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December 4, 2016 / 4 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘search’

Weapons Seized, Terror Suspect Arrested Near El Khader

Saturday, October 8th, 2016

A weapons cache was seized and a terror operation was averted over the Sabbath by the alert response of police and military personnel at the security checkpoint near El Khader, which is north of the town of Efrat in Gush Etzion.

Israeli police and IDF Etzion Regional Brigade forces confiscated the arms after the haul was discovered during a routine search of a vehicle driven by an Arab resident of the Palestinian Authority.

The suspect was allegedly on his way to transfer the cache to a hiding place, IDF officials said.

Among the arms seized were three assault rifles, two ammunition magazines and a large quantity of bullets.

“This was a successful continuation of an operation that began in Dehaishe this morning,” the IDF said. “The suspect was arrested on charges of weapons possession and was transferred to security personnel for further questioning.

“This activity is part of the campaign against illegal weapons in Judea and Samaria. Since the beginning of 2016, more than 350 weapons have been seized, and 32 arms manufacturing facilities have been shut down.”

Hana Levi Julian

Israeli Security Force Captures Arab Weapons Dealer [video]

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

Israeli security forces captured an Arab weapons dealer Thursday night in a joint operation near the Palestinian Authority city of Halhul, in Judea.

The suspect was arrested while allegedly on his way to carry out a weapons deal.

He was pulled over by Israeli security forces, who then conducted a body search as well as a search of his vehicle, confiscating a Carlo Gustav submachine gun in the process.

Hana Levi Julian

IDF Bulldozers Level Land Along Southern Gaza Strip Border in Search of Tunnels

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

A team of IDF bulldozers entered inside the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday morning and proceeded to raze the lands past the border fence, Arab media reported. The Ma’an news agency cited local witnesses who said that five Israeli military bulldozers came through the Sufa crossing and entered about 50 yards into the strip, east of the city of Rafah.

They reported that the bulldozers were leveling the lands along the border fence.

The IDF has been crossing the Gaza Strip buffer zone frequently, with heavy machinery, since the 2014 war, in search of newly dug terror tunnels that lead underground into Israeli territory.

Arabs who work near the buffer zone on occasion attempt to attack, even fire on the machinery and are repelled with fire.

Ma’an complained that the practice has “destroyed much of the agricultural sector of the blockaded coastal enclave,” a loss that could be prevented by not digging any more tunnels into Israel.

And while Israel’s buffer zone defending its civilians against Gazan terrorists is quite narrow, Egypt has demolished more than 3,255 homes and other buildings on Gaza’s Egyptian border, to create its own buffer zone and eliminate smuggling tunnels, after a surge in attacks by Islamist terrorists. The Egyptian military destroyed nearly all buildings and farmland within about half a mile from the Gaza border, using uncontrolled explosives and earth-moving equipment.

In comparison, the incursions of IDF D9 bulldozers into Gaza are described even by local media as “limited.”


Getting Uncomfortable: The Jewish Search For Meaning On Campus

Friday, September 30th, 2016

After several meetings with a bright and affable Harvard sophomore who made it abundantly clear that he was a “devout atheist,” I was utterly confused.

As a rabbi and the director of MEOR programming at Harvard, I spend the majority of my time working to inspire, educate, and empower the budding Jewish leaders on campus. Though I dress with a modern flair, my rabbinic look, complete with a black velvet kippah, make it clear to all that mine is a traditional, theistic view of life.

Granted, we always met in a trendy coffee shop, and the meeting came with an offer of a hot beverage or even a scoop of ice cream, but he rarely took advantage of those perks. So I wondered what this unabashedly liberal student was really after.

“Why do you meet with me?” I finally inquired.

He fielded my question without batting an eye. It was simple, really. He was in search of purpose and meaning, and was hoping I had a healthy dose of it to spare.

On today’s competitive college campus, the pace is frenetic and allows for little time to focus on “trivial” matters, such as life’s meaning. Many of the students I meet are preoccupied with a great many things. They are hyper-focused on their problem sets, term papers, and numerous extracurricular activities, and are constantly haunted by the invisible voice of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) in the social sphere. It’s difficult to have a coherent thought about schoolwork with that kind of noise, and it’s almost impossible to find time to consider the “big questions.”

Even worse, one student recently told me he believes many students have no interest in developing genuine friendships, only welcoming the advances of those who can help them get ahead socially or scholastically. In this setting, it is no wonder that so many students are gasping for spiritual air. Amid all the tumult, a need for quiet arises, as well as a desire to think about something else entirely, something more substantial – even if that something propels them into uncomfortable territory.

Which brings me to the struggle on campus to define the role of college itself. Some believe it is a place for the unabashed intellectual freedom of ideas, no matter their source. As a recent letter from the University of Chicago to incoming students explains: “At U of C, you will find that we expect members of our community to be engaged in rigorous debate, discussion, and even disagreement. At times, this may challenge you and even cause discomfort.”

The opposing view believes that college must provide a comfortable intellectual environment without forcing discomfort, even at the expense of learning. As Harry Lewis, the former dean of Harvard, suggests: “Ensuring that the intellectual and emotional environment is ‘comfortable’ for students is an almost unquestioned priority in American higher education, even at Harvard – in spite of the fact that real learning about values can take place only when one’s own values are challenged.”

In light of events at several American institutions over the past year, it appears as though most colleges agree with Mr. Lewis, making the University of Chicago perspective a minority viewpoint. But this means we have reached a paradox.

For many, the college environment is entirely bereft of meaning, and they begin actively seeking out something they can define as meaningful. But that very search leads to deep questions about life, heritage, and spirituality. Jewish students find themselves questioning the materialistic perspective held by so many in their circles, pondering the implausibility of Jewish survival through the ages, and considering their roles in the global Jewish community. Undoubtedly, these questions will challenge their initial assumptions to the point of internal discomfort, a position that many millennials would deem inappropriate and unfair.

However, this is where love comes in. Institutions are notoriously poor at providing love or forging relationships based on trust. Yet those are the two main ingredients required to create a “safe space” for those who are developing rapidly in an academic jungle, as well as the only true way to coax them into exploring viewpoints and experiences that were non-existent in their formative years.

My job as a campus rabbi is to lead students down that path of internal and external exploration, enveloping them in enough warmth and encouragement that they are not only able to embrace the discomfort the process produces but figure out how to grow from it.

Every student I encounter understands I have chosen this calling because I believe a human being only reaches his or her potential when life is cosmically meaningful and I want them all to reach their greatest potentials because I care. Whether I end up on the same page as a student is essentially inconsequential, as what makes the students great is their willingness to tackle uncomfortable questions. That ability is something they can take with them the rest of their lives. It is, in fact, the key to finding true meaning in every area of life.

I met with the “devout atheist” several more times throughout the semester and slowly realized I was no longer the one asking the questions. One day he asked me the mother of all theological questions: “Why do you believe the Torah is true?” A satisfied smile stretched across my face.

It was at that moment that I knew our meetings had been truly successful. He had asked a question whose implications were cosmic and quite likely immensely uncomfortable. And yet that’s exactly where he wanted to be.

Rabbi Yoni Ganger

Head of Search in TA Building Collapse, as 3rd Dead Discovered: Time Not on our Side

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016

“Time is not on our side,” said Home Front Command chief for the Metropolitan Tel Aviv District Colonel Amir Ulu, who described the challenges facing hundreds of rescue workers at the collapsed building where three have died—the third victim discovered Tuesday morning—and 23 injured so far. On Monday night the rescuers lost contact with two victims who until then could be heard from under the layers of dirt and destruction. “The more time passes, the more problematic it becomes to find living victims, although in the past we’ve rescued collapse victims after 30 hours,” Ulu said.

Rescue worker with dog at the site of the building collapse September 5, 2016 in Ramat Hakhayal, Tel Aviv.

Rescue worker with dog at the site of the building collapse September 5, 2016 in Ramat Hakhayal, Tel Aviv.

As dark was setting at the collapsed, 4-story parking garage under construction in Ramat HaKhayal in north Tel Aviv, the rescue teams mapped the construction site, but the dimensions and sheer mass of the detritus and debris posed a significant difficulty. “It can take us hours to reach each one of the mapped areas,” Yonatan Raz, Ulu’s deputy, told Walla. “But the command’s decision is that we’re not leaving. We have the capacity to remain here for 48 hours, with the hope of finding trapped victims who are still alive.”

The rescuers believe there are four more people under the collapsed structure. Overnight the site was flooded with high voltage lights and shifts were changed frequently, to maintain the workers’ alertness. The rescuers are fearing additional collapses in two spots, which they continue to monitor. “The structure has stopped moving, which is good news,” Ulu said Tuesday morning.

Ulu related that only a week ago, commanders from the Home Front Corp, Police and MDA underwent a course intended to regulate communications between them in the event of a major disaster, “And here we are, applying what we’ve learned, unfortunately,” Ulu concluded.

David Israel

The Search

Monday, June 6th, 2016

They say that happiness can be elusive and that both four-leaf clovers and the proverbial needles in haystacks are hard to find, but for me, none of those quests can compare to the hunt for a good raincoat.

My oldest daughter had just started high school when I first found the perfect raincoat. A black hooded poncho with a lightly rubberized finish, this thing was made for rainy days, shedding water like a champ and keeping me dryer than James Bonds’ legendary martinis. The length was just right, the hood stayed on when I needed it to and it was light enough to be packable while still substantial enough to stand up to regular wear. Maybe I looked a little like an overgrown bat when I wore it, particularly if and when I flapped my arms, but that was totally fine with me, because this was the best raincoat I had ever owned.Eller-060316-Poncho

Until one day it suddenly wasn’t.

It was a rainy Sukkos afternoon and walking home from my sister’s house, just one block from mine, I found myself soaked through. Holding my coat up to the light after I dried off, I could see through it, a clear sign that the waterproofing had started to flake off. The writing was on the wall: it was time to go shopping. Not that I could complain. By now, the same daughter who was starting high school when I bought the coat was married with three little kids.

You might think that replacing a raincoat is no big deal, but you would be wrong. I’m not quite sure why, but unless you are heading to stores that specialize in coats, raincoat season, at least in the greater New York area, is typically about four weeks long, starting in mid to late February. So, if you, like me, need to replace your coat in October, you may find yourself having a tough time just finding a raincoat, especially if you are genetically programmed to be thrifty and hate to spend too much on foul weather gear.

I know. In today’s day and age, you can find just about anything online, but I like to buy my raincoats in a store. I need to try them on, make sure they look good and are big enough for layering in slightly colder weather without being so baggy that I look like I am wearing a rubberized potato sack. Most importantly, I need to test-drive the hood to make sure it is big enough so that I don’t show up in shul Shabbos morning with the front of my sheitel dripping all over my face.

Eller-060316-RaincoatI waited till the end of winter, hit the stores and found plenty of raincoats. But surprisingly enough, none of them, except the really ugly ones, had hoods. I could hear my mother’s voice in my head, telling me to be practical and that it doesn’t matter what a raincoat looks like as long as it keeps you dry. I love you, Mom, but I have to respectfully disagree. When the weather is gloomy and you find yourself jumping puddles, a cute raincoat is the best way to brighten your day, so there was no way I was going to spend money on a coat that I didn’t like. As for the other coats, can someone please explain why anyone would make a raincoat that doesn’t have a hood? Not only do I have zero interest in having to deal with both a hat and a coat, I can’t imagine that the search for a rain hat that looks good is going to be a fun one. Thus ended my 2014 raincoat search. I prayed for sunny skies as often as possible and figured I would just manage with my slightly drippy raincoat.

Sandy Eller

In Search Of Jewish Identity

Friday, May 13th, 2016

The other day I was having a conversation with a Jewish intellectual and the question came up, as it often does, as to the nature of Jewish identity. What are we? What makes us Jewish? This has been one of the persisting debates about Jewish life ever since the nineteenth century. Until then, people by and large knew who and what Jews were. They were the heirs of an ancient nation who, in the Sinai desert long ago, made a covenant with God and, with greater or lesser success, tried to live by it ever since. They were God’s people.

Needless to say, this upset others. The Greeks thought they were the superior race. They called non-Greeks “barbarians,” a word intended to resemble the sound made by sheep. The Romans likewise thought themselves better than others, Christians and Muslims both held, in their different ways, that they, not the Jews, were the true chosen of God. The result was many centuries of persecution. So when Jews were given the chance to become citizens of the newly secular nation states of Europe, they seized it with open arms. In many cases they abandoned their faith and religious practice. But they were still regarded as Jews.

What, though, did this mean? It could not mean that they were a people dedicated to God, since many of them no longer believed in God or acted as if they did. So it came to mean a race. Benjamin Disraeli, converted to Christianity by his father as a young child, thought of his identity in those terms. He once wrote, “All is race – there is no other truth,” and said about himself, in response to a taunt by the Irish politician Daniel O’Connell, “Yes, I am a Jew, and when the ancestors of the right honorable gentleman were brutal savages in an unknown island, mine were priests in the temple of Solomon.”

The trouble was that hostility to Jews did not cease despite all that Europe claimed by way of enlightenment, reason, the pursuit of science and emancipation. It could now, though, no longer be defined by religion, since neither Jews nor Europeans used that as the basis of identity. So Jews became hated for their race, and in the 1870s a new word was coined to express this: anti-Semitism. This was dangerous. So long as Jews were defined by religion, Christians could work to convert them. You can change your religion. But you cannot change your race. Anti-Semites could only work, therefore, for the expulsion or extermination of the Jews.

Ever since the Holocaust it has become taboo to use the word “race” in polite society in the West. Yet secular Jewish identity persists, and there seems no other way of referring to it. So a new term has come to be used instead: ethnicity, which means roughly what “race” meant in the nineteenth century. The Wikipedia definition of ethnicity is “a category of people who identify with each other based on common ancestral, social, cultural, or national experiences.”

The trouble is that ethnicity is where we came from, not where we are going to. It involves culture and cuisine, a set of memories meaningful to parents but ever less so to their children. In any case, there is no one Jewish ethnicity: there are ethnicities in the plural. That is what makes Sefardi Jews different from their Ashkenazi cousins, and Sefardi Jews from North Africa and the Middle East different from those whose families originally came from Spain and Portugal.

Besides which, what is often thought of as Jewish ethnicity is often not even Jewish in origin. It is a lingering trace of what Jews absorbed from a local non-Jewish culture: Polish dress, Russian music, North African food, and the German-Jewish dialect known as Yiddish along with its Spanish-Jewish counterpart Ladino. Ethnicity is often a set of borrowings thought of as Jewish because their origins have been forgotten.

Judaism is not an ethnicity and Jews are not an ethnic group. Go to the Western Wall in Jerusalem and you will see Jews of every color and culture under the sun, the Beta Israel from Ethiopia, the Bene Israel from India, Bukharan Jews from central Asia, Iraqi, Berber, Egyptian, Kurdish and Libyan Jews, the Temanim from Yemen, alongside American Jews from Russia, South African Jews from Lithuania, and British Jews from German-speaking Poland. Their food, music, dress, customs and conventions are all different. Jewishness is not an ethnicity but a bricolage of multiple ethnicities.

Besides which, ethnicity does not last. If Jews are merely an ethnic group, they will experience the fate of all such groups, which is that they disappear over time. Like the grandchildren of Irish, Polish, German and Norwegian immigrants to America, they merge into the melting pot. Ethnicity lasts for three generations, for as long as children can remember immigrant grandparents and their distinctive ways. Then it begins to fade, for there is no reason for it not to. If Jews had been no more than an ethnicity, they would have died out long ago, along with the Canaanites, Perizzites and Jebusites, known only to students of antiquity and having left no mark on the civilization of the West.

So when, in 2000, a British Jewish research institute proposed that Jews in Britain be defined as an ethnic group and not a religious community, it took a non-Jewish journalist, Andrew Marr, to state the obvious: “All this is shallow water,” he wrote, “and the further in you wade, the shallower it gets.” He continued:

The Jews have always had stories for the rest of us. They have had their Bible, one of the great imaginative works of the human spirit. They have been victim of the worst modernity can do, a mirror for Western madness. Above all they have had the story of their cultural and genetic survival from the Roman Empire to the 2000s, weaving and thriving amid uncomprehending, hostile European tribes.

This story, their post-Bible, their epic of bodies, not words, involved an intense competitive hardening of generations which threw up, in the end, a blaze of individual geniuses in Europe and America. Outside painting, Morris dancing and rap music, it’s hard to think of many areas of Western endeavour where Jews haven’t been disproportionately successful. For non-Jews, who don’t believe in a people being chosen by God, the lesson is that generations of people living on their wits and hard work, outside the more comfortable mainstream certainties, will seed Einsteins and Wittgensteins, Trotskys and Seiffs. Culture matters…. The Jews really have been different; they have enriched the world and challenged it.

Marr himself is neither Jewish nor a religious believer, but his insight points us in the direction of this week’s parsha, which contains one of the most important sentences in Judaism: “Speak to the whole assembly of Israel and say to them: Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.” Jews were and remain the people summoned to holiness.

What does this mean? Rashi reads it in context. The previous chapter was about forbidden sexual relationships. So is the next chapter. So he understands it as meaning, be careful not to put yourself in the way of temptation to forbidden sex. Ramban reads it more broadly. The Torah forbids certain activities and permits others. When it says “Be holy” it means, according to Ramban, practice self-restraint even in the domain of the permitted. Don’t be a glutton, even if what you are eating is kosher. Don’t be an alcoholic even if what you are drinking is kosher wine. Don’t be, in his famous phrase, a naval bireshut ha-Torah, “a scoundrel with Torah license.”

These are localized interpretations. They are what the verse means in its immediate context. But it clearly means something larger as well, and the chapter itself tells us what this is. To be holy is to love your neighbor and to love the stranger. It means not stealing, lying, or deceiving others. It means not standing idly by when someone else’s life is in danger. It means not cursing the deaf or putting a stumbling block before the blind, that is, insulting or taking advantage of others even when they are completely unaware of it – because God is not unaware of it.

It means not planting your field with different kinds of seed, not crossbreeding your livestock or wearing clothes made of a forbidden mixture of wool and linen – or as we would put it nowadays, respecting the integrity of the environment. It means not conforming with whatever happens to be the idolatry of the time – and every age has its idols. It means being honest in business, doing justice, treating your employees well, and sharing your blessings (in those days, parts of the harvest) with others.

It means not hating people, not bearing a grudge or taking revenge. If someone has done you wrong, don’t hate them. Remonstrate with them. Let them know what they have done and how it has hurt you, give them a chance to apologise and make amends, and then forgive them.

Above all, “Be holy” means “Have the courage to be different.” That is the root meaning of kadosh in Hebrew. It means something distinctive and set apart. “Be holy for I the Lord your God am holy” is one of the most counter-intuitive sentences in the whole of religious literature. How can we be like God? He is infinite, we are finite. He is eternal, we are mortal. He is vaster than the universe, we are a mere speck on its surface. Yet, says the Torah, in one respect we can be.

God is in but not of the world. So we are called on to be in but not of the world. We don’t worship nature. We don’t follow fashion. We don’t behave like everyone else just because everyone else does. We don’t conform. We dance to a different music. We don’t live in the present. We remember our people’s past and help build our people’s future. Not by accident does the word kadosh also have the meaning of marriage, kiddushin, because to marry means to be faithful to one another, as God pledges himself to be faithful to us and we to him, even in the hard times.

To be holy means to bear witness to the presence of God in our, and our people’s, lives. Israel – the Jewish people – is the people who in themselves give testimony to One beyond ourselves. To be Jewish means to live in the conscious presence of the God we can’t see but can sense as the force within ourselves urging us to be more courageous, just and generous than ourselves. That’s what Judaism’s rituals are about: reminding us of the presence of the Divine.

Every individual on earth has an ethnicity. But only one people was ever asked collectively to be holy. That, to me, is what it is to be a Jew.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/jewish-columns/rabbi-lord-jonathan-sacks/in-search-of-jewish-identity/2016/05/13/

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