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In Jerusalem, 6,000 Christians March in Support of Israel

Friday, October 5th, 2012

There was love in the air of Jerusalem on yesterday afternoon. Marching through the streets of Jerusalem, approximately 6,000 Christian friends of Israel made their way with flags and smiles, which they readily shared with Israeli bystanders—from ultra-orthodox to secular Jews of all ages and backgrounds.

Israeli Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov (Yisrael Beiteynu) welcomed the Christian visitors, who were led by Evangelical community leaders visiting from across the world to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, the Christian celebration of the seven-day Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

The throngs of visitors, who came from over 100 countries, sang Hatikva and wished “chag sameach (happy holidays)” to Israeli bystanders, who gathered to watch, smiling and waving back. Israeli children collected flags and souvenirs that the Christian participants brought with them to give out from their home countries.

According to the prophet Zechariah, in the messianic era Sukkot will become a universal festival and all nations will make pilgrimages annually to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast there:

And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations that came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the God of Hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be, that whoso of the families of the earth goes not up unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the God of Hosts, upon them there shall be no rain. (Zech. 14:16-17)

Among the different delegations, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Hungary, Czech Republic, Bolivia, Chile, India, Nigeria, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, United States, Canada, Great Britain, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, China, Malaysia, South Africa, Germany, France and Italy, were of the many nations that attended.

Miriam Alster/Flash90

The march was part of the many activities surrounding the Feast of Tabernacles, organized by the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem (ICEJ), which works to express and strengthen Christian support for the State of Israel and the Jewish people.

The Feast of Tabernacles is perhaps the most well-known event of the ICEJ and has taken place every year since 1980, when the embassy was established, drawing thousands of Christians from around the world. The Feast of Tabernacles and all the events surrounding the holiday, which includes visits to Christian holy sites in Israel, as well as lectures, workshops and musical worship in Jerusalem, is considered to be the largest single tourist event in Israel.

Anav Silverman / Tazpit News Agency

In 2011, more than 25% of all incoming tourists to Israel came for the purpose of this pilgrimage, and 42% of those visitors were Christians.

“We love you,” said one Chinese participant to an Israeli woman watching the parade. It was an often repeated statement said in many different accents during the day, which Israelis generally do not get to hear.

“This parade makes me so happy,” said Rivka, a 25-year-old Israeli. “To see all this love pouring from thousands of people is so special. It’s so nice to know that we have friends that truly support us and come to stand openly with our country.”

According to the prophet Zechariah, in the messianic era Sukkot will become a universal festival and all nations will make pilgrimages annually to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast there.

My Machberes

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Jewish History Comes Alive:
The 5773/2012 Munkatcher Sukkah

There are many magnificent sukkahs throughout the world and Boro Park has a large number of them. Most renowned are those of Munkatch and Bobov.

The Munkatcher Sukkah, on 14th Avenue between 47th and 48th Streets serves not only as a Yom Tov citadel of chassidic rapture, but as a portal to the world’s great synagogues of the past, many of which are still in daily use.

Munkatcher Rebbe dancing with Eli Isaac Vegh.

Over the past ten years, a total of 150 enlarged professional photographs have adorned the Munkatcher Sukkah and simultaneously served as major contributions to the knowledge and appreciation of Jewish history, all taking place in midst of a brimming chassidishe setting.

To enhance the Munkatcher Sukkah this year, the Rebbe, along with world-renowned synagogue photographer Joel Berkowitz, and Cantor Eli Isaac (Robert) Vegh, selected 12 exquisite 20×30 portrait photographs that date as far back as the third century CE.

The Munkatcher Sukkah will present a visual display of the following important shuls:

Ancient Shul at Kfar Bar’am, Galilee, Israel

● The Ancient Synagogue at Kfar Bar’am, Galil, Israel, constructed in the third century CE. Its elaborate structure is built of big and beautiful basalt stones. It was built in the third century CE during the Mishnaic and Talmudic period in which the Jews flourished in the Galilee. The facade of the shul, which remains almost complete, is magnificent. It has three doorways and the middle one is especially large and beautiful. These gates, which face Jerusalem, are decorated with beautiful stone carvings.

● Azik Shul, Tangier, Morocco, built in 1820.

● Beis Pinchas Shul, Isle of Djerba, one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world;

● Endigen, Switzerland, built in 1764 and rebuilt in 1854.

● The Main Synagogue of Ensonia, Italy, built in 1882.

● Etz Chaim, Larissa, Greece, built in 1800. The shul alone remains of seven that existed before the Holocaust and currently serves the community’s 350 Jews. During the German occupation, many Jews fled to nearby mountains from where they fought as partisans. The rest were deported to Auschwitz.

Synagogue Florenza, Florence, Italy

● Synagogue Florenza, built in 1874, in Florence, Italy.

● Great Synagogue, Basil, Switzerland, built in 1850 by a then Jewish population of more than 15,000.

● Ezer Shul, Isle of Djerba, built in 1500.

● The Kaddish Shul, Divinsky, Lita, built in 1873.

● Karash Shul, Bursa, Turkey, built in1645.

Inside and Outside the Florence Shul

One of the highlights this year is an interior and exterior photo of the shul in Florence, Italy, considered by many to be one of the most beautiful in the world. The Munkatcher Rebbe was especially interested in the shul, completed in 1882. Considered a masterpiece of design and detail, it is one of the very few great European synagogues that survived the Nazis.

Great Synagogue, Basil, Switzerland

During World War II, the shul was used as Nazi headquarters and command post in Italy. Hitler ordered the synagogue to wired with explosives when the Nazis had to evacuate. He stood on a nearby bridge because he wished to witness the destruction of the shul. Through Heavenly design, relay switches failed and he furiously ordered the demolition crew to go back and correct the wiring defect, but was told that Allied troops had already taken up positions and that returning to the synagogue was impossible.

The shul today continues to serve the Jewish community with services three times every day.

 

The Exhibition’s Beginnings

Eli Isaac (Robert) Vegh of Lawrence is well known in the world of chazzanus. In addition to being a real estate financier, he is the chazzan for the Yamim Noraim at the Avenue N Jewish Center in Flatbush.

Eli has developed an exceptionably warm relationship with the Munkatcher Rebbe and shares his vacation experiences and shul photographs with him. The Rebbe, who has always had an intense interest in older shuls, asks a myriad of pointed questions, with a focus on whether the shuls continue to maintain traditional Torah practices and values and what their communities are like today.

Chic Hanging Vases

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

For many of us, there can never be too many flowers around, so here are some “bright” ideas to add to your Sukkah decoration repertoire

Supplies

Clear light bulb Small needle nose pliers Screwdriver Long screw Fishing line type thread (available at sewing/craft store) Cloth gloves and goggles for hand and eye protection

 

 

Directions

Diagram A

Using your pliers, carefully remove the metal piece from the bottom of the bulb. (Diagram A)

Diagram B

After the piece is removed there will be a hole in center. Begin breaking away the black glass insulator by inserting a screw in the hole and prying out. (Diagram B)

 

Diagram C

With the bottom of the bulb removed, begin removing the innards of the bulb carefully with the pliers and screwdriver. (Diagrams C and D). Caution: Though this task is not at all complicated, caution should be used as the glass is (obviously) fragile.

Diagram D

Measure how low you want vase to hang down, double the thread and cut accordingly.

Diagram E

Wrap the thread around the neck of the bulb and tie a double knot. (In order to insure the vase hangs straight, it is a good idea to take another string and tie it the opposite way. Then, take the strings from both sides and tie them together to form a “handle.” (Diagram E).)

 

Hanging options:

Hang from s’chach

Screw hooks into the wall and hang the vases from them – great as a filler in between decorations.

If cleaning out light bulbs is just not your thing, here’s a similar idea without the adventure.

Supplies

Clear plastic balls (available in craft stores in various sizes) Silk Flowers Fishing line type thread (available at sewing/craft store)

Directions

Remove silk flowers from stem and place in one side of the ball, close ball.

Thread the fishing line through the hole on top of the ball

Finding Moses (Part I)

Friday, September 21st, 2012

As the year draws to a close we have the book of Deuteronomy before us week after week, reviewing many of the halachos and reminding us of our harrowing trek through the wilderness. Moshe Rabbeinu is the stern narrator, guiding us to the very edge of the Promised Land, a final step he will never take. He pleads with God to let him enter the Land to no avail. Finally, “Moses, servant of Hashem, died there, in the land of Moab, by the mouth of Hashem. And He buried him in the depression, in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor, and no one knows his burial place to this day. (Deut. 34: 5).” We complete our reading of the Torah with tears in our eyes for our faithful teacher, prophet and leader, whose life seems to end in angst and frustration. What was the inner life of our brave and tenacious leader?

Moses at the Red Sea (detail) (ca. 235) fresco at Dura Europos Synagogue
Courtesy National Museum, Damascus, Syria

He was everywhere and then mysteriously disappeared in early Jewish Art. In all of the ancient synagogue mosaics that have survived from the first 500 years of the Common Era, not one depicts Moses. And yet in the Dura Europos synagogue murals, created around 235 CE in what is now Syria, we see Moses depicted no less than eight times, easily the most represented figure in all the 28 narratives depicted. We see his rescue from the Nile by Pharaoh’s daughter in extensive images at Dura featuring Pharaoh, his royal court, the midwives, Yocheved and Miriam, as well as a mysterious female figure fetching the baby Moses from his floating basket. Higher up on the synagogue wall multiple images of Moses are seen; heroically leading us out of Egypt, parting the sea and bringing the sea back to destroy the Egyptian army. Further along he proudly presides and towers over the Miraculous Well (Numbers 21:16-20) that sustained us after Miriam dies. Moses sustains us and then, in this ancient visual narrative, disappears. His poignant death is not even alluded to.

In Ravenna, Italy there flourished a school of Christian mosaic decoration between the 5th to 7th centuries that have yet to be surpassed in beauty and opulence. These churches and monuments formed the capital of the Byzantine Church in Italy, most notably the Basilica of San Vitale (548). These extensive and lush mosaics in the polygonal apse (altar) depict the Empress Theodora on one side and the Emperor Justinian on the other. Immediately adjacent to them are the biblical episodes of Abraham and the Three Angels and the Sacrifice of Isaac opposite the sacrifices of Abel and Melchizedech to God. Significantly, Moses is prominently featured three times. He is tenderly guarding his father-in-law’s sheep and right above that is removing his sandals before what appears to be the Burning Bush conflated with the fiery Mountain of Revelation. On the other side is Moses accepting the Law from the Hand of God. In each image Moses is smiling and clean-shaven, depicted with a halo and in typical Byzantine Roman garb that is, for that matter, much like many of the figures in Dura Europos three hundred years earlier.

Moses Tending Sheep and at the Burning Bush (548) mosaic at St. Vitale
Courtesy Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy

While for us these narrative episodes depict the beginning of our redemption as a people and the Covenant at Sinai, for Byzantine Christians the meaning was considerably more complex, almost certainly colored by the interpretations of typology. This form of Christian biblical analysis seeks to synthesize events in the Hebrew bible with the Christian scriptures, notable the belief that much of the Tanach is but an allegory that predicts the life of Jesus. Therefore Moses tending sheep foreshadows Jesus as the Good Shepherd, a humble Moses called by God predicts Jesus calling his humble disciples and the giving of the Law at Sinai reflects the new Christian covenant. This was a prominent form of Christian exegesis to give Jewish subjects an explicit Christian meaning from the time of the early Church, flourishing in the Middle Ages and prevalent up through the Protestant Reformation. Parenthetically it should be noted that Jews have used typology as a means of exegesis from the time of the Mechilta of Rabi Ishmael, a 3rd century midrash on Exodus, not to mention the fact that the Ramban was quite fond of this method of analysis based on the maxim, “ma’aseh avot siman levanim.” But one example of this is on the verse; “And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt 17 years.” …that Jacob’s descent into Egypt alludes to our present exile at the hand of the ‘fourth beast,’ which represents Rome.” (Ramban on Genesis 47:28.) The simple faith of Moses here depicted does not even hint at his tumultuous past nor the burdens of leading a stiff-necked people.

My Machberes

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Chief Rabbi Of Israel At
14th Igud Siyum HaShas

Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger

On Wednesday, September 5, more than 150 congregational rabbis, roshei yeshiva, chassidishe rebbes and leaders of Jewish religious and social organizations gathered to celebrate and glorify the study of Torah at the 5772 Siyum HaShas Convocation of the Rabbinical Alliance of America-Igud Horabbonim. The event was graced with the presence of Israeli Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger, who was the keynote speaker.

Rabbi Avraham Amar

The Siyum HaShas took place at the Sephardic Home on Cropsey Avenue in Brooklyn, the unique glatt kosher facility that serves the Jewish community in superlative fashion with Rabbi Avraham Amar as mara d’asra and Michael New as executive director.

Rabbi Saul Eisner, zt”l

The first session of the convocation opened in the synagogue sanctuary with Chomer L’Drush Homiletics – homiletics for the Yamim Noraim, dedicated to the memory of Rabbi Saul Eisner, zt”l(1932-2011), Igud executive vice president. The dedication was made possible by the generous contribution of Motty and Shoshy Vegh of Staten Island. Motty is chairman of Yeshiva Reishit Yerushalayim, where Rabbi Jay Marcus is chancellor. The dedication was shared by Rabbi Yaakov Lehrfield, rav of the Young Israel of Staten Island.

Rabbi Yaakov Spivak

Rabbi Yaakov Lehrfield

Rabbi Yaakov Klass, Torah editor of The Jewish Press and rav of Khal Bnei Matisyahu, served as chairman. Speakers included Rabbi Yaakov Lehrfield; Rabbi Aaron L. Raskin, rav of Congregation B’nai Abraham of Brooklyn Heights; Rabbi Eli Greenwald, rav of the Ohel David and Shlomo Congregation Torat Israel; and Rabbi Michoel Chazan, rav of the Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in Brooklyn, each of whom delivered an emotional address in preparation for the Yamim Noraim.

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Rabbi Yonason Y. Lustig

As Rabbi Abraham B. Hecht, Igud president, was escorted into the shul to hear the speakers. Rabbi Hecht was flanked by his son Rabbi Eli Hecht, rav of the South Bay Congregation in Lomita, California. Moments later, Rabbi Shaul Kassin, chief rabbi of the Syrian community, entered, accompanied by his son Jack Kassin and greatly respected community activist Jack Avital.

Rabbi Abraham B. Hecht

As the first session came to a close, Minchah was announced and led by Rabbi Pesach Lerner, executive vice president emeritus of the National Council of Young Israel. Meir Levy, beloved longtime chazzan of the Syrian community, added his melodious voice to chazaras hashatz.

Rabbi Yehoshua S. Hecht

After Minchah, the Siyum HaShas and dinner banquet began in the large social hall, catered by Grunwald Caterers of Pavilion 39. The Siyum HaShas and dinner were dedicated to the memory of Rabbi Meir Shapiro, zt”l (1920-1998), chief rabbi of Buenos Aries and chairman of the Igud Horabbonim, who launched the yearly Siyum HaShas by members of a national rabbinic organization. Regrettably, Rabbi Shapiro did not live to share in the joy of the Igud’s first Siyum HaShas. Rabbi Shapiro passed away on Shiva Assar B’Tammuz, 1998, the very year of the siyum’sestablishment.

Rabbi Eli Greenwald

Rabbi Herschel Kurzrock

The Siyum HaShas and dinner was made possible by the generous donation of the Shapiro family, led by Rebbetzin Pearl Shapiro and her son, R’ Pinchas Shapiro.

As the assembled washed for bread and sat in their seats, joyous song erupted as Chief Rabbi Metzger entered. The singing continued until the chief rabbi was seated on the dais.

Rabbi Yehoshua Hecht, rav of Beth Israel Synagogue, Norwalk-Westport, Connecticut, and son of the Igud president, served as dinner chairman. He called on Rabbi Yaakov Spivak to make a special presentation. Rabbi Spivak is rav and rosh kollel of Ashyel Avraham in Monsey, New York. On June 24, Kollel Ashyel Avraham held its sixth ordination celebration. Chief Rabbi Metzger was scheduled to participate but was called abroad for emergency rabbinic intervention. At the Siyum HaShas Rabbi Spivak presented the chief rabbi with a plaque in recognition of his blessings conveyed to the kollel’s new musmachim. In addition, Rabbi Avraham Hecht was given a presentation in honor of his decades of rabbinic dedication and heroic leadership. Chief Rabbi Kassin then gave his blessings to all who participated in the Siyum HaShas.

Rabbi Michoel Chazan

Rabbi Pinchas Shapiro

Rabbi Herschel Kurzrock, Igud rosh beis din, was called to be mesayem haShas, formally closing the study cycle. Rabbi Kurzrock made some introductory remarks, saying that he wished to defer the honor to the chief rabbi. In turn, the chief rabbi warmly thanked Rabbi Kurzrock and praised Rabbi Kurzrock’s leadership of the Igud’s universally respected beis din.

Fighting In The South Pacific

Friday, September 14th, 2012

My name is Eli Freundlich. I was 18 and had just graduated Torah Voddath in Williamsburg. America had entered the war a few years before. I wanted to be drafted so was happy when I received my notice. It was July 1943 – July 27, 1943 to be exact – when I was sworn into the American Army.

My parents were not happy. They would have rather me stayed in yeshiva than be in the trenches. In my day you either went to college or went to work after high school. The yeshivas, though, set up a system where you could register as a divinity student and that way get out of being drafted.

In front of a downed Japanese plane

On August 18, I reported to Camp Upton in Long Island. We received our inoculations and uniforms and then we were sent to Camp Croft boot camp in South Carolina. This is where I received my basic training. I learned things like how to fire a gun, get around at night, dig foxholes and how to march.

Our day started with reveille at 6:00 a.m. – roll call, exercises and clean up. But I would always manage somehow to hole myself up in a corner to daven before breakfast. After breakfast, we “fell out” in formation.

There was another religious soldier in my barrack. He was a German refugee named Yitzchak Goldschmidt. He didn’t carry his weapons or any muktza item on Shabbos and did his training over on Sunday, which was our day off. He also made an arrangement with the guys in the barrack. Every Friday night we had to spotlessly clean the barracks, with a toothbrush, we would joke. We called it the “floor show.” Yitzchak agreed to clean all the windows by himself throughout the week so that Friday night he could go to chapel.

At the end of the training period, he came over to me and said, “They offered me an honorable discharge because my religious practices are incompatible with the army. I don’t want to take it because it might cause a chillul Hashem. The goyim will think I used this shtick to get out of the army.”

Firefight in the night sky over the Philippines

Later he was sent overseas to Europe. The last letter I sent to him was returned – killed in action. He stepped on a booby trap set by the Germans. I believe he was an only child. Yehi zichro baruch.

The army didn’t supply kosher meals in those days so I did not eat any meat and tried to stay away from anything mixed with meat. This was difficult as everything was fried in lard. I also made it my business to daven every day and put on my tefillin. As a matter of fact, once overseas, I spent a lot of time in the jungles of the Philippines looking for a quiet, private place to daven. I finally found it at the end of the war, in Japan. I asked the Catholic chaplain there if I could use his office to pray.

“By all means.” He said.

So I covered the crosses and finally got my privacy!

After 4 months of basic training, we were sent overseas. I hoped to be assigned to Europe but was sent to Asia instead and so I resigned myself to thinking that wherever Hashem would send me, that’s where I would fight.

Why was I so bent on being in the army in the first place? It’s true that I and most Americans had no idea at that time the extent to which the Jews in Europe were being exterminated. We just knew there was a lot of anti-semitism and sporadic Jew killings. Nevertheless it was enough for me; I wanted my chance for nekama– revenge.

In the Pacific Theater

Up until then I had been regularly sending letters home. I knew as long as my mother thought I was safe in South Carolina, she wouldn’t worry about me. So I prepared a batch of letters to be sent out weekly by a fellow soldier who was staying behind so she would continue to think I was in the States. I’m not sure how long she was fooled but I know it did work for a while.

Opening Hearts And Winning Over A New Generation: A Profile Of Chazzan Netanel Hershtik

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Netanel Hershtik wears many hats but perhaps the one he is best known for is a soft, puffy headpiece known as a mitre, traditionally worn by chazzanim.

While the Teaneck resident is a former combat paramedic in the Israeli army and a graduate of both Israel’s Shaarei Mishpat College of Law and the University of Miami School of Law, it is his prodigious musical abilities that have made him a household name. Hershtik, the official chazzan at The Hampton Synagogue, has performed at numerous venues worldwide, delighting and inspiring countless people in both concert halls and synagogues around the globe.

Hershtik at the UN Holocaust remembrance ceremony.

Descending from a long line of cantors, Hershtik is a fourteenth generation chazzan, who began singing with his father, the legendary Cantor Naftali Hershtik, at Jerusalem’s Great Synagogue when he was just five and toured with his father through Australia, Europe and the United States at age seven. A graduate of the prestigious Tel Aviv Cantorial Institute, Hershtik has performed in prominent concert halls including Lincoln Center, the Sydney Opera House and Casino de Paris and was the first chazzan invited to perform at a United Nations Holocaust remembrance ceremony.

But for Hershtik, a regular participant in Kosherica’s popular cantorial cruises who has recorded two albums in addition to his many appearances, chazzanut is first and foremost about inspiring people in their prayers, not about performing.

“As much as these cruises and cantorial concerts are celebrated and successful, I still believe that in order to understand chazzanut and to appreciate it, one needs to listen to a real chazzan on a proper amud, accompanied by a good choir, where the chazzan is afforded the opportunity to open his heart and to daven properly,” said Hershtik. “To me, there is no way to truly be inspired as a congregation in prayer other than the use of music under the musical leadership of the chazzan. The strongest argument I can offer is the constant use of music in the Beit Hamikdashas a tool to elevate and focus people to their Father in heaven.”

Hershtik at a Holocaust memorial event at Avery Fisher Hall earlier this year.

Hershtik acknowledges that cantorial music is an acquired taste, but one that is well worth developing.

Chazzanut is not easy listening,” explained Hershtik. “One should give it time and patience in order to love it, but the reward is far greater than any easy listening pop music. Let’s face it, classical music, jazz and opera are also in the same category and require some listening effort and openness to be truly appreciated.”

The 34-year-old Hershtik, who tries to incorporate contemporary musical styles including pop, jazz, Broadway and gospel into his traditional services, suggests that many of the negative associations people have with chazzanut are the product of poor choices by today’s chazzanim.

“I blame many cantors for not accommodating ‘younger ears’ with a shorter, less heavy davening and for not updating their melodies and style of davening to today’s world,” said Hershtik. “It is a pity they try to prove what great cantors they are to empty shuls. A great chazzan must feel his congregation at any given time of the service. It is the cantor’s greatest challenge to feel when people are with him and when they are lost or not paying attention. The cantor must immediately determine the right balance for that specific day in this specific congregation.”

Hershtik at the Tel Aviv Opera House in 2011.

A self-taught musician who plays several instruments, Hershtik loves to experiment musically as well as record in his studio. While he says his children are “extremely musical” he isn’t making plans for them to become the fifteenth generation of Hershtiks to daven for the amud.

“It makes me happy to see that they understand and enjoy all kinds of music. But it doesn’t mean they will become chazzanim. I do not push them to sing in shul just as my parents didn’t push me. It would be lovely if they chose to continue the family legacy of chazzanut, but I will be happiest if they feel fulfilled and accomplished in whatever profession they chose.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/opening-hearts-and-winning-over-a-new-generation-a-profile-of-chazzan-netanel-hershtik/2012/09/13/

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