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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Wedding’

The Secret of Orthodoxy’s Success

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

There is a little known fact (outside of Lubavitch) about the founder of Chabad Chasidus, Rav Shneur Zalman of Liadi (the author of the Shulchan Aruch HaRav – also known as the Baal HaTanya). He supporeted the Czar of Russia in opposition to Napolean. R’ Shneur Zalman reasoned that the freedom that would result via Napolean’s emancipation from the Czar would cause Jews to go Off the Derech (OTD). He wasn’t entirely wrong.

Not that an anti-Semitic dictatorship like the Czarist Russia or the Soviet Union didn’t do the same thing or worse. Most Jews in the anti Semitic/anti religious Soviet Union were unable to remain observant. But it cannot be argued that too much freedom will result in the masses opting out of observant Judaism – or even Judaism altogether.  At least that is what the recent Pew study revealed. A shocking 70% of non Orthodox Jews marry out and only 20% of their children are raised with any semblance of Jewish identity.

Why is that? There are many reasons mostly having to do with a lack of any significant Jewish education. But that is only part of the story. An Interesting observation was made by Bethamie Horowitz in a Forward article that had a positive spin on that survey. Sort of positive – that is.

She noted that marrying out is not so much a function of going OTD as it is the result of an overwhelming sense of acceptance of Jews into American society of Jews and Judaism. That should be obvious to anyone who is paying attention. Here are some examples of that:

Yiddish words are increasingly seeping into the English language.

The Holocaust is perhaps the most revered subject in the public square today. Hollywood – which is probably the most influential component of American culture – will not let us forget it. Every year there is another Holocaust movie or documentary. Which is often nominated for an Academy Award.

The number of Jews winning the Nobel Prize was immense this year it seems. I believe that 22% of all Nobel Prize winners are Jews (Whereas only .2% of the world population are Jews.)

In fact there are so many indicators of our acceptance that it would take up too much space to include them all. I recall reading about a poll recently that said that Judaism is the most respected religion in America.

Not only are Jews no longer hiding their Judaism by changing their names; not wearing a Kipa in public (if they are male); and keeping  their religious practices completely private – if at all, they are now proudly proclaiming their Jewish identity.

It is now ‘cool’ to be Jewish in this country. But it is not cool to be observant. That is a burden that a proud assimilated and not religiously educated Jew can do without. Without a religious education the freedom to assimilate can and probably will lead you astray. Why be observant, an assimilated Jew might ask? Just be a proud Jew. The next generation will ask why even bother even being Jewish at all? ‘I don’t even like bagels’ they might say. ‘I prefer lobster!’  Intermarriage? What’s the big deal? It is completely accepted now.

The ultimate demonstration of that was one of the most famous intermarriages of the modern era. Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of a President married a Jew. Her wedding highlighted many aspects of a Jewish wedding, including a Chupah and a Kesubah. Her husband even wore a Kipa under the Chupah. And the media was all over this fawning over it like it was a royal marriage. As Ms. Horowitz points out:

A cartoon from the October 1, 2012, issue of The New Yorker depicted a couple and a wedding planner with the following caption: “No, we’re not Jewish. But we think it would be fun for our reception’s theme to be ‘A Jewish wedding.’”

So is R’ Shneur Zalman right? Should we be praying for a government that will oppress us? Is oppression the only thing that will keep us Jewish? Apparently that is what the Baal HaTanya believed. The Judaism of his generation was apparently very shallow. A Jew would not remain a Jew if given the chance – and the anti Semitic Czar would never give a Jew that chance.

He preferred persecuting us. And Jews remained Jewish and for the most part observant. Why observant? The communities were tight knit and going OTD meant being ostracized. Which of course meant that an OTD Jew would have no place to go since he was still a Jew and not accepted by Russian gentiles. He was worthy only of persecution.

What a sad commentary on Judaism if the best way to keep Jews observant is by keeping them oppressed. This is what R’ Shneur Zalmen wanted and it is why (I am told) he supported the Czar.

But I have to disagree with him and the entire premise of blaming freedom for the masses going OTD. It isn’t the fault freedom. It’s the fault of lack of a proper religious Jewish education. The vast majority o those of us who were properly educated are today observant… in an era of complete freedom and total acceptance by general society.

As Noah Feldman’s article in Bloomberg  pointed out, one need only look at Lakewood to see just how well religiously educated Jews are doing. Their growth has been exponential over the last couple of generations. That Noah Feldman  – a once Orthodox but now assimilated Jew who married out pointed this out – does not detract from the reality of what he said. (Ironically he was given a religious Jewish education. But he is the exception that proves the rule. Unfortunately there are a lot of exceptions. The reason for that is beyond the scope of this post.)

So there you have it. The real fault of why the vast majority of Jews in this country are not observant lies mostly with the lack of any significant religious education for the masses of Jews who immigrated here in the early 20th century. Jewish education was practically non-existent then. Coupled with the melting pot climate of assimilation and the requirement to work on Shabbos in order to keep your job…  the children of these immigrants ran away from observance in droves. They wanted to be Americans. Not Jews. Those 90 percent of Jews who are today are not observant are their offspring. Through no fault of their own – being completely bereft of any Jewish education – they do not know the definition of Judaism and see no value in it. As can be seen from the Pew study.

The good news is that many of these Jews do not have the biases of their parents or grandparents. Their parents and grandparents hated the burdens of being observant and ran away from observance. Their children don’t know enough about it to hate it. Of course this is not true in all cases. Many of these young people do not want to give up the freedom that non observance affords them. But a surprising number of them do.  That’s where organizations like NCSY comes in.

So, all is not lost. The lesson we should take from all of this is that we should appreciate and even cherish the freedom this great country of ours affords us. And  that oppression is not the way to keep Jews in the fold.  Being Jewish because circumstances force you to be is not a prescription for Jewish continuity. Education is. And that is the secret of Orthodox success in this – the free’est country in the world.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah .

Yahrzheit Today for Dr. Applebaum and Daughter Nava

Monday, August 19th, 2013

A Palestinian Authority suicide bomber ten years ago Monday night, on the Hebrew calendar, exploded his charge and killed seven people, including American Israelis Dr. David Applebaum and his daughter Nava the evening before her wedding date.

Slightly less than two years ago, Palestinian Authority terrorist Ibrahim Muhammad Yunus Dar Musa, who helped plan the gruesome murders, was among more than 1,000 terrorists and security prisoners whose prison sentences were cut short in order to enable the safe return of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.

Dar Musa was sentenced to only 17 years in jail for organizing the suicide bombing. Dr. Applebaum, a native of Detroit and an ordained rabbi, headed a hospital emergency room and had developed new methods for treating suicide bombing victims.

He was walking into Jerusalem’s Hillel restaurant with his 20-year-old daughter, born in Cleveland, when the suicide bomber detonated his explosives.

Several hours earlier, Nava immersed herself in a mikveh ritual bath, as is required prior to a wedding, which in this case never took place.

The security guard at the restaurant, warned by intelligence officials of a possible terrorist attack, spotted the suicide bomber but did not want to shoot him in the back, fearing that the bullet would set off the bomb.

Want a Tzohar Rabbi for the Wedding? Avoid Petach Tikvah

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

The Religious Council of Petach Tikvah, located next to Tel Aviv, is generally known to give problems for couple wanting to get married by modern orthodox rabbis registered with the Tzohar organization, a rabbi told The Jewish Press Thursday.

Responding to the reported plight of a young man whose request for a certificate that he is single was rejected by the Petach Tikvah Religious Council, the rabbi, who has performed dozens of weddings, explained that the council is known for giving modern orthodox men a hard time.  He added that the rejection had nothing to do with the election loss  two weeks ago of Tzohar Rabbi David Stav to Haredi Rabbi David Lau

The Petach Council reportedly rejected the prospective groom’s request for a certificate because he opened a file with Tzohar. The Council tried to explain that the young man did not bring with him the required documents and that his wanting to be married by a Tzohar rabbi was irrelevant.

The rabbi who spoke with The Jewish Press suggested that the prospective groom travel to the nearby city of Shoham, where there is no problem with the Rabbinate.

Many Haredi rabbis on religious councils resent the growing popularity of Tzohar

 

 

Shabbos Holds 100 Proof for Whiskey Lovers

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Jewish whiskey lovers have scheduled their second annual “Whiskey Jewbilee” for October, after the High Holidays, following last year’s stunning success of the first festival that was arranged after the wider known WhiskeyFest was held on the Sabbath.

Drinking a glass of “schnapps” and saying “L’Chaim” is not a Jewish law or even an ancient tradition, but it has been ingrained in modern Jewish life. There is barely a single Bar Mitzvah, wedding or other “simchah” without whiskey. And on Purim, the corks pop faster than one can drown out “Haman.”

Last year’s WhiskeyFest was held on Friday night Saturday, precluding many observant whiskey lovers from attending.

The relatively new Jewish Whiskey Company staged a  “counter festival” on a week night at a West Side synagogue and drew 250 people, according to The New York Times , and delivered the proof that one can enjoy a whiskey festival and still observe the Sabbath.

Whiskey companies that were not represented at the Jewbilee realized that the WhiskeyFest’s Saturday event cost them customers.

Although whiskeys are often kosher without special procedures, many producers are attracting Jewish drinkers by offering their bottles with kosher supervision.

An estimated 50 percent of former WhiskeyFest events were attended by orthodox Jews, but many of them were drawn last year to the Jewbilee, which is hoping to attract a lot more this year, with a second event in Westchester County.

The Jewish Whiskey Company pushes Jewish identity and uses a watermark of the Star of David on the front of its bottles.

For Love or Money – The Real Cost of a Wedding

Sunday, August 26th, 2012

When your child was a newborn baby, you probably thought that this moment would take forever to arrive. Think of all of the effort that you have put into your child over the years, with so many hopes and prayers that they would grow up to find a suitable spouse and one day you would proudly stand under the chuppah and watch the happy couple tie the knot.

Unfortunately, despite all of the hopes and dreams, many parents either don’t or can’t put so much effort into saving the money that goes into paying for the wedding. There could be many reasons for this. Maybe the parents didn’t think too much about it, and because the thought of a wedding always seemed so far away, they woke up too late and did not invest their money sensibly and in time. On the other hand, the parents may have tried their best to put money aside to pay for their children’s weddings, but try though they did, there was simply not enough. Perhaps their income was just not high enough, or maybe some other events happened within the family, like a sudden illness, that consumed all of their savings unexpectedly before they could be channeled into a wedding.

Unfortunately, another huge factor in this equation is peer pressure. Very often, families feel that they have to keep up with the Joneses in a big way. It becomes very important to them, for example, to hold the wedding in a certain, fancy hall. Even though the other hall down the road is large enough for their needs, “no one” gets married there because it is not quite as upmarket as the most popular hall in town, and therefore the parents feel the need to find the extra few thousand dollars that it costs to use the fancier place. And then of course, if you are using the fancy hall, then you can only take a fancy caterer, and so on and so forth.

Finding those extra dollars is not always so easy. And this is where the debt trap comes into play. As a financial adviser, I have often met families who are drowning in debt. To keep up appearances, they decide to borrow money from a loan fund. But when the time comes to pay off the debt, their financial situation has not suddenly improved. In fact, the additional expenses of the wedding have gobbled up most of their resources, and there is nothing left to pay back. So guess what happens? They go to another loan fund to obtain money to pay off the first debt … and so on and so forth until this unfortunate family falls even more deeply into a financial black hole.

Let’s go back to the beginning of this story. If the family had been content to make a more modest wedding, with fewer trimmings, they would not only have saved several thousand dollars, but they would have also saved themselves a lot of heartache.

Marriage is not meant to be a financial free for all, and using a topflight caterer will not guarantee anyone’s future happiness.

Before you decide to drown yourself in debts from banks, gemachim, and elsewhere, take a few steps back. Think about how much you really can afford to pay before taking on the bills, and where you are going to find the money. And once you know how much money you really have at your fingertips, decide which kind of wedding you are prepared to make.

For more information on how to plan a wedding wisely, read this article at the Profile Perspectives site.

Events In The West

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

On Wednesday, August 1, Dayan Aharon David Dunner will be the featured speaker at L.A.’s Siyum Hashas at the downtown Music Center Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. There will be a hookup with the tens of thousands of men at the national siyum in New Jersey.

More Summer Learning: Beth Jacob San Diego’s SEED program begins on Sunday, July 22… L.A.’s Anshe Emes will hold their annual Chofetz Chaim SEED program beginning at the end of July… The Valley Torah High School Alumni Association kollel continues through Monday, August 6.

Shul Update: After a protracted and controversial struggle, Chabad of North Hollywood, located in the Sherman Oaksarea of the San Fernando Valley, succeeded in obtaining approval from the Los Angeles City Council to proceed with the expansion of their current facility.

LA JOLLA, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Bas Mitzvah: Baila Ertel, daughter of Rabbi Shmuel and Chaya Ertel.

Mazel Tov – Wedding:Michael Denise to Michal Backer.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Births: Moshe and Shifra Hager, a daughter (Grandparents David and Judy Hager)… Rabbi Dr. Raphy and Miriam Hulkower, a daughter (Grandparents Walter and Joann Hulkower)… Rabbi Eliezer and Beracha Cohen of Lakewood, NJ, a son (Grandparents Rabbi Gavriel and Grace Cohen; Rabbi Shlomo and Robin Goldberg)… Avrohom and Chany Stern of Lakewood, NJ, a son (Grandparents Rabbi Eli and Robin Stern)… Lavie and Amanda Klein, a son (Grandparents Shmuel and Tzipporah Klein; Isaac and Ahouva Shapiro)… Rabbi Avrohom and Russi Morgenstern, a daughter… Yoily and Leah Rosenberg, a son (Grandparents Meyer and Raizy Brief)… Shmuli and Ruti Berger, a daughter (Grandparents David and Carol Berger)… Zev and Naamit Nagel, a son (Grandparents Ronnie and Cheryl Nagel; (Great-grandparents Jack and Gitta Nagel).

Mazel Tov – Bar Mitzvahs: Samuel Ellenhorn, son of Joshua and Edith Ellenhorn… Mickey Cooper, son of Dr. Aharon and Odelia Cooper… Yossi Schlesinger, son of Fred and Clarisse Schlesinger.

Mazel Tov – Bas Mitzvah: Sivan Platt, daughter of Dr. Arthur and Yaffa Platt.

Mazel Tov – Engagements: Shimmy Bayer to Leeor Nahum… Ronit Derovan, daughter of Norman and Wendy Derovan, to Daniel Gorenshtein of Brazil… Tova Jacobs, daughter of Dr. Jerry and Ahuva Jacobs, to Moshe Lerer of Teaneck, NJ… Daniella Weiss, daughter of Isaac and Joyce Weiss, to Shami Reichman of Toronto.

Mazel Tov – Weddings: Phillip Marcus, son of Norman and Florence Marcus, to Pamela Kleinman… Avigdor Kessler, son of Hessel and Miriam Kessler, to Ariella Tzion… Batya Rotter, daughter of Dr. Arnold and Leah Rotter, to Gidon Winter of Melbourne, Australia… Daniel Kosberg son of Stephen and Miriam Kosberg, to Barrie Zigman, daughter of Arnold and Rosalie Zigman of Long Beach, CA… Tali Okrent, daughter of Dr. Derek and Batsheva Okrent, to Ted Smolar… Ilana Kellerman, daughter of Drs. Jonathan and Faye Kellerman, to Jordan Moss… Adam Silverstein, son of Neil and Leslie Silverstein, to Rena Kolom of Lincolnwood, IL… Daniella Wasserman, daughter of Steven and Karen Wasserman, to Eli Hami, son of Brouria Hami and the late Yosef Hami… Melissa Gellman, daughter of Meir and Robin Gelman, to Mark Genet.

PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Births: Dan and Beth Nash, a daughter (Grandparents Carl and Sharon Nash)… Jay and Israela Kimche, a son (Grandparents Eli and Yona Sternheim)… Josh and Devorah Walker, a son.

Mazel Tov – Wedding: Michael and Elana Wenacour.

SAN DIEGO, CALIFIORNIA

Mazel Tov – Engagement: Jessica Attia, daughter of Albert and Mazu Attia, to Aaron Wolf of England.

Mazel Tov – Wedding: David Goode to Rifkah Krolikowski.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Birth: Shai and Robin Attia, a son.

Mazel Tov – Wedding: Heshy and Chaya Fried.

VALLEY VILLAGE, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Birth: Avi and Debbie Erblich, a son (Grandparents Baruch and Leah Erblich; Leslie and Michelle Levin of Las Vegas).

Mazel Tov – Bar Mitzvah: Aaron Mamelak, son of Dr. Aaron Mamelak.

Mazel Tov – Weddings: Ariella Tzion, daughter of Yonaton and Liora Tzion, to Avigdor Kessler… Dina Ackerman, daughter of Zoltan and Martha Ackerman, to Moshe Franklin of NY.

DENVER, COLORADO

Mazel Tov – Bas Mitzvah: Talya Schreiber, daughter of Alan and Judy Schreiber.

Mazel Tov – Wedding: Nurit Hirsch, daughter of Dr. Fred and Pia Hirsch, to Matt Rotbart, son of Dr. Harley and Sara Rotbart.

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON

Mazel Tov – Birth: Gavriel and Avigayil Rudnick, a daughter (Grandmother Ruth Hyman).

Courage Under Fire

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

Numerous people sent me a blog post which has been reverberating around the internet — its title translated into English; “One who believes isn’t afraid” The article is about a trip to a wedding last night in Southern Israel, and how the wedding took place, under Gazan rocket fire.

….the scene was just as it would be at any other wedding in Israel.

Except for the part during the chuppah when they had to stop for a few minutes because the Iron Dome was intercepting a rocket, and the huge WHOOOSHH sound made it impossible to hear the ketubah. Except for when, before the toasts, the brother of the Chatan read out a list of “what to do if” scenarios and explained where all the closest shelters were. Except for the part where the Code Red alarm sounded twice during dancing, and half the wedding party vanished.

The author then contemplates the “fear factor” versus the “importance of being at the wedding, and not letting the terrorists win.” I suggest you read her article to get a better understanding of what we’re going through here, and why we continue living here even under seemingly insane conditions. Blog post is here — “They call me Shev

I can easily connect to her post, since on a personal level I made aliya/moved to Israel on the eve of the First Iraq War, when Iraqi scud missiles pummeled the country, and American “Patriot” anti-missile batteries attempted to keep Israel safer.

I moved here fully knowing that Israel was about to be at war, yet couldn’t fathom being anywhere else.

Years later under the current conditions, I still can’t imagine living anywhere else.

My oldest son is currently studying in his pre-IDF yeshiva in Southern Israel, and he has less than 10 seconds to get to bomb shelter from the time a siren goes off. Yet he had absolutely no qualms about going back to his yeshiva this Sunday, knowing full well that Southern Israel was under attack. Eyes wide open, he is fully aware of his surroundings, yet cannot imagine NOT being anywhere else.

Now is not the time to run away, it is the time for the country to stand strong — not simply to send a message to the Palestinian terrorists who want us to run away, but for ourselves and to remind us why we’re here. Standing strong and together reenforces our conviction that this IS our country, our land, our national homeland — where we belong as a nation.

And we’re not leaving.

 

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/muqata/courage-under-fire/2012/03/13/

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