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May 25, 2016 / 17 Iyar, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘World’

Tamar Yonah Show – What Is The Jewish People’s Place In The World? [audio]

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

Shifra Hoffman fills in for Tamar Yonah and explains the role that the Jewish people, especially those in America, are supposed to play in the world’s arena.

Tamar Yonah Show 15May2016 – PODCAST

Israel News Talk Radio

How Israel Makes The World A Better Place

Friday, May 13th, 2016

…I will make you a light of nations, so that My salvation shall be until the end of the earth. – Isaiah 49:6

 

Haters gotta hate.

Sadly, this dismissive shorthand for the cruelty of individuals and nations has weighed on Israel too heavily throughout our history. Our tradition has incorporated it into its teaching. In each generation, a Haman will arise. In each generation, there will be hatred directed toward us, and attempts made to destroy us. But our salvation is and will be as it has been from the outset, with the One Who revealed Himself to Abraham and freed us from slavery, the One who gave us His Torah.

But for Israel and the Jewish people, it is not enough to survive. We have been called to be a light unto the nations. Our lives are not defined by survival but by enrichment and meaning, for ourselves and the world. For some, surviving hate – or just the burdens and challenges of life – would be enough to “keep out” the darkness. But we are dedicated to not simply keeping the darkness out, but to shining God’s light throughout the world.

Our call and our charge is to make ourselves and our world better.

Love, not hatred, defines our existence. Peace, not strife. Justice, not lawlessness. Light, not darkness. Light defines our lives as certainly as it illuminates our rituals. Think of Shabbat, which we begin and end with not just candle lighting but candle lighting with blessing.

The light that illuminates our world is not just physical light but a spiritual light, one that brightens the soul and spirit. Through Torah we are taught to live meaningful, moral, and ethical lives.

Life is challenging. The world is filled with darkness and hate. It would be understandable if we simply girded ourselves for the task of living. But our Torah teaches us – commands us – to do more. It is not enough to survive. It is not enough to endure. We must cast a light that brightens the world.

Just as Sinai transformed us from a mass of former slaves into a people, the Torah has provided the laws and ethical teachings for the entire world. We have brought to ourselves and the world the teachings of the prophets. In so doing, we have provided the foundation for all of Western civilization.

Without Torah, our world – not just our Jewish world – would not exist. Without the teachings of our prophets, the world would be unrecognizable. We taught the world to pursue peace and justice rather than power and violence. We gave the world the image of the lion living peaceably with the lamb.

But even those who acknowledge Israel’s foundational contributions to Western civilization are too often quick to hate the Jews. Like professional athletes and movie stars, the sentiment seems to be, “What have you done for me lately?” Well, when it comes to Israel, the answer is a lot. Israel’s contributions to the world are far out of proportion to its modest size.

Few areas are as threatening to the health and well-being of the world as climate change. Changing weather patterns, record-setting droughts in some places and punishing rains in others, have disrupted food distribution patterns.

Israel, which has transformed a desert into a garden, has been at the forefront of innovations to minimize the damage of climate change even as it works to prevent greater disruption. Drip irrigation is almost synonymous with Israel, allowing deserts to be turned green.

As far back as 1955, Israel had turned its attention to solar heating when Professor Zvi Tabor developed the solar water heater.

Amit Gal-Or, a young Israeli student living in Shanghai, has developed a product derived from essential oils that preserves fruits and vegetables three times longer than usual. Gal-Or, founder of Phresh Organics, utilized Israeli research in the field to create a powder called Food Protectors that any household can use.

In the face of an increasing number of long lasting droughts, water – the lifeblood of all living things – is in constant demand. Israel leads the world in seawater desalination, taking advantage of the resources of the oceans to keep people alive.

Israel was an early innovator in breaking away from petroleum-based technology. Its innovations provide structure and predictability to the marketplace, combining long-term public sector commitment with regulatory stability to send a clear message that innovation will have a home in Israel. Through investments in basic science and industrial R&D, and the launching of pilot programs and full scale-ups for promising technology, Israel is taking the lead in confronting one of the most pressing security issues of our time.

An Israeli company created TourEngine, which reduces fuel consumption and harmful emissions in common engines by utilizing a thermal management strategy. Not only is it useful for current internal combustion engines but the technology can also be integrated with the hybrid engines in the future.

Leviathan Energy has created a cost-effective, silent, and vibration-free wind turbine. Not only does it produce clean energy, but it is beautifully designed and aesthetically pleasing. Solaris Synergy has discovered a way to float solar panels on water.

The Israeli company Pythagoras Solar created the world’s first solar window, which combines energy efficiency, power generation, and transparency.

The Jewish people have long been leaders in science and medicine. Often, Israel’s precarious relationship with its neighbors has proven to be a catalyst for some important innovations.

Trauma care has been advanced thanks to a new method to stop uncontrolled bleeding. Gallium, a biometal, is normally used to stop bone loss in cancer patients, but in liquid form (gallium nitrate) it induces “flocculation” of the clotting protein in blood, resulting in external clot formation. Gallium “can dramatically increase the chances of survival by victims of terror or accidents,” as it quickly stops bleeding without causing blood clots, said Moshe Rogosnitzky, director of the Center for Drug Repurposing at Israel’s Ariel University and co-founder of the non-profit MedInsight Research Institute.

Researchers in Israel developed a new device that directly helps the heart pump blood, an innovation with the potential to save the lives of those suffering heart failure.

Israel’s Givun Imaging developed the first ingestible video camera, so small it fits inside a pill. It is used to view the small intestine from the inside, allowing doctors to more accurately diagnose cancer and digestive disorders.

Each year, 7,000 patients die in U.S. hospitals not from illness or injury but from mistakes in treatment mistakes. An Israeli company developed a computerized system for ensuring proper administration of medications, thus removing human error from medical treatment and potentially saving thousands of lives a year.

An Israeli innovation, the EarlySense continuous monitoring solution, lets nurses watch and record patients’ heart rate, respiration, and movement remotely through a contact-free sensor under the mattress – better monitoring and access, greater comfort.

And lest one thinks innovation is only for life and death situations, it is good to remember that life is lived day to day, requiring just as much creativity and innovation to be as enjoyable as possible.

An acne treatment developed in Israel, the ClearLight device, produces a high-intensity, ultraviolet-light-free, narrow-band blue light that causes acne bacteria to self-destruct without damaging surrounding skin or tissue.

In 1985, two kibbutz members, Yair Dar and Shimon Yahav, registered a patent on Epilady – the first electronic hair remover. Decades later, women of the world silently thank them (even without knowing who they are) each day.

Even as many in Europe and some in the United States look to jump on the “divestment” bandwagon, it would be wise to consider just what this small nation has given, and continues to give, the world.

Thanks to Israel and the message of our Torah and our prophets, the world continues to be a place where peace, not war, is the ideal and where justice is to be pursued. Thanks to Israel, we are all able to sleep a bit better – including new parents who since 1993, thanks to the Israeli company Hisense and its Babysense monitor, can rest easier knowing they’ll be alerted when their baby stirs.

Yes, because of Israel the world is an infinitely better place.

Rabbi Eliyahu Safran

Ori Gersht’s ‘Floating World’ at London’s Ben Brown Fine Arts

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

The Ben Brown Fine Arts gallery, London, presents Floating World, a show devoted to Israeli photographer Ori Gersht’s latest works, a series of photographs capturing the ancient gardens in Buddhist Zen temples in and around Kyoto.

In November 2015 Gersht began work on his Floating World series in Japan. Created to reflect the essence of nature and as aids to meditation, the Buddhist Zen gardens are places where time stands still and history is palpable. For Gersht they represent an alternative to our image saturated “world in flux.”

Courtesy

Courtesy

Gersht focused his lens on water reflections and during the post-production process seamlessly fused reflections with the reflected world to create illusions and a new reality, hovering between what he calls the virtual and material. In these works we are presented with the absence of the object of representation whereby the photograph becomes the thing that exists, an image of the folding of space and time. Much like in his earlier landscape series, Gersht intends to document something that is not physically present.

Courtesy

Courtesy

Born in Tel Aviv, Israel, in 1967, Gersht received a bachelor’s degree in photography, film and video at the University of Westminster, London, and a master’s degree in photography from the Royal College of Art, London.

Gersht has had solo exhibitions at Tate Britain, London; The Photographers’ Gallery, London; Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Tel Aviv Museum of Art; Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT; and The Jewish Museum, New York, NY.

Gersht currently lives and works in London.

The show which began Wednesday runs through Jun 16, 2016.

JNi.Media

Connecting In A Disconnected World

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

A comic strip depicted the following scenario: A couple is sitting at their dinner table at home. Both spouses are looking at their phones. One texts the other: “smethng in ur teeth.” “Thx dear” was the response. Neither husband nor wife even bothered looking up from the screen.

I witnessed a similar scene in real life while sitting in a restaurant with friends. A couple seated nearby were both holding their phones in front of their faces, speedily texting away. I kept glancing over at them, wondering if they would eventually put down their phones and talk to each other. Forty minutes passed and our meal ended, but the couple never took their eyes off their phones.

The connection we get from technology is superficial and often leaves us feeling disconnected. Thanks to the Internet, we have, to a considerable extent, become socially inept. Maintaining eye contact and focus has become more difficult. We have trouble engaging in a conversation or listening to another person without pulling out our devices.

A woman approached me after a lecture. “My son just is not social,” she said. “He is not merely constantly on the phone or iPad, it is almost as if he doesn’t know how to talk to people.”

I initially assumed this woman’s son was just somewhat asocial. But this problem has been surfacing wherever I speak.

Never before has the challenge to connect been so strong. Adults today did not grow up with parents who had cell phones to distract them. By contrast, our children experience considerably less eye contact and personal interaction with their parents because everyone is looking at his or her phone.

Studies show that when humans connect with one another a positive chemical change takes place in the brain. We are hardwired to connect. From birth we crave physical touch, eye contact, and personal communication. In fact, our brain actually interprets social disconnect the same way it interprets physical pain.

Technology connects us superficially, leaving a lingering sense of disconnect. At the same time, it is indisputably a major part of our lives. So how can we remain connected in a world of increasing technological isolation?

Never before have parents had such a test in front of them. Do we choose to constantly plug in? Or do we instead show our children what real connection looks and feels like? Here are several practical suggestions to guide us in connecting:

First, make an honest assessment. We often fail to realize just how much we use our devices. Download a tracker to note how many hours per day you do. Acknowledgment is the first step.

Next, establish your personal rules regarding screen time. We delude ourselves when we vaguely commit to reduced time on our personal devices by saying something like “I’ll use it less.” This is not concrete or even possible to quantify.

Tell your children, spouse, and other loved ones that you want to connect with them in a real way. Ask them, “What will make you feel like I’m listening to you and that you are the most important people in my world?” Follow their suggestions.

Establish a routine and rules regarding your phone. Compose a written contract/ reminder for you and your family members and sign it if necessary.

For example: 1. No bringing the phone to bed. 2. Wait until children are off to school before turning the phone on in the morning. 3. Do not use the phone while driving.

When making your specific contract ask yourself: Why do I want to use it less? Who is most affected or upset by my tech usage? When does using my phone cause the most problems? Answering these questions honestly will help you create guidelines and boundaries that are right for you.

The key to accomplishing any goal is working on one thing at a time. This increases your odds of maintaining long-term resolution and sustaining growth.

Here are some examples of small, achievable steps (I recommend choosing only one or two at a time):

* When in a meeting or giving a lecture, I would never respond to a text or pick up the phone. With family and friends, however, I find myself taking out the phone. Call an official family “meeting” where everyone is required to place tech items elsewhere.

* Do not walk around with your phone in hand. Even if we resolve not to use it during a specific time, having it in our sight is a constant temptation to “check it.”

* Make certain times of the day or parts of your home a “no phone zone.”

* Find activities that can keep you busy away from your phone. Take a walk, a bath, or meet up with a friend. Do not allow yourself to use your phone as a “go to” antidote for boredom.

* Turn off notifications or turn your phone to silent. This reduces the urge to keep checking the device.

* Buy an alarm clock. Using our phones as an alarm can cause us to use it right before bed and first thing in the morning.

* Try going a whole day without your phone.

We owe it to ourselves and to future generations to make a change, no matter how small, in the way we relate to technology. Give yourself and your children the gift of connection.

We can find true meaning by connecting in a disconnected world.

Sarah N. Pachter

Humor: A Way To Stay Sane In An Insane World

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (Isaiah 5:20).

Whenever I think of these words spoken by the prophet Isaiah, I realize they are as relevant today as they were thousands of years ago. Apparently, human nature has not changed much over the millennia. In fact, it seems the current purveyors of evil have become even more sophisticated in perverting obvious truths.

Surely I am not the only person who gets angry, upset, and even physically distressed every time I read the latest lies spewed by the leaders of our “enlightened” world. Although I want to howl out profanities, I realize that would accomplish nothing but frighten my family and my neighbors, who might then call the police.

As a psychologist, I know that unrelenting stress and a sense of powerlessness are unhealthy. Consequently, I have often wondered about what one can do to try to find relief, besides just telling oneself not to think about it.

I have come to realize that a possible solution is to use laughter as a weapon to defuse our frustration and anger with the anti-Semitic lies so prevalent today.

Freud described humor as one of our healthiest defense mechanisms, and a beneficial way to deal with stress. He suggested we can transcend difficult situations by trying to make light of them .

Freud put that principle into practice. For example, when the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, they proceeded to burn thousands of books they deemed “un-German” – Freud’s writings among them. Freud reportedly quipped that the destruction of his scholarly works demonstrated how far civilization had progressed. “In the Middle Ages they would have burned me,” he said. “Now they are merely burning my books.”

Certainly humor can be applied to our current political situation, in which hypocrisy and lying abound. One of the main weapons employed by Islamic jihadists is fear, and nothing deflates fear as well as humor. This could be why jihadists in France attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a humor magazine that poked fun at Muslim extremism. Evidently the terrorists were terrified of the humor and satire directed at them.

I recently read a story about a website that superimposed smiling rubber-ducky heads on pictures of ISIS fighters. Try a little experiment. Think about those ISIS propaganda photos of groups of tough-looking men carrying assorted weapons. They seem quite impressive and dangerous. Now visualize these ISIS fighters marching, but replace their faces with smiling rubber-ducky heads wearing children’s pointy party hats. They no longer seem so imposing. As a matter of fact, in our mind’s eye they look ridiculous.

Go one step further and replace their rifles and bazookas with balloons on a stick. Rather than instill fear, these pictures now evoke ridicule and laughter.

Recently, an Israeli news site reported that a satirical comedy skit on a Saudi-owned TV station led to riots around Beirut. What could have produced such an angry reaction? The skit was directed at Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah and made light of his lisp. I am an avid reader of news stories but did not know the tough-talking Nasrallah has a lisp. Why is important information like this never mentioned in the “even-handed” articles about Hizbullah in The New York Times?

Furthermore, it is clear that God has a sense of humor. Think about it: this terrorist has a lisp and both of his names have the letter “s” in them. I imagine he was mercilessly teased by his childhood friends. Moreover, I ask myself why it is that when Nasrallah speaks to English-speaking audiences in Arabic, the interpreter always seems to have a deep, sonorous voice with a hint of an English accent? I believe it is only fair in the name of accuracy that the interpreter speak with a guttural accent and a lisp. As a matter of fact, I would find it gratifying to hear Nasrallah say his own full name.

Jihadists speak at length of the glory Islamic terrorists earn by becoming martyrs. That being so, I have often wondered why Hamas and Hizbullah leaders get so angry when one of their terrorists are eliminated by Israeli commandos. Should they not be grateful that Israel helped a faithful jihadist become a martyr? I would like to hear a simple “thank you” rather than yet another tirade about how Israel has opened the gates of hell.

I also find myself asking what should be an obvious question: If Nasrallah and Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas, are so brave, why are they always in hiding? As good terrorists, do they not wish to risk death for their cause? I can imagine a reporter asking them why they display such cowardice by hiding, and even worse, sending woman and children to do their dirty work. As a good spinner of truth, I assume their response would be, “Me a coward? How dare you insult me! It is my greatest aspiration to be a martyr. I assure you I am not a coward. I am a gentleman. But where I come from we are taught, ‘Women and children first.’ ”

Ban Ki-moon, the secretary general of the UN, frequently accuses Israel of using “overwhelming force” when it defends itself. Interestingly, he travels with an armed security detail. Can we therefore assume that if a group of men were to attack Ban Ki-moon with baseball bats, he would forbid his bodyguards to use their guns? After all, would that not constitute overwhelming force? As the attackers approached, would he instruct his bodyguards to rush back to their car, get rid of their guns, and take out baseball bats so they could defend themselves fairly?

Speaking of the United Nations, the UN Commission on the Status of Women recently condemned just one country for violating the rights of women: Israel. I am sure the members of this commission checked and re-checked their facts, but just to be sure their findings are accurate, I would suggest they hold their next meeting in Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Libya, or any other Muslim country where apparently women are treated better than in Israel. Travel around the country with the female members of the commission wearing the style of clothing they wear in the U.S. or Europe and then write your next report – if you aren’t thrown into prison, flogged, or stoned to death first.

This Passover, when we recite “Shefoche Chamatecha” during the Seder, let us take an extra moment and think about the hypocritical lying Jew haters of the world who, as Isaiah wrote, “call evil good and good evil.”

May our Geulah come speedily.

Dr. Joel Verstaendig

Why Must Jewish Women Wear So Much Black and Gray?

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

So you and your husband get stranded on a deserted island. Your clothes are tattered. Everything besides what you’re wearing is lost at sea. You need to go shopping. No one is going to see you, but of course you’re going to need to dress tzniusdik and even in the spirit of the law regarding tznius.

In the distance you see a structure. As you come closer, you see that it is a building. You walk in and lo and behold it is an abandoned women’s clothing store. Not only that, but as you look through the clothing you realize that everything there is absolutely tznius and in style. WOW! This is like Gan Eden and it’s all free.

Be totally honest, which section of the store would you go to? Would the black and white with a few shades of grey section immediately catch your eye? Would you almost not be able to contain yourself with the mere thought of the fun of matching so many different shades of black?

How surprised would you be to find yourself more attracted to the section with a diverse selection of colors? Would you start getting creative with matching different colors and trying on all sorts of different combinations or would you stick to black and white and feel like that is perfect and a true reflection of yourself and your taste?

My hunch is that the majority of women would choose to look at all the different colors and try on numerous creative outfits until they find what they feel really suits them and fits their personality. I do also think that some women would go to the black and white and some shades of gray section. Not because they feel like they have to go there, but because they really like it. That is more than perfectly fine. But again, for most women I believe they would go to the colorful section.

So now I ask you; what section do you go to in the store when you go clothing shopping? Don’t answer that, but do ask yourself which sections you pass up that you really want to go to. So why are you going to the black and white with a few shades of gray section?

My wife tells me that black makes people look slimmer. Is that the reason? I can hear it, but I don’t think that’s the prevalent reason. Is it because of a tznius issue? I don’t think so. Unfortunately, my hypothesis is that you go to that section because everyone else is going to that section. If you were to go to the colorful section, you would stick out and not be part of the system any more. It has gotten to a point where many women have been doing this for so long that they can no longer even get in touch with the part of themselves that wants to wear something colorful.

Hashem created such a beautiful world. The Gemara says there is no artist like Hashem. Look at the way Hashem chose to express Himself in the world. It is so vibrant and full of color. Look at the trees, the animals and the birds. There is nothing more exotic, diverse and stunning. Even when creating people, Hashem was so colorful and creative. Every single person was created different with different tastes and personalities. Women were created with a sense for beauty and aesthetics. Men only get as far as feebly attempting to match a tie to their suit.

When you buy flowers for Shabbos, do you buy black and white flowers with some grey ferns? How would you sensitively tell your husband that the next time he buys you black and white flowers, he’s doing all the cooking for Shabbos? What colors do you choose for bar mitzvahs or weddings? How about furniture and carpets? How did you dress your daughter before she began dressing in black?

What made you switch from pinks and purples to dressing her in black on black with black shoes? Do you connect more to the joy of dressing her at a young age or to the way you have to dress her in 6th grade? It is truly amazing that wherever you turn, you’re choosing all different types of colors, but when it comes to clothing, your taste suddenly changes to black and white with a few shades of gray. Does this bother you?

Bezalel Perlman

Guardian’s Cartoon of Powerful Jews Manipulating Western Leaders

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Last November we posted about a political cartoon at the Guardian by Steve Bell depicting British foreign minister William Hague and Tony Blair as puppets being controlled by Binyamin Netanyahu, in the context of expressions of support by these leaders during the war in Gaza.  Bell’s image evoked the canard of powerful Jews controlling western politicians for their own nefarious purposes and was hauntingly similar to more explicitly antisemitic cartoons routinely found in Arab and Islamist world.

The Guardian’s readers’ editor, Chris Elliott, addressed the row a couple of weeks later, and actually rebuked Bell for ‘unintentionally’ using the visual language of antisemitic stereotypes.

While such cartoons often have more of an immediate impact in reinforcing negative stereotypes about Jews than lengthy essays, the damage done by such toxic ideas regarding ‘Jewish control’, in any form, should be taken seriously.  The Guardian narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, in news reports and commentaries, often includes passages with the unmistakable  suggestion that Israel (and the pro-Israeli lobby) wields enormous power over ineffectual Western leaders – a theme present in a report by Harriet Sherwood and Julian Borger titled ‘Iran nuclear programme deal in danger of unravelling’, Nov. 11.  The story centered on nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 (the permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) which ultimately unraveled largely due to concerns that the agreement would have eased sanctions on Iran without requiring that it cease enriching uranium.

The report by Sherwood and Borger included the following:

In a bid to contain the danger, the lead US negotiator, Wendy Sherman, flew straight from the talks in Geneva to Israel to reassure Binyamin Netanyahu’s government that the intended deal would not harm his country’s national interests.

The hastily arranged trip represented an acknowledgement of Netanyahu’s power to block a deal through his influence in the US Congress and in Europe. Egged on by the Israelis, the US Senate is poised to pass new sanctions that threaten to derail the talks before they get to their planned next round in 10 days’ time.

More immediately, Netanyahu demonstrated over the weekend that he could sway the Geneva talks from the inside through his relationship with Paris.

These passages of course strongly suggest that US congressional leaders take their marching orders from Jerusalem and that the French government’s position was not motivated by what it saw as its own national interests but, rather, as a result of the influence of the Israeli prime minister.

However, the deal was fatally flawed, according to many experts, due in part because it would have fallen short of the requirements in six resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council over the years which called on Iran to suspend ALL uranium enrichment – resolutions passed under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, rendering them binding under international law.

As Adam Chandler observed in an essay published at Tablet about the superficial analysis by Sherwood and Borger:

[Their argument] smacks of that paranoid, evergreen charge that all wars and international campaigns are waged on behalf of Israel, a claim that devolves from Israel into “the Jews” as it goes through portal after conspiratorial portal.

You don’t even need to believe that antisemitism is at play to nonetheless be contemptuous of the extraordinary myopia displayed in the Guardian report.  As Walter Russell Mead observed recently about the broader intellectual dynamic which unites antisemitism with anti-Zionism:

Weak minds…are easily seduced by attractive but empty generalizations. The comment attributed to August Bebel that anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools can be extended to many other kinds of cheap and superficial errors that people make. The baffled, frustrated and the bewildered seek a grand, simplifying hypothesis that can bring some kind of ordered explanation to a confusing world.

Guardian “journalists” may fancy themselves sophisticated, erudite and worldly, but their frequent ‘Zionist root cause’ explanations betray both their ideological bias and the extraordinarily facile nature of their reasoning.

Visit CIFWatch.

Adam Levick

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