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October 31, 2014 / 7 Heshvan, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘the Jewish Press’

Thanks for the Criticism, David Ha’ivri, But I Think We Were 100% Right

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Pundit David Ha’ivri has written a profound criticism of the Jewish Press Online, which I heartily recommend: (Activist: Jewish Press Online Chided Israel’s friends while Legitimizing Progressive Jewish Groups).

Here is my response, in my capacity as Front Page Editor:

Dear David,

It is quite possible even for the Jewish Press online edition to be wrong, and when we are, we welcome criticism.

We weren’t wrong in this instance, though.

First, we had already dealt with this story only a few days earlier, in two articles published July 20th: “Michelle Bachmann Doubles Down on Muslim Brotherhood Infesting US Government Charge,” and “Is Weiner Running for Mayor? Show Me the Money…” So that the JTA story we “copied and pasted” came within a context with which our readers were familiar.

Incidentally, JPress editors rarely copy and paste a JTA story mindlessly, if only for the fact that we receive 39 whacks every time we let slip a reference to the “West Bank” instead of “Judea and Samaria.”

So that when you write: “Also surprising and disappointing is the fact that The Jewish Press mentioned in passing that this Muslim woman, who is a top aide to Secretary of State Clinton, is married to a former congressman who himself happens to be Jewish. It does not mention that this man brought shame on himself and was impeached for sending pictures of his private parts to young women via text messages” – we didn’t because we had just done it the other day. Twice.

Personally, I honestly and completely believe that Michelle Bachman is several tea cups short of a party. She has been known to make bizarre statements which rarely stand up to scrutiny. All of America recalls the GOP debate when Bachman went after Texas Governor Rick Perry for his 2007 executive order mandating that young girls in Texas be vaccinated against HPV, the most common sexually transmitted disease and one that can lead to cervical cancer.

Bachman actually said: “To have innocent little 12-year-old girls be forced to have a government injection through an executive order is just flat out wrong. That should never be done. That’s a violation of a liberty interest.”

She then told NBC’s “Today” show: “I will tell you that I had a mother last night come up to me here in Tampa, Fla., after the debate. She told me that her little daughter took that vaccine, that injection, and she suffered from mental retardation thereafter.”

Except the congresswoman was unable to identify that tearful mother, nor substantiate with any known medical authority a connection between the vaccine and mental retardation. It was a stern reminder that perhaps the U.S. primary system is not as good a way of picking leaders as we thought.

You write: “When I looked into the backgrounds of these ‘Jewish’ organizations, I was even more surprised – and disappointed – that an established and respected Jewish publication like The Jewish Press would give a platform to groups like The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and The Society for Humanistic Judaism.”

I don’t think it’s our job as a news website to decide who is and isn’t entitled to be called Jewish. In a broader context we could point out the subtle distinctions between a Shomer Shabbes Yid from Flatbush and anyone from either of the above mentioned organizations. But in a story that’s about a blip on the political radar screen – Congresswoman made a wild, unsubstantiated attack, a bunch of organizations including Jewish ones registered their objection – citing those distinctions doesn’t make much sense. Plus, our readers are smart enough to know the difference.

But near the end, you write something truly scary: “The person mentioned in the representatives’ inquiry is not a very observant Muslim, and the inquiry did not refer in any way to her religious observance. What was in question is her very close family relationship to leading figures in the Muslim Brotherhood.”

I don’t respond well to guilt by association. I think it’s cheap. It doesn’t show concern, it’s a permanent call for pitchforks and torches and let’s kill the bastards.

Don’t get me wrong, as a husband and a father I’m in favor of racial profiling in some cases, when it means police get to do a better job protecting all of us—at the expense or inconvenience of some individuals. I’ve been pulled off lines at airports because of my helmet-size, black yarmulke and my suspicious beard, I know the drill.

Police Bar Jewish Visitors at Temple Mount on the 9th of Av

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

Despite several Israel Police announcements last week that the Temple Mount would be open to Jewish visitors on Tisha B’Av, hundreds of Jews were deeply disappointed this morning to discover that the police have reneged on their promise.

Yosef Rabin, who was at the blocked entrance, told the Jewish Press that the disappointment felt by everyone was “unbearable.”

“We discovered that once again we were deceived by the police,” Rabin said.

Yehuda Glick, spokesman for the joint staff of Temple organizations, pointed out that “among the hundreds of Jews who have assembled this morning there is a sense of grave disappointment. Despite all the attempts made by the Temple Mount activists to coordinate our activities with the police, time after time we are slapped in the face.”

A spokesman for the Jerusalem Police told the Jewish Press that entrance to Temple mount was barred for all visitors, Jews and non-Jews alike. According to the spokesman, Police have received intelligence regarding a planned attempt by Jewish activists to pray on Temple Mount, which would have been a violation of the status quo. The spokesman cited right wing Jewish websites which incited their followers to conduct prayer on the mount.

Why I Love Working at the Jewish Press (I)

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

I plan to make this a series of articles, pointing out how the Jewish Press effectively removes the poison from the fangs of the Jewish media stories, putting things in context and perspective and providing a Truth that represents both reality, and by definition, our Torah values.

Yesterday, the LA Daily News ran a story under the headline: CA Supreme Court upholds class-action lawsuit alleging desecration at Jewish cemetery.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency (“We deliver yesterday’s news tomorrow”) cited this story almost verbatim from the original story, except for the headline:

Calif. Supreme Court upholds lawsuit against Jewish cemetery firm.

That is a fat lie. And an intentional lie at that. It gives the impression that a Jewish firm is being sued by angry mourners, and if the good yet busy reader didn’t actually read the LADN story, they would walk away with the grumpy notion that those Jewish businessmen are ripping off their customers again.

It’s a fat lie because the Jewish cemetery, Eden Memorial Park, in Mission Hills, CA, is part of a burial empire based in Texas, and it was they, the corporate bastards who happen to own a Jewish cemetery, who allegedly gave the order to dig up the Jewish dead under their care and replant them in mass graves.

Compare JTA’s pack of innuendoes, to the Jewish Press’ headline: Calif. Court Clears Path for Suit against Texas Corporation for Desecrating Jewish Cemetery.

I hope to keep you posted on these differences between us and the rest of the crowd, so you’ll have even more reasons to keep coming back here many times a day, and to give us a “like” on our Facebook page.

Oh, man, now I need my coffee. Nothing like starting the day with a good corporate mass grave story…

Mendelevich: ‘Educating Young Jews Is at the Core of my Being’

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

In Unbroken Spirit: A Heroic Story of Faith, Courage and Survival (Gefen Publishing), the newly released English translation of his memoir, internationally renowned former Soviet refusenik Rabbi Yosef Mendelevich tells a compelling story of struggle and victory. He spoke to The Jewish Press during his recent U.S. book tour.

The Jewish Press: You’d already published your memoir in Hebrew years ago. Why an English version at this particular time?

Rabbi Mendelevich: A group of American Jews who were involved in the struggle to free Soviet Jewry came up with this idea about a year ago. Pamela Cohen, the president of the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews from 1986 through 1996, called and asked me why I never published my book in English. She and others like her saw my life as more than a simple story. It is the story of a young boy struggling to find his Jewish identity in a spiritual wasteland and of a young man challenging the draconian dictates of the Communist monolith in a struggle for freedom.

She came to the conclusion that my story published in English would inspire young and often alienated Jews searching for their own identity.

Describe your life as a young child in Stalinist Russia.

I grew up as an atheist. My parents were not interested in me having a Jewish education. My father was involved in the Communist underground in Riga, but both my parents spoke Yiddish and I was taught Jewish history. Back then in the Soviet Union Jewish tradition did not exist but Riga was the center of the renaissance of the Jewish movement. Before World War II, books were published in Russian about the great Revisionist Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky.

In the 1960s an underground movement of Jews supporting Israel began to take hold. One could tell the difference between life under Stalin and life under Khrushchev. You could sit in jail forever under the Stalin government for learning about Jewish culture, language and thought. In 1963, the first book on Jewish vocabulary was printed and many books on Hebrew poetry served as a catalyst for Jews to become closer to their identity. It was like a miracle.

When did you take an interest in activism on behalf of Israel and Jews?

While still a teenager, I gravitated toward activism in 1964. I attended a technical college for four years and studied electronics and computers. I worked as an engineer in a big plant in Riga, and in terms of technology it was advanced. The moment I became an engineer, I wanted to leave the Soviet Union and go to Israel. I had a big decision to make. If I obtained my degree I would have to stay in the Soviet Union forever, so I sacrificed my career by not getting the degree. It boiled down to either staying in the Soviet Union or living as a free man whose destiny is in his hands.

Where was your life heading after you finished your studies?

In 1968 I was fired from my job as an engineer for inquiring about emigrating to Israel. At that juncture I was also heavily involved in various Zionist organizations and in 1969 I assumed the position of editor of a national journal on Jewish issues. Everything had to be top secret so we met clandestinely in forests or perhaps in someone’s apartment. I was in charge of deciding what to write and what articles to publicize, and it was sent all over the Soviet Union. We had only published two issues before my arrest.

Why did you hijack a plane in 1970?

Soviet antipathy toward Israel continued to increase in the years following the 1967 Six-Day War. Israeli soldiers were called hooligans in the Soviet press but we in the Jewish underground only yearned for the freedom to go to Israel, study in yeshiva and be part of the Zionist dream. We decided to hijack a plane to the West to spotlight our plight, even though we knew how risky it was. While undertaking this action, we dreamed about fighting in the Golani Brigade in Israel. We also wanted to counter the incessant Soviet propaganda that told the world there was no Jewish issue in Russia and that Jews were very happy to be proud Soviet citizens. We wanted the world to know there was a growing number of Jews who wanted to connect to their Jewish heritage, to study Hebrew and dedicate themselves to studying Torah.

I’ve Got Tzfat on my Mind

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Our neighbor at the center of the row of visual treats on the front page of the Jewish Press, Salome Worch, lives and draws in the city of Tzfat, and her lovely images really do this ancient city justice. So this morning we decided to one up her and went looking for lovely photographic images to bring to you.

Here it is. We believe the only proper title for this image is “Tzfat.”

The World Is Aghast as 500 Jewish Families Are Promised Homes

Monday, July 16th, 2012

The AP has apparently caught the Israeli government red handed on the eve of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to the Jewish state, as said government has “quietly agreed to grant subsidies to build more than 500 new homes in the West Bank, backtracking from a promise earlier this year to deny these incentives to the settlements.”

It’s our habit at the Jewish Press to scrub the “west bank” thing and replace it with the more biblical “Judea and Samaria,” despite the inherent reference within that name to a period in the life of the nation in which it was split into two kingdoms, both of which were eventually scrapped by enemies from without and corruption from within. But in this case it makes sense to keep the WB in place, to retain the brazen cold heartedness of the AP report.

The AP reports that the planned construction has enraged Palestinians, although it is difficult to tell at this point what doesn’t enrage Palestinians. But in this case, the move – imagine, housing for 500 Jewish families – would likely also enrage Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is determined to “re-energize” the Mideast peace efforts.

Back in January, Netanyahu’s Cabinet identified more than 550 communities, “including 70 West Bank settlements,” as national priority areas, the AP reminds us. The list drew immediate protests from… you guessed it, the Palestinians. And so, shortly thereafter, Netanyahu quietly held a second vote in a phone meeting to exclude the settlements from the measure.

That figure of 500 housing units has been bandied about a lot lately, including as compensation for the court ordered demolition of a section of Beit El’s Ulpana Hill neighborhood.

The AP cites Israel’s Housing Ministry, saying that the government has approved subsidies for 24 homes in Efrat, south of Jerusalem, as well as “nearly 500 other homes” in Efrat, Beitar Illit and Ariel.

A Housing Ministry spokesman told the AP that construction bids for the 500 homes have not closed yet.

The AP story mentions the Levy committee’s ruling on the legality of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, but it suggests that with more than 500,000 Jewish settlers now living in “the West Bank and east Jerusalem,” the Palestinians say their dream of an independent state is fading as it grows tougher to partition the land between Israelis and Palestinians.

And who among us is heartless enough to want to see a dream fading away?

Of course, each time Israel as much as hints that it is serious about facilitating this dream of binational coexistence based on mutual recognition, it somehow ends in rivers of blood, as the Palestinians are still unwilling to embrace the concept.

Some dreams are better defined as nightmares.

Surfing the Asifah, Now That’s a Roundup

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Every opening to the outside world is a calculated risk. Every time we open a window we chance being shocked by something vile. Every time we ride in our cars, take the subway, even go to shul – something terrible can offend our senses and even influence our very being.

Opening a book – are you kidding me?

Answering the phone – who can it be?

Turning on a radio? Forget it.

Don’t want to bring up television.

As I understand my own religion, my job in this world is to sanctify that which is mundane with my actions. The entire world is open before me, a Jewish woman or man, to set an example of how it should be used righteously. All of it, every last part of it.

We can’t all do it, some of us don’t have the emotional or psychological mettle. That’s fine. I’m happy and proud to belong to a segment of religious Judaism which simply does not fear new things. And I understand and support those who aren’t available for that experiment.

More power to them and to us.

CAN WE HAVE DAILY CULTURE SHOCK OR DOES IT GO AWAY?

It was heartening to see how many folks were seriously trying to come to terms with the Asifa’s main message. And what they thought the message really was.

Internet: A Plea for Common Sense Dad pointed out a few things. However much we all enjoy and use the internet, using the internet can become an addiction. If you don’t believe me, look up the studies. I haven’t seen anything good come out of an addiction to anything. Even Torah. An internet addiction, though, isn’t like being an alcoholic. Alcoholics might be “dry drunks” as long as they don’t drink, but as long as they don’t drink, they’re ok. Not great, but ok. This is more like gluttony. You might be hugely overweight, but you still have to eat. It’s a lot harder to control yourself and give yourself a tiny portion of something you really want then to avoid it completely. (Dad’s analogy)
Sparrow’s Musings

Internet Asifa a Great Kiddush Hashem In the final remarks, the rabbis pledged to move forward with the continuous forging of new ideas. Future gatherings will probably be at a lower cost and scale but focused on actual changes and improvements the community will need to make. Future agendas will include problems and questions such as attitudes towards education and employment, proper allocation of charity funds, funding Jewish education as a community, today’s shidduchim system, agunos, extremism and intolerance, segregation of Ashkenazim and Sefaradim, participation in the Israeli workforce and armed forces, the system of Halachic rulings in Israel and America, reliance on subsidies, and integrity and honesty.

Many of the attendees left the event feeling invigorated about their future and that of their children and grandchildren, echoing the sentiment that through justice and kindness we may merit the coming of the Messiah.
Yosef Drimmel, Rationalist Judaism

Ignorance is Sacred …. To Whom The Internet is terrifying to the rabbanim perhaps because of porn, perhaps because it exposes youth to foreign ideas, but even more importantly, because it enables open dialogue and an honesty they cannot afford if they are to survive as a community, the community they insist they are; pure, innocent, and above their own frailties. And if a few children must be sacrificed for this wholesome lie, then so be it. It is better than any broken truth.
Judy Brown, Rare View

Satmar and the Asifa – Achdus or Isolation? The organizers of the Asifa are desperate to make this about Achdus even more than they are about fighting internet. They therefore felt it was more important to have Satmar involved than to have women attend.

This despite the fact that it is the mother who is in the trenches. Mothers are the guardians of the home. Their husbands are all in the Beis HaMedrash. Morning, noon, and night. Unless they have fallen so low spiritually that they now work for a living. Either way it is the woman that is on the front lines. Not the man.
Emes Ve-Emunah

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/jblogs/surfing-the-asifah-now-thats-a-roundup/2012/05/21/

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