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December 19, 2014 / 27 Kislev, 5775
 
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‘Caught’ Using an iPhone, Rabbi Amnon Yitzchak Scorns his Detractors, While Urging Visitors to Carry a ‘Rabbi in Every Pocket’

Monday, October 15th, 2012

While senior Haredi rabbis are intensifying their battle against smartphones, and have begun as of late to levy personal sanctions against people using these devices, ostensibly to isolate them so they cannot inflict their cultural/spiritual damage on society – one notable and extremely influential Haredi star, Rabbi Amnon Yitzchak, continues to use this dangerous device unheeded.

Rabbi Amnon Yitzchak claims that Torah sage Rabbi Aaron Leib Steinman granted him and his assistants special permission to use the iPhone “for the purpose of hachzara b’tshuva,” encouraging people to return to observance of Torah & mitzvot.

Of all the people I disagree with ideologically, Rabbi Amnon Yitzchak is by far my favorite. When I’m feeling down I go to You Tube and pick a clip of his at random and let it run for thirty minutes or so. For me, it cures the blues. Because the good rabbi never cowers before anyone, and if he thinks he’s right he is visibly happy to let out the most unpopular statements, if only to watch the heads of his detractors explode with frustration.

One of his favorite sports is to pick up off the cuff debates with people in his audience, many of whom come specifically to duke it out with him. Not all of them pose much of an intellectual challenge, but I’m sure the outspoken rabbi can hold his own against anyone.

So I was curious to read his reaction to the allegations regarding his use of the verboten instruments, after social media users and several websites publicized pictures of him with the little box that made Steve Jobs king.

Rabbi Amnon Yitzchak addressed the issue on his own website, “Shofar,” calling his critics “fools” and saying they insult God.

He cited our sages, who warned that “anyone who doubts his rabbi, it is as if he is doubts the Divine Presence.” He then added another warning, citing the sages who taught that “he who casts suspicion upon the innocent will receive bodily punishment.”

Referring to the topic at hand, Rabbi Yitzchak published an ad on his website titled “Clarification to Eliminate Stumbling Blocks and Slander,” with the explanation: “Rabbi Amnon Yitzchak is against the iPhone and similar devices. Regarding the question of stupid and uninformed individuals, who ask how come Rabbi Amnon Yitzchak uses an iPhone, let it be known that the eminent Torah sage Rabbi Aharon Leib Steinman gave personal permission to the rabbi and to his staff to use iPhones for the purpose of bringing Jews back to Torah observance.”

Last week, Rabbi Moshe Tzadka, dean of Yeshivat Porat Yosef, gave an order to smash the smartphone belonging to one of the boys in the yeshiva. Before breaking the phone, Rabbi Tzadka remarked that this is fulfilling the commandment of sanctifying God’s name and the act of destroying the device is like the Torah passage referring to idol worship: “And their altars you shall shatter and their monuments shall be broken.”

After the owner of the phone broke it in two pieces with his own hands, the rabbi called upon all present to declaim the passage together with him, “So shall all your enemies be smitten, God.”

An “iPhone smashing” ceremony was held several weeks ago, in the Maayan Shalom synagogue in the Pardes Katz neighborhood of Bnei Brak, where another smartphone was smashed to pieces. Presiding over that ceremony was Rabbi Lior Glazer (the Magid Meisharim) who peppered his words of rebuke with loud pounding of a wooden gavel, and called the religious users of the various “impure” smartphone devices despicable, villainous abominations.

The anti-smartphone forces in the Haredi world compare it to something like a house of ill repute right inside your pocket. But, much like the folks over at Chabad.org, Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak has devoted his life to loading positive, God fearing and extremely enjoyable messages online.

Which is why the “Shofar” website, that serves as an enormous archive of Rabbi Amnon Yitzchak’s articles and videos, also celebrates the fact that from now on subscribers to the website as well as free users (for a limited time only) will be able to get pocket versions of the rabbi’s wisdom.

“With mazal tov, we’re on our way: the Rabbi in every pocket. You can watch the films of the Rabbi, may he live long, on iPhone and iPad as an application in the new website under the category of Edited Films. Enjoy!”

Florida Holocaust Museum Hosts Several Exhibits

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

The Florida Holocaust Museum of St Petersburg is proud to present the following exhibits:

Humanity Beyond Barbed Wire: Hitler’s Soldiers in the Sunshine States – on view through October 27, this exhibition is based on a book by Robert Billinger. It illustrates the principles of a democratic nation and the humane treatment of enemy combatants during World War II.

Letters to Sala: A Young Woman’s Life in Nazi Labor Camps – on view through December 31. Sala Garncarz saved items including postcards, photos and official documents from the time she entered a labor camp in 1940 until her liberation in 1945.

Reflections on Man’s Fate: The Art of Judith Weinshall Liberman – on view through Jan. 20, 2013. Drawn from the Florida Holocaust Museum’s permanent collection, this exhibition is made up of paintings and textile work by award-winning artist Judith Weinshall Liberman. The collection includes wall hangings and works on canvas.

Commemoration: Kristallnacht, the pogrom of 1938 – Thursday, Nov. 8, 7 p.m.

Guest speaker: Sigmund Tobias, author of Strange Haven: A Jewish Childhood in Wartime Shanghai. The event is free to all; no RSVPs are necessary.

Always on view: History, Heritage and Hope – the museum’s permanent exhibition. Kaddish in Wood – Dr. Herbert Savel’s wood carvings.

For more information call 727-820-0100, or visit the museum’s website (www.flholocaustmuseum.org) for directions and further details including holiday closures. Limited free parking is available.

Hallucinatory Realism

Friday, October 12th, 2012

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2012 was awarded yesterday to Chinese writer Mo Yan “who with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary.”

I liked that description very much. I went looking for texts by the fresh winner. Among several offerings online, not all of which would befit a frum website, I found the following paragraphs, from his most recent work, “POW!” which is soon to be published in English:

Huang Biao snared a pig’s knuckle and examined it. What was he looking for? It was soft and fully cooked, and would be overdone if he let it stew any longer. But he threw it back in, picked out a dog’s leg, and went through the same drill, but this time he sniffed it. What are you doing, you moron? It’s ready to eat, so turn down the heat before it turns mushy. Next came a sheep’s leg, and once again it was examine and smell. Why don’t you taste it, you moron? . . . Now that the heat had diminished, the liquid was no longer roiling, although a few ripples remained in the spaces between the cuts of meat, whose song had softened as they waited to be eaten.

But then the whole gritty, peasant cooking scene goes way out of bounds when Huang Biao ends up using his bodily fluids as cooking wine, which was just too gritty for me.

I suppose we keep looking for bigger and bigger shock effects. So you should know, Chinese peasant life is pretty shocking.

Anyway, when you now see references to Mo Yan’s brutal style, you’ll have an idea.

Way too much culture gap for me.

New York Jewish Doctor Co-Recipient of Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Robert J. Lefkowitz, a Jewish physician and path-breaking biochemist from New York, has won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry jointly with Brian K. Kobilka, a researcher at California’s Stanford University.

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2012 went to the scientists for “groundbreaking discoveries that reveal the inner workings of an important family … of receptors: G-protein–coupled receptors,” an Oct. 10 posting on the website of the Nobel Prize stated. Understanding how these receptors function helped further explain how cells could sense their environment, according to the text.

Lefkowitz – who works at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute of Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina — and Kobilka worked together to isolate and analyze a gene which led them to discover that “the receptor was similar to one in the eye that captures light. They realized that there is a whole family of receptors that look alike and function in the same manner,” the Nobel Prize website said.

Lefkowitz, 61, and Kobilka, 57, will share a $1.2 million grant from the Nobel Prize Committee.

On Oct. 9. The Nobel Prize Committee in Stockholm announced that Serge Haroche, a French-Jewish physicist, had won the Nobel Prize in Physics jointly with David Wineland from the United States. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2011 went to Dan Shechtman of Israel’s Technion.

In 2008, Lefkowitz received the US National Medal of Science. The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles reported at the time that he was one of three American-Jewish recipients that year of the nation’s highest honor in science and technology.

In an interview with Emily Harris which appeared this summer on the website of Duke University, Lefkowitz is quoted as saying: “I was clearly destined to be a physician, I dreamed about it from the third grade on. Wouldn’t trade that part of my experience in for anything. I LOVED medical school.” He also said: “I do regret that my dad died thinking I would be a practicing cardiologist, never dreaming what the future held for me.”

Lefkowitz’s father, who died at the age of 63, “never got to see any of this play out,” Lefkowitz said.

Chief Rabbinate’s Website Hacked

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Arab hackers, hacked the Chief Rabbinate’s website tonight.

Arab hackers have been attacking Israeli government and municipal websites all evening. They succeeded in changing the homepage on a few of them.

Fresh, Colorful & Tasty Sukkos Ideas

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

One year we went out for a meal and instead of bringing along the usual chocolates or wine, I offered the hostess an array of colorful salads. After seeing how muchthey were enjoyed, I thought it would be nice to recreate them. All these salads can be made a day in advance and refrigerated until serving time, making them ideal for a hectic, busy Yom Tov time of year. Besides, it’s always nice to have something different and delicious to serve when extra guests and family come over…

Colorful Baby Corn and Pea Salad

Serves 10

All Photos by: Reuven AnshServes 10

Ingredients for salad

3 cans of baby corn, each chopped into small, bite sized pieces
2 cups frozen peas, thawed, NOT boiled
1 medium size Spanish or red onion, sliced into half rings
1 red pepper, diced
1 orange pepper, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced

Ingredients for dressing

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions

In a large bowl combine chopped baby corns and the frozen and thawed peas. (If you are pressed for time, simply rinse the peas for a minute under tap water, using an ordinary sieve. Then drain them briefly and add them in.)

Then add the peppers and red onion.

Pour the dressing ingredients over all and mix well. Place the salad in a covered container and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. Presents beautifully every time!

Red & Green Cabbage Sala
Serves 8

Ingredients for salad

1 small head red cabbage, shredded (or use a half bag prepared shredded cabbage for each color), about 2 cups of shredded cabbage
2 cups of shredded cabbage
1 carrot, peeled and shredded
1 stalk celery, diced
1 small green apple, diced
1 scallion, diced
1 medium sized firm cucumber, peeled and diced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup slivered almonds, optional

Ingredients for dressing

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup light mayonnaise, optional

Place all the shredded and diced vegetables and fruits in a large bowl and toss. Chill the salad in a covered container until serving. In a separate small bowl, mix together the Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, sugar, parsley, olive oil and mayonnaise. If you prefer the dressing thicker, you can whisk it up in a blender instead of doing it by hand. Directly before serving, drizzle the dressing over the salad, toss it well and serve.

And here’s to one more simple yet different salad…

Mushroom and Pepper salad
Serves 6

I’m a real fan of mushrooms in whatever form they come. I made up this recipe years and years ago and somehow never thought to publish it before now. It couldn’t be simpler.

Ingredients for salad

1 large can of mushrooms or two smaller cans OR 2 boxes of fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 red pepper, diced
1 orange pepper, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
1-2 scallions, sliced

Ingredient for dressing

1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt (you may need more salt if you are using fresh mushrooms, the canned ones have salt already added)
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried dill

Directions

Just put all the mushrooms and diced vegetables into a large bowl. Add in the dressing ingredients and toss to mix well. Leave it to marinade in the fridge, covered, for several hours or overnight. Serve in a pretty dish and watch your guests enjoy!

If there’s anything left over, you can serve it the next day over some shredded lettuce or other greens…

This last recipe is an all time favorite in my family. I got the idea from my mother-in-law, Mrs. Gloria Ansh of Teaneck, NJ. No matter what the age, from two year olds to seniors, this recipe is always a favorite. I enjoy serving it as a second main dish to the Shabbos Chol Hamoed day meal but really, it can be used any time you want a kid friendly recipe that every person at the table will reach for…

Chicken Schnitzelettes
(Well, that’s my personal name for them! Others would call them ‘nuggets’)

The Democratic Party And Jerusalem: Another Amendment Required

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Once again we see that no matter what happens, Yerushalayim keeps popping up in the center of world events. Just last week, the Democratic Party was innocently preparing the re-election bid of the incumbent leader of the free world, when it abruptly found itself having to deal with a major brouhaha concerning its omission of Jerusalem from its platform – and an even larger commotion when it put it back in.

It was not immediately clear which part of the debacle – the beginning, end, or middle – was the most embarrassing, awkward and vote-costly for the Democrats.

It began when protests erupted from various quarters against the platform’s omission of Jerusalem. Among those complaining were the Orthodox Union, the Republican Jewish Coalition, and some Israeli Knesset Members. The OU stated, “At a time when Arab leaders persistently… deny the ancient Jewish connection to our holy city, the decision of national leaders of the Democratic Party to go silent on this issue is extremely disappointing… Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, and America’s national leaders do no service to the people of the Mideast or the world by refusing to acknowledge [this].”

An official Republican Party statement charged that the Obama administration is “painfully out of touch with the mainstream of the Jewish community, which knows that Jerusalem… must remain the undivided capital of the Jewish State of Israel.”

From both wings of the Israeli Knesset also came condemnation. Meretz party chair MK Zahava Gal-On expressed concern that Jerusalem was not “on the agenda of the Democrats,” while Deputy Knesset Speaker MK Danny Danon, of the Likud’s more nationalist wing, said the omission stemmed from Obama’s hostility to Israel. “The things Obama says about Jewish rights in Jerusalem are… an ongoing policy,” Danon said. “We can clearly say that he is no friend of the State of Israel.”

In response, the Democrats tried damage control, at Obama’s behest, but it backfired. At the convention itself, the party changed the platform, adding three short sentences about Jerusalem’s future as Israel’s undivided capital and it being subject to negotiations. This was supposed to be a nod to Israel’s supporters, though the thought of negotiating one’s holy capital with one’s enemies is not a particularly serene one; see below.

Approval of the change was supposed to be made official by a voice vote, requiring an “easy” two-thirds majority. It wasn’t so simple, however, and the chairman’s confusion was painfully apparent when the vocal “aye” and “nay” votes were heard equally loudly. He called for another vote, and then a third, with the same result each time – until finally he overrode both his hearing and democratic compunctions and declared, “In the opinion of the chair, 2/3 of the delegates have voted in the affirmative and the resolution has been adopted.”

Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin, the leading candidate to be Israel’s next president, said that the addition of Jerusalem to the platform was no reason for optimism, because its original omission had been no oversight. “I am certain that President Obama restored Jerusalem to the platform only because of political and electoral pressure,” Rivlin said, “and because of the sharp criticism in Israel and the U.S.”

The Republicans were also quick on the draw to capitalize on the Democratic flip-flop. The Republican Jewish Coalition released an ad for Jewish newspapers in states with sizeable Jewish populations, charging that the Democrats are “split when it comes to supporting Israel…. It’s become painfully clear that this party is no longer the Democratic Party of our parents’ generation.”

Even many Democrats are still unhappy with the corrected party platform. Some were disappointed that it still does not say Israel is America’s most reliable ally in the Middle East, while others bemoaned the lack of a declaration that the Arab refugee issue will be resolved only within the confines of a PA state.

And of course, the Palestinian Authority was quick to condemn. A top aide to PA leader Mahmoud Abbas said a failure to recognize the PA claims in Jerusalem, as in the revised platform, will “destroy the peace process” and lead to “endless war.”

This threat is actually somewhat laughable, in the light of a most fascinating development in the field of Israeli revisionist history. Renowned “New Historian” Prof. Benny Morris, famous for having publicized alleged Israeli massacres such as Dir Yassin and more, and for having refused to serve in the reserves in Judea and Samaria, has lately taken a decidedly hawkish stance. He said that it is mainly due to Arab intransigence and desire to destroy Israel totally that the current Mideast conflict “has no solution.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/keeping-jerusalem/the-democratic-party-and-jerusalem-another-amendment-required/2012/09/12/

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