web analytics
September 29, 2016 / 26 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Yom’

It’s My Opinion: Free Yom Kippur And Rosh Hashanah Tickets

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

The Greater Miami Jewish Federation, The Rabbinical Association of Greater Miami, and many participating synagogues in Florida have joined forces to make sure that every Jew can be accommodated with seats for the upcoming Jewish holidays. It is a very special project.

Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah are traditionally times that synagogues raise funds by charging for seats in their sanctuaries. However, this expense can be a very difficult challenge for those who barely manage financially from month to month. Unfortunately, these are times where living from paycheck to paycheck is not an unusual occurrence.

Families who have just dealt with back-to-school clothing and expenses find themselves tapped out. Seniors who live on social security or pensions often do not have a dollar to spare. Just putting food on the table and a roof overhead is a daunting task for many of our brothers and sisters.

For some unaffiliated Jews, attendance at a synagogue on the “high holidays” is the last vestige of clinging to their faith. It should not be taken away.

Kol Yisrael arevim zeh ba-zeh – All Israel is responsible for one another. If you or someone you know can use this help go online at Jewish.Miami.org/highholidays, which includes a link to the list of participating synagogues, or phone 305-371-7328.

To accommodate everyone and to ensure security, advance registration is required.

See you in shul!

Shelley Benveniste

A Musical Tribute to Yom Yerushalayim

Monday, June 6th, 2016

A musical tribute to Yom Yerushalayim from a Jerusalem troubador, David Herman.

David Herman

An Unyielding Marriage of 3500+ Years: Yom Ha’atzmauth

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

This year’s Yom Ha’atzmauth commemorates the 68th anniversary of a marriage that has lasted more than 3,500 years. This may sound like a paradox, but it is the inescapable truth about the Land of Israel and the Jews. No marriage has lasted so long, been so deep in its commitment and so overwhelming in its love as the one between the Jews and their homeland. Yet no marriage has been so painful or so tragic, for the partners were forced apart by the Roman Empire nearly 2000 years ago. The bride and groom pledged unconditional love but were not reunited for another 1878 years. But for all those years, nothing – absolutely nothing – could emotionally separate the partners even when they were thousands of miles away from each other. This marriage did not depend on where the partners were located, but rather where their souls dwelt.

For the marriage to succeed, the Jews, metaphorically and unprecedentedly, lifted the Land of Israel from its native soil and transformed it into a portable homeland, taking it with them to all  four corners of the earth. Only in 1948 were the people and its land physically reunited.

The founding of the State of Israel, then, is not the beginning of the marriage between the land and the Jewish people, but rather a reaffirmation of the marriage commitment that took place thousands of years ago between God and Abraham. The State of Israel was not established in 1948, but more than 3,000 years ago when Abraham purchased the cave of Machpelah in order to bury his wife Sara. It was reaffirmed a few hundred years later when the Israelites inherited the land under the leadership of Joshua, immediately after Moshe’s death.

But no marriage should be taken for granted. Not even after 3,500 years. When a bridegroom offers his new wife a ring as a sign of commitment, he knows that this is only the first installment of an ongoing pledge. No marriage can endure if both partners do not constantly reinvest in their relationship. The moment a marriage is counted in years rather than marked by shared striving for new opportunities, it has come to an end. Only a mission – a common dream – can sustain a marriage, and only something greater than it will allow it to succeed. To paraphrase Aristotle, marriage is a single soul dwelling in two bodies. But a soul that has lost its purpose has lost itself.

Ironically, a significant part of the people of Israel today are struggling to stay spiritually wed to their land. Rampant materialism, secularism and religious fanaticism have eroded Israel’s sense of Jewish identity and the historical consciousness that gives meaning to its national existence. Growing numbers of its people lack Jewish self-understanding and question why they should live in this country at all. It is true that the wonderful Israeli soldiers are ready to sacrifice their lives for our country. But how long can this continue when Israel is nothing more than just a country? People are willing to die only for that by which they have lived. And human beings can live meaningful lives only when they know that there is something eternal worth dying for.

It is thus crucial to identify the element that has bound the two partners together for these thousands of years. And that element is, unequivocally, the mission to be “a light unto the nations,” as pronounced by God to the prophet Isaiah. The marriage was created to give birth to a wellspring of religious and moral teachings that will suffuse mankind with the knowledge that life is holy and that God awaits man’s response to His call in order to redeem His world.

This then is the task of the Land and People of Israel: to elevate the human race so that it becomes a link between the divine and the earthly. For life is a mandate, a privilege – not a game or mere triviality. The Jewish people married the land in order to create a model society to be emulated by all mankind.

It is the rabbis who consecrate a marriage. But that is only part of their task. As pastors, their responsibility is to ensure the marriage’s success and tend to it if it flounders or stagnates. This is the task of Israel’s religious leaders today. They must transform the Jewish people by creating a spiritual longing for its unique mission, thereby restoring their marriage to its full potential after the long and difficult separation.

True religious leaders should not be “honored” or “well respected.” Rather, as men of truth they should stir unprecedented awe among Israelis and all Jews. Simultaneously their towering personalities should draw people closer with their overflowing love.

The times demand unwavering religious and moral guidance. The religious leadership must extricate itself from the morass in which has become mired. In an unprecedented initiative, it must steer the ship of an inspiring, rejuvenated Judaism in full sail right into the heart of Israeli society, causing shockwaves that will impact every aspect of life. It can no longer be concerned just with the kashruth of our food, or with our Jewishness. Above all, it needs to inspire the kashruth of our souls. Like the prophets of old, our religious leaders must generate a spiritual revolution, triggering an ethical-religious uproar that shakes the very foundations of the state. Their complete failure to do so is nothing less than a tragic dereliction of duty. Israelis are waiting for such a move, and there is little doubt that their response will be overwhelming.

Only then will the Jewish people re-engage with its land. Only then can the Jewish people stay eternally married to its land. Only then will no third party, whether it is European Anti-Semitism, BDS efforts, Moslem Extremism, Jewish self-hate or the deceitfulness of UNESCO dare to interfere in its matrimonial bond. This is Israel’s hope and future.

May God bless this eternal marriage!

Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo

Yom Ha’atzmaut 5776: Joyful or Disappointed?

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

Those who say that Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel’s Independence Day) is a time for joy, praise of G-d and gratitude are right. But those who point out the process of retreat and loss of sovereignty in Israel are right, as well.

If you compare our situation today to the situation of the Jewish Nation just a few years prior to the establishment of the State of Israel – you will jump for joy at our present condition. Despite all our mistakes, in a truly miraculous manner, Israel is growing and developing against all odds. How can we not thank our Father in Heaven for all the love and kindness that He has showered upon us since we have returned to our Homeland?

But how are we supposed to feel when we see our country regressing to its former, pre-State status?

We celebrate every child’s birthday – even if he is ill. The parents are grateful for the child and hope that he will grow and develop. And what if the child is in danger, G-d forbid? And what if he is in the hands of someone who is incapable of safeguarding his existence?

We must always be thankful. And we must always rejoice in G-d’s gifts to us. But it is a different type of joy. It is no longer the elation of the Six Day War or the settlement days of Gush Emunim. After Gush Katif and Amonah, after all the failures against Hizbulla and Hamas, after Iran’s great victory and worst of all – as we lose our hold on our holy Temple Mount; after we have understood that the State of Israel is being led by people who are incapable of infusing it with vision, rendering them incapable of safeguarding its existence – after all of this, our joy at our independence is diluted with worry and a heavy sense of responsibility.

The process of the Return to Zion is not necessarily deterministic. Those who said that there would be no expulsion from Gush Katif because that was determined in Heaven, made a grave error. We did not understand that in Yamit and then it flew in our faces again in Gush Katif. The visionless leadership did implement an expulsion from our Land and nobody is promising us that this is the end of the process. True, we all know how the final scene of the movie is supposed to play out. Israel’s redemption will not suddenly melt away. But will the scenes leading up to the grand finale be joyous or horrific? That depends on us.

The progress that Zehut has made since last Independence Day is immense, way beyond our expectations of a political party’s first year. We must prepare ourselves for the challenges that await us, never removing our focus from our goal. We must build the tools with which to lead Israel.

Let us pray that by next Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel will be celebrating with the leadership of Zehut.

It all depends on us.

Chag Sameach

Moshe Feiglin

An Exchange Of Letters For Yom HaZikaron

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

Each year on Yom HaZikaron (which coincides this year with May 11) we remember the brave men and women who have fallen in defense of Israel. This year, one brave Israeli soldier’s recent death struck very close to home for me.

On February 18, IDF Staff Sergeant Tuvia Yanai Weissman, 21, who had been on leave from the army, was shopping for groceries with his wife, Yael, and their infant daughter, Netta. Suddenly, he heard screams from a different aisle as two Palestinians began stabbing other shoppers. Even though he was unarmed, Tuvia Yanai ran to help. Tragically, he was mortally wounded in the ensuing scuffle.

Tuvia Yanai and his wife were childhood friends who grew up in the town of Ma’ale Mikhmas and were married two years ago. During her husband’s funeral at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl Military Cemetery, Yael said: “If you had not raced to help, you would not be the Yanai I know, the one I fell in love with.” She added, “We were waiting for your discharge from the army. We had so many plans. To travel, to hike, to work, to study, and, most important of all, to be together.”

As soon as I read the details of this terrible incident, I reached out to my brother Josh and his family, who live in Ma’ale Mikhmas. I learned that not only do my brother and my sister-in-law, Sarah Devorah, know Yanai and Yael’s families well, but that Josh planned to recite the HaGomel (thanksgiving) blessing at shul that Shabbos, as he was shopping in the same grocery store at the time the attack occurred.

On behalf of my shul, Kesher Israel of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, I reached out to Yael to express our deep condolences upon her loss, sending her the following letter (along with a grant from KI’s Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund) – via my brother and sister-in-law in Israel:

Dear Yael,

All of us at Kesher Israel Congregation in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (U.S.A.) were terribly saddened when we learned of the tragic death of your beloved husband. At the same time, we were greatly inspired by his love for the people of Israel – which led him to put himself at risk in order to protect others.

Your determination to provide your beautiful daughter with a healthy and happy future has also made a positive impact on us – and on Jews all around the world. We pray that Hashem will continue to bless you with the strength that only He can provide.

Please accept this gift from our community. We hope that it can help you and your daughter during this difficult time.

With sincere condolences, Rabbi Akiva Males

My brother and sister-in-law told me how touched Yael and her family were by KI’s condolences and warm wishes. On the intermediate days of Passover, I received the following e-mail (translated from the original Hebrew) in return:

To Rabbi Akiva Males and the Harrisburg Jewish community,

I would like to thank you for the encouragement, condolences, and sympathy you sent to me after the death of my dear husband, Tuvia Yanai. They have strengthened and encouraged us greatly.

Every letter I receive from people I do not know reinforces my feelings that we are an amazing nation that does not forget its sons, warriors, and heroes. We are a people with a sense of mutual responsibility – as you too have shown. I am confident that this encouraging sense of mutual responsibility will ensure that the legacy of our dear Tuvia Yanai will continue.

The generous gift of support that you passed along to young Netta and me was extremely thoughtful – and provided me with the awareness that we are not alone, that good people think of us, care about us, and are at our side.

“Everyone helped his neighbor and said to his brother: ‘Be strong.’ ”Isaiah 41:6

Yasher Koach, and continue to be strong,

Yael and Netta Weissman

On this Yom HaZikaron, may God remember the heroic sacrifices made by Tuvia Yannai Weissman and the brave men and women who have fallen in defense of Israel. May God look after and comfort their families who miss them so much. Finally, may God bless Israel with true peace and security – so that none of us will have to send any more condolence letters to families mourning the loss of their loved ones.

Rabbi Akiva Males

“With These Hands” – Nefesh B’Nefesh 2016 Yom Ha’atzmaut Video

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

Presented in celebration of Yom Ha’atzmaut 2016, Israel’s 68th Independence Day, “With these Hands” features veteran Israelis and new arrivals, from war hero to farmer, teacher to midwife, each building Israel in their own way.

Video of the Day

Yom HaShoah Narrative

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

The eyes of my grandmother always had an intensity to them, an urgency, a piercing force harnessed within their clear blue radiance. There were layers to her eyes, onion-like, almost- When some were peeled back there would be a bitter stinging that would give way only to tears, slow sliding droplets that worked feverishly to alleviate the pain and dissolve the sorrow. All I know is that hers were eyes with an intense mystery to them; a secret carefully veiled behind the lens and nestled within her soft, aged eyelids.

The voice of my grandmother had a beauty to it that I cannot fully describe. From the time I was a small child she would sing to me in haunting Hungarian melodies-not a  syllable I  understood. She would rock me in her arms as her voice rang out with a far-off look in her eyes. I remember how those tunes used to remain in my ears long after she would leave me. When I got older, she used to sleep over at our house for Jewish holidays, and I would find myself exiled to my little sister’s trundle bed down the hall. At night I would pass by her bathroom and would hear the familiar tones of her singing as she washed up for bed. They were different tunes in those days, not the ones I had heard cradled in her arms when I was young- They were bolder, more robust, and would tumble off of the brown bathroom tiles adding an eerie echo to the melodies. Knowing that I was an interloper, I would stand outside the door captivated by her voice, close enough to be considered the best seats in the house, and far enough away to allow me to bolt if I detected a twist in the shiny doorknob. I would remain there, captivated by her voice until a crack in its tones would break me out of my reverie. She cried during those melodies. Often, she cried. And I would scamper down the hall at the sound of her sobs, not knowing why she was crying and knowing even less what to say, lest I be discovered as an intruder on a private moment.

The hands of my grandmother had a talent in the kitchen unlike anyone else in our family. Her signature dish was stuffed cabbage. The perfect union of spice and spirit, it was a personification of my grandmother, brought straight from the old country. My mother has often relayed to me the story of how she and my grandmother met. As most Jewish mothers are infamous for, my grandmother was very protective over my father, her only son, and time and again rejected his girlfriends as not being right. She was a little unsure of the new one (my mother) that was coming for dinner in the spring of 1975, but she instructed my father to ask what her favorite food was so that she could prepare it for the meeting. As destiny would have it, my mother said “stuffed cabbage,” and in a matter of months my father and mother were renting out a wedding hall.

She taught my mother how to prepare the dish before the marriage- how to roll the slippery cabbage into tight bundles of meat and rice, a piece of the family’s legacy. I can still remember entering my grandmother’s tiny apartment and being attacked by the thickness of boiling tomato sauce, simmering ground meat and frying onions that permeated the air. And when there were tears in her eyes as she looked up to greet me, I always just assumed that it was because of the onions.

The advice of my grandmother had stark sincerity. From the time I learned to walk she turned her piercing blue gaze upon my freckled cheeks and told me certain “inalienable truths” about life. She spoke about family, about working, about treating other people, about getting what you want. But mostly she spoke of love. I could never really understand why it meant so much for her to tell me repeatedly to never let the person you love go, but I listened to her and would nod my head at the incessant message. I took it all in, every piece of advice, gleanings of gold that she sifted from the gravel of life’s road, not because I had not heard these things before, not that each word hadn’t been told to me by others numerous times- but because there was a power to her words, and strength in her eyes that made you know that she knew of what she spoke. There was sincerity beyond any sincerity I have ever known. My grandmother never gave me advice; she implanted it into the core of my being.

The arm of my grandmother had a scar. Nestled within the soft pockets of skin above her elbow, a branding of the Holocaust that was her young adulthood amidst the fires of Auschwitz remained with her long after the flames of Poland had been doused and the smoke had cleared. The reason why she always seemed to be in two places at once, could be right in front of you and locked in a million miles to the east all within the confines of a moment, had existed within that wrinkled patch of skin all along.

It must have been spring in Chicago during that unforgettable weekend, because I distinctly remember the sunlight shining off her face when I slid the back door open to go check on her. She had been sitting outside in one of our rickety lawn chairs for hours, enveloped by both a blanket (if my memory serves me correctly) and a faraway look. I pulled a chair close to her, gave her a slow-spread grin, and we sat together for a few moments. To this day I do not know why, but it was then that she pointed to the scar. My eyes traced over the purple bruise until her heavily accented voice pierced the silence that the warm spring wind had blown over us. “Its still here,” she said.

Confused, and still very much in my own world, I tried to understand what she meant. “It’s from the concentration camps,” was all she had to say. It was the tone of her voice that jarred me out of my universe and transported me thousands of miles away. Within moments I was in 1930’s Europe beside my grandmother, implanted in a world of black and white with very little room for grey.

The story began. Death from starvation was rampant in the camps. There was a sympathetic man on “the outside” that took pity on my grandmother and would throw her some bread over the fence whenever he had a chance. It was an airborne link to existence that materialized on certain days as if fallen from heaven.

One day, however, an SS woman officer witnessed the bread exchange and grabbed my grandmother. Enraged, she struck her with a blunt object, and branded her for life with a physical reminder of the horrors of where she had been and would never fully be able to escape. More horrific things happened in the camps. Ironically, death was a way of life during those years and the bodies piled high around the perimeters of her barracks. She helped save her sister from the gas chamber lines, dodged the line many times herself, and lost around half her family in the fires of Auschwitz. She had fallen in love before the war and gotten engaged, only to have her fiance be one of the first people to be dragged off while she was left alone with nothing but images of the past in her mind. She told me that she had somehow felt and known that he was dead before the letter actually arrived at her door; A glass shattered for no reason in front of her very eyes and she felt at that moment that she had lost him. Around this time Nazis came to her home and pulled out her father’s beard.

That afternoon was a daze for me- a dream where you are being sought, pursued, and hunted, and have no idea how to save yourself until it suddenly dawns on you to wake up. I woke up as her voice finally trailed off and her more pacified tone transported me back to the sunny afternoon in quiet Skokie, IL. From the look in her eyes, however, it was clear that she was struggling to regain consciousness, enter back from the chilling winds of Poland, into the warm, spring air. It took a while, but eventually I felt that with phenomenal effort, she had returned.

I remember telling my father about that afternoon, assuming that he knew every detail. Hadn’t he been raised with the story of the SS officer and of mass executions? Hadn’t he sat around the dinner table with tears surrounding him whenever they would eat a crust of bread? Instead, I was shocked to learn that he knew next to nothing about her story. She had never talked about it with him, and it had never been discussed in their house. Sometimes his parents spoke in low voices in foreign tongues, but their past was never part of his present. So, what did this mean? Had she only told me? Did I peel off more layers of those piercing blue eyes that afternoon than anyone else ever had?

I wanted to know more. There was a weird part of me that was drawn to her story, fascinated that her tiny, vibrant frame could sit in front of me in one piece after her life and her world had once been torn to shreds. Questions took hold of my mind, “After being enslaved can a person ever really be “liberated”? With no where to go in the world, where does one go? Does one walk all the way to another country?” I would ask her, would pry gently into the past, would wait to shed my technicolor existence and be swept back in to her world. But somehow the medium of transportation had been closed to me- she never again opened up like that incredible afternoon where the only thing that out-shown the fresh spring sunlight cutting across our lawn was the power in her eyes.

I still struggle with this nowadays, as all I have left of my grandmother now are my memories. I berate myself for the details of the stories I heard that afternoon that have already been lost forever. I sit sometimes and wonder why I did not run to a pen and paper, and lock myself within the ink until every detail, every heavily accented word, every break in her voice had been recorded for my family’s future generations. So many details have already been lost. I cannot fathom why it is that I only remember certain pieces of her voice when the whole mosaic of that afternoon has had a profound effect on me ever since.

I fear that with the generation of Holocaust survivors slowly disappearing, my grandchildren will never know what it was like to encounter these precious souls and their stories firsthand. To stand in their presence and feel their strength of character, resolve, and self sacrifice- something that seems lacking in the ‘me’ generation that is emerging. How will I relay what my grandmother meant to me- The moments cradled in her arms to the slow tune of Hungarian ballads, the smell of stuffed cabbage absorbed into her kitchen paint, the way she would impart things to me as if our lives were inexplicably intertwined, as if she needed for me to vicariously learn from her mistakes. How does one put a tiny Hungarian woman with rosy cheeks and piercing eyes, with swollen legs from a life-long journey, who would sometimes speak to you in Hungarian when she wanted to tell you a secret even though you told her that you didn’t understand a word, who would then register the comment and proceed to speak to you in slow Hungarian as a solution, who could make you laugh like no one else in the world just by speaking colloquial American phrases in her accent. How does one portray a phoenix from the ashes, a voice of six million, a person who describes her journey through life itself as a “survivor”, the barer of a small purple mark just above her elbow?

I might never be able to fill in the blanks, the fuzzy lines of demarcation between Poland and Illinois, the split second thoughts between the powerful notes that she hit behind a bathroom wall and their crescendo into sobs, the urgency in her messages to me. But with a mere picture in my mind, I can see the intensity of her eyes, the onion-like layers, the sea of blue whose waters are always working to be calm after the storm. One thing is clear. The arm of my grandmother has a scar. And by direct correlation the soul of my family will forever have one too.

Beth Perkel

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/first-person/270529/2016/05/05/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: