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Posts Tagged ‘Sabbath’

Tomchei Shabbos Of Miami Serves Needy Families

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Tomchei Shabbos of Miami was founded in 2009 by students of Rabbi Friedberg of North Miami Beach. Every Friday the organization distributes kosher food to more than seventy families throughout South Florida. Tomchei Shabbos means “supporters of the Sabbath” and that is just what the organization does.

Preparing Tomchei Shabbos packages.

Tomchei Shabbos believes in helping the Jewish needy without making them feel needy. There is 100 percent confidentiality for recipients. The nonprofit organization is unique. All donations go directly toward the cause. There are no salaries. All work is done by volunteers.

Donations are needed of food, money, toys, etc. Volunteers are needed who can give time for packing and delivering. All packages are put together on Thursdays in a warehouse and delivered to families in need on Friday.

For more information visit tomcheishabbosofmiami.org, call 305-773-2033, or e-mail tomcheishabbosofmiami@hotmail.com to refer a family in need or to offer a donation.

Grounding Kings and Presidents

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Okay, I’ll start off by saying that I really don’t understand where some of these titles come from – but what can I do…I’m just the typist here. My brain says to the fingers – type it and they do…so don’t blame them, please.

I didn’t walk among kings last week, but I certainly walked among presidents, ministers, generals, former generals, and ambassadors. They walked somehow above the rest of us, occasionally stopping to speak to someone here or there. They were hustled in, hustled out. We were the audience, the children – told to stand (as if we did not know); told not to leave our seats for security reasons.

We were a bit awed, a bit nervous. They are but men, flesh and blood but when someone like Gabi Ashkenazi stands a short distance away, you hesitate to approach. When Peres comes into the room, your mind fills with questions and you wonder if you should ask. I did approach; I did ask. I pushed myself by reminding myself that I have as much right to share in the sunshine of this world as they do, to question what my country is doing and where it is going. It is the future of my children; I am their mother.

After two full days, I was ready for the quiet that is my home. I woke Friday morning to the task of making challah and as I kneaded the dough, I thought about the week. My success of the day was not measured in international agreements brokered among diplomats and journalists, but on whether my dough would rise and if the bread that would be baked would be sweet enough.

Hours later, the table set, two of my children received their father’s blessings and we watched as he cut the bread and gave each of us a piece. It was delicious – this fantastic recipe I got from Lauren months ago. I’ve changed it a bit – added mostly whole wheat flour, increased the honey by a bit. I braided six strands, which makes a lovely loaf – and we enjoyed it and it was as I was kneading and later as I was eating it that I thought about how we are grounded, as kings and presidents are not.

More than the simple task of making bread is the concept here. We can walk among presidents and kings all week long, but it is only as we ground ourselves on Friday and enter the Sabbath do we approach the True King. These men who spoke have voice but no real power. They do not determine the present and future of Israel, nor do the rockets that hit our land, even on Shabbat. As we entwine the strands of dough, we are entwined with our land, our people, our faith and most of all, with God. It is this act, of preparing the challah and caring for our families that Jewish women have done for centuries, millennium.

All week long, we can forget that. We can listen to politicians suggest that Israel can make peace if is surrenders this, concedes this, gives up that, forgets that. We can listen to academics play with lines on a map wondering if they notice, perhaps, that the line just happens to go through someone’s living room, and we can wonder about whether this man’s perceived crisis is really more about him than about us. And then we can come home, add yeast and flour, eggs and water and honey and salt, We can watch the dough rise, a promise that Shabbat is coming soon.

And we can bake it, letting the house fill with the most amazing scents. We can thank our married children as they stop by to bring a salad for us, or as they call and wish us a peaceful Shabbat. We put the freshly baked bread on the table, light the Shabbat candles as we close our eyes and pray for peace. No, not the peace of these kings and politicians, but true peace that comes from the heart and in the heart.

And then, as the candles burn and we sit around, we have that first taste of the challah and know we have been truly blessed, truly grounded and truly honored to walk with the King.

Schatz’s Gambit

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

Bezalel: Art, Craft & Jewish National Identity
Herbert & Eileen Bernard Museum of Judaica
One East 65th Street
Sunday – Thursday 10am – 4:30pm or by appointment
212 744 1400 x 313; museum@emanuelnyc.org
emanuelnyc.org/exhibits/bezalel
Until August 31, 2012

Boris Schatz (1866 – 1932) had a revolutionary vision. He believed that the creation of a new modern Jewish visual culture would become a major force to both articulate a Jewish national identity and sustain the Zionist enterprise. In 1904 he approached Zionist leader Theodor Herzl with the proposal to establish a national arts and crafts school in Palestine and got his blessing. Tragically Herzl died later that year, but the Zionist leadership in Vienna assumed responsibility for the project and its funding. In 1906 Schatz arrived in Palestine with two teachers and two students and set about to create not only a national school that would inspire the new Jewish identity, but also help sustain the fledgling pioneers by promoting tourism and creating an export commodity – Jewish craft. His heroic vision is expertly explicated for us by curator David Wachtel at the current exhibition at the Bernard Museum of Judaica at Temple Emanu-El.

And what to call the new Zionist art school? “Bezalel,” of course, after the first Jewish craftsman who had the “spirit of God, in wisdom and in understanding and in knowledge and in all kinds of workmanship” (Shemos 31:2) to fashion God’s dwelling place in the wilderness. Schatz established the cultural model wherein the biblical past authorized the future vision for a Jewish homeland and modern culture. Interestingly enough, as radical as his Zionist Art project seemed, it was at its core deeply conservative as a cultural movement, openly spurning the modernist revolution that was sweeping Europe in the early 20th century. The attempt to create a Jewish nationalist art needed other tools.

Schatz was born in Lithuania, went to yeshiva and then art school. While he was drawn to the early Zionist movement he studied art in Vilnius, Warsaw and Paris and developed into an accomplished sculptor. 1n 1895 he was invited by the King of Bulgaria to become the official court sculptor and establish the Royal Academy of Art, working to forge a Bulgarian national identity through art workshops and home craft industries. In the tumult following the horrifying 1903 Kishinev massacre, Schatz turned his attention again to Zionism, but this time with a vision of an art and craft movement that would lead the Jews to their homeland. Boris Schatz exclaimed “Art is the soul of the nation,” and this could have easily been the anthem of the new movement.

The school he established in Jerusalem promoted a late 19th century academic style in combination with aspects of Art Nouveau. It espoused a romantic view of Jewish life in Palestine, promoting an oriental exoticism of Jews in “biblical” garb, espousing the traditional religion even though the artists were mostly estranged from traditional practice or sensibility.

Tunisian Boy (late 1930s) by Moshe Murro (1888 – 1957) is typical of the style and craft produced by the Bezalel School. These plaques concentrated on Jewish themes and Jewish “types,” emphasizing the young man’s peyosand exotic turban as framed by arabesques of braided filigree silver. The school featured many different departments including workshops for metalwork, carving in wood, stone, ivory, and shell, ceramics, carpet weaving, basketry, lithography and photography. The initial goal was to provide employment for the “impoverished Jews of Ottoman-ruled Jerusalem by producing goods for local tourists as well as export to the Jews of the Diaspora.”

Damascene Vase & Plate (1913), Brass, silver & copper. Bezalel School Moldovan Family Collection

Highly skilled craft was a hallmark of the Bezalel style and this Damascene Vase & Plate (1913) is no exception. Inlayed silver and copper on a brass base and the intricate floral patterns evoke an eastern opulence within a sensuous Turkish form making it a very handsome export item. Good for business but questionable as the expression of a new Jewish sensibility.

Ephraim Moshe Lilien (1874-1925), one of the best known Jewish artists of the time, was an accomplished illustrator when he joined Bezalel as its first instructor. Although he only stayed in Palestine for a short while, he was extremely influential in forming the school’s dominant graphic style. The drawing, Sabbath (1906), seems to be emblematic of some aspects of the Bezalel approach. It depicts “the seventh day of Creation: ensconced in the celestial realm, the enthroned figure of God is flanked by two angels whose mighty wings obscure the Divine Countenance.” Adam and Eve below, here nude are sheltered “by the Tree of Knowledge.” The work is filled with contradictions, nudity aside. Adam and Eve were first expelled from Eden, had to clothe themselves and then came the first Sabbath, outside the Garden and away from the Tree of Knowledge. Either Lilian is representing a vision of an ultimate return to Eden or simply a confused chronology. Regardless, his idiosyncratic use of biblical imagery is radically outside the realm of traditional Judaism. And yet this is proposed as the basis of a new Jewish art for Palestine.

A Jewish Father’s Letter To Abraham Lincoln

Friday, June 1st, 2012

The Jewish population of the United States in 1860 was somewhere between 150,000-200,000. Approximately 3,000 Jews fought on the Confederate side in the Civil War while 7,000 were found on the Union side.

President Abraham Lincoln’s administration was marked by a few noteworthy incidents affecting the Jews as a body, the most important being the attempt to appoint a Jewish chaplain in 1861-62,1 and the proposed expulsion of the Jews “as a class” from within the lines of General Grant’s army in 1862-63.2

On two occasions Lincoln was sharply criticized by the Jews for his objectionable phraseology. In his first inaugural address he said that “Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him who has never yet forsaken this favored land are still competent to adjust in the best way our present difficulty.”3

Clearly Jews were not pleased with his reference to Christianity and the blatant exclusion of other religions.

In his November 15, 1862 General Order Respecting the Observation of the Sabbath Day in the Army and Navy, Lincoln announced:

The importance for man and beast of the prescribed weekly rest, the sacred rights of Christian soldiers and sailors, a becoming deference to the best sentiments of a Christian people, and a due regard for the Divine will demand that Sunday labor in the Army and Navy be reduced to the measure of strict necessity.4

This order, which made no mention of soldiers of other religions, generated a fair amount of discussion in Jewish circles. It also elicited a moving letter from a Mr. Bernhard Behrend, the father of an observant Jewish soldier who had enlisted in the Union Army:

To His Excellency Abraham Lincoln, the President of the United States5

By your order of the 16th day of November, 1862, you recommend that the officers and men of the army shall observe the Sabbath and do no work on Sunday, because we are a Christian people. But according to the Declaration of Independence and according to the constitution of the United States, the people of the United States is not a Christian people, but a free, sovereign people with equal rights, and each and every citizen of the United States has the right and liberty to live according to his own consciousness in religious matters, and no one religious denomination, be it a majority or minority of the people, can have a privilege before the other under this our beloved constitution.

Now by the order of your Excellency you give the privilege to those officers and men in the army who by their religious creed do observe the Sunday as a holy day and a day of rest; but you make no provision for those officers and men in the army who do not want to observe the Sunday as a holy day, (as for instance those Christians called the Seventh-day Baptists and the Jews, who observe the Saturday as a holy day and a day of rest,) that they may enjoy the same privilege as those who observe the Sunday as a holy day, as well as for the heathen or the so called infidels, who do not want to celebrate either the Sunday or the Saturday as a Sabbath, but choose perhaps some other day as a day of rest.

Now I stand before you as your namesake Abraham stood before G-d Almighty in days of yore, and asked, “Shall not the Judge of all earth do justice?” So I ask your Excellency, the first man and President of all the United States, Shall you not do justice? Shall you not give the same privilege to a minority of the army that you give to the majority of it? I beseech you to make provision, and to proclaim in another order, that also all those in the army who celebrate another day as the Sunday may be allowed to celebrate that day which they think is the right day according to their own conscience; and this will be exactly lawful, as the Constitution of the United States ordains it, and at the same time it will be exactly according to the teaching of the Bible, as recorded in Leviticus xix. 18: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

No Peeking…

Friday, May 4th, 2012

A mother in Beitar Illit (pronounced “ee-leet”), in the Judean Mountains west of Gush Etzion, 6 miles south of Jerusalem, lights Shabbat candles together with her daughter.

Beitar Illit, named after the ancient Jewish city of Beitar, was established in 1984 and initially settled by a small group of young Religious Zionist families. The city has since expanded and the population is expected to reach 100,000 by 2020.

Closing Our Eyes To The New Haman (Part II)

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Last week I described some prophecies concerning the wakeup calls that would come to our people when the arrival of Mashiach was near. Unfortunately, we have yet to attune ourselves to the sound of those footsteps.

Had you heard the prophecies of which I wrote when they were first uttered centuries ago, you might have laughed and scoffed. Even if you had read them as recently as 1970, you would have been hard put to believe it, for of all the Muslim countries, the Shah’s Iran was probably the friendliest to Israel and the U.S. But today the impossible has become possible, and events are unfolding so rapidly that we have difficulty absorbing their impact. So how are we to understand it all?

Before I answer that question, I must ask my readers’ forbearance. I am going to repeat some of the things I wrote on this subject a few months ago because I believe it is so absolutely crucial for our people to finally wipe the slumber from their eyes and realize what is going on.

The Yalkut compares our suffering to birth pangs. But birth pangs are deceptive; when the contractions begin, it’s easy to ignore them since they are mild and occur at long intervals. As birth becomes imminent, however, the contractions become more frequent, the pain more intense. And just when it appears the woman can no longer endure the pain, the baby is born and new life enters the world.

Labor pains are what we are now seeing in terms of world events. How long will the pains last? It’s anyone’s guess, but one thing is certain: please G-d, the birth is sure to take place. In the interim, however, we may ask whether it’s possible to ease the suffering and to protect ourselves from these painful contractions.

Every woman in labor needs help to ease her pain and speed the birth of her child. So too we need help to lessen our pain and hasten the coming of Mashiach. We have been blessed by our sages, who have the perfect formula to assure us an easy and painless birth. “Let he who wishes to be spared the birth pangs of Messiah occupy himself with Torah and gemilas chasadim (acts of loving-kindness) and let him be scrupulous about Seudah Shlishis – the third Sabbath meal.”

The first two recommendations – Torah and gemilas Chasidim – are self-explanatory and do not require much elaboration, for he who is committed to Torah and mitzvos and to reaching out with loving-kindness, must, of necessity, become a better, more spiritual person.

But eating a third Sabbath meal is not as readily comprehensible. We are enjoined to have three seudos on the Sabbath: Sabbath eve (Friday night), Sabbath noon (following prayer in the synagogue) and the third seudah in the late afternoon as the Sabbath Queen prepares to depart. Through these three meals, we honor the three Patriarchs, the three sections of our Holy Writ (Torah, Prophets, and the Writings), and we also recall the three Sabbath meals of manna G-d provided us during our sojourn in the wilderness (Exodus 16:25).

The final Sabbath seudah is called Shalosh Seudos, which translated literally means “three meals” rather than Seudah Shlishis – the third meal. Our sages explain that the reason for this is that all three Sabbath seudos are embodied in this one.

This third meal presents a most auspicious time for prayer. And to this day, when I close my eyes, I can hear the sweet voices of my revered father and beloved husband of blessed memory leading their congregations in singing Psalm 23, the psalm that is traditionally chanted at Shalosh Seudos: Hashem is my Shepherd, I shall not want…”

The task of the shepherd is a lowly and lonely one. Day in and day out he is destined to wander from place to place seeking pasture for his flock; and yet David did not hesitate to refer to G-d as a shepherd, for he perceived that G-d’s love is so total, so encompassing, that when it comes to caring for His children, nothing is beneath Him.

What a magnificent and fortifying thought – for no matter where life takes us, even if we have to walk in the treacherous valley overshadowed by death, we need not fear, for G-d, our Shepherd, will always be there to lead us to greener pastures, even if at first we do not realize the pastures will be greener.

Still, it is difficult to comprehend how the mere eating of a third meal, singing Psalm 23, and discussing words of Torah could have such awesome power that they can actually protect us from the suffering that will accompany the birth pangs. But there is a profound lesson at the root of this teaching.

The first two Sabbath seudos are eaten when we are hungry, but after a festive noontime seudah, we are hardly in the mood for yet another meal. So it is not to satiate our hunger that we gather around the Shalosh Seudos table. Rather, it is to celebrate the Sabbath and sing her praises, and that is why the Third Meal encompasses them all. The Third Meal is symbolic of the conversion of the physical to the spiritual and, ultimately, that is our purpose – to become spiritual beings and to free ourselves from the shackles of materialism – and that is something that our generation, obsessed with materialism and the pursuit of pleasure, has yet to learn.

Court clears Orthodox Jew for not carrying ID on Sabbath

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

(JTA) – An Orthodox Jew was found not guilty by a Hague appeals court of failing to produce an ID card on the Sabbath.

The man had faced a fine of nearly $200 for failing to prove his identity when requested to do so by police under a Dutch law.

Orthodox Jews are not permitted to carry any objects in a public place on the Sabbath.

The Hague appeals court ruled last week that the man’s religious requirement was more important than the law, according to Dutch News, citing the Telegraaf.

According to the newspaper, the minister who introduced the law was told at the time that it would present problems for Orthodox Jews, and he said then that it should be taken into account when the law was put into practice.

The public prosecutor could appeal the ruling.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/court-clears-orthodox-jew-for-not-carrying-id-on-sabbath/2012/02/21/

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