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December 20, 2014 / 28 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘youth’

Jewish Youth Battle to Win Israel’s 2014 Annual International Bible Quiz

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

The nation’s eyes are on Israel’s annual International Bible Quiz for Youth, being held today (Yom HaAtzma’ut) at The Jerusalem Theater. Sixteen finalists, boys and girls, are facing off on the stage to win the prize. The contest is broadcast live on nearly all channels, radio and television, in addition to those on Internet, across the country.

Last week 75 contestants from 33 nations met in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Shai Piron.

Questions are announced by the emcee in Hebrew, but appear on the screen in English as well as in Hebrew.

Prime Minister Netanyahu traditionally presents the final round of questions to contestants who are fighting to be the winners of the competition.

At the halfway point, Jewish Agency director Natan Scharansky was asked to present an award to an outstanding student from Or Yehuda, and in his brief address spoke of the importance of strengthening Jewish identity among the youth in the Diaspora.

The contest has been an annual event since its inception. There is also an Israel Bible Quiz for Adults.

Last year’s youth winners were Elior Babian of Beit Shemesh, Israel and Yeshiva University High School student Yishai Eisenberg of New Jersey.

The prime minister’s son Avner won third place in 2010, and the contest has increased in popularity each year.

Failing in Order to Succeed

Monday, August 19th, 2013

The rabbis teach that we can only truly understand Torah when we allow ourselves to fail at it (Gittin 43a). Unless we push ourselves to reach for deeper understanding, where we inevitably get it wrong before we can get it right, we will not grasp the very essence of the Jewish enterprise. Rashi here seems to think that it’s the public shame of getting it wrong (and the concomitant rebuke) that strengthens one’s intellectual rigor. It is not hard to think about giving constructive feedback (“rebuke”) when it comes to moral matters, but do we care enough about ideas that we (respectfully) challenge others when ideas are misinterpreted or misapplied? How much do we really value the marketplace of ideas and the assurance that we as individuals and as a society get it right?

History is full of examples of leaders who acknowledged that persistence in the face of failure was more important than individual failures. President Abraham Lincoln, whose army suffered many crushing defeats in the early years of the Civil War, said: “I am not concerned that you have fallen — I am concerned that you arise.” A century later, Robert F. Kennedy echoed the optimistic spirit of youth when he said, “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” Besides for being tragically assassinated, what these presidents have in common in that their causes lasted, their legacies carried on, and they are remembered as being among the greatest and most successful men to occupy the Oval Office.

Very often, one can be lured by the traps of conformism (just follow others’ ideas or practices) or isolationism (just follow one’s own marginal ideas and practices). Our job as Jews is to break free from these ploys for mediocrity. We must challenge ourselves and the status quo to reach higher by engaging with societal ideas but without blindly accepting them.

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, the great-grandson of the Baal Shem Tov (the founder of the Chassidic movement) and founder and intellectual-spiritual leader in his own right, was anything but a conformist. He not only told his followers to be happy, but he also encouraged them to do silly things, highly unusual for a religious leader. Rebbe Nachman stated that each person had to fall in order to rise, and stressed the universality of this concept:

[E]ach person who fell … thinks that these words weren’t spoken for him, for he imagines that these ideas are only for great people who are always climbing from one level to the next. But truthfully, you should know and believe, that all these words were also said concerning the smallest of the small and the worst of the worst, for Hashem is forever good to all.

However, Rebbe Nachman went further, stating that it is “a great thing for a person to still have an evil inclination.” Even the tendency to evil could serve G-d, as people worked through these passions and eventually overcame them. To Rebbe Nachman, it seems, spiritual stasis is the only unacceptable path.

We must be willing to learn and debate with others. Ideas matter. Inevitably that will lead to some level of shame when we get it wrong, but the promise land afterwards is much greater. It offers a culture of more honest, informed, connected individuals who are willing to be vulnerable for the sake of truth and who are willing to be wrong in order to get it right. Our great rabbinic and presidential leaders wouldn’t have it any other way.

In Defense of Hilltop Youth and the Left Alike

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

In honor of Chanan Porat, the great dreamer, one year after his passing.

We call them sheep: heavy-sidelocked, scraggly-bearded young men and woolen-cloaked, long-sleeved young women better known as the hilltop youth. Some herd members come in couples, some even with babies, a few of whose mothers are not yet eighteen. Many impress me with the vocabulary and analytical skill that characterize their discussions.

Once I asked their group leader, former Kedumim mayor Daniella Weiss, why they bother building temporary structures on hilltops in Judea and Samaria: “They just take you down every time! Everyone thinks you’re not for real, that it’s not possible to build anything permanent this way.”

Weiss saw things differently and her view comes with the credibility of the woman whose political acumen brought Kedumim to its present, huge size. She explained the enterprise in terms of a logic unfamiliar to those accustomed to permanent, conventional communities.

First, she said, the temporary housing constructed by the hilltop youth (most are really young adults by now) prevents the Palestinians from taking over the land. The proof is in the pudding: the youth often suffer rocks and blows from Arabs who are fighting to take the land.

Second, “if we weren’t there, then they would move on to destroying the major outposts and sites in the communities on the Talya Sasson list [of communities to be destroyed]. This way, when the authorities go before the High Court, they say their first priority is to deal with us.”

Weiss is right. What she said has been intimated by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the man responsible for recent destruction of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

When I met Barak recently at a memorial service for a shared acquaintance, I asked him the following question:

“Ehud, now that you’ve split off from Labor and you don’t need to appease its members who are hostile to us, give us a break.”

He replied, “you don’t understand,” and hinted at his reason.

After that exchanged I was approached by a veteran activist whose views are considered to be on the far right of the spectrum. He asked me what I had discussed with Barak, and I told him.

“Okay, I can understand that he feels he needs to show he’s doing something,” said the activist, “but why with such brutality? Why with blows?”

Now that we have mounted a defense of the hilltop youth’s activity, here is something to consider in defense of Barak and his associates: the harder the hilltop youth are beaten and the louder their screams are, the less difficulty the government has deflecting pressure from the judicial system and the media. Barak can point at his “accomplishments” and his demolition of illegal building and in the meantime, the building continues.

The hilltop youth are the decoy targets of the Jews living in Judea and Samaria, whether the latter like it or not. The hilltop youth pay the price for it, too, sometimes including justified or unjustified condemnations by the local establishment. On the occasion of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, let this much be said in their defense.

NOW WE WILL attempt to find something to say in defense of the Israeli Left, in the tradition of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, who would strive to find any possible source of merit for the Jewish people before Rosh Hashanah.

This particular argument is based on that of Yigal Kutai, an actor and former musician in the band of the IDF Home Front Command who became religious, moved to Kiryat Arba, and for many years served as manager of the cultural center there and has a unique view of his former colleagues on the Left.

Since the redemption of Israel is a gradual and natural process, and natural processes take time, it is important for outside enemies to give us a break sometimes.

Who’s to convince them to do that? The Israeli Left. Every single part of the people of Israel has a function, and the historical role that God gave the Israeli Left is that of misleading the enemy. When enemies see the collaborators among us, they assume that these are an accurate reflection of the country and it’s only a matter of time until Israel gives in and surrenders. With that, they calm down and temporarily leave us alone.

Lynch of Jews on Temple Mount Averted

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

A group of 30 Jews who regularly ascend to the Temple Mount after conducting ritual preparations in order to pray and assert a Jewish presence at Judaism’s holiest site were attacked in the morning on Thursday by a group of Arabs shouting out to “Kill the Jews!”

According to a report in Israel’s Rotter, the group arrived at the site at 8:55, and began making its regular way around the outer circumference of the area when a horde of approximately 200 Muslim men and youth began to form, yelling “Allah HuAkbar!” and “Death to the Jews!”

Only one policeman was present as the throng approached the Jews, two of them kicking Jews in the group.  In a few moments, 10 policemen ran from the other side of the Mount, arresting 5 men and dispersing the crowd.

Why Ha’aretz is an Evil Newspaper

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

Here’s an excerpt from the Haaretz interview with Israel’s Refrom Judaism Executive Director Gilad Kariv. Notice how the interviewer slips in the nasty question:

…there’s no point in using the prettified language of reconciliation here. There is a direct connection between the book “Torah Hamelech” and the recent lynch in Jerusalem. To get a group of youths to carry out such an attack on an Arab youth, it takes a good few years of dehumanization of the Arab. We started the month of Elul with a Molotov cocktail that burned an Arab family in the territories, and with an Arab young man lying in intensive care as a result of a pogrom.

The threshold is going up. All the time. And here there is a planned, orchestrated, ideological effort that relies entirely on the distorted structuring of relations between religion and state in Israel, which gives these rabbis immunity, and budgets, and public positions and status. There is a grand project of dehumanization of whoever is not a Jew.

And of the other in general. The Arab is number one, although now he has competition for that ranking − from the migrant worker. While we’re sitting here in this air-conditioned office, refugees and their little children are in tents in Ketziot.

Like the concentration camps Leibowitz prophesied. Yes. There is also a detention facility where dozens of African youths have been sitting for many months because no framework was found for them. We’ve negated their humanity, we’ve removed them from the circle of human beings whom we must treat with dignity. And then this fellow − You know, I don’t want to use such words in talking about Eli Yishai …

For sure, there is no “direct connection” between the book, Torat HaMelech, and the youth who carried out the vicious attack on an Arab in Zion Square although since the trial hasn’t begun, we really do not know much, neither I nor the Reform Rabbi. A Rabbi, by the way, would steer clear of such an accusation, especially during the Ten Days of Penitence.

But “concentration camps”?

Yes, Kariv considers Lebowitz his teacher even though Leibowitz though this of the sect of Reform:

Yeshayahu Leibowitz had a harsh saying about you Reform Jews. He said: “It’s very nice and all, but it’s not religion.”

To ask him about Leibowitz would seem proper. But not to repeat a calumny. Goading and promoting Nazi comparisons is an evil discourse agenda. Done so easily, so flippantly. So carelessly.

And the editor let it through.

Visit the My Right Word blog.

Three Detained 12-13 Year-Olds Deny Firebombing Arab Taxi

Monday, August 27th, 2012

Three young residents of the Gush Etzion community of Bat Ayin, aged 12-13, were on Sunday on suspicion of involvement with the Molotov cocktail incident that took place a week and a half ago, Honenu reports.

On Thursday, August 16, a fire bomb was thrown at an Arab taxi on Route 60 in Gush Etzion, between K’far Etzion and several hilltop communities. The taxi caught fire and went up in flames. The injured passengers were evacuated to a hospital.

On Sunday, one of the three youths was detained in his home in Bat Ayin and the other two in Jerusalem, at the yeshiva they attend. The three detainees were taken to the Central Unit of Judea and Samaria police station in Ma’ale Adumim, where they were interrogated about their suspected involvement with the firebombing.

On the night following the firebombing incident, GSS agents and Yassam (Special Unit) Police forces raided the homes of several youths in Bat Ayin and spoke to them, warning them regarding fire bombs and other illegal activities. No-one was detained that night.

Last week, an additional youth, also a resident of Bat Ayin, was detained on suspicion of involvement with the fire bombing, but the police, who at the time told his parents as much, now deny that that was the reason for his detention. The youth himself said that he was interrogated regarding the firebombing. The youth was held for several hours of interrogation and then unconditionally released.

Jewish residents of the Gush Etzion region noted that rocks and firebombs are frequently thrown at Jewish cars in the area in which the firebomb was thrown. “The determination that Jews threw the firebomb is hasty and most irresponsible,” say residents of the area.

The three detainees are currently being brought before the Jerusalem Magistrate Court. The police are demanding a remand extension in order to continue the interrogation. Honenu attorney David HaLevi is representing the youths.

Honenu’s response to the allegation was: “During the past few months we have been witness to dozens of detentions and interrogations which, though they made big headlines, did not result in arrests. In the course of many of the detentions and interrogations the rights of the detainees, many of whom were minors, were violated. We hope that the police will be able this time to maintain the rights of the detainees, especially considering the fact that they are young minors. We estimate that this time, too, the incidents will conclude with no arrests.”

IDF HR Chief: Although Half of Israel’s Youth Don’t Enlist, the Army Remains the Foundation of our Social Resilience

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

About half of recruitment-age Israeli youths do not enlist, said Head of IDF Human Resources, Major General Orna Barbibay on Wednesday. But despite this reluctance to serve, she argued that “the IDF is the only melting pot I know,” adding, “and even if the connection is partial, the Army still introduces different segments of the populations to each other, enabling them to perform the essential task of national security.”

However, she noted, the IDF’s role is primarily to ensure the security of Israeli citizens. “Of course, when we examine our national strength, we must realize that our social resilience is an inseparable part of it, and we understand that the army has a role in that as well,” she said.

Maj. Gen. Barbibay spoke on Wednesday at the Israeli national lottery forum on education in Holon, on the IDF’s efforts to educate its enlisted men and women and its tangential areas with the civilian educational system.

Barbibay described the different populations serving in the IDF, and noted that “the Army consists of diverse and often polarized populations, because it a reflection of society. Nevertheless, the motivation and desire to serve and reach command and combat positions are among the highest we have ever known.”

Apart from the IDF’s military duties, Barbibay described the processes of filling gaps in the education of recruits. “About 10-15 percent of enlistees get to complete their 12 years of education while in the military. Moreover, the entire “Makam” (Hebrew acronym for Center to Advance Special Populations) involves recruits who require support and care during their service”

Referring to Israel’s youth, Barbibay presented an optimistic position. “I firmly believe that we have quality youth, and that the education system helps our youth arrive in the army as an active and assertive population.”

According to the head of Military Human Resources, local municipalities and schools show a willingness to let the military into their classrooms.

“My impression is that there is a great desire to receive the army. After all, eventually the youth will reach recruitment age, and facilitating dialogue and discourse is good for them.”

Maj. Gen. Barbibay.Concluded, Zamir clarified that there is a shared responsibility between the IDF and the state education system regarding the future of Israel and Israeli society.

“We have a state to preserve and enormous operational challenges, more than at any other time. We need to ensure that our social and military resilience will continue to be maintained, and we need to continue to work together to ensure this.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/idf-hr-chief-although-half-of-israels-youth-dont-enlist-the-army-remains-the-foundation-of-our-social-resilience/2012/08/23/

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