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September 3, 2015 / 19 Elul, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘shofar’

Grass Roots Jewish Groups Condemn NYC Jewish Leadership for Condoning BDS

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

For the second time in as many years, grass roots pro-Israel New Yorkers held a rally outside the NYC UJA Federation building and blasted their shofars to bring attention to what they are describing as a deficiency of leadership.

More than a hundred people showed up to hear speeches criticizing the NYC UJA-Federation, especially its president, Alison Doctoroff, for giving their hecksher to organizations that seek to financially harm Israel, and to join in the 100-strong Shofar blowing intended to focus attention on the problem.

The pro-Israel activists were protesting the decision made by the UJA-Federation and Jewish Community Relations Council leadership to allow groups which support boycotts of such iconic Israeli products as SodaStream and Ahava to once again march in the NYC Celebrate Israel Parade.

Beth Gilinsky, the president of the National Conference of Jewish Affairs, one of the organizational supporters, has been trying for many years to galvanize what passes for institutional Jewish leadership in the United States to take strong affirmative positions on behalf of Jews and the Jewish State. She sees the BDS (Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel) campaign as the latest anti-Semitic strategy, one for which too many Jews have fallen.

“Through heavily-funded tsunamis of lies, disinformation, and agitprop, BDS seeks to malign what is beautiful and positive and strong about Israel. BDS is evil and essentially anti-Semitic, passing off as expressions of ‘justice’ false accusations against Israel and Jews. Israel is not an ‘apartheid’ state, as the BDSers propound, but in so many ways is the one beacon of light and progress in a neighborhood teeming with brutality and oppression.

“Skyrocketing BDS has led to increased threats and violence against Jewish people, Jewish institutions, and property. Even our young Jews are not free of it, as BDS has provoked a widespread climate of aggression against Jewish students on American campuses. I urge every Jew, and every Jewish organization across the globe, to step forward as a united front at this time in history to challenge those — be they Palestinian Arab agitators or hard Leftist Israel-bashers — working overtime to ignite anti-Semitism and destroy Israel.”

Richard Allen, the force behind JCC Watch, served as the master of ceremonies for Monday’s rally. Allen explained why so much of the focus of the rally this year was on UJA-Federation president Alisa Doctoroff. Doctoroff is a major supporter of the New Israel Fund, which funds entities that advocate boycotts of Israeli products. The NIF was permitted once again to march in the Celebrate Israel parade, which the UJA Federation and the NYC JCRC oversee.

Allen made the point: “Some of these groups are marching in the Celebrate Israel Parade when their purpose is NOT to celebrate Israel, but to denigrate it.”

Participant at 101 Shofar rally in NYC to protest BDS advocates in Celebrate Israel Parade. May 11, 2015

Participant at 101 Shofar rally in NYC to protest BDS advocates in Celebrate Israel Parade. May 11, 2015

New Yorker Lauri Regan, representing the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), also spoke at Monday night’s rally. Regan spoke about the growing delegitimization of Israel across the globe, and in particular how it manifests on U.S. campuses.

Prayers from a Jewish Soul Soaring on a Skateboard

Monday, September 29th, 2014

A young man whose soul loves to fly in the sky even when his body is grounded found he can integrate both in a Torah-observant lifestyle.

Benad Even-Chen, 27, was not a “religious” Jew when he began to explore his roots in late adolescence. He was, however, a semi-pro skier, cello player and skateboard fiend.

By the age of 20 the restless young man was still searching, however, and began to head towards a Torah way of life.

Today Even-Chen is a student of Jewish learning at a Chabad-Lubavitch Yeshiva in Israel. And he can be seen flying around Jerusalem on his skateboard too, when he’s not jamming with other spiritual seekers on his cello.

Fave spots? The Old City of Jerusalem near the Tower of David, alongside the rampart walls, and in the “newer” part of the capital in the Mahane Yehuda open air market.

Skateboarding down the streets of Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda open air market at holiday time.

Skateboarding down the streets of Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda open air market at holiday time.

Even-Chen was caught by a camera on a special trip zooming down the market streets just before the Rosh HaShanah holiday this year, where he was spotted blowing a shofar for Jews who might not otherwise have had the chance to hear it. From his skateboard, of course.

Reflections On The Shofar

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

Autumn approaches. Before we even realize it, the weather begins to turn, the colors start to deepen. We prepare for a new season. Our activities include adding layers of covering to provide protection against the cold weather soon to follow.

But for every Jew in the world, autumn’s announcement to “Take Cover!” Is preceded and overshadowed by a piercing call that brings a different, contradictory message: “Shed Your ‘Cover.’ ”

That vibrant call, made every year at Rosh Hashanah, is issued from the shofar. When blown on Rosh Hashanah, it reminds us that prior to the conquest of Jericho, Joshua blasted the shofar and “the walls came tumbling down.” On Rosh Hashanah we are taught that true self-analysis involves the breaking down of walls. We all wear all kinds of disguises; penetrate those walls, the shofar says, remove the masks and allow the true persona to emerge.

A tale is told of a desperately sad man who sought counseling. After speaking with him, the doctor suggested he begin intensive therapy the following week. To carry him over, the counselor offered the man a free ticket to see the famous comedian Cornelius, who was in town that night. “He’s hilarious,” the doctor said. “He’ll make you laugh…you’ll feel better.”

With that, the man’s face contorted in pain and he burst into tears. While his patient continued his bitter weeping, the doctor probed. “Why are you crying so? I’ve mapped out a plan to give you relief. Go see Cornelius, he’ll help you.” To this, the desperate man replied amid sobs, “But you don’t understand. I am Cornelius.”

Truthfulness can sometimes be bitter. Looking into yourself can be painful, especially if you think you have little to offer. Here again, the shofar teaches a lesson: Words do not emanate from the ram’s horn but rather a cry – a call whose sounds emerge from the breath of the inner soul, of the person blowing the shofar.

Mystics maintain that some human beings may be evil externally but if you look deeply into the inner being of any person, you will find goodness. The shofar pleads: Return to that inner core, retrieve the power of goodness we so often overlook but which is inherent in every person.

Yet another legend: A short apple tree grew beside a tall cedar. Every night the apple tree would look up and sigh, believing the stars in the sky were hanging from the branches of its tall friend. The little apple tree would lift its branches heavenward and plead “But where are my stars?”

As time passed, the apple tree grew. Its branches produced leaves, passersby enjoyed its shade, and its apples were delectable. But at night, when it looked to the skies, it still felt discontented, inadequate: Other trees had stars, but it did not. It happened once that a strong wind blew, hurling apples to the ground. They fell in such a way that they split horizontally instead of vertically. In the very center of each apple was the outline of a star. The apple tree had possessed stars all along. The inner core was always good, and so it remains.

As with apples, all the more with human beings who must be good. After all, “God does not make junk.” The stars we possess are the seeds of potential goodness; we have the power to rise, but also to fall. What we do with the inner goodness depends on the individual, on each one of us. We can fly higher than the clouds or we can sink deeper than the fish. Such is the challenge of being human; majesty and failure are but a hair’s breadth apart.

A final tale, about an artist who made a sculpture of the most beautiful person anyone had ever seen. Years later, the artist decided it would be interesting to sculpt the ugliest human being as a counterpart to his earlier work.

Guinness Record for Shofar Blowing Broken in NJ

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

More than 1,000 people blew shofars for five minutes Sunday at a New Jersey Jewish center to break the Guinness World Record for the largest shofar ensemble.

The participants blew together on the shofars for five minutes at the Alex Aidekman Family Jewish Community Campus in the “Great Shofar Blowout” sponsored by the Partnership for Jewish Learning and Life, NJ.com reported.

The previous shofar ensemble record was held by Swampscott, Massachusetts, which blew 796 shofars on the beach in 2006.

The Partnership for Jewish Learning and Life has been planning to break that record since 2006, according to NJ.com.

As part of the event, there were special classes to learn how to blow the shofar.

“Our mission is to bring Jewish learning to life so we do a lot of things experientially,” Robert Lichtman, executive director of the partnership told NJ.com.

Tunnel Vision

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

When the shofar blows on Rosh Hashana this year, let us not forget that the wailing sound could have been ambulance sirens. You see, there had been a diabolical plan probably being worked on last Rosh Hashana and perhaps for many Rosh Hashanas in a row as jackhammers and pickaxes ripped at the earth, desperately clawing for a pathway into our land. The Tunnels dug by Hamas to infiltrate Israel were in the works for years, and from the information gathered by Israeli intelligence during operation Protective Edge, it seems that the goal had been to use these tunnels to launch a massive terrorist attack this very Rosh Hashana: Dozens, if not hundreds, of terrorists planned to coordinate infiltration to our holy land via numerous tunnels to attack as many communities as possible.

With the hand of the almighty the tunnels have been destroyed, but let us not forget the lessons that they teach us. The Gemara in Rosh Hashana 10B tells us that Rosh Hashana was a time for miracles: It was on this day of the Holy calendar that G-d opened the wombs of our barren matriarchs to provide them with the progeny that became our forefathers, it was on this day that after Yosef had reached the lowest point of his subterranean journeys to reach the pits of Pharoah’s prison that he was finally released, and it was on this day that the demoralizing and backbreaking work when the Jews were enslaved in Egypt ceased. And so, on the birthday of the world’s creation, we see that miracles have been happening throughout history. On the same day that was the dawn of history, our people have been redeemed time and time again.

Today is no different. This Rosh Hashana is no different. We have been redeemed from a terrible evil. The tunnels were destroyed, the plots of Hamas for their unparalleled terror attacks on our Holy Rosh Hashana were foiled. But the question is, how will we react to this modern salvation? How will we treat our lives and our year? Will we rise to the challenge, make ourselves better people, the type of people worthy of G-d’s miraculous salvation? Will we love each other and strive to reach higher heights in our service of G-d?…..who knows who could have died from such an attack if it had succeeded this Rosh Hashana? Maybe your cousin? Perhaps your old friend from childhood?…….Or could it have been you?

We need to mend our ways this New Year, but we also need to open our eyes. G-d’s miracles are everywhere if only we would venture to look at our world in panorama; They are happening above us, around us, and even underground. And so, when we say in prayer so many times this Rosh Hashana, “Melech Ozer, U’moshiah, U’magen- The King who helps good things happen to us, saves us from bad things that are happening, and protects us from bad things happening in the first place” remember that many of us our living on borrowed time, saved from things we never even knew we were in danger of in the first place this past year.

The miracles in life aren’t always things we see. In fact, often they are things that we never will know about in this lifetime. I keep thinking about how G-d saves us from countless perils every day, and we don’t even notice. However, when they are revealed to us, when our dimmed eyes focus themselves as the heroic acts of G-d are illuminated, it is important to take note.

And so, when the shofar blows on Rosh Hashana this year, let us not forget that the wailing sound could have been ambulance sirens. When we cry out before G-d to save our souls, let us not forget that the crying could have been for souls not saved on that very day. And when the Jews who have the privilege of davening the High Holiday prayers in the Holy Land make their way to synagogue, let us not forget what or who could have been lurking underground beneath their feet…

Where Do Shofars Come From?

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

A guide at the Gush Etzion Zoo (bet you didn’t there was one of those in Gush Etzion) explains to Junior High School students how to extract the ram horn shell after it dried, and eventually make it into a shofar, on September 15, 2014.

Yom Ha’atzma’ut Explosion of Joy 66

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Many Israeli communities celebrate Yom Ha’Atzma’ut with fireworks, and Shiloh is no exception. Decades ago, when we were living in Bayit V’Gan Jerusalem, only the big national and municipal ceremonies had such impressive displays. We could see the fireworks at Mount Herzl from our apartment and later on, when the trees got taller, from the roof of the building.

As is our custom here in Shiloh, we greet the festive day, making the transition from Memorial Day to celebrating Independence Day in the Mishkan (Tabernacle) Shiloh Synagogue when everyone comes to pray together, no matter which of the many Shiloh synagogues we normally pray in. First we pray Mincha, the afternoon prayer and then while waiting for nightfall, Rav Elchanan Bin-Nun gives an inspiring sermon. After that begins the Evening Prayer, Aravit which includes dancing and singing plus a long shofar blowing to remind us that the siren is modeled on the Jewish Biblical shofar.

 

I’m optimistic that things here in Israel will get better and better. It’s really up to us. That’s the “hope,” “Hatikvah,” which is based on faith in G-d. HaTikvah.jpg

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/meander/yom-haatzmaut-explosion-of-joy-66/2014/05/06/

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