jamal’s mother, who answered us in a voice full of sorrow at the parting of her son: ‘How I miss Uday.’ She added chokingly: ‘They sealed the house with cement, and drove us from it. Today we live in a rented house. All of our lives have changed since the operation, in which we take great pride.'”

One wonders how much pride the Abu Jamal elders, women and children really take in the butchery of those who should have been the heads of their families, supporting those who depend upon them for their daily needs. Clearly, the promises of the “Jerusalem district” that vowed to “stand by the Martyrs’ families” have proven as empty as the evil souls of the leadership that has led them and recent Arab children into the useless jaws of a far too early death.

Meanwhile, the mother of a trained, bloodthirsty killer chokes back her tears as she is left to confess that she misses her son and her lost home from which she was “driven.” But even while lamenting, “All of our lives have changed since the operation,” she is forced to tack on the words: “in which we take great pride.”

Hana Levi Julian

Fear of Muslim Hate Scaring US Jewish Leaders from Pro-Israel Rallies

Sunday, November 22nd, 2015

In a growing number of U.S. towns, Jews whose hearts ache over the terror faced by Israel and who are desperate to express their support, are starting to fear Arab hatred and the terror of radical Islam even more.

JewishPress.com has been asked to tell this story by an American rabbi who provided the information on condition that all identifying details be omitted “for the safety of those involved.” In particular, he requested that the location of the congregations involved be “blurred,” as he put it, in order “not to put Jews at risk.”

How scary is that?

“One of my congregants spoke to a friend whose son lives in a major Midwestern city where they had an Israel rally. They were greatly outnumbered by Palestinians,” he said. “That woman’s son called it a big disaster because it turned out to be great PR for the Palestinians, instead of support for Israel.”

As a matter of fact, the city in question had “10,000 Muslims show up to their rally,” according to the city police estimate.

Concerned rabbis who followed up raised the following question: “Without advertisement, we have no way to let those concerned citizens express their solidarity. With advertisement, how do we prevent this kind of fiasco?”

The rabbis also receive updates and security assessments from the Department of Homeland Security, which to its credit maintains contact with countless Jewish leaders and institutions.

“Clearly, I can’t give you a simple ‘it’s safe’ or not,” wrote one DHS official to the inquiring rabbi who asked during the summer of 2014 about the wisdom of joining a solidarity march for Israel.

“But, given the current situation in Gaza, it’s my opinion if the march was widely publicized prior to holding it, I wouldn’t be comfortable at all. If the group simply shows up, marches and departs, the risk would be much lower. As you know, there’s always a risk,” he wrote, adding that if the march is publicized “during or after, you also raise risk on existing Jewish facilities from retaliatory attacks.”

And that quiet warning was officially being transmitted more than a year ago, not in Europe, the Middle East or Scandinavia, but rather in the United States!

Below is a letter received by the same rabbi, who is among those who encourage their congregations to attend demonstrations of support for Israel. Note the emphasis on safety.

Dear Rabbi X:
As you know, these are tough times for our beloved Israel.
The Friends of Israel is having a public rally this Sunday, ______ , in the afternoon at the corner of _______________.
As you also may know at many other Israel rallies, scores of confrontational Palestinians have shown up, intimidated and stolen the PR. It becomes their hate fest instead of our peaceful rally in support of Israel’s right to self defense.
Will you please send this flyer out to your email contacts, call people and urge them to attend. Please speak about the rally at Shabbat services. Put this on Facebook, tweet, etc.
This is the time for all those who love and support Israel to come together; it is our responsibility!! Please do what you can to mobilize people. Even though people may only see Palestinian suffering, which ultimately Hamas has caused, on the news, we all know Israelis are suffering and being terrorized. My own family and several other friends have terrible stories.
We have a permit and police protection. This should be the safest place to be in _________ from ________ on Sunday! Thank you in advance for your support.
Rally for Israel

Hana Levi Julian

Rally against Violence Bars Religious MKs and Boos Right-Winger

Sunday, August 2nd, 2015

Those who blame others for the stabbings of homosexuals last week are tolerant – as long as you agree with them.

Organizers of last night’s Tel Aviv rally against violence and for support of the homosexual movement barred speakers who did not sign a pledge that they support the cause of homosexuals and lesbians.

They advised Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) Naftali Bennett, who asked to speak, that it would be wise for him to stay away.

The reason was clear when right-wing Likud Minister Yuval Steinitz spoke, or at least tried to speak. His call for non-violence was drowned by catcalls from the crowd.

One of the preachers for tolerance and non-violence was arrested by police when he surged toward the Steinitz as he was speaking.

Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) Knesset Member Yinon Magal, who strongly identifies with the national religious movement, also was scheduled to speak. However, when he arrived at the rally, he was told he had to sign a statement saying that he supports the homosexual movement. Magal said he does not speak “on condition,” refused to sign and was barred from addressing the crowd.

There were several religious leaders, such as Rabbi Benny Lau, who did speak, but the requirement for signing a pledge illustrates the rally organizer’s understanding of “tolerance.”

The rally originally was called in memory of the murder of a homosexual in Tel Aviv several years ago, but the stabbings of several people by a known psychopath at the parade for homosexuals in Jerusalem Friday, along with the arson-murder of a Palestinian Authority baby gave the organizers plenty of ammunition to preach non-violence and tolerance.

Preaching is one thing, Practice is another.

The organizers don’t want right-wingers and religious people to tolerate homosexuals. They demand acceptance and approval.

And if you don’t approve, you cannot be tolerated.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Orthodox Rabbis to Lobby near Rosh HaShanah against Deal with Iran

Thursday, July 30th, 2015

Rosh HaShanah marks the beginning of the “Ten Days of Repentance,” perfect timing for Orthodox rabbis to work on the conscience of Jewish Congressmen who have not joined the opposition to the nuclear agreement with Iran.

The Orthodox Union, better known as the OU for its symbol on foods it approves as kosher, sent out a letter to its affiliated rabbis and the Rabbinical Council of America that urged them to arrive in Washington on Sept. 9, less than a week before the Jewish New Year and Tens Days of Repentance leading to Yom Kippur begin.

The letter stated:

We are confident that hundreds of rabbis traveling to Washington on the eve of this vote and just days before Rosh Hashanah will have a highly visible and real impact upon this fateful vote in Congress.

We will only have this impact with your participation.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/orthodox-rabbis-to-lobby-near-rosh-hashanah-against-deal-with-iran/2015/07/30/

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