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August 28, 2016 / 24 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘special’

UN Special Envoy Calls for Immediate Halt of Aid Money to Gaza

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

United Nations Special Envoy Laurie Cardoza-Moore has called on all international humanitarian organizations to immediately halt all aid money to Gaza until it can be proven that the money isn’t being squandered by Hamas. Her statement came hours after a UN employee in Gaza was indicted for funneling charity donations to pay for Hamas naval units and days after the director of the Evangelical World Vision charity in Gaza was accused of diverting as much as $50M in charitable donations to the Islamist terror group.

Cardoza-Moore who represents the World Council of Independent Christian Churches (WCICC) at the United Nations and is President of the Evangelical Christian organization “Proclaiming Justice to the Nations” (PJTN) stated: “The enemy of the people of Gaza is Hamas, not Israel. Hamas has hijacked the coastal strip and rules over its people with an iron fist. For decades, the leadership of Hamas has robbed its people of aid money. The time has come to halt all aid money into the Gaza Strip as long as Hamas is in control.“

She continued: “If the international community wants to help the impoverished people of Gaza, they must work to free them from Hamas. It is unacceptable that hundreds of millions of dollars are likely being directly transferred to the coffers of an international terrorist organization in the name of Christianity and humanity. No Church or humanitarian organization should send a single cent to Gaza as long as it is run by a band of murderous terrorist bandits.”

Cardoza-Moore contacted World Vision last week to find out how an Evangelical Christian organization could hire a Hamas terrorist sympathizer to distribute aid money — but to date she has not received a response. In addition she has lodged a formal complaint with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and demanded that they immediately stop distributing aid to Gaza.

PJTN, a not-for-profit organization, was established to educate Christians about their Biblical responsibility to stand with their Jewish brethren and Israel, utilizing powerful film and video presentations, a variety of grassroots rallies, events and speaking engagements to facilitate dialogue between the Christian and Jewish communities in support of the State of Israel and against global genocidal anti-Semitism.

David Israel

The Special Relationship Of Children To God

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

The Talmud in several areas stresses the effects of studying a subject when one is young. At one point it quotes an incident of a sage who forgot a Jewish law and attributed his lapse in memory to the fact that he didn’t study it when he was very young.

Pirkei Avot compares the acquisition of knowledge of a child to writing on a blank piece of paper that has never been erased, while that of an adult to a paper that is full of erasures. The muddled and ambiguity of the adult mind pales to the lucidity and the innocence of the mind of a child. Wordsworth in his famous poem “Intimations of Immortality” alludes to the uniqueness of a child and the unique relationship that they have to their creator. Indeed Jewish tradition speaks of the singular connection that children have with almighty God. Their prayers are accepted more readily because of their innocence and because of their uncanny ability to understand the unlimited powers of the creator. For children time is endless, with no beginning or end. So too our creator has neither beginning nor end; for Almighty God, time is boundless. Children identify uniquely with their creator by the sheer fact that they are closer to their birth time. The further we move from our birth, the more we fill our minds with doubt and question regarding our creator.

At the same time that they are so close to God, a child’s mind is so impressionable. What we teach our children-the impressions that we place upon their minds-become indelible in shaping their future existence and destiny. Often, remarks that are made to children when they are young never leave them and are their source of strength or weakness in the years to come.

I remember vividly as a young third grader sitting in class and being actively involved in the Chumash lesson of my teacher. At one point the text was confusing to me and I raised my hand to ask a question. For me the question that I was about to ask had value and I was always taught by my parents that one must ask questions to gain knowledge. I believed that the answer was essential for me to understand the lesson. However when I asked the question the teacher innocently and without malice or forethought laughed and said that my question was stupid and the answer was obvious. He called it a klutz kasha, an idiot question.

That remark, as innocent as it was, remained with me even until today. When I sit at a shiur I hesitate to ask a question because of that remark that was made to me decades ago. Though there is no logical reasoning behind my fears, that feeling of inadequacy that I received as a young lad remains with me even today.

We all know that sibling relationships reenact themselves when in the presence of parents. Even when we are older and married, we slip back to the times that we were children. The same child, who was looked upon as the smartest, again takes on the same role that he had when he was growing up, regardless of how successful he has become or whether his siblings have surpassed him in their intellectual abilities.

The Talmud in Taanit states that if you see a student who is not successful in his studies it is because his/her teacher did not smile at him/her. Once again stressing the delicate and impressionable minds of our children and the enormous responsibility that educators have in assuring that these imprints are wholesome and positive.

Rabbi Mordechai Weiss

A Special Summer Camp in Israel

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

Summer can’t come soon enough for kids with special needs and their parents. Thanks to Seeach Sod, Israel’s leading center for special education, children with special needs have access to the services and support that they need to flourish, all year round.

Seeach Sod was founded by Rabbi Dov Levy z”l, who had a child with Downs Syndrome before there were any services or awareness about special needs. With nowhere to turn, he established Seeach Sod in 1971 to provide a religious educational framework for his son and other children with special needs.

Understanding the importance of schedule and routine for kids with special needs, Seeach Sod extends the school year, by creating a special camp experience for the kids for an additional three weeks in August, right after Tisha B’av.. Sue Lachman, mother of Seeach Sod student, Refoel Lachman (14), knows the importance of structure all too well. “He loves going to school,” Mrs. Lachman said, “But we decided to give him a day off and take him fruit picking with his nephews. We thought he would like it but he went berserk because he just wanted to be in school.”

To make sure that kids stay grounded, Seeach Sod handcrafts the summer program to make sure that each participant is being stimulated, challenged and supported according to his or her needs. The Kaytana (summer camp) takes place from 8AM-4PM every day with participants ranging in age from 5 to 21 years old. With special art projects, local trips and outings, “We make sure camp has all of the approaches that are perfect for each participant. Each week we do something fun and unique with different types of trips” Chaim Hirshman, Group Home Men Division Manager revealed. To accommodate higher-functioning special needs people Seeach Sod is highlighting a 5-day camp in Mitzpe Yericho, and features a Shabbaton, jeeping, roping, boating, sports and many other thrilling activities.

It’s an incredible amount of work but it pays off. “We organize three weeks of fun so they will return rejuvenated and ready to face the New Year,” Hirshman said. For most schools, end of year signifies a mark of growth for students. At Seeach Sod, the camp is their litmus test. “During camp time, we see how the residents are changing, growing and improving,” Rabbi Dovid Levy, Director of the Welfare Department and son of Rabbi Dov Levy z”l, said. “It puts them in an amazing mood. Additionally, when we see that when they are in a good space, their physical health is better. It impacts the entire year. Each year, we analyze the results and try and improve upon them the following year.”

Early on, Seeach Sod recognized that a crucial part of their work is to provide parents with a respite in order to rejuvenate and ensure they have the strength and energy to be fully present with their children. One of the ways they do that is with their Nofshon Respite program. If a parent needs to go away for a few nights, they can bring their child to the respite center, which functions like a mini-hotel, where they sleep over and spend their days doing activities and trips.

There are 15 nights during the year when parents can send their kids to the nofshon. “The fact that Refoel can go to the nofshon where we know that he’s safe is important,” Mrs. Lachman said. “During the summer, the staff works to give the parents a true break.”

“During the summer camp period, Seeach Sod adds extra staff so kids can go straight from kaytana to nofshon and parents can get a break,” Hirshman explained.

“He loves going to the nofshon. They take him out and do fun things with him,” Lachman added, “They have it all set up for us so that summer isn’t too difficult, which is wonderful.”

The summer program is so successful that other kids feel a bit left out. “The parents tell us that the other kids in their household are wondering why they don’t have these kinds of activities,” Rabbi Levy claimed. “So this year, we are offering each Seeach Sod resident to invite their siblings and family and spend a fun-filled day at a huge park with us.”

Knowing how hard they work, Seeach Sod also organizes a day of fun for the summer staff. “It’s not simple. They are working all the time while everyone else is on vacation and these aren’t easy weeks of work,” Rabbi Levy explained.

For the Lachman’s Seeach Sod’s dedication is not a surprise. “Everything they do is really special. They truly love everyone,” Mrs. Lachman said.

With a full heart, Seeach Sod staff creates unforgettable experiences for kids with special needs. “The smile that we see at the end of the summer is worth all the hard work,” Rabbi Levy said. “This gives us and the children the energy to start again from the beginning.” With Seeach Sod, summer is now something to look forward to for everyone.

For more information about Seeach Sod visit their website at: http://charidy.com/seso

Jewish Press Staff

Tamar Yonah Show – Jerusalem Day Special: How It Was 50 Years Ago [audio]

Monday, June 6th, 2016

What was Jerusalem like when it was divided only 49 years ago? Tamar speaks with Shifra Hoffman from www.VictimsofArabTerror.com and talks about the miracles of the Six Day War, which saw the liberation and re-unification of Jerusalem.

Tamar Yonah Show 05Jun – PODCAST

Israel News Talk Radio

Jerusalem Day Special: Ancient City’s Latest Facts and Figures

Sunday, June 5th, 2016

In honor of Jerusalem Liberation Day, which is being celebrated on Sunday, June 5 this year (because Israeli holidays go by the Jewish calendar), the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) has issued a plethora of stats about the city, gathered in the years 2014-15. So, here’s a sampling of everything you may have wanted to know about the tangible Jerusalem of this world:

Jerusalem is the largest city in Israel. By the end of 2015, there were bout 870,000 residents living in the eternal city, roughly 10% of Israel’s population.

Compare this with 2014, when Jerusalem boasted only 850,000 residents, out of whom 534,000 were Jews and others (63%) and 316,000 Arabs (37%).

Out of the Jews of Jerusalem, 32% define themselves as ultra-Orthodox, 17% are religious, 13% traditional-religious, 15% traditional but not so religious, and only 21% are secular.

Of those additional 20,000 residents, about 19,800 were added via natural reproduction, about 3,700 moved in from the rest of the country and from abroad, and about 3,500 left to other locations.

The main sources in Israel of migration to Jerusalem are the cities of Beit Shemesh, Tel Aviv, and B’nai B’rak. Jerusalemites who leave the city go to Beit Shemesh, Tel Aviv, and the enclave of Givat Ze’ev which borders Jerusalem.

The overall fertility rate (average number of children a Jerusalem woman is expected to bear in her lifetime) in Jerusalem is 3.91, far higher than the national average of 3.08.

A Jerusalem average household has 3.8 members, also larger than the national average of 3.3.

On the work front, though, Jerusalem could improve a lot: only 51% of Jerusalem residents are counted in the work force, compared with 64.1% nationwide. This does not necessarily mean folks in Jerusalem don’t work for a living, it could mean more of them fail to report.

Jerusalemites don’t like to commute: 88.4% of the city’s working residents are employed in their city, compared with 71.7% in Haifa, 62.2% in Tel Aviv, 57.2% in Ashdod, 44.4% in Petach Tikvah, and 36.2% in Rishon L’Tzion.

Jerusalem retains its residents: a full 77% of them have lived in the city for more than 20 years.

While 57% of Israelis nationwide are satisfied with the size and proportion of green spaces in their cities, only 30% of Jerusalemites believe they have enough parks.

In the school year 2014-15, 65.5% of Jerusalem students were in Haredi educational institutions, compared with 65.3% in 2013-14. This trend has continued persistently, as the number of ultra-Orthodox students is going up and secular students’ down.

In related statistics: fewer than half (48%) of 12th grade students in Hebrew education institution took the matriculation exams in 2013-14, compared with 51% the year before. This means that more than half of the city’s young people are eligible to attend college.

Also related: Jerusalem registers the lowest average annual income out of Israel’s eight largest cities: $37,944.36.

As for housing, 57.9% of Jerusalem residents own their apartment or home, 30.9% rent, and the rest live in school dormitories or rent paying a key fee (one high amount up front, followed by small monthly payments). The average price for a Jerusalem apartment is $484,026.34, the average monthly rent is $826.12.

Regarding visitors: 78% of tourists who arrived in Israel made sure to visit Jerusalem (the rest, mostly Scandinavians and Germans, presumably landed directly on Eilat’s magnificent beaches down south).

Close to 900,000 foreign visitors spent a night in Jerusalem’s hotels, marking close to 3,000,000 nights altogether.

JNi.Media

Daniel Mandel: The Joy, the Lone Oak, and a Special Torah Scroll

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

{Reprinted with permission from the Israellycool website}

Thirteen years ago, on April 15,2003, Lt. Daniel Mandel, of the Nahal Brigade, was murdered by a terrorist. Only three weeks later, Daniel’s sister gave birth to a son. Daniel’s mother Cheryl told the young parents, “Don’t call this baby ‘Daniel.’”

Cheryl’s son in-law said, “No one is going to tell me what to call my son.”

The boy was named Gilad, a name which, when sliced in two (Gil and Ad) means “eternal joy.”

His name was like a show of faith, a symbol. This was a family that would grow and continue in spite of an enemy’s hate. There would be joy in spite of the harsh blow dealt them. There would be this son. And there would absolutely be joy.

Thirteen years have passed since that sad and terrible Passover Eve, thirteen years since Daniel’s young life was stolen away forever. Now it is time for Gilad, the boy who came to life in the wake of an uncle’s tragic death, to celebrate his bar mitzvah. This is a boy with the weight of a family legacy on his young shoulders. A boy who must (and does) bring joy.

Just as Gilad’s birth and name are symbols of hope and continuation, joy and eternity, so is the famous Lone Oak Tree that stands as the very symbol of Gush Etzion where the Mandel family and Gilad live. This famous tree is hundreds of years old and remains at the center of a story of bravery and longing. The story begins only a few short weeks before David Ben Gurion declared the independence of the State of Israel.

Back then, Gush Etzion consisted of four kibbutzim. The families who lived there were under constant siege by the Jordanian Legion and by Arab guerrilla fighters. As the British Mandate was winding down to its inglorious end, the attacks became a near-constant fixture of life in the Gush. It was decided to send the women and children of the Gush to Jerusalem to wait out the war. It simply wasn’t safe for them at home any longer. Around 130 men and a small number of women stayed behind to defend their homes and all that they had built, hardscrabble, with their own two hands.

Just three days before Ben Gurion’s declaration of statehood, the Gush Etzion defenders were overpowered by the Jordanian Legion.  The Jordanians gathered the fighters together, claiming they wanted to take a photograph of the rout for posterity. Instead of photographing the group of defenders, the Jordanians murdered them in cold blood: shot them dead.

Gush Etzion had come under Jordanian control.  But once a year, the families of the Jewish fighters who had been so cruelly slaughtered, would gather on a high hilltop in Jerusalem where they could see the Lone Oak Tree in the distance, that 700-year-old-tree. That tree meant everything to them. Reaching that tree, returning and rebuilding the Gush, all of it was tied up in the symbolism that was embodied by that one lonely tree.

Lone-Oak-Tree-1068x801

Finally, in 1967, during the Six Day War, Gush Etzion returned to its rightful owners, the Jewish people. Today, instead of four kibbutzim, there are 22 communities and a total population of over 70,000 people: men, women, and children. The Lone Oak Tree watched it all unfold, remaining steadfast, and most of all, there, where we yearned to be, until we too, were there.

It makes sense then, that the Lone Tree and Daniel Mandel and Gilad have had their fates intertwined. Gilad has begun to lay tefillin, Daniel’s tefillin (phyllacteries). And in order to commemorate the 13th year since Daniel’s murder, his parents are dedicating a Torah scroll in Daniel’s name, to the Sephardi synagogue they attend.

It is from this Sefer Torah that Gilad will read his Bar Mitzvah portion, continuing a link in the chain of the Mandel family in Gush Etzion, and bringing joy to his people, never forgetting the great sacrifice of his Uncle Daniel, HY”D, may God avenge his blood. The new Torah scroll, and Gilad’s bar mitzvah bring everything full circle for the Mandel family and in many ways, for the people of Gush Etzion.

Lone Oak Torah Cover by Batsheva Arad of Bat Ayin.

Lone Oak Torah Cover by Batsheva Arad of Bat Ayin.

Already, the last letter was inscribed in the scroll, since one doesn’t write letters on Pesach. And on Wednesday of this week, on Chol HaMoed Pesach, at 4 PM, the Mandel family will hold a dedication ceremony for the new Torah scroll. That is when everyone will see the beautiful Torah cover created by Batsheva Arad who lives in Bat Ayin, a community in Gush Etzion. The Torah cover depicts the Lone Oak.

Then too, the crowd might notice the wooden rollers of the Torah, each known as an “Etz Chaim” or “Living Tree.” These rollers are also filled with symbolism, made as they were of wood trimmed from the Lone Oak Tree, and lovingly crafted by Gidi Kelman of Neve Daniel,  also a community in Gush Etzion.

Cheryl, Daniel’s mother and Gilad’s grandmother, is expecting a crowd. She had 200 labels made up, depicting that Torah cover with its stately Lone Oak. The labels are for the 200 water bottles purchased for celebrants at the dedication ceremony (she hopes you’ll be among them).

18 Boys Named Daniel!

Cheryl didn’t want Gilad’s life to be forged in mourning in the shadow of his uncle’s death. And so she wasn’t prepared for him to be named after her murdered son so soon after his death. But here too, there is parity and meaning. Thirteen years on, there are exactly 18 babies who have been named Daniel, after Daniel Mandel. Eighteen as you probably know or might have guessed, is the numerical value of Chai, the Hebrew word for “Life.”

Because the Lone Oak still stands and life goes on in Gush Etzion. There may be times of sadness and mourning, but joy will always win out in the end.

 

Varda Meyers Epstein

Aliyah and Keeping Young with Yisrael

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

As an education writer for the nonprofit organization, Kars4Kids, and as someone who made Aliyah from Pittsburgh 34 years ago, I decided to write about the challenges of Aliyah from western countries with school age children. See the previous piece in this series, Fully Absorbed, Coming Through to the Other Side.

As a teen, Randi Lipkin spent three consecutive summers working at HASC, a camp for Jewish children with special needs. Randi’s husband Michael spent his nineteenth summer as a counselor there, and the couple both worked at HASC one summer after they were married, never knowing that someday, they would have a special needs child of their own.

The Lipkin family made Aliyah in August of 2004, with four children from Edison, New Jersey. After they made Aliyah, Randi discovered she was pregnant with Yisrael, who has Down syndrome.

Michael serves as senior editor of financial articles at a local company, Seeking Alpha. Randi is an occupational therapist who works at a “Gan Safa,” a Beit Shemesh nursery school for children with developmental language delays. The Lipkins live in Beit Shemesh.

Proud father Michael Lipkin holds newborn Yisrael Simcha (photo credit: courtesy Michael Lipkin)

Proud father Michael Lipkin holds newborn Yisrael Simcha (photo credit: courtesy Michael Lipkin)

V: Tell me a bit about your children and their adjustment to your Aliyah.

Michael: We had 4 children when made Aliyah. They were 19, 17, 14, and 3 when we moved. Our oldest, one year post-seminary, was our big Zionist and would have moved here even if we hadn’t. Her adjustment was very smooth. She married a year and half later and is now living in our neighborhood with her husband and 3 children.

Our next oldest was borderline interested in moving. As she was entering her senior year in a Flatbush Beit Yaakov the year we made Aliyah, we decided it was best for her to finish high school there while boarding with Randi’s sister who lived nearby. She subsequently came here for seminary, married soon after, and is living in Bet Shemesh with her husband and 3 children.

Our older son had the toughest adjustment. Even though he wanted to move he had a difficult time adjusting to dorm life at Maarava high school. However, he is now our most integrated child having married an Israeli girl and is currently serving his country.

Our youngest at the time adapted very well because of her young age and smarts.

V: How old were you and Randi when Randi became pregnant with Yisrael?

Michael: I was 47 and Randi was 45. We had just had our first grandson and our second daughter was married during Randi’s pregnancy.

V: How did you and Randi feel about the pregnancy? How was the level of obstetric care here compared to the care Randi received in the States during previous pregnancies?

Michael: I was ecstatic, very excited, but nervous for her. Getting pregnant at that age was nervous-making, and of course, we worried about Down syndrome.

Randi: The overall care here was fine, but I found it very weird that you develop a relationship with a doctor and then he has absolutely nothing to do with your delivery. The experience was totally different than in the states. In certain ways the doctors seemed very laidback and in other ways hyper-nervous.

I had gestational diabetes as I’d had before in my previous pregnancies. The doctor transferred my entire case to an obstetrician that handles gestational diabetes and I at one point said to the doctor, “Can we listen to the heartbeat?”

They were too focused on the diabetes. There was far less connection to me as an expectant mother compared to what I had experienced in the States. Of course, I’d had tremendous relationships with my doctors in the States, because I’d known them for 25 years. It’s just not what you have here.

Since I was having an elective, planned C-section, we paid for a private doctor instead of showing up at the hospital and just getting whoever was on duty that day and we felt very comfortable with that decision.

V: I know you gave Yisrael the middle name “Simcha” because you wanted him to always know he brought simcha, joy, into your lives. Was that immediate? Or did it take some adjusting to the idea?

Varda Meyers Epstein

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/ear-to-the-ground/aliyah-and-keeping-young-with-yisrael/2013/11/26/

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