Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Inside the Jaffa Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem. The moat on the right of the picture indicates the picture was taken prior to the 1898 arrival of the German emperor. when the moat was filled in. What does the large sign at the end of the road read? (Chatham University Archives)

Joseph's Tomb in Nablus (Shchem) (Chatham University Archives, circa 1880)

View of Hinom Valley in Jerusalem (Chatham University Archives, circa 1880). The photo, probably taken from near the Jaffa Gate, shows the Montefiore windmill, built in 1858, and the Mishkenot Sha'anaim homes beneath it. Are the blades of the windmill blurry because they were moving? That could provide a date for the photo: The mill stopped turning in 1876.

The Western Wall in Jerusalem (hand-colored, Chatham University Archives, circa 1890) The photo's caption reads "Jesus' Waiting Place." A case of bad handwriting? Other photographers of the time captioned their pictures, "Jews' Wailing Place."

Funniest Temple Mount Propaganda Video Ever

Funniest Temple Mount Propaganda Video Ever

This PressTv clip can only work with an audience that can’t tell the difference between the Temple Mount compound and the Western Wall plaza. Anyone who does know that those are two sites, each with its own distinct appearance that look nothing alike, realizes that this 2 minute clip which offers lavish descriptions of how the Jews are storming Temple Mount every day, with the support of police – has not a shred of a film to back it up. All the images of Israelis they show take place in front of the Kotel, the Western Wall. That’s because there has never been, not since the 1967 liberation of Jerusalem and the holy sites, a single case of any Jew storming the Temple Mount. Of the actual Temple Mount they can only show distant shots – because any closer view would reveal that the place is lousy with local Arabs and no Jewish stormer in sight. So they show Jews congregating by the wall, then cut to Arabs describing those shocking stormings, then back to the Kotel. Good looking blonde, though. Incidentally, the still image, of an angry police officer — doesn’t appear in the actual video, it was imposed by the editor. Come to think of it, I’ll bet the blonde is fake, too.

Boycott Google!

That new Google ad makes Muslims look like apolitical, normal human beings. Like all Zionists I am deeply horrified and offended.

Other than the music choice,  I have the following questions  about this ad:

1) Why does an old guy care so much about getting together with his childhood friend from eleventy-billion years ago? Maybe I'll understand when I'm ancient, but it seems more than a little oversentimental. (Especially, the maudlin "I miss Yosef so much" @2:14 which is there because the scriptwriter knows ordinary people don't mourn their childhood friends that way)

2) And why is the Muslim old guy sitting around a candy shop? I get that its his family business, but if they are well-off enough to afford the house shown later, and the two plane tickets to India, why is he spending his dottage taking up space behind the counter?

3) The Muslim grandkid looks young, healthy and secular -- another argument for the family's affluence, an affluence that would not compel him to sit around a store all day.

4) When he was a kid, he and his Hindu friend stole candy from that store. But, wait, don't they own the joint?

5) Imagine a Google ad that brings together a Jew and an Arab who were separated due to the Nakba. (The Palestinian exodus/expulsion is roughly equivalent to the population transfer that occurred after Partition) I can't imagine any Jew or Arab appreciating such an ad. We'd rightly ask, hey, what about the wars and terrorist attacks that happened afterwards? Relations between Pakistan and India following Partition were equally bad if not worse: Three wars, terrorist attacks on mosques and temples (that rarely make the front page of the times, btw) and so on. I have to wonder what the typical Pakistani and the typical Indian makes of this spot

Abraham & Isaac: the Director's Cut

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Bill Maher and Billy Crystal Talking About Religion

Kumzitz On a Greek River; Mona Rosenblum, Chazen Ushi Blumenberg, Mendy Werdyger, Arele Samet, and Moshe Weintraub sing on a Boat on a River in Greece, Friday November 1 2013 for the annual Fundraising of the Gerer Institutions in Israel

The Amazing Bottle Dancers at The Philadelphia Phillies'

Bennett: One Cannot 'Occupy' His Own Homeland; Economy Minister responds to CNN's Christiane Amanpour who asked about Israeli construction in the "occupied West Bank."

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home/Bayit Yehudi) on Monday pointed out in an interview on CNN that there is no such thing as “Israeli occupation” in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.
Bennett was asked by Christiane Amanpour to comment on HousingMinister Uri Ariel’s decision last week to issue tenders for 20,000 new homes in Judea and Samaria.
When Amanpour, however, used the term “occupied West Bank” in her question, Bennett held up a coin which, he pointed out, was “used by Jews 2,000 years ago in the state of Israel.”
Amanpour tried to interrupt Bennett by saying that “occupied West Bank” was “an international term” but Bennett continued, “I don’t accept it. This coin, which says in Hebrew ‘freedom of Zion’ was used by Jews 2,000 years ago in the state of Israel, in what you call ‘occupied’”.
“One cannot occupy his own home,” stressed Bennett.
He also reiterated once again that he opposes the so-called “two-state solution”.
“I think trying to enforce [an] artificial state in the heart of Israel, in Jerusalem, is a grave mistake,” Bennett declared.
“If the Palestinians want peace they have to do one simple thing: Recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland. That’s all. But if they don’t do that, if they don’t recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland, they can’t expect peace,” he told Amanpour.
In the same interview, Bennett warned that a bad nuclear deal between Iran and world powers “will lead to war.”
“There’s no one who wants a war less than us,” he emphasized. “However, it’s one of those cases where a bad deal will lead to a war, and a gooddeal with actually prevent war.”
A good deal, Bennett said, would be one that “dismantles the nuclear weapon production machine.”

US Military Chief: We Would Back Israel in Event of Iran Strike; General Martin Dempsey notes ongoing security pact with Israel, hails Jewish state as 'example of what could be' in the Middle East.

Top US military leader and chairof the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, said on Monday at a regional summit of international business executives in Washington that the US would still back Israel in the event of a strike on Iran. 
According to the International Business Times, Dempsey noted that the US still has a 'deep obligation' to Israel in the event of a military conflict with Iran. Dempsey declined to give details, but emphasized that the two countries still have a special alliance during this period of heightened tensions in the region. "That is why we are in constant contact and collaboration with them," he confirmed. 
CNN notes that Dempsey also credited Israel with being "an example of what could be" in the Middle East. "If we had one of my Israeli counterparts sitting here, they would tell you that most of the Arabs living in Israel have a better life than the Arabs living in the rest of the region and that is true," he said.
Dempsey's remarks follow a public falling-out between Israel and the US, over different opinions regarding a nuclear Iran. The US and Israel are also butting heads after US Secretary of State John Kerry's visit this month to broker more peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority turned into a diplomatic disaster, with Kerry calling Israeli building in Judea and Samaria "illegitimate" and making threats of a "third intifada" if talks fail. 
Relations between Israel and the US have only downturned in the past week, as Kerry and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reportedly were unable to agree over an appropriate date for the US official to visit Israel again and attempt to resume the floundering peace negotiations.
Amid the diplomatic crisis, Netanyahu has been looking to other countries for support in preventing the deal. French President Francois Hollande remarked during his visit this week that France is working vigilantly to prevent a deal with Iran from being accepted by the international community; and on Wednesday, the PM is expected to visitRussia to appeal for support from Moscow. 
Talks between Iran and the so-called P5+1 nations are expected toresume in Geneva on Thursday, November 20. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Make Iran pay for terrorism it sponsored By Nitsana Darshan-Leitner

As lawyers representing the bereaved families and victims of terrorist attacks funded, supported and perpetrated by the Iranian regime, we are both surprised and dismayed at Under Secretary Wendy Sherman’s failure to respond to our letter last month calling for the remembrance and due reparation of the victims of terror in her diplomatic effort with the Iranian regime in the most current round of negotiations. As the negotiations with Iran led by Under Secretary Sherman continue, we call on Congress to ensure that the U.S. government is working to keep the interests of the terror victims’ families on the table.
As a result of lawsuits taken by American victims of terror in U.S. courts, the Iranian regime currently owes billions of dollars from decades of terrorist activity resulting in dozens of victims and severed families. This debt has yet to be recognized or paid by the Iranian government with no sign of an intention to do so.
Our letter called for justice.  We wrote that “Iran must not be allowed under any circumstances to avoid making payment of reparations and due compensations to the families of those whose lives they have destroyed through terrorism…and through the terror organizations it supports: Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah”.Our letter called for the abandonment of criminal activity and reminded Under Secretary Sherman, that “if Iran truly desires to be reinstated as a member of the international community, it must certainly abandon its criminal behaviors…”
Moreover, we  called on Sherman to learn from the lessons of U.S. foreign policy towards Libya, rather than North Korea. President George W. Bush moved toward an improvement in relations with the Libyan government with the repealing of any sanctions conditional upon the payment of reparations to the victims of Libyan terror. This move resulted in the payment of $1.5billion dollars to the victims’ families. Conversely, we warned what might happen if reparations are ignored as was the case with North Korea. When North Korea was removed from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism in 2008, the victims of North Korean terrorism were simply thrown beneath the bus and a “deal” was struck, without compensation being paid to these American families.
We fear this lack of response not only portends a potential Iranian exemption from paying reparations and giving due compensation to families affected by terror in return for normalization of relations, but that it also signals a softening of Sherman’s position on the proliferation of terrorist activity and most significantly, creates difficult implications for the United State’s reputation as a pillar of justice in the war on terror.
As lawyers for American, Canadian and Israeli victims of Iranian terror, we call on Congress to take action and place a check on Under Secretary Sherman in this current round of negotiations.   We urge you to safeguard and uphold the intent of  the more than two decades of  hard fought anti-terror legislation.  We call on all members of Congress to ensure that victims of terror are not forgotten and to help make the Iranian regime provide the proper reparations and due compensation for the innocent lives taken at the hands of terrorist activities and not to gain a free pass in the name of diplomatic maneuverings.
Darshan-Leitner is the director of Shurat HaDin—Israel Law Center, a civil rights organization and world leader in combating the terrorist organizations and the regimes that support them through lawsuits litigated in courtrooms around the world.

As Ban Ki-moon visits Auschwitz today, it's time for the UN to get serious on anti-Semitism UN promotes a new human rights culture that sees racism everywhere, and antisemitism nowhere

By Hillel Neuer
November 18, 2013
As Ban Ki-moon today makes the first official visit of a UN secretary-general to the Auschwitz death camp, it is a time for the world body to recall its promise to meaningfully address anti-Semitism.
In 2004, former secretary-general Kofi Annan held a historic UN gathering on anti-Semitism where he called on the Geneva-based human rights machinery of the United Nations to become “mobilized in the battle against anti-Semitism.” This appeal has largely gone ignored.
Few if any of the UN human rights mechanisms—including those experts specifically charged with addressing racism and discrimination—have addressed anti-Semitism in any meaningful way.
While there are constructive events through a relatively new UN Holocaust educational program based out of New York, these have not found an echo in the substantive reporting of the UN's vast international human rights apparatus.
In 2007, UN Watch published a comprehensive report card on the UN’s record in combating anti-Semitism. The study revealed inaction—and, worse, the aiding and abetting of anti-Semitism through an infrastructure of manifestly one-sided and irrational UN measures designed to demonize the Jewish state.
When the UN General Assembly's 4th Committee last Thursday adopted nine resolutions on Israel, and none on the rest of the world, the ambassador of Syria, co-sponsor of the resolution on the Golan, used the occasion to accuse Israel of being a Nazi state and acting like Hitler. The chair thanked him with not a word of rebuke.
The same occurs repeatedly at the UN Human Rights Council. When UN Watch's updated report card comes out, the world body's grades will sadly be no better.
That said, in principle the secretary-general's visit today is a welcome development for the leader of an organization founded in 1945 on the ashes of the Holocaust, with the aim to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights and in the dignity and worth of the human person.
It was the Holocaust they had in mind when, under the leadership of Eleanor Roosevelt and René Cassin, the UN in 1948 adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, whose second sentence speaks of the “disregard and contempt for human rights” that “have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind.”
The deafening silence and moral indifference that allowed Auschwitz to happen must serve as remembrance and reminder of the moral imperative for the United Nations—founded as the anti-Hitler alliance—to speak out and take action in the face of all acts of genocide and atrocity, as well the incitement to hatred that over history have been the warrant to crimes against humanity.
When discussing the Holocaust, however, the UN too often makes sure to draw only abstract and universal lessons, overlooking what the Nazi crime was all about.
Many welcomed the UN’s 2005 decision to hold an annual Holocaust Remembrance Day. Disappointingly, however, UN statements on this day refuse to draw the obvious lessons about the need to confront the genocidal antisemitism of our own time, be it the poisonous words of the Hamas charter, weekly sermons across the Middle East, or statements by regime leaders in Tehran—let alone the terrorism and catastrophic nuclear weapons program that are justified and fueled by those words of hate.
A typical example was the annual message published this year by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. She carefully omitted mention of even the word antisemitism.
UN officials such as Pillay appear to be comfortable discussing the Holocaust—so long as it can be invoked to support the organization’s own politicized and highly problematic agenda on racism, all of which is carried out under the rubric of texts and mechanisms that emerged from its infamous 2001 Durban conference, a notorious spectacle of anti-Israel vitriol that included mass street rallies shouting anti-Semitic slogans.
Eleanor Roosevelt would be ashamed to find that the UN she helped create has today become the leading global force behind a new human rights culture that tends to see racism everywhere—and anti-Semitism nowhere.
The secretary-general and other UN officials should recognize, in addition to all the perfectly legitimate universal lessons, that Auschwitz was the product of anti-Semitism, a cancer that continues to metastasize. The death camp Mr. Ban is seeing today was the most deadly instrument in the Nazis’ deliberate murder of six million Jews, part of Hitler's publicly stated goal to achieve the “annihilation of the Jewish race.”
Mr. Ban's visit also comes ten days after the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights released a major poll showing an alarming rise in anti-Semitism. A survey of nearly 6,000 self-identified Jews in eight European Union countries showed that two-thirds of respondents found anti-Semitism to be a major problem in their countries, while more than 75% said the situation had become more acute over the last five years. Jews in Europe cannot even pray in synagogue without the protection of intense security.
Let us hope that today's visit will cause the United Nations to reflect on its history and founding purposes, and to reaffirm its solemn commitment to fight atrocity and racial discrimination—and anti-Semitism.

Hillel Neuer is the executive director of UN Watch, a non-governmental human rights organization in Geneva, Switzerland. Published in The Times of IsraelNov. 18, 2013.

The Disputation of Barcelona

The Disputation of Barcelona (July 20–24, 1263) was held at the royal palace of King James I of Aragon in the presence of the King, his court, and many prominent ecclesiastical dignitaries and knights. The debate was held between Dominican Friar Pablo Christiani, a convert from Judaism to Christianity, and Moses Nachmanides (Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman Gerondi, or Ramban), a leading Jewish scholar, philosopher, physician, cabalist and biblical commentator. The disputation was organized by Raymond de Penyafort, the superior of the convert Christiani and the confessor of King James. Christiani had been preaching to the Jews of Provence. Relying upon the reserve his adversary would be forced to maintain through fear of wounding the feelings of the Christian dignitaries, Christiani assured the King that he could prove the truth of Christianity from the Talmud and other rabbinical writings. Nahmanides complied with the order of the King, but stipulated that complete freedom of speech should be granted. And then the sparks started flying. I urge you to take the hour or so to watch this mesmerizing production, written by Hyam Maccoby, Directed by Geoffrey Sax, with Alan Dobie as Nachmanides, Bernard Hepton as Raymund de Penjaforte, Christopher Lee as King James of Aragon, and Susan Sarandon lookalike Helen Lindsay as Queen Yolande. I think you’ll have fun. It’s a 1986 production, so the musical intro sounds a bit tinny, but, trust me, it’s highly watchable and, surprisingly, absolutely everything the good rabbi has to say about Jewish law and philosophy is on the money – except for his atrocious pronunciation of Hebrew words. That part – which was kept to a minimum, mercifully – should be taken as comic relief.

Read more at:

Your taxes at work: 'Cash strapped' 'Palestinian Authority' gives freed terrorist murderers $50,000 each

Israel has thus far released 52 of the 104 terrorist murderers it promised to release as a bribe to the 'Palestinians' to return to 'peace talks' sponsored by Obama-Kerry. Israel Radio reports this morning that  'Moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen has given each of his released heroes a sum of $50,000 as a reward. Of course, since the 'Palestinian Authority' is perpetually broke, that's $2.6 million ofyour taxes so far, with $2.6 million to go. Aren't you glad that Obama and Kerry are facilitating such a wise use of your taxes?
According to Israel Radio, upon their release, each of the freed Palestinians received a $50,000 payment from the Ramallah government. In addition, they are also given a monthly stipend that ranges from NIS 8,000 – 14,000 in addition to other state benefits and perks.
A senior Palestinian official told Israel Radio that the goal of the largesse is to enable the newly-released men to “begin their lives anew” and re-acclimate themselves to society.
Two years ago, a right-wing NGO issued a report detailing a PA-law that granted monthly salaries to Palestinians and Israeli Arabs imprisoned for terrorism.
The report by Palestinian Media Watch found that those serving sentences of more than 20 years will receive higher salaries. Salaries are to be paid from the day of arrest until release.
The PMW report points out that more than 6,000 Palestinians are currently serving time in Israeli prisons for terror-related offenses.
Given the current exchange rate of about NIS 3.52 to the dollar, NIS 8,000 - NIS 14,000 per month may not sound like a lot of money. But  since that payment is net(to), it's more than most Israelis bring home every month.

Read the whole thing.

Chareidi Rav Sends a Letter to the Pope; Give Us the Klei HaMikdash Back

In his letter to the pope, Rabbi Yonatan Shtencel points out that in year 3 תתכ”ח of the creation of the world according to the Jewish calendar the Romans entered the Temple on Har Habayis in Yerushalayim, the Kingdom of Judah in those years and led to the destruction of the Temple and took the holy vessels that were used by our people, the priests of the one and only G-d of Israel, the vessels that were in the Beis HaMikdash….and I can only appeal to you to return these vessels.
The return of these holy vessels especially by you will make amends especially in light of your position for the nations of the world and you will serve as a true pillar for Israel’s tefilla ביתי בית תפילה יקרא לכל העמים.
I therefore turn to you from the depths of my heart, first and foremost to your heart and conscience and only then to your mind and logical sense that run through all the dimensions of your knowledge and being.
Christian theological literature describes the gospel Luke…quotes Luke.
The time has come to change the status of these vessels which were taken during the difficult historical events by the Romans as war booty, found today under control of Vatican authorities.
You have the authority to take the leap to restore the honor of the holders on the one hand and the beneficiaries on the other and to benefit by returning the vessels when you come to visit the holy land.
For all of these reasons I ask that you devote some of your time to contemplate the matter, genuine introspection, the type that have directed you to your lofty position – taking advantage of this lofty position to collect and prepare them and bring them with you when you arrive in Israel, the vessels of the Temple – to return them to the Jewish People for safekeeping.
p1 p2
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IDF Comic Book Reveals Less Friendly Side of Hamas; Israel Defense Forces fires latest salvo against Hamas in the battle for hearts and minds - in the form of a comic book.

Despite a reported 98% drop in rocket attacks on Israel since last November's "Pillar of Defense" counterterrorism operation, last month's "terror tunnel" and recent skirmishesalong the Israel-Gaza border have reminded Israelis that the war with Hamas is far from over.
And that is true not just on the physical battlefield, as both sidescontinue to fight for hearts and minds in the media.
Most recently, an attempt to improve its image, Hamas appointed it's first female spokesperson - although her previous employment record, including a stint at Iranian state TV, is an indicator of her own Islamist credentials.
But the Israeli response has not been long in coming. Yesterday, in an attempt to remind international audiences of Hamas' less friendly side, the Israel Defense Forces spokesperson's unit published a short handbook on the movement - in the form of a comic book.
"Hamas in Comics: Terror and Tyranny in Gaza" focuses on the Islamist group's abuses of human rights, including the deliberate targeting of Israeli civilians and indoctrination of young children.
It also focuses on women's rights (or the lack thereof) in Hamas-run Gaza - female spokespeople notwithstanding - noting that women are forbidden from smoking or dancing in public and face restrictions on what clothes they are allowed to wear.
The comic book ends with a declaration that "The IDF will do everything in its power to stop Hamas' terror and protect the people of Israel."
Click on the comic book icon below for a full screen view, or visit theIDF blog:

Rav Hillel Palei, Yosef Karduner and Yitzchak Meir sing "Ochila Lakel" Composed by Rabbi Hillel Paley. At a Kumzitz at a Sukkah in Ramat Hasharon, Israel. Chol Hamoed Sukkos, 5754

Shloime Gertner and Amiran dvir @chupah London

Rabbi Noach Muroff at the Agudah Convention

Rabbi Noach Muroff at the podium at the 91st Agudath Israel Convention on Nov 16 2013, at the Hilton Woodcliffe Lake in Woodcliff Lake, N.J. Rabbi Muroff who has since his return of $98,000 found in a used desk he purchased on Craigslist, to its original owner has become a national media sensation.

Rabbi Muroff was invited to address the 91st convention, which was held at the Woodcliff Lake Hilton in New Jersey, by the Agudah’s executive Vice President, Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zweibel. He received multiples sustained rounds of applause and a double standing ovation as he addressed the overflow crowd at the convention, which was also transmitted to various locations across the country.

In a soft-spoken voice that was laden with emotion, Rabbi Muroff expressed his belief that any frum person would have acted in the same manner. He also responded forcefully to those who claimed that he did not act according to halacha.


Imagine buying a desk under $200 on Craigslist only to find thousands of dollars hidden inside.

That’s exactly what happened New Haven Rabbi Noach Muroff and his wife. They found a huge pile of cash after buying a desk. When the couple brought the desk home it wouldn’t fit through the door. The couple had to pull the desk apart, including the file cabinets. Behind the drawers they discovered a plastic bag filled with cash. they counted up and there’s $98,000 cash sitting in the bag. The couple couldn’t believe their eyes. They picked up the phone and called the original owner

The original owner was speechless. “Oh my gosh, because I… oh my God,” she said. The former owner had stuffed her inheritance in the desk and forgot where she put the money. The rabbi and his wife returned the cash to the rightful owner. Rabbi Muroff said the most important thing in life is to be honest.

Yaakov Shwekey Visits Hadassah Hospital

Cantor Yaakov Lemmer & Mezamrim Choir - Shema Yisrael

Sunday, November 17, 2013

26 Israeli Charities that Received $2.7 Million from Hagee Ministries

Pastor John Hagee‘s 32nd annual “Night to Honor Israel” was held on October 27, 2013 in the Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas.  The 5,000 person sanctuary was filled to capacity with not only Evangelical Christians, but Jews from Israel representing 26 charities that received over $2.7 million in donations. 
Over the years, Hagee Ministries has blessed Israel with over $80 million in humanitarian aid which has greatly benefited the people of Israel.  The complete footage of the 2013 “Night to Honor Israel” is available  here.

26. Friends of the Israel Defense Forces 

$50,000 for the care of fallen soldier’s families presented to Scott Kammerman
25. Hadadi Center for Breast Cancer Survivors
$50,000  for the emotional and social support given to breast cancer survivors presented to Aliza Herbst
24. Heart of Benjamin – CFOIC
$50,000 for children with Down Syndrome presented to Sandra Baras
23. Israel Help and Educational Center at Kiryat Gat
Israel Help
$50,000 for services for families at risk presented to Rivka Lennon Zamanov
22. Koby Mandell Foundation
Koby Mandell Foundation
$50,000 for services for victims of terror and trauma presented to Rabbi Seth Mandell
21. Meir Panim
Meir Panim
$50,000 for the fight against hunger and poverty in Israel presented to David Birnbaum
20. Migdal Ohr
Migdal Ohr
$50,000 for the orphanage in Israel presented to Steven Finkelman
19. Nahal Haredi
Nahal Haredi
$50,000 for the acculturation of Haredi soldiers into the IDF presented to Rabbi Tzvi Klebanow
18. Or L’doron
$50,000 for the educaiton of Ethiopian immigrants presented to Rabbi Michael Cytrin
17. The Herzl Institute in Jerusalem
Herzl Institute
$50,000 for the young leadership seminars presented to Dr. Yoram Hazony
16. WIZO – Women’s International Zionist Organization
$50,000 for the support of operations for education and welfare projects and services presented to Mercedes Ivcher
15. Afikim Family Enrichment Association
$75,000 for enrichment centers for at-risk families presented to Moshe Lefkowitz
14. Eretz Nehederet
Eretz Nehederet
$75,000 for Jewish awareness programs for the IDF by Linda Olmert
13. American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
$100,000 for the support of Holocaust survivors presented to Michael Novak

12. Avukot Or

$100,000 for the support of blind young adults with severe physical disabilities presented to Abe Tessler
11. Bikur V’ezras Cholim
Bikur V'ezras Cholim
$100,000 for the home for developmentally challenged adults presented to Chesky Fuchs
10. The International Council of Young Israel
Young Israel
$100,000 for Jewish enrichment for hearing impaired children presented to Harris Burg
9. Just One Life
Just One Life
$100,000 for the support and counseling of pregnant women presented to Rabbi Etan Tokayer
8. World Ort
World ORT
$100,000 for vocational training for Ethiopian immigrants presented to Howard Feinberg
7. Yad Vashem
Yad Vashem
$100,000 for support for the “Righteous Among Nations” program presented to Shaya Ben-Yehuda
6. Save a Child’s Heart
Save a Child's Heart
$125,000 for pediatric intensive care services presented to David Litwack
5. Netanya Academic Collage
Netanya College
$150,000 for the integration of new immigrants through higher education and assistance into the workforce presented to Dr. David Altman
4. Ohr Torah Stone’s Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation
$150,000 for the creation of a more positive relations between Jews and Christians presented to David Nekrutman
3. Shurat Hadin Israel Law Center
Shurat HaDin
$150,000 for the Israeli-based civil rights organization which combats terrorist organizations through lawsuits presented to Nitzana-Darshan Leitner
2. The Jewish Agency for Israel
The Jewish Agency
$250,000 for absorption and youth centers for new immigrants presented to Shai Lamdan
1. Nefesh B’Nefesh
Nefesh B'Nefesh
$500,000 for the revitalization of Aliyah by helping American-Jewish professionals achieve their dreams of living in Israel presented to Rabbi Yehoshua Fass and Tony Gelbart

Rabbi Wein made me cry by Avi Glazer

I was privileged recently to hear a lecture by the incomparable Rabbi Berel Wein at Bais Torah, the synagogue that he founded before making aliyah. Rabbi Wein returned to Monsey, NY, to promote The Legacy: Teaching for Life from the Great Lithuanian Rabbis, which he wrote in collaboration with South African Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein. As a proud Litvak myself, I was eager to attend and hear his thoughts.
When I arrived at Bais Torah, the parking lot was already full. While I had to park some distance away and walk back to the shul, it was gratifying to see so many people at the event. In fact, before Rabbi Wein could start speaking we were asked to move from the auditorium to the shul, as there was not enough room for the overflow crowd.
Rabbi Wein spoke about the honesty of Lithuanian Jews, their good humor and their attitude that living a Torah life was an honor and privilege. He discussed the mussar movement that arose in Lithuania as the natural outgrowth of the intense focus on personal growth that characterized Lithuanian Jewry. He also emphasized that, even while embroiled in the various disputes that engulfed European Jewry during the 19th and 20th centuries, Litvaks managed to not lose their attitude of pleasantness toward one another. Despite the turbulence that characterized much of that period, and the various religious and political groups that were at odds with one another, there was still collaboration between the groups when possible, and the discussions were more scholarly and less acrimonious than in other places.Rabbi Wein began by speaking in glowing terms about the South African Jewish community, the vast majority of which is of Lithuanian descent. He quoted the late Ponevezher Rav, Rav Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman, who lauded their good character traits and and pleasant ways. Rabbi Wein contrasted that with American Jews, who, when they arrived here from Europe, were so determined to give their children what they themselves did not have, that they forget to pass along the good things that they did possess.
Throughout his speech, Rabbi Wein kept the audience entertained with his trademark dry wit and captivating anecdotes about his father and father-in-law, his teachers, and other rabbinic personalities. He spoke of a Pesach seder that Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinski organized for the Socialist university students in Vilna, and described his shock at first hearing his father-in-law’s heavy Lithuanian accent and lisp – “He began kiddush with “Yom Hasisi” and I almost fell off my chair”. He described how Rabbi Mendel Kaplan, his school rebbe in Chicago, came to the US without speaking a word of English and yet was able to keep a classroom of boys spellbound by teaching them how to interpret newspaper articles in return for the boys teaching him English. At one point during his speech, Rabbi Wein’s cell phone rang. Slightly embarrassed, he quipped “if it’s not the Pope, I’m not answering” while silencing the ringer.
Rabbi Wein then began speaking about the intense love of Lithuanian Jews for the land of Israel. He spoke of the aliyah of the students of the Vilna Gaon, and of the strong push within Lithuanian Jewry for a return to Israel. He recalled the immense pride that Jews in Chicago felt upon the announcement of the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, and the tears of his father when he heard the news. He described the heavy emotion that was felt when the Israeli flag was raised at the Chicago rally in support of the newly-formed State.
It was at this point that I started to cry.
At the beginning of this past week’s parsha, we find Yaakov Avinu leaving his parents’ house for Haran. The Torah tells us וַיֵּצֵא יַעֲקֹב, מִבְּאֵר שָׁבַע; וַיֵּלֶךְ, חָרָנָה – “and Yaakov left Be’er Sheva and traveled toward Haran”. The Beis HaLevi, Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, is bothered by the seeming redundancy in the verse. The Torah could have simply said that Yaakov traveled toward Haran, and it would be obvious to us that he left Be’er Sheva. What message is the Torah telling us by including the “extra” piece of information?
The Beis HaLevi answers that there are two reasons for people to travel from one place to another. In some cases, a person is forced to leave his place, and his ultimate destination is only a secondary concern. In other cases, a person sees an opportunity that is only available in a new place, and leaves his current location only a means to that end. In Yaakov’s case, both aspects are true. Yaakov was forced to leave Be’er Sheva to escape the wrath of his brother Eisav, and travelled specifically to Haran to find a wife. Therefore, the Torah included both statements.
The night before Rabbi Wein’s speech, my wife and I spoke, yet again, of leaving Monsey. There are a number of reasons for us to move – we are dissatisfied with the education that our children currently receive, we are tired of the “me-first” New York attitude that so many people here seem to exhibit, and we are disgusted by the stories of corruption and law-breaking that often dominate the local headlines. While we are happy to be close to family, we are in agreement that we would be better off elsewhere.
But while there are many things pushing us away from Monsey, there is no place in the US that pulls us, that tells us “move here, this is the place for you!” Boston and Baltimore, Philly and Phoenix, Dallas and Denver, Cleveland and Chicago. All are fine communities, and all have much to offer. But like my ancestors hundreds of years ago, I know where I truly belong.
And so I cried. I cried for the circumstances that have kept me from Israel for the past fifteen years, and for the circumstances that continue to keep me from returning. I cried because I know that my immediate future is still in the United States, either in Monsey or somewhere else. But mostly, I cried because I miss the alleys of Jerusalem and the hills of Tzfat, the smell of the sea and the sights of the shuk. In the poetic words of Yehuda HeLevi, לִבִּי בְמִזְרָח וְאָנֹכִי בְּסוֹף מַעֲרָב. “my heart is in the East, but I am in the utter West.”
I want to come home.

Report: Israel, Saudi Arabia Plan Iran Strike; Israeli and Saudi officials are reportedly creating a contingency plan for a joint strike on Iran.

Historic enemies Israel and Saudi Arabia may team up to fight Iran if talks between Iran and the West fail to curb Iran’s nuclear program, the Sunday Times reports.
According to the report, Israel would carry out the actual airstrike, with Saudi Arabia providing technical support.
The report indicates growing upset in the Arab world over the failure to stop Iran’s nuclearprogram. There were previous reports that Saudi Arabia would allow Israel to use its airspace to stop Iran, but now the Sunni Muslim country is reportedly prepared to cooperate over the use of planes and drones as well.
“Once the Geneva agreement is signed, the military option will be back on the table. The Saudis are furious and are willing to give Israel all the help it needs,” an unnamed diplomat told the paper.
Both Israel and Saudi Arabia fear that talks between the Western powersand Iran in Geneva will yield an agreement that relaxes sanctions on Iran without effectively curbing Iran’s nuclear program.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has warned that an agreement that leaves Iran with its ability to enrich uranium and produce a bomb would be“bad and dangerous.”
A deal has not yet been signed, a fact that is reportedly due to France’s insistence on more verifiable guarantees that Iran would not obtain nuclear weapons capability. Netanyahu has urged French diplomats tomaintain their stance.
Israel’s vocal concern over the talks stands in contrast to United States President Barack Obama’s enthusiasm. U.S. officials are reportedly angry over Israel’s criticism.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly recently told Senators to “ignore anything the Israelis say” about Iran. U.S. President Barack Obama has reportedly refused to take Netanyahu’s phone calls in a deliberate snub.