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December 4, 2016 / 4 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘young’

To 120: Growing Old, Staying Young

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

On 27 March 2012, to celebrate the diamond jubilee of the Queen, an ancient ceremony took place at Buckingham Palace. A number of institutions presented Loyal Addresses to the Queen, thanking her for her service to the nation. Among them was the Board of Deputies of British Jews. Its then president, Vivian Wineman, included in his speech the traditional Jewish blessing on such occasions. He wished her well “until a hundred and twenty.”

The Queen was amused and looked quizzically at Prince Philip. Neither of them had heard the expression before. Later the Prince asked what it meant, and we explained. A hundred and twenty is stated as the outer limit of a normal human lifetime in Genesis 6:3. The number is especially associated with Moses, about whom the Torah says, “Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were undimmed and his strength undiminished” (Deut. 34:7). Together with Abraham, a man of very different personality and circumstance, Moses is a model of how to age well. With the growth of human longevity, this has become a significant and challenging issue for many of us. How do you grow old yet stay young?

The most sustained research into this topic is the Grant Study, begun in 1938, which has tracked the lives of 268 Harvard students for almost 80 years, seeking to understand what characteristics – from personality type to intelligence to health, habits and relationships – contribute to human flourishing. For more than 30 years, the project was directed by George Vaillant, whose books Aging Well and Triumphs of Experience have explored this fascinating territory.

Among the many dimensions of successful aging, Vaillant identifies two that are particularly relevant in the case of Moses. The first is what he calls generativity, namely taking care of the next generation. He quotes John Kotre who defines it as “to invest one’s substance in forms of life and work that will outlive the self.” In middle or later life, when we have established a career, a reputation, and a set of relationships, we can either stagnate or decide to give back to others: to community, society and the next generation. Generativity is often marked by undertaking new projects, often voluntary ones, or by learning new skills. Its marks are openness and care.

The other relevant dimension is what Vaillant calls keeper of the meaning. By this he means the wisdom that comes with age, something that is often more valued by traditional societies than modern or postmodern ones. The “elders” mentioned in Tanach are people valued for their experience. “Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you,” says the Torah (Deut. 32:7). “Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?” says the book of Job (12:12).

Being a keeper of the meaning means handing on the values of the past to the future. Age brings the reflection and detachment that allows us to stand back and not be swept along by the mood of the moment or passing fashion or the madness of the crowd. We need that wisdom, especially in an age as fast-paced as ours where huge success can come to people still quite young. Examine the careers of recent iconic figures like Bill Gates, Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Mark Zuckerberg, and you will discover that at a certain point they turned to older mentors who helped steer them through the white-water rapids of their success. Asei lecha rav, “Acquire for yourself a teacher” (Avot 1:6, 16), remains essential advice.

What is striking about the book of Devarim, set entirely in the last month of Moses’ life, is how it shows the aged but still passionate and driven leader, turning to the twin tasks of generativity and keeper of the meaning.

It would have been easy for him to retire into an inner world of reminiscence, recalling the achievements of an extraordinary life, chosen by God to be the person who led an entire people from slavery to freedom and to the brink of the Promised Land. Alternatively he could have brooded on his failures, above all the fact that he would never physically enter the land to which he had spent forty years leading the nation. There are people – we have all surely met them – who are haunted by the sense that they have not won the recognition they deserved or achieved the success of which they dreamed when they were young.

Moses did neither of those things. Instead in his last days he turned his attention to the next generation and embarked on a new role. No longer Moses the liberator and lawgiver, he took on the task for which he has become known to tradition: Moshe Rabbenu, “Moses our teacher.” It was, in some ways, his greatest achievement.

He told the young Israelites who they were, where they had come from and what their destiny was. He gave them laws, and did so in a new way. No longer was the emphasis on the Divine encounter, as it had been in Vayikra, or on sacrifices as it was in Bamidbar, but rather on the laws in their social context. He spoke about justice, and care for the poor, and consideration for employees, and love for the stranger. He set out the fundamentals of Jewish faith in a more systematic way than in any other book of Tanach. He told them of God’s love for their ancestors, and urged them to reciprocate that love with all their heart, soul and might. He renewed the covenant, reminding the people of the blessings they would enjoy if they kept faith with God, and the curses that would befall them if they did not. He taught them the great song in Ha’azinu, and gave the tribes his death-bed blessing.

He showed them the meaning of generativity, leaving behind a legacy that would outlive him, and what it is to be a keeper of meaning, summoning all his wisdom to reflect on past and future, giving the young the gift of his long experience. By way of personal example, he showed them what it is to grow old while staying young.

At the very end of the book, we read that at the age of 120, Moses’ “eye was undimmed and his natural energy was unabated” (Deut. 34:7). I used to think that these were simply two descriptions until I realized that the first was the explanation of the second. Moses’ energy was unabated because his eye was undimmed, meaning that he never lost the idealism of his youth, his passion for justice and for the responsibilities of freedom.

It is all too easy to abandon your ideals when you see how hard it is to change even the smallest part of the world, but when you do you become cynical, disillusioned, disheartened. That is a kind of spiritual death. The people who don’t, who never give up, who “do not go gentle into that dark night,” who still see a world of possibilities around them and encourage and empower those who come after them, keep their spiritual energy intact.

There are people who do their best work young. Felix Mendelssohn wrote the Octet at the age of 16, and the Overture to a Midsummer Night’s Dream a year later, the greatest pieces of music ever written by one so young. Orson Welles had already achieved greatness in theatre and radio when he made Citizen Kane, one of the most transformative films in the history of cinema, at the age of 26.

But there were many others who kept getting better the older they became. Mozart and Beethoven were both child prodigies, yet they wrote their greatest music in the last years of their life. Claude Monet painted his shimmering landscapes of water lilies in his garden in Giverny in his eighties. Verdi wrote Falstaff at the age of 85. Benjamin Franklin invented the bifocal lens at age 78. The architect Frank Lloyd Wright completed designs for the Guggenheim Museum at 92. Michelangelo, Titian, Matisse and Picasso all remained creative into their ninth decade. Judith Kerr who came to Britain when Hitler came to power in 1933 and wrote the children’s classic The Tiger who came to Tea, recently won her first literary award at the age of 93. David Galenson in his Old Masters and Young Geniuses argues that those who are conceptual innovators do their best work young, while experimental innovators, who learn by trial and error, get better with age.

There is something moving about seeing Moses, at almost 120, looking forward as well as back, sharing his wisdom with the young, teaching us that while the body may age, the spirit can stay young ad meah ve-esrim, until a hundred and twenty, if we keep our ideals, give back to the community, and share our wisdom with those who will come after us, inspiring them to continue what we could not complete.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Israeli National Service Program Incorporates 120 Young French Female Immigrants

Sunday, July 31st, 2016

By Ilana Messika/TPS

A total of 120 French women, aged 18 to 23, have immigrated to Israel in 2016 through a specialized program, called Shlomit, which coordinates and finds Israeli citizens placement in national service, also known as Sherut Leumi.

French immigration increased from 1,900 immigrants in 2012 to 7,800 in 2015 and French immigrants make up 25% of all immigrants to Israel. However, the year 2016 has seen a particular upsurge of French women deciding to immigrate through the Shlomit organization and particularly through one of its branches, Shilat, which is specifically for religious women.

Shlomit was the first organization to extend national service opportunities to all Israeli citizens, regardless of sexuality, race, or financial status. The group’s mission is to enable every young Israeli citizen exempt from military service to serve the country and to make a significant contribution to the advancement of Israeli society.

“We endeavor to construct the best-suited combination between the particularities of the applicants, such as their specific skills, capabilities, place of origin, and languages, and those who could best utilize their services,” Shilat Director Osnat Tzadok told Tazpit Press Service (TPS).

Most of this year’s applicants are from the area of Paris, but some have also emigrated from Marseilles or northern France. They tend to settle in Jerusalem in particular, but many of them also reside in Raanana, Netanya, Ashdod, Ramat Gan, and Tel Aviv. Program participants volunteer in a wide range of sectors, including hospitals, hospices, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and special education.

“It is not easy to immigrate to Israel, to integrate oneself within a new culture and country without one’s family, and to be disconnected from all that is familiar,” explained Tzadok. “Our program makes it easier by allowing participants to better familiarize themselves with the Israeli mentality, fostering confidence, creating new relationships and friendships, and learning Hebrew,”

As of the end of July, most Shilat participants will already have completed most of the administrative steps that immigration to Israel entails and are expected to start their year of service in September, but some will still be in the process of filing various necessary documents and arranging exemptions from military service.

Shilat helps the women get through that bureaucratic process and provides the women with benefits equivalent to those of lone soldiers, such as an apartment, an internet connection to reach family members, funds for transportation, and some assistance in everyday expenses. The program helps the women with the psychometric exams for academic studies after their service and offers Torah courses to enrich their religious knowledge.

Salome Benichou, a Shilat participant originally from Saint-Brice, told TPS that “Sherut Leumi for French Olim is complicated due to the fact that there is no forum to formally guide us through the process, to centralize the opportunities, and to actively make contact with French people and institutions while also providing support.”

“Shilat provides both professional and personal assistance through coordinators that are always available yet it allows for enough independence for immigrants to find their own place in Israeli society. It is an excellent medium to materialize the strong brand of Zionism I was brought up in,” she added.

Leaders of the program report that it has been very successful in integrating French women into Israeli society and that it has had a virtually nonexistent dropout rate. Participants in the program say that the success is a consequence of both the importance of Zionism in Jewish culture in France and of the efficacy of the program itself.

“What we need to understand about the immigrants from France is that many of them spend a year doing Israeli national service after having already done a Masa program for a year while their counterparts in France and the rest of Europe have already finished their degree. That is a pretty significant concession for both French young women and their parents to make in favor of Zionism given the French mentality,” concluded Liora, who is currently completing her second year of Sherut Leumi.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

1978: Young Benjamin Nitay Talks About the Arab-Israel Conflict

Sunday, July 31st, 2016

Wow! He practically looks the same, sounds the same…

Video of the Day

42% of French Muslim Youth Support Suicide Bombing, Young US Muslims Not Far Behind

Friday, July 15th, 2016

France has been the target of the most devastating recent terrorist attacks because, apparently, almost half of young French Muslims support suicide bombing, probably the most extreme act of terrorism (compare with the Japanese Kamikaze pilots, who represented the Japanese Empire’s final, most desperate lashing at an overpowering enemy).

But a November, 2015 Pew Poll found that while a large percentage of Muslim youths in the West support suicide bombing, and out of those the largest percentage live in France, the numbers in the US are only somewhat better.

“The higher levels of support for suicide bombing seen among young American Muslims resembles patterns found among Muslims in Europe, where Muslims also constitute a minority population,” the Pew poll concluded. “In Great Britain, France and Germany, Muslims under the age of 30 are consistently the least likely to say that suicide bombing is never justified.

“In other words, the share who think suicide bombing against civilians can ever be justified, even if rarely, is higher among those younger than 30 compared with those who are older. About a quarter (26%) of younger US Muslims say suicide bombing can at least rarely be justified, 17 percentage points higher than the proportion of Muslims ages 30 and older (9%) who share that view. The age gap is about as wide in Great Britain (18 percentage points) but somewhat narrower in Germany (12 points), France (11 points) and Spain (7 points).”

JNi.Media

Girl, 13, Murdered in Kiryat Arba, Hebron Stabbing Terror Attack

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

Hallel Yaffa Ariel, 13, who was stabbed dozens of times while in her bed by an infiltrating Arab terrorist in Kiryat Arba, Hebron, passed away Thursday morning a few hours after the attack, in Sharei Tzedek hospital in Jerusalem.

According to an announcement by the Kiryat Arba community, Hallel was a dancer and had participated only Wednesday night in a dance event organized by the Kiryat Arba based Harikud dance arts center.

The man who was injured by the same stabbing terrorist is under medical care in Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center. According to News 0404, he is member of a family that has already lost two sons to terrorists. He’s a volunteer with Kiryat Arba’s security team. He was seriously wounded while fighting the terrorist.

David Israel

Young Kohanim Reenact Shavuot Offering with Eyes on Temple Mount

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

On Monday afternoon, the new group of “Pirkhei Cohanim” (young priests) participated in the Temple Institute’s annual Shavuot reenactment at a festive event on Jerusalem’s Hass Promenade overlooking the Temple Mount. The children, dressed in specially made priestly garments, enthusiastically practiced the First Fruits ritual, which is central to the Shavuot service. Afterwards, adult Cohanim from the Temple Institute’s Nezer Hakodesh School for Kohanim, demonstrated the full Shavuot service including the First Fruits and Twin Loaves offering.

It is a positive commandment to bring an offering of the first fruits of one’s field, specifically, from the seven species of the Land of Israel, and to present them to a priest in the Holy Temple, as the Torah states: “You shall bring your first fruits to the House of the Lord your God… ” (Ex. 23:19)

Photo Credit: The Temple Institute

Photo Credit: The Temple Institute

The first fruit offerings are brought in large woven baskets and the offerings are waved before the altar, extending the basket in four directions: outwards, drawing it back towards oneself, raising it and lowering it. This is done while both the pilgrim and the Kohen (Temple priest) hold the basket.

Like all offerings made in the Holy Temple, the first fruit offering is accompanied by the blasting of silver trumpets by the Levites. The pilgrim’s declaration of gratitude to God and the presenting to God of the first fruits of their labor is naturally accompanied by festive song and dance.

In addition to the first fruit offering of the seven species, another offering was brought to the Holy Temple on Shavuot from the first of the harvest: The “twin loaves,” two loaves of wheat bread baked from newly harvested wheat. This special offering, the only leaven ever brought to the Temple, was also “waved” before the presence of God and thus elevated… and these breads represented the blessing of God’s influence and blessing on man’s earthly, physical needs throughout the year. These two breads were waved on the eastern side of the altar by a Cohen, together with an offering of two sheep for the festival.

Intensive research and experimentation into the proper preparation of the twin loaves culminated in the baking of the twin loaves used for the day’s reenactment.

The event was part of the Temple Institute’s ongoing efforts to prepare for the Third Holy Temple. Having already researched all relevant halakhic information and recreated more than 60 sacred vessels for use in the Temple, the Institute is now focusing on training kohanim in rituals that have not be practiced for over 2,000 years.

Rabbi Chaim Richman, International Director of the Temple Institute commented: “The world has never been so ready for the rebuilding of the Third Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Today’s event was yet another sign of the spiritual awakening that is growing stronger every day in the Land of Israel and around the world, as more and more people, young and old, are joining the effort to rekindle the flame of the Holy Temple and make concrete steps toward the rebuilding of the Holy Temple in our day. Having recreated over 60 sacred vessels and published dozens of books on the topic, the Temple Institute is now proud to be training a new generation of kohanim in the ways of their ancestors.”

David Israel

Young Israel Congregation Youth Program For All Ages

Monday, June 6th, 2016

The Young Israel Congregation, serving the communities of Bal Harbour, Bay Harbor, and Surfside, has become famous for its innovative youth program. Rabbi Avi Fried and his staff have accommodated youngsters from tots to teens in a fun-filled atmosphere.

A very special fun summer trip for all 6th, 7th, and 8th graders is planned on Tuesday, June 14 to Busch Gardens in Tampa. (E-mail RabbiFried@yicbh.org to reserve a spot.)

Father and child learning continues on Saturday nights. Children learn and enjoy ice cream and prizes.

High school teens are invited to learning and frozen yogurt every Wednesday night. Contact Rabbi Fried for times and locations.

Shabbos groups for children from ages 2 to 13 meet every week. They daven, participate in activities, have yummy refreshments, and receive tickets for really incredible prizes.

Young Israel Congregation is located at 9580 Abbott Avenue in Surfside. For more information about the youth activities, call Rabbi Fried at 305-866-0203.

Shelley Benveniste

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/community/south-florida/young-israel-congregation-youth-program-for-all-ages/2016/06/06/

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