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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Sydney’

The New Old Antisemitism

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

Even a foxhole Yid has to admit that antisemitism is on the upswing. Beatings. Swastikas. Boycotts. Brooklyn. Kiev. Sydney. Even from my comfortable perch here in “Jew” York City I have come to realize that there exists a huge gray area between Never again and Watch your back.

Not that antisemitism ever went away. In every generation we face enemies who hate us viscerally and wish for our demise, whether by their own hand or some other means. Many others are raised with tolerance and respect, yet drink the milk of a culture that paints Israel as the devil and Jews who support her as guilty by association. They may like us as individuals but still harbor suspicions about us as a group.

There was a quieting of sorts after the Holocaust. The West’s collective guilt at failing to prevent Hitler’s genocidal campaign lent us a certain sympathy, an inclination to accommodate our recovery as a people, to allow us to come back stronger even, with our biblical homeland restored. Discrimination still flourished, but violence was the province of goons like the Klan.

Today, we have anti-discrimination laws to protect us but, ironically, overtly anti-Semitic physical attacks have reemerged as a threat to Jews even in bastions of cosmopolitanism. In much of Europe today, wearing a kippah is an act of courage – or recklessness, depending whom you ask. Jewish schools are fortified like vaults, with security guards and cameras. Attempts to ban shechitah and bris milah have gained tremendous momentum and achieved some level of success.

Echoes of the Chanukah and Purim stories are converging now in a way not seen perhaps since the Spanish Inquisition: The threat encompasses neshamah and guf our freedom to practice our way of life, and our very lives. What’s going on? And more important, how should we respond?

It’s no secret that the resurgence of open antisemitism has a lot do with the influx of Muslims to Europe, and the misguided efforts of governments at every level there to accommodate – or, rather, appease – a culture that seeks hegemony, not acculturation. Even places that have not experienced this demographic shift have been affected by the rising tide of radical Islam globally and its alarming corollary, the creeping influence of the soft propaganda churned out by the media as well as political and academic talking heads.

On Purim, there’s a tradition to drink until one cannot tell the difference between “arur (cursed be) Haman” and “baruch (blessed be) Mordechai.” I fear that much of our world today has so imbibed the lies and demagoguery of Israel’s enemies that truth and falsehood have become fungible.

But anti-Israelism, if you will, cannot alone explain the rash of anti-Jewish violence. Did the perpetrator of a “knockout” attack in Crown Heights really think twice about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? What about the Winnipeg girl who shouted “let’s burn the Jew” as she lit a high school classmate’s hair on fire (an injury compounded by the judge on the case who deemed it not a hate crime)?

One probable factor is that thing at the heart of so many human woes: money. The economic downturn, a crisis in some parts, has led to civil unrest in Europe and even here in the U.S. (Remember the Occupy-ers?) Tough times breed discontent, and discontent breeds scapegoating. And we know that Jews are the favorite scapegoat for the world’s problems. The caricature of the Jew as master financier and puppeteer of the universe still lives.

This new reality – the realization that we’re not as safe as we may have thought – brings one lesson from our history into sharp relief. In Megillas Esther, when Haman presents to Achashveirosh his terrible plot against the Jews, he says, “There is a people in your kingdom who are scattered and separated among the nations.” Yes, the Jewish community’s evolution toward de-centralization made them an easier target for Haman. But more profoundly, says the Ozarover Rebbe, Rabbi Yechiel HaLevi Epstein, their lack of unity as a people made them vulnerable to attack. What was the antidote for that? “Gather all the Jews together,” Esther told Mordechai – then I can go before the king and beg for mercy; then we will have a fighting chance against Haman’s armies.

The Jewish community today is bitterly splintered. Let’s put aside for now the alarming rate of intermarriage and the more than one-fifth of Jews who classify themselves as having “no religion.” Let’s even put aside the divisions between the Orthodox and affiliated non-Orthodox Jews. Within the frum community there is so much infighting.

It’s normal and healthy and in keeping with thousands of years of Jewish history for us to be diversified, heterogeneous – anything but monolithic. But the vitriol from the mouths of those considered leaders, and in turn from their followers, the use of Nazi imagery, the lack of civility – let alone respect – toward Jews who keep Shabbos and kashrus but differ in hashkafa or practice or politics is not only disgraceful but dangerous. A public demonstration, in galus, by Jews against Jews is one of the most tragic scenes of our times. We need Hashem’s protection, but we have to show Him that Am Yisrael Chai – the Jewish people, united in destiny and faith, live.

Small acts of reaching out, reserving judgment, and saving the hateful rhetoric for our real enemies are a good place to start.

Fourth Man Charged in Sydney Antisemitic Attack

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

A fourth man was charged in an alleged anti-Semitic attack on five religious Jews in Sydney.

The 26-year-old appeared in court on Tuesday and was denied bail after being arrested the previous day. Among the charges are possessing a knife in a public place and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

He and three others are accused verbally abusing and physically beating four members of the Behar family and Shlomo Ben-Haiem, the educational emissary for the Jewish National Fund, on Oct. 25.

The five, all religious Jews, were walking home after midnight on Oct. 25 when they allegedly were accosted. They were hospitalized, with Eli Behar suffering a brain injury. He was released after two nights in hospital.

Jewish leaders described the alleged assault as the worst anti-Semitic attack of its kind since records began being kept in the late 1980s.

The others charged were two 17-year-olds, who will face juvenile court on Wednesday, and a 23-year-old man who is due to appear in court on Dec. 3.

99 Year Old Man Becomes Bar Mitzva

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

At age 99, Isaac Volinsky was given the opportunity to put on tefillin for the first time in his life, the Australian J-Wire reported. He did it at the “120 Club” for elderly expatriate Soviets in Sydney.

With more than 50 club members looking on, Lubavitch Rabbi Eli Schlanger helped Volinsky put on the tefillin.

Rabbi Schlanger told J-Wire: “It was an amazing scene. The first time a Jewish boy puts on tefillin is regarded as his Bar Mitzvah and all the club members treated it as a simcha. They were all standing and singing Siman tov u’mazal tov. Isaac told me he remembered his father and grandfather putting on their talit and teffilin in his native Odessa.”

Volinsky, who studied science and technology, was a colonel in the Russian army before moving to Australia. His wife passed away a few years ago. He has two children, one in Sydney and the other in Odessa.

His 100th birthday celebrations are just six months away.

Mazal tov!

Jihadists Make No Secret of Their Ambitions in Sydney

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

This past weekend, we blogged here about foaming-at-the-mouth proponents of jihad rampaging through the streets of Australia’s largest city, Sydney [see our blog post here].

Today, the mainstream Australian media are reporting with astonishment on the sight of elementary school children being pushed front and center by radical adults to embody the lust for Islamist jihad and to advocate the killing of unbelievers.

*An eight year-old Australian girl called Ruqaya, reading a prepared speech promoting jihad at a Hizb ut-Tahrir (“Party of Liberation” in Arabic) conference for “Islamic fundamentalists” in the western Sydney community of Bankstown this past Sunday, a day after the riot. [The video is here - she starts in Arabic, and then switches between English and Arabic.] The name of the conference: Muslims Rise. More than 600 people took part.

*A second child, probably younger than the girl, is photographed today in several Australian papers, holding a placard that reads “Behead all those that insult the prophet.” It’s unlikely he has the ability to read the sign, let alone write it.

Jared Owens writing in The Australian [here] says, without much evident conviction, that these unsettling developments amount to a challenge for moderate Australian Moslems to stand up and speak out. Speaking in customarily measured and moderate Australian tones, he uses the word ‘set-back’ in describing the general mood among Australians exposed to the events of the past four days.

Our familiarity with Australia gives us the sense that, after showing considerable tolerance and exemplary patience to their newly arrived Islamic neighbours over several decades, a sense of alarm and dismay at what these people are ready to do to their own children has begun setting in, along with a sense of dread about what they are willing to do to other people’s children

We wonder how much Australians in general know about the emerging calls to restore this thing called a caliphate. Following is a brief extract from Wikipedia’s “Caliphate” entry:

“Al-Qaeda has as one of its clearly stated goals the re-establishment of a caliphate. The late al-Qaeda leader, Osama Bin Laden, called for Muslims to “establish the righteous caliphate of our umma.” …Ayman al-Zawahiri (Bin Laden’s mentor and al-Qaeda second-in-command until 2011), once “sought to restore the caliphate…which had formally ended in 1924 following the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire but which had not exercised real power since the thirteenth century.” Once the caliphate is re-established, Zawahiri believes, Egypt would become a rallying point for the rest of the Islamic world, leading the jihad against the West. “Then history would make a new turn, God willing,” Zawahiri later wrote, “in the opposite direction against the empire of the United States and the world’s Jewish government.”

In the videos of Saturday’s Sydney Islamist riots, the clearly-heard rallying cry of the men bashing the police was “Obama, Obama, we love Osama“ [check it on the RT (Russia Today) video here]. Understanding what they mean is child’s play.

Australian Woman, 96, Making Aliyah Calls it ‘a Dream Come True’

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

A 96-year-old woman from Australia is immigrating to Israel.

Lily Hyde will leave the Sir Moses Montefiore Jewish Home in Sydney on Wednesday morning for Tel Aviv, where she will be reunited with her family. She is believed to be the oldest Australian ever to immigrate to Israel.

“It’s a dream come true,” Hyde was reported as saying Tuesday just hours before her departure. It will be comforting to have “so many of my family by my side.”

Her son Robert, 68, made aliyah with his family in 2010. Hyde, a native of Durban, South Africa, who worked as a music teacher in an orphanage in Johannesburg, has a great-grandchild she has yet to meet.

“She took ill recently and we thought of her on her own, and I made enquiries with an aged care home in Herzliya and booked her a room,” Robert Hyde told J-Wire, a local Jewish website.

The State Zionist Council of New South Wales had to fast-track Hyde’s application forms, according to the report.

“We managed to work with Israel and get all the necessary paperwork taken care of in less than 24 hours,” a Zionist council official said.

Hyde is scheduled to move into Beit Protea in Herliyza, which was opened in 1992 by the Zionist Federation of South Africa.

She is not believed to be the oldest immigrant to Israel. Two Jews from the former Soviet Union were said to have been 111 when they arrived in the 1990s.

Phillip and Dorothy Grossman were 95 and 93, respectively, when they arrived in February this year from Baltimore — the oldest married couple to make aliyah.

Pesach In Thailand

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

                It isn’t often a person from West Bloomfield, Mich., shares a PassoverSeder in Thailand with someone from Sydney, Australia, but that’s exactly what I did this year.

               Newlywed Australian, Rebbecca Saidman, and her husband looked up the nearest Chabad House during their stay in the city of Chiang Mei. “It was really quite incredible and weird to be in Thailand in a place where a Seder was taking place. I have never had a Seder with 350 people,” said Saidman. “The non-judgmental atmosphere, which made everyone feel so welcome, is a huge part of what made this holiday so special for us,” she said.

               This year, the Chabad emissaries in Chiang Mei, Rabbi Moshe Haddad and his family, hosted 350 guests for the first Seder and more than 60 for the second. I was offered the opportunity to come and help.

               Getting to Chiang Mei was an adventure in itself, with stopovers in Germany and Singapore, and finally arriving in Bangkok and the last leg of our journey, a short flight north to the mountain resort.

               I left from New York at 4:00 p.m. Sunday, and arrived at our destination at 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Though I came only a day before the festival, there was still plenty of work left to do. One of the major tasks was preparing lettuce for the Seder. Jewish dietary laws forbid eating bugs, and Jewish tradition dictates using lettuce, which can be infested with little white bugs. Lettuce is one of the symbolic foods for the Passover Seder so we had to check more than 2,000 leaves of lettuce to make sure they were bug-free.

               Finally, after a long day of feverish preparations and a Sederthat lasted almost to midnight, we thought we could go to sleep. Then another 20 people showed up who needed a Seder, so we did it all over again. Sleep didn’t become an option until the early hours of the morning.

               There were other adventures and unusual circumstances – some unique to Jewish tradition, some unique to Thailand, and many due to the intersection of cultures.

               This year, Passover and the Thai New Year overlapped, which meant that Jews coming to and from the Chabad House had to navigate their way through Mardi Gras style festivities in the streets. Many of us were doused as revelers happily sprayed each other with water guns during the celebration.

               While we were in Chiang Mei, the King of Thailand’s son decided to take a stroll in the area around the Chabad House. All cars, trucks and tuk tuks – a type of bicycle – were towed away to clear the streets. This happened during Mincha, afternoon prayer service.

                When Chabad guests went outside, they had to search for their bikes. No one understood what had happened. Then it became clear that officials had simply moved everything to the side to clear the area for the prince and his entourage.

               Unfortunately, not everything happening in Thailand these days is so festive. As I left during the intermediate days of Passover, there was rioting in the capital city, Bangkok. Many governments issued warnings to their citizens traveling in Southeast Asia. The Chabad Houses urged visitors to call home and let their families know that they were safe. It is one of the many services Chabad in Thailand has grown accustomed to providing for Jewish travelers. Chana Kroll contributed to this article.

Pesach In Thailand

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

                It isn’t often a person from West Bloomfield, Mich., shares a PassoverSeder in Thailand with someone from Sydney, Australia, but that’s exactly what I did this year.


               Newlywed Australian, Rebbecca Saidman, and her husband looked up the nearest Chabad House during their stay in the city of Chiang Mei. “It was really quite incredible and weird to be in Thailand in a place where a Seder was taking place. I have never had a Seder with 350 people,” said Saidman. “The non-judgmental atmosphere, which made everyone feel so welcome, is a huge part of what made this holiday so special for us,” she said.


               This year, the Chabad emissaries in Chiang Mei, Rabbi Moshe Haddad and his family, hosted 350 guests for the first Seder and more than 60 for the second. I was offered the opportunity to come and help.


               Getting to Chiang Mei was an adventure in itself, with stopovers in Germany and Singapore, and finally arriving in Bangkok and the last leg of our journey, a short flight north to the mountain resort.


               I left from New York at 4:00 p.m. Sunday, and arrived at our destination at 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Though I came only a day before the festival, there was still plenty of work left to do. One of the major tasks was preparing lettuce for the Seder. Jewish dietary laws forbid eating bugs, and Jewish tradition dictates using lettuce, which can be infested with little white bugs. Lettuce is one of the symbolic foods for the Passover Seder so we had to check more than 2,000 leaves of lettuce to make sure they were bug-free.


               Finally, after a long day of feverish preparations and a Sederthat lasted almost to midnight, we thought we could go to sleep. Then another 20 people showed up who needed a Seder, so we did it all over again. Sleep didn’t become an option until the early hours of the morning.


               There were other adventures and unusual circumstances – some unique to Jewish tradition, some unique to Thailand, and many due to the intersection of cultures.


               This year, Passover and the Thai New Year overlapped, which meant that Jews coming to and from the Chabad House had to navigate their way through Mardi Gras style festivities in the streets. Many of us were doused as revelers happily sprayed each other with water guns during the celebration.


               While we were in Chiang Mei, the King of Thailand’s son decided to take a stroll in the area around the Chabad House. All cars, trucks and tuk tuks – a type of bicycle – were towed away to clear the streets. This happened during Mincha, afternoon prayer service.


                When Chabad guests went outside, they had to search for their bikes. No one understood what had happened. Then it became clear that officials had simply moved everything to the side to clear the area for the prince and his entourage.


               Unfortunately, not everything happening in Thailand these days is so festive. As I left during the intermediate days of Passover, there was rioting in the capital city, Bangkok. Many governments issued warnings to their citizens traveling in Southeast Asia. The Chabad Houses urged visitors to call home and let their families know that they were safe. It is one of the many services Chabad in Thailand has grown accustomed to providing for Jewish travelers.
 
Chana Kroll contributed to this article.

Embracing The Short Leash

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007


         On October fifth, my article called “Choking on a Short Leash” was in the Jewish Press. The article discussed the need for compromise (as we age and/or are alone) with our children who may become very protective and want to monitor our whereabouts. Finding a middle ground with our protective children, without losing our independence, can be very difficult. The compromise, though livable for both sides, may be satisfying to neither.

 

         Last week, I shared a letter from a mother who wanted to call the whole compromise off as her children were not holding up their part of the deal. She had agreed to call when she was going out at night, only to find her children not bothering to pick up the phone or leave the answering machine accessible to her when she did call. She wanted to just go back to being independent and not be considerate of her children’s fears because of their insensitively toward her needs.

 

         This week, one of my readers presents a very different perspective.

 

 

Dear Ms. Novick,

 

         I have been a fan of your articles since you began writing. These articles have been moving and poignant (as was the Wife’s Dilemma), as well as informative (as with the information on banking, long term care insurance, etc.). I have agreed with most of your opinions, but I now feel compelled to reply to your recent article, “Choking on a Short Leash.”

 

         It seems that from Sydney’s activities, she is still a young woman. I am sure that she constantly lived with “waiting for the other shoe to drop” while her husband was alive. Her daughter must have been very young when her father took ill. How much more so did this “waiting for the other shoe to drop” affect her! I can perfectly understand her concern for her mother’s well being. While the concern for the surviving parents probably affects well children more, given the precarious times in which we live, everyone is concerned for loved ones.

 

         Sydney should not view this as being treated like an irresponsible child. A two-second phone call before Sydney left home, informing her daughter of her plans, could have saved the daughter hours of anguish, especially since Sydney was gone for five hours, her car was parked in front of her apartment, and she was not answering her cell. Who would not panic given these circumstances? Did Sydney use role reversal and think of what her reaction would have been if she had come to her daughter’s home and found the same set of circumstances? Why would Sydney want to cause her daughter one more second of “agmas nefesh,” knowing what she grew up with?

 

         Since we live in the time of instant communication, as well as constant danger, both Sydney and her daughter should have an understanding that while not wanting to control each other’s lives, a simple and fast phone call before embarking on any adventure would save the other a lot of heartache. I am sure that Sydney would agree to that.


Mae


 


 


Dear Mae,

 

         Thank you for your comments. I think you raise an interesting point and I certainly agree with you from the daughter’s perspective. However, I think you underestimate Sydney’s desperate need not to be accountable after so many years of having to let everyone know of her whereabouts, in case of an emergency with her chronically ill husband. Never being able to leave your home without telling someone where you are going and when you will return, always being on call if you will, for years and years, takes its toll. For Sydney, her newly found freedom may be as important as breathing and just as hard to give up.

 

         In a perfect world Sydney would just make the two-minute call, her daughter always ready for the information and no one would have any emotional fallout. But we are all products of our experience, and our emotions rule how we feel about what we do. To Sydney, being totally accountable to her daughter is something she (and I suspect many of us) cannot live with.

 

         And what about Sydney’s right to privacy? She may not wish to share with her daughter everywhere she is going. She may not want to deal with the inevitable questions of “Why are you going there?” or “Why do you need to do that?” Imagine if she is seeing a therapist and wants to keep it private. Or she may even have a date and feels that her daughter may not be ready for her mother to date. As an adult, she just may not want to go down the slippery slope of accounting for all her whereabouts.

 

         Put yourself in Sidney’s shoes. Do you tell your children everywhere you go and why? Would you want to? There is no perfect solution to the problem, and that is why I recommended a compromise. Perhaps if Sydney’s daughter never asks her where she is going, Sidney will not lose her sense of privacy and control over her life and be more comfortable with telling her daughter each time she leaves.

 

         But is that a realistic expectation? In the end, Sidney and her daughter will have to use trial and error to find a solution that both woman can live with. This solution must allow Sidney to maintain a sense of being in control over her own life and her daughter the feeling of knowing her mother is safe.

 

         What will work for Sidney and her daughter may not be something you would be comfortable with in your own life. The one thing that is true for all of us as we age is that we do need to reach a compromise between our children’s needs for us and our own needs for ourselves. And that compromise will probably change as we continue to age and our health needs change. Let’s toast the golden years.

 

         You can reach me at annnovick@hotmail.com 

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/embracing-the-short-leash/2007/11/14/

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