Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Cheers for Trump’s Embassy Announcement

I congratulate President Trump for demonstrating moral courage with his proclamation on Israel’s capital.


He has formally recognized an eternal truth. That is the absolute truth of the relationship of Israel and Jerusalem. This truth is so basic that I wonder how this issue has ever been a subject for rational debate.

The “Palestinian” Arabs have no moral or legal basis for their demands. They are stateless due to their own egregious (violent) behavior. They have twice rejected the opportunity when Israel offered them a state (97% of Judea/Samaria) on a silver platter. Over 70 years they have failed to build the stable political, economic and cultural institutions necessary for a viable state.

This has led me to the firm conclusion that their true underlying motivation has not been to achieve a state of their own, but rather to act as a cancerous, malignant force seeking Israel’s destruction. To that end, they have never revised their charter to delete their noxious intent.

And their stateless condition (of their own making) demonstrates the absurdity of demanding a capital – especially the capital of Israel.

Bravo, Mr. President.

Jerrold Terdiman MD
Woodcliff Lake, NJ


Phony Concern

The “concern” by many world leaders that President Trump’s announcement to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital could be an obstacle to peace is as phony as the notion that Palestinians want peace.

What exactly was the obstacle to peace in all the years before Trump made this announcement?

Where are the concerns about peace from world leaders when Palestinians rain down thousands of rockets on Israel? And to add insult to injury, they launch these rockets from land given to them by Israel – for peace! Such contemptibly ungrateful and murderous behavior is probably the mother of all obstacles to peace, yet not a word from these same world leaders.

After years of (misguided) concession after concession by Israel, Palestinians have never shown an ounce of appreciation. The Palestinians’ “thank-you card” seems to be more violence.

Perhaps peace will come when Israel finally realizes what its greatest blunder is: consistently treating humanely their enemies who want nothing less than Israel’s annihilation.

Josh Greenberger
Brooklyn, NY


A Letter of Appreciation to our President

Dear President Trump:

I would like to express my profound appreciation for your courageous and historic act in acknowledging and formally recognizing Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel, the ancient and beloved homeland of the Jewish people.

Mr. President, you defied all odds when you were elected President of this great country. Those of us who voted for you saw in you the makings of a great leader. You have not disappointed us.

Today, once again, you have made us so proud to call you our president. You stood steadfast in fulfilling your promise to recognize Israel’s only capital. God has given you the inspiration and wisdom to do what is only right, and what so many before you did not have the courage, the vision, the wisdom, or the will to accomplish.

May God continue to guide, protect and bless you. May he bless and watch over Israel and the United States of America, which you are indeed making great again.

With much appreciation,
Ettie Kryksman
Brooklyn, NY


Unsurprising Reactions

“Why do the peoples gather, and the nations talk in vain” (Ps. 2:1). In the wake of U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, in knee-jerk reaction, illustrating just how pervasively Palestinian propaganda has permeated public opinion, leaders around the world, including Europe’s 3 M’s – Merkel, Macron and May – rose in condemnation. An emergency meeting was called of the UN Security Council to discuss that imminent threat to peace and provide a forum for the Palestinians to vent their venom. All Council members, except the U.S., denounced the move, including Russia, which in April had also recognized western Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Pres. Trump’s announcement was both monumental and miniscule. Monumental in that it removed the stigma of Israel being the only country without a capital, reversing seven decade long denial. Miniscule in that absolutely nothing changed on the ground, nor was any option closed from serious negotiations, should the Palestinians ever choose to so engage. Even the actual embassy move may not actually occur before the next presidential term.

Surely, much ado about nothing. The media, however, got much of this story wrong, and positively salivated at the prospect of riots in the Palestinian territories and throughout the Muslim world. That also was not much of a story. In the run-up to the announcement, Fatah and Hamas could credibly threaten the possibility of violence, since they overwhelmingly orchestrate it. The subsequent violence, though, seemed quite pro forma, hardly reflective of broad popular rage, and soon petered out.

So there were multiple victories in this for Israel. It’s “virtual” capital materialized, world leaders made fools of themselves, and the Muslim World largely yawned in response. Not bad for the week that was.

Richard D. Wilkins
Syracuse, NY


Tzitzis Out: A Halachic Question

I was somewhat surprised when reading both the op-ed by Elliot Resnick (“Tzitzis: In or Out?” Nov. 24) and the letters supporting his conclusion that wearing one’s tzitzis out lacks modesty and that if one did not grow up wearing one’s tzitzis out he should not begin to do so. I found it disturbing that in discussing a matter of halacha, Mr. Resnick ignores any and all halachic discussion on the issue. He seems to approach it simply from a sociological basis and uses his own personal journey (without discussing it with his rabbi or mentor) how he justifies his own guilt feelings of tucking his tzitzis in. This is hardly the way an Orthodox Jew should approach a question in halacha.

His supporter, Rachel Weiss (Letters, Dec. 1) goes so far as to make up her own halacha that the mitzva of seeing the tzitzis is only during prayer time. Both seem to ignore the well known Mishnah Berurah  (8:26) who uncharacteristically diverges from his pithy, to-the-point halacha conclusions and goes into a mussar-type shmuz on the importance of wearing tzitzis out and the flawed reasons of those who tuck their tzitzis into their pants. I am not trying to say that there are not bona fide opinions who say that tzitzis may be tucked in. My point is that when discussing a matter of halacha we can’t just say, “Well, there are a lot of people that don’t do that so it must be wrong.”

It reminds me of a question and answer session with Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, zt”l, that I had attended while spending Shabbos in Yeshivat Gush Etzion almost 30 years ago. A questioner asked the rosh yeshiva: “What is the basis for married women to not cover their hair?” Taking the question literally, the rosh yeshiva went on to explain the historical and sociological reasons as to how a generation of women abandoned a mitzva from the Torah. The questioner then clarified that he meant to say, “What is the halachic basis for married women to not cover their hair?” To this Rav Lichtenstein said, “Oh, the halachic basis? There is none. It is completely prohibited. Period.”

Invoking the concept of being modest and saying that anyone who follows this halacha of wearing tzitzis out is compromising on the idea of “Hatzneia haleches” (walk in modesty) is treading on very shaky ground. If the editors would like me to write a discussion piece on how wearing a talis to shul on Shabbos compares to this halacha, I would be glad to do so.

I think it is also worth discussing the positive side of wearing tzitzis out, aside from the halachic perspective. Where I live in Waterbury, Conn., many of the high school students are at a point in their lives where they are struggling with their Judaism. In this mesivta, wearing extra long tzitzis out became a type of cool statement. In my mind using one of Hashem’s commandments to be hip is a lot better than the alternatives. I would ask Mr. Resnick and his supporters to keep his dismissal of this halacha to himself and deal with it in a more private way.

Hillel Adler
(Via E-Mail)


The Yivanim Within

The Yivanim – the mighty, powerful, evil Assyrian Greeks. The villains of the Chanukah story. Who can be worse than the wicked Yivanim, who sought to destroy our holy Jewish souls?

Fortunately, Hashem did not allow them to succeed. Our Torah prevailed.

Who today can relate to the persecution of the Yivanim? The powerful evil force that destroys, forbids, and denies the teaching of our precious Torah to Yiddishe kinder?

I can.

I have witnessed firsthand the powerful force that forbade and denied the teaching of our illustrious Torah and holy mesorah to Yiddishe kinder. This was done to my children.

Those who willfully and deliberately denied the teaching of our Torah to my children were Jews with titles of rabbanim, morah d’asra, and roshei yeshiva. Jews with important clothing and long white beards. They have willfully ripped away the Torah education from my children.

No, it wasn’t because I could not pay my yeshiva tuition. It wasn’t because my family is too modern. Nor was it because there was anything wrong with my children.

Baruch Hashem, my children are smart, ehrlich, healthy and full of life. Most of all, they desire to learn and grow close to Hashem. While the rest of the Jews in my Jewish community stood by silently and watched, the morah d’asra, and the Vad Hachinuch closed the doors of the local frum school to my children.

So what is their justification?

They are opposed to my family’s medical choices despite our medical history.

I have exerted my state’s legal rights and halachic reshus not to inject my children with toxins and live viruses, which I believe carry uncertain and unknown risks. I have chosen not to play Russian Roulette with the terrifying side effects from legally voluntary class C drugs, a.k.a., vaccines. It was a personal medical choice that I made for my family after much study, in depth analysis, and deliberation on the subject. My final decision was made with both medical and personal rabbinic guidance.

But the local rosh yeshiva and rav, who sat together on the Vad Hachinuch, never asked me my side. They never even bothered to ask for the reasons I reached this difficult, personal, medical decision.

If they did, I would have told them. I would have recounted to them how my eldest is alive today solely thanks to miracles. I would have recalled to them the feeling of helplessness, despair, and anguish I felt as mother who watched her child struggle to breathe, regain color, and stabilize eye contact, following a routine vaccination. My child’s recovery is the ultimate proof that the Hashem runs the world. I would have shown them pages and pages of medical data and statistics that show how many others, like him, never recovered the way, baruch Hashem, my child did.

But they didn’t ask. They didn’t care. And when approached, they gently closed the door in my face and said they did not want to hear what I had to say. They just wanted me to get the kids up to date on their shots, l’maan hashalom of the community. Only then will the children be allowed and welcomed back to cheder.

I wonder if the shul rav asks his babysitter when is the last time she had her boosters? Is the school janitor required to show his vaccine records? Do you think the rosh yeshiva asks the cleaning lady if she’s up to date on her boosters before he allows her to enter his house? How about the resource room teacher, is she up to date on all her shots? None of the adults in the school are up to date by today’s standards, because more vaccines are added to the vaccine schedule each year. Consider that in 1986, only 11 vaccines by the age of 18 rendered a person fully vaccinated. Whereas in 2017, a child needs 53 vaccines, by the age of 18, to be considered up-to-date.

This Chanukah the kindergarten teacher will teach her pupils about the evil Yivanim who tried to stop us from learning Torah. The rav in the shul and the rosh yeshiva will also stand up to speak about this subject, like they do every year.

Yet, I wonder how many of them even realize that to my family and my children, the leaders in this community symbolize the same mindset as the Yivanim?

For the privacy of my family, I wish to remain anonymous.

A Pained Mother


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