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August 30, 2014 / 4 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘text’

Jewish Blogosphere Ablaze Over Obama’s Condolences to Netanyahu

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Shortly after the passing of Benzion Netanyahu, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney sent his condolences to the late professor’s son, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Romney and Netanyahu have been on friendly terms for years. “This is a loss for all of Israel and for all who care about Israel,” Romney said about the elder Netanyahu’s passing in a tweet.

That aside, the Jewish Blogosphere is exploding with messages about the fact that US President Barack Obama has supposedly not yet conveyed his own condolences to the prime minister.

As strange as that may seem, when The Jewish Press staff searched the White House website, they could not find the text of the presidents’ words of comfort to Netanyahu, nor has a lengthy Google search yielded any such document.

A sleepy White House switchboard operator told us we should call after the start of the work day in DC.

A call to the Israeli Prime Minister’s office yielded a firm statement that it is “very much against protocol to make public this kind of personal exchanges between heads of state”.

Last year, President Obama sent condolences to Israeli President Shimon Peres over the loss of his wife, as well as to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan after the death of his mother last year

We have no doubt that the president has indeed conveyed his sorrow over Netanyahu’s loss, we’d just like to read it.

Update: The White House announced that the President called Netanyahu on Wednesday to convey his condolences. The readout is as follows:

President Obama called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel today from Air Force One to express his personal condolences on the death of his father, Benzion Netanyahu. In the call the President noted Benzion Netanyahu’s remarkable legacy of service to the Jewish people and deep friendship with the United States.

Holocaust Days of Remembrance and Traditional Coconut Pyramids

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Yours truly trolls the web day and night so you won’t have to (especially if you’re detained at CitiField). Armed with a good search engine and the key word “Jewish” I roam and roam and pick and collect. And this time I admit I’m stomped, and would love to get an explanation from someone.

Here’s the text that accompanies this image on the Pentagon-run website DefenseImagery.mil:

During the Holocaust Days of Remembrance U.S. Air Force Capt. Jennifer McGee, with the 12th Contracting Squadron, helps Madison Angelito and Alex Barner make coconut pyramids, a traditional Jewish dessert, at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas.

I looked into it and it turns out that while most of us keep Yom Ha’Shoah on the 27th of Nisan, unless the 27th would be adjacent to Shabbat, in which case the date is shifted by a day, usually back to Thursday – there is an official American tradition I had known nothing about, the Holocaust Days of Remembrance, from April 15 at 12:00 a.m. until April 22 at 11:30 p.m.

I went to the Facebook page of 2012 Holocaust Days of Remembrance and got it all there. Days of Remembrance (DOR) is the United States’ annual commemoration of the Holocaust, and The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is charged by Congress to lead the nation in Holocaust remembrance.

This is all so well organized, so legalized, so, dare I say, Germanic… No idea why they don’t keep it from midnight to midnight, though. The Warsaw Ghetto uprising lasted from April 19 to may 16, so no obvious link there.

But wait, there’s still another mystery: what are those coconut pyramids, the traditional Jewish dessert?

Well, plugging the entire phrase in Google, and it took me to a page of Passover recipes, where they explained how to prepare, among other savory, chometz-free goodies, Coconut Pyramids. In other words – coconut macaroons, the stuff that I’m used to swallowing a can at a time when no one’s watching on those late Chol Ha’Moed nights.

And I was already thinking about Hebrew slaves amassing coconut pyramids in the desert.

Only in America.

Cartoon Rehab: Oh, Go Ahead, Surrender, You Know You Want To…

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

We found this cartoon on the ADL website. They say it was originally published in Oman, April 12, 2012, and the original text, written in blood, says: “We Will Never Surrender.”

Before

Before

Welcome to the Jewish Press Online Cartoon Rehabilitation Project (JPOCRP), or, in short (suggested by our colleague Rafi Harkham) Cartoon Rehab.

We collect the most obscene, terrifying, anti-Semitic cartoons from the Arab world, and make them nice. It’s a harsh process, requiring long sessions of Photoshop treatment and a minimum of 90 meetings in 90 days at Antisemitic Anonymous, but in the end it is well worth the effort. Cartoons come in with the obvious effects of the Antisemitism scourge, unshaven, bleary eyed, fangs exposed, noses hooked, and they come out clean and fluffy.

Please send us your own Photoshop efforts in rehabilitating Arab cartoons. We’ll publish those we deem appropriate enough (don’t worry, our standards are not so high). You can also send us wayward cartoons you found lurking online – as long as they come from the Arab world.

We have a special interest in beautifying this region which has so long been suffering from rampant addiction to Antisemitism. Help us do our little bit for Tikun Olam.

Atheists Target Religious Jews in Williamsburg

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

A national organization calling itself American Atheists is planning to unveil its anti-religious billboards Monday in heavily Muslim Paterson, NJ and in heavily Jewish Williamsburg, Brooklyn, according to CNN.

“You know it’s a myth … and you have a choice,” the billboards declare, in Patterson in English and Arabic, and in Brooklyn in English and Hebrew. Next to the text on the Arabic billboard is the word Allah, and on the Hebrew sign is the Hebrew word for the Tetragrammaton, which Jews are not permitted to pronounce.

Including the “Shem ham’forash” in the Hebrew billboard is particularly provocative, since it is sacred and so may not be erased in print, presenting protesters with a dilemma.

According to Dave Silverman, president of American Atheists, the motive behind the signs is purely humanitarian, as they are intended to reach atheists in the Muslim and Jewish communities who may feel isolated because they are surrounded by believers.

“Those communities are designed to keep atheists in the ranks,” he says. “If there are atheists in those communities, we are reaching out to them. We are letting them know that we see them, we acknowledge them and they don’t have to live that way if they don’t want to.”

The effort to discourage faith in these two devoted, monotheistic communities, receives a special meaning because it is being launched on the week of Purim, a celebration of the Jewish victory over Amalek. In Jewish sources, the function of Amalek in Jewish history is to encourage doubt in the heart of faithful Jews.

The late Christopher Hitchens depicted well the despair that has been driving atheist activists in the face of threats to their lack of faith (Atheists and agnostics make up only between 3% and 4% of the U.S. population): “Our theocratic enemy is in plain view. Protean in form, it extends from the overt menace of nuclear-armed mullahs to the insidious campaigns to have stultifying pseudo-science taught in American schools.”

But while Christian and, to a lesser extent, Muslims have been entangled in a conflict over the separation of Church and State in America, Jewish institutions have largely been staying out of those battles, and the Hasidic Jews of Williamsburg have certainly not been involved in pushing a national agenda of any kind. Posting an intrusive and insulting billboard in the midst of their neighborhood is nothing short of an unprovoked attack.

And knowing the mettle of the Hasidim of Williamsburg, they are sure to come up with a proper response.

Silverman told CNN the signs advertise the American Atheists’ upcoming convention and an atheist rally, called the Reason Rally, in Washington next month.

Reviewing Torah Tapestries: Shemos

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Title: Torah Tapestries: Shemos

Author: Shira Smiles

Publisher: Feldheim

“Deep down in the heart of the bush, even as the fire of our enemies is raging around, is the spark of emunah. It was true of the Jews in Egypt, and it will always be true of Am Yisrael. The emunah is what is behind our power to renew ourselves.”

This fiery sentence on page six of Shira Smiles’s newest sefer, Torah Tapestries: Shemos, brought tears to this reviewer’s eyes. The clear, authoritative thinking that produced this line is a hallmark of the author’s teaching style. It neatly summarizes the evidence she presents to explain exactly why Moshe Rabbeinu seemed perplexed that the sneh was not consumed by the fire within it. It illustrates and resolves the puzzling “ra’oh ra’iti” response by Hashem to Moshe’s “Madua lo yivar hasneh?”: The Creator used a physical anomaly alluding to an eternal “V’hasneh einenu ukval” quality of the newly forging Jewish nation: As a people, we cannot be destroyed.

The text soon segues into an insightful explanation of why some Jews did not leave Egypt. The classic, timeless lesson leads to examinations of the issues of teshuva, blessings, the imperative to speak and teach only truth, to live balanced, lives and more. Discerning readers will reflect on today’s headlines and find within the text the resolution to many doubts about making aliyah in our times.

Smiles’s analysis of Sefer Shemot is supported with classic Jewish commentaries, including Rabbis Chaim Friedlander, Eliyahu Dessler, and Joseph B. Soloveitchik, the Rambam, Rashi, and other important figures of Jewish thought and philosophy. The comments are clarifying, uplifting, and typical of the author’s live shiurim for her students and community groups. Her conclusions are soundly based.

Anyone interested in meticulously researched writings important to the future of Am Yisrael should add 190-page hardcover Torah Tapestries: Shemos to public and private libraries. Feldheim would do well to 1) improve the fonts in subsequent editions, for easier reading by weaker eyes and 2) to use tapestry cover art consistent with the message of the Torah Tapestries book series. The book’s only other fault is that it ends with suggestions on how “to internalize the blessing of Moshe Rabeinu” while remaining aware that Hashem is “the only source of blessing.” Readers will be hungry for more mind- and soul-building information from the author.

Lain, Smartphone, Lain

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

            As someone who lains fairly often at my synagogue, I don’t consider it a big deal committing to a few aliyot every couple of weeks. I’ve even occasionally lained the megillah. Yet for more than 15 years, there is one Torah reading I have avoided laining at all costs: my bar mitzvah parshah.

 

I lained that parshah for the second time a year after my bar mitzvah. I was wrong in thinking that I knew it perfectly, and the results were not stellar. I made at least four mistakes, which was unacceptable (at least for one laining his bar mitzvah parshah).

 

While growing up, there was a cold competitiveness between the boys in my teen minyan. Believing that middot matters most was not an especially popular trait with my peers, they let me know what they thought of my performance. That was it for laining my parshah past rishon, I decided, and over a decade went by before I would do so again.

 

Fast-forward 15 years, and I still had not lained my bar mitzvah parshah. But when my nephew, who has special needs, read the haftarah in phenomenal fashion at his bar mitzvah last winter, I was inspired to once again lain my bar mitzvah parshah. Since it was going to take a few weeks to relearn it, and I didn’t want to carry around a heavy tikun or photocopy the parshah – as too many tikun photocopies mistakenly end up in the garbage rather than in sheimos – it was fortunate that I was familiar with the five words that have made so many of our lives easier in a variety of ways: there’s an app for that.

 

The good Jews at RustyBrick were among the pioneers in smart-phone applications, creating some of the first – and still best – Jewish apps on the market. Their siddur and kosher apps deserve their own columns, but to me their Tikun Kor’im app is as strong an argument as any that every technological advance can be used as a tool to enhance Torah and mitzvot.

 

While the $19.99 price tag might initially seem a little steep, the app is well worth the cost. On a base level it functions as a regular tikun, with the text of vowels on the right and the keriyah text on the left. But the app’s audio functions take it to another level. One can make an in-app purchase of an audio recording of every Torah parshah for an additional $4.99 per parshah. This enables the ba’al keriyah to listen to a parshah being read while following the text on his iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad (sorry, Droid users, the Tikun Kor’im is not available on your device). While parshah audio is currently available in nusach Ashkenaz, Sephardic laining is available for all of Sefer Devarim – with the other four Sifrei Torah being released in the coming months. Audio for haftarot and megillot will be coming out as well. Within the next year the app should carry audio for everything lained by Orthodox Jews.

 

Some might see the Tikun Kor’im app as a threat to bar mitzvah teachers. Why should parents spend $1,000 for a teacher’s services when they can spend $24.99 on the app and parshah audio? Yet RustyBrick CEO Barry Schwartz sees things differently. “This app was created as an interactive tool for bar mitzvah students. The app can be used with or without a teacher, but having a teacher will help ensure a strong reading.” Schwartz also points out that RustyBrick hasn’t received any negative feedback from bar mitzvah instructors. “In fact, it’s just the opposite,” says Schwartz. “We have teachers contacting us in praise of the app, and who recommend it for their students.”

 

An additional function of the app actually enhances the method of teaching a young boy his parshah. Teachers and students can record and upload their own audio of their lainings and send them to each other. “Your bar mitzvah teacher can be anywhere in the world now,” says Schwartz. Of course many bar mitzvah boys will have a difficult time hearing their awkwardly changing voices, but it’s a worthwhile price for a better lained parshah. The audio recording also provides an option for students who want to avoid the $4.99 parshah fee or who prefer a different tone and pace to RustyBrick’s slower, raspier-voiced ba’al keriah.

 

While it certainly looks much better on the iPad, using the Tikun Kor’im on the smaller-screened iPod touch or iPhone is certainly preferable to carrying around a tikun. I’ve now prepared Torah reading several times using the app while riding on a bus or train. I even used it to help relearn my bar mitzvah parshah. I didn’t make any mistakes this time. And even if I had, no teenagers would have made fun of me, since using an app to learn a Torah reading makes me incredibly cool.

The Politics Of Jewish Calendars

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

Palaces of Time: Jewish Calendar and Culture in Early Modern Europe

By Elisheva Carlebach

304 pages, $35, Harvard University Press, April 2011

 

 

Although jokes abound about how punctual German Jews (Yekes) are, the concept of “Jewish Standard Time,” presumably mocking the non-Germanic segments of the Jewish population, has earned an entry in Urban Dictionary for “15 minutes late to everything” or “being late to an important event.”

 

Whether or not the jokes have a foundation, Elisheva Carlebach’s new book, Palaces of Time: Jewish Calendar and Culture in Early Modern Europe, shows that Jews developed some of the most important theories and discovered some of the most fundamental mathematical underpinnings of early calendar setting. They did this often to the chagrin of Christian leaders, who sought to liberate their calendar from its ties to Judaism, primarily the Passover meal that was their Last Supper.

 

 

Angel giving calendar secrets to Issachar. Sefer Evronot, 1716.

National Library of Israel. Ms Heb 8 2380, fol. 104.

 

 

The story that Carlebach, Salo Wittmayer Baron Professor of Jewish History, Culture and Society at Columbia University, tells focuses on the calendar as a “living” document rather than a static one. Instead of simply documenting the march of time at a set rate, calendars were often created in the image of their makers, who often embedded propaganda inside them, Carlebach explains.

 

Surely, most calendar users today take the medium for granted because it is so pervasive. In the age of Google, calendars can be embedded into websites, layered on top of one another and shared among users. If you position your mouse appropriately, your computer’s calendar will pop up, and many readers probably have calendars attached to their work email clients, or Outlook programs. If you’ve got a smart phone or a tablet computer, chances are you program your appointments right into that device.

 

The most low-tech calendars we might encounter are giveaways from supermarkets or from charities we donate to. When I interviewed Marc Winkelman, president of the Austin, Texes-based company Calendar Holdings, in August 2010, he differentiated between calendars that feature images specifically created for the calendars, and others which have artworks that “perhaps better satisfy the sensibilities of art historians.” Both fulfill needs, he said, though “There will always be art snobs.”

 

 

 

Rabbi (Simon ben) Gamliel receives Jewish calendar formulae. Sefer Evronot, 1552.

Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary. Ms 9487, fol. 3r.

 

 

The calendars Winkelman’s company sells are a far cry from the manuscripts and early printed calendars Carlebach explores, so it’s not surprising that medieval and early renaissance calendar users and makers were more passionate about all things calendar-related. The religious and political elite ensured that calendars were as much tools for controlling the masses, as they were an effort to organize an individual’s life.

 

One particularly fierce debate played out in the 17th century, when the calendar was “at the center of the struggle for the soul of England,” Carlebach writes. After the Reformation, England grew isolated from Denmark, Protestant German states and the Netherlands when it clung to the Julian calendar, while the latter states used the Gregorian calendar. An 11-day gap existed between the two calendars.

 

As early as the 12th century, calendars had a way of teasing out insolence. Abraham bar Hiyya Savasorda (1065-1136), who lived in Christian Spain, argued that only Muslims and Jews had a lunar calendar that wasn’t impacted by solar measurements. “We say that in the kingdom of the Ishmaelites they began this computing from the beginning of the sin of the mad evildoer who misled them,” he wrote.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/arts/the-politics-of-jewish-calendars/2011/08/10/

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