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June 29, 2016 / 23 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘save’

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

Neglect To Save

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

The day was getting longer and the weather warmer. A group of boys got together in the park after school to play ball. They piled their knapsacks together in the corner of the court.

After a few games, the sky grew dark. “It looks like it’s about to pour,” Aharon said.

The boys gathered their belongings and headed home. Aharon was the last to leave. He noticed a book lying where the knapsacks had been piled, but ignored it and hurried off. Ten minutes later, the skies opened and it began to rain heavily.

The following day, Aharon saw that his friend Shimmy looked upset. “What’s the matter?” Aharon asked.

“A book fell out of my knapsack yesterday in the park,” Shimmy replied. “I went back to check this morning, but the book got completely ruined in the rain.”

“I saw a book lying there yesterday,” Aharon said. “I was worried about the rain.”

“You saw it?!” exclaimed Shimmy. “Why didn’t you take it with you?”

“I didn’t realize it was yours…” Aharon answered.

“You still should have taken the book,” said Shimmy. “Whosever it was, you could have saved it.”

“You’re right,” acknowledged Aharon. “I wasn’t thinking and didn’t want to be bothered.”

“It was an expensive book and cost almost $100,” added Shimmy. “I need it for class and will have to buy a new one. It’s a shame you didn’t take the book; you knew that it belonged to one of the group. Anyway, there’s a mitzvah of hashavas aveidah.”

Although Shimmy didn’t ask, Aharon wondered whether he owed Shimmy anything. He called Rabbi Dayan and asked: “Does a person who ignored a lost item or neglected to prevent a loss carry any liability?”

“Preventing loss is also included in the mitzvah of hashavas aveidah,” answered Rabbi Dayan. “Nonetheless, one who neglected doing so is not liable, but there might be a moral obligation.”

“One example discussed in the poskim is a person who was entrusted with chametz before Pesach,” explained Rabbi Dayan. “The Shulchan Aruch writes that when Pesach arrives, the guardian should sell the chametz to a non-Jew. If he did not, he must burn it when the time for biur chametz arrives, and cannot assume the owner sold it. [The halacha might differ nowadays when the vast majority of people sell chametz.] Magen Avraham [443:5] writes that if the guardian neglected to sell the chametz and had to burn it, he is liable, because even an unpaid guardian is expected to take basic measures to protect the entrusted item.”

“However, most authorities disagree and maintain that even a paid guardian is not liable for the loss of the chametz,” continued Rabbi Dayan. “The guardian was entrusted to safeguard the chametz for the owner, not to sell it. The obligation to sell the chametz and prevent its loss is rooted in hashavas aveidah. One who sees a lost item and neglects to return it is not liable, unless he picked it up and thereby became responsible for it.” (Gra C.M. 348:23; Ketzos 61:21; Mishnah Berurah 443:12)

“Is there any moral obligation?” asked Aharon.

“Payment lifnim mishuras hadin, beyond the letter of the law, is mentioned regarding a highly respected person who finds a lost item that is beneath his dignity to retrieve,” answered Rabbi Dayan. “He is not obligated to tend to it, but one of the amoraim compensated the owner lifnim mishuras hadin. However, he may have paid to relieve himself of any responsibility whatsoever to retrieve the item.

“It remains unclear, though, whether one who neglected to tend to a lost item as required and it got ruined has a moral obligation afterward; the Ketzos and other achronim indicate that there would be some moral obligation.” (See Rama C.M. 2663:3; Pischei Choshen, Aveidah 1:3[8]; Pischei Teshuvah C.M. 28:4.)

Rabbi Meir Orlian

Jordan and Israel to Trade Water in New Venture

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

Jordanian Prime Minister Abdalla Ensour and his cabinet approved a new plan to trade water with Israel.  In a new Red Sea desalination project expected to cost $1 billion, Jordan will sell part of the resulting water to Israel in exchange for water from the Tiberias reservoir.

Middle East countries are known to face chronic water shortages.

“We will sell Israel water at a rate of JD1 per cubic metre and buy from them at a rate of JD0.3 per cubic metre. This process will save us the effort and cost of conveying water from the south to the northern governorates,” Ensour said, the Jordan Times reported.

According to Jordanian Minister of Water and Irrigation Hazem Nasser, the agreement is legal based on Article 2 of the peace treaty signed with Israel in 1994, and is of “strategic national interest” to Jordan.

JNS News Service

New Film Highlights Israel’s Strengths

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

In Brad Pitt’s latest offering, World War Z, a virus transforms human beings into zombies determined to overtake the world and destroy every country on Earth. In the film, only Israel has the foresight to build a massive zombie-repelling wall. 

One of the film’s central characters, Mossad agent Jurgen Warmbrunn, explains, “In the ’30s, Jews refused to believe we could be put in concentration camps. In the ’70s, we didn’t believe we could be massacred at the Olympics.” Warmbrunn notes that based on these experiences, Israel remains ready for any security threat, maintaining a defense infrastructure that surpasses all other nations.

Some observers see the zombie-resistant wall as representative of the real life Security Barrier that keeps Palestinian suicide bombers out of Israel. In addition to being proactive in security, the movie portrays Israel as a humanitarian country that permits uninfected Palestinians to enter so that they will not be harmed by zombies. “Every human being we save is one less zombie to fight,” remarks Jurgen. He adds that saving Palestinian lives is good for peace. This too reflects an Israel that honors the rights of its Arab citizens, works to save Palestinian lives, and serves as an inspiration to the Islamic world by treating persecuted minority groups, such as Ahmadi Muslims and Bahais, with dignity.

In World War Z, Israel is also portrayed as a country in which women are given equal opportunities. For example, the film features an Israeli warrior named Segen, played by Israeli actress Daniella Kertesz, who saves lives and helps distribute the zombie vaccine.

In reality, Israel is a pioneer in women’s rights, a country where women proudly serve in the Israel Defense Forces. It is also engaged in humanitarian missions that help other countries across the world, including fighting against gender-based violence in South Sudan, sending agricultural and medical assistance to Haiti, rescuing people trapped under a collapsed shopping mall in Ghana, bringing relief to victims of an Oklahoma Tornado, helping Hurricane Sandy Victims, treating victims of the Boston Marathon Bombing, and assisting first-responders at the Newtown Massacre. In a fictionalized form, World War Z highlights Israel’s innumerable contributions to the world and represents one of the most pro-Israel films ever made.

Visit United with Israel.

Rachel Avraham

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/united-with-israel/new-film-highlights-israels-strengths/2013/08/01/

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