Friday, February 28, 2014

I Was Baruch Goldstein’s Friend By: David Wilder

He was my friend. He was also a doctor. A very good one. He treated both Arabs and Jews. His trauma treatment was legendary in Israeli medical circles. His on-the-spot diagnoses were, after weeks of hospital tests, found to be 100% on the mark.

He was my friend. He was also a doctor. A very good one. He treated both Arabs and Jews. His trauma treatment was legendary in Israeli medical circles. His on-the-spot diagnoses were, after weeks of hospital tests, found to be 100% on the mark. The past week or so has witnessed a spate of “Remembering Baruch Goldstein” articles and videos in the international media. That’s because the past week marked the 20th anniversary of his attack at Ma’arat HaMachpela, the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs in Hebron. First, to be clear, I do not agree with, or justify what Baruch Goldstein did twenty years ago. I believe I can say, as I have stated many times before, that the Jewish Community of Hebron also rejects such violence and bloodshed as a means to deal with the issues plaguing us. The reason I am so sure is simply because our people do not do it. Our people do not go out and randomly shoot at other people who are not endangering their lives. People here are armed. We are licensed, either by the Ministry of the Interior or by the IDF, to carry small arms and rifles for reasons of self-defense, and self-defense only. Once a pistol or a rifle is in the possession of any given person, they can, theoretically, do with it whatever they want. If a person wants to go outside and start shooting people, there is nothing to stop him. The fact is that Jews don’t randomly attack and shoot people, not in Hebron, and not anywhere else. This is not the way to achieve whatever aims we might have. It is not right legally, morally or ethically. It is wrong. As a result there are very few people who have illegitimately used weapons against Arabs for reasons other than self-defense. And those who have are imprisoned for very lengthy periods of time. When journalists ask me about our reaction to Baruch Goldstein, after replying, I inquire as to whether they ask my Arab neighbors what they think about Yahya Ayyash. About 99% of them don’t know who I’m talking about. Ayyash was nicknamed ‘the engineer.’ Bombs he assembled killed more than 70 Israelis in numerous terror attacks in the 1990s. He trained his successors to follow in his footsteps after his death at the hands of Israeli intelligence. At his funeral, attended by well over 100,000 people, Arafat called him a saint. (Two days after Goldstein’s attack, Yitzhak Rabin, in the Knesset, said, “I am ashamed to be a Jew.”) How many Jews have committed such acts? Five, six, maybe seven. How many Arabs? Between 1989 and 2008, more than 800 Arab suicide-homicide killers have murdered Jews. Who is the only one remembered? Baruch Goldstein. I asked former MK Mossi Raz, demonstrating in Hebron this week, if he would also demonstrate to mark the 18th anniversary of Israel’s killing of Ayyash. Of course, the answer was a stark No. I knew Goldstein. He was my friend. He was also a doctor. A very good one. He treated both Arabs and Jews. His trauma treatment was legendary in Israeli medical circles. His on-the-spot diagnoses were, after weeks of hospital tests, found to be 100% on the mark. He was also the only on-duty doctor in Kiryat Arba, just about 24 hours a day, seven days a week. During the first intifada, following drive-by shootings and terror attacks, he was frequently the first medical person at the scene. As such, he witnessed horrible sights. It is said that he would sleep at night with earphones in his ears, allowing him to hear reports of attacks, without disturbing his wife’s’ sleep. Why did he do what he did? This is a question to which, as far as I know, nobody really knows the full answer. To the best of my knowledge, he didn’t leave behind any notes or messages. However, only two months earlier, I was present at the scene of the murder of his close friend, Mordechai Lapid and his son Shalom, just outside the gates of Kiryat Arba. He tried to save Mordechai’s life, in vain. At the beginning of that fateful week, IDF General Shaul Mofaz visited with the Kiryat Arba leadership for an emergency meeting. Baruch Goldstein, as the doctor of the area, was present. Mofaz told of intelligence information concerning a planned terror attack in the area of Machpela towards the end of the week. Baruch Goldstein was asked to “be prepared.” The Saturday night prior to the attack, during evening prayers, Arabs inside Machpela chanted “Itbach el-Yahud,” “Slaughter the Jews.” The IDF did nothing to stop this. The night before his attack, the evening of Purim, while reciting Megilat Esther, when we read how Haman planned to annihilate the Jews, again, Arabs yelled and screamed, “Itbach el-Yahud.” Despite Goldstein’s protests, nothing was done to stop it. The next morning he arrived there early, shot and killed twenty nine Arabs as they prayed, wounding dozens of others. It seems, as much as can be assumed, that he very simply cracked, deciding, ‘if anyone is going to be killed here today, it will be Arabs and not Jews.’ That doesn’t make it right, in any way, shape or form. But that’s what happened. Baruch Goldstein was not a bloodthirsty terrorist whose goal in life was to kill as many people as he could, as often as he could. He was a brilliant doctor, whose purpose in life was to save other people’s lives. His purpose in life was also to actively support and promote Jewish life in the State of Israel. For that reason he left the United States, as did the rest of his family, and moved to Israel, to take an active role in the rebirth of the Jewish homeland. It seems that this, too, was a reason behind his acts. Witnessing terror murders, one after the other, by Arabs, with Israel’s leadership standing on the sideline, watching, doing nothing to prevent the next terror killing. He made a tremendously appalling error, which cost the lives of many people, which cost him his own life, and which left an indelible stain on Israel. That having been said, and realizing the horror of his act, it must be examined and remembered in the perspective of what was happening around us and to us. Had there not been an intifada, with some 160 Jews killed, with very few government attempts to protect the Jewish victims, he never would have broken down and committed the acts that he did. And we cannot and must not forget that what he did, as ghastly as it was, was miniscule compared to the terror and death Israelis have faced at the hands of hundreds of Arab terrorists over the past decades. Terror that continues to this very day. Are not rockets, shot from Gaza into Ashkelon, acts of terror? Clearly, the agenda of those protesting, and the articles appearing over the past couple of weeks have nothing to do with human life, human rights and human suffering. Rather, that agenda is purely political, overtly anti-Israel, anti-Jewish Hebron and in many cases, covertly antisemitic, in an attempt to create an atmosphere of incitement, justifying continued Arab violence and terror against Jews in Israel, with the immediate goal being the creation of another enemy Arab state on our land, to be followed by the destruction of the state of Israel and the implementation of those very words intoned at Machpela, here in Hebron, twenty years ago: “Itbach el-Yahud.”

Read more at:

Adi Ran "Ein Lanu Al Mi Lismoch"

Elder Of Ziyon - Israel News: The epic meltdown of an Israel hater at UCLA (NOW WITH MUSIC VIDEO!)

If you haven't seen this yet, you have got to check it out. From The Daily Caller:
A student at the University of California Los Angeles broke down in tears after the student government voted against the resolution she favored, which would have condemned the state of Israel and asked the university to support divestment.

The unnamed student was taking notes at the meeting where the vote occurred, according to Legal Insurrection. After the result — a 7-5 vote against the anti-Israel resolution — was announced, the student began crying hysterically and swearing at the student representatives for their failure to take a firm anti-Israel stance.
I wasn't going to post this, but I promised commenter jzaik that I would if he could provide a transcript. It is far from complete but it is the best anyone has. And even his best guesses are funny.

I never talk and I'm always like
(I don't always on the side..)
I always like respect all of you all so much.
But I've never been more F'ing disappointed than tonight.
Voting yes......Terrorize.
I respect all of you all so much.
I'm not like trying to be..
I'm so deep throat?
And I always bite my tongue through these meetings.
But I have my opinions
But I've never been so F'ing disappointed than tonight.
And we could've stopped it.
And we F'ing blew it.
I'm sorry. 12 hours
I'm sorry I'm like
And I'm just so disappointed.
I just want you to know that like
I know I've like done it all the time
But like..I still think it
And there were so many.....
I don't understand...
last thing
he got Paris.
it was just so terrible
And my sister was like
Cause she saw me on live screen
She's like oh what's wrong...why are you crying?
The whole world should be crying right now.

Prince Charles Joins In Saudi Arabian Sword Dance

Dramatic Video of Iranian's Desperate Struggle At Gallows Iranian prisoner tries to fight off hangmen at public hanging, after last request to say goodbye to mother in audience denied.

Dramatic new footage from Iran highlights the repressive nature of the Islamic regime that is pursuing nuclear power. Video captured the desperate struggle of a prisoner in Karaj, a city north of Tehran, moments before he was hung publicly as is the custom in Iran.
His final request to say goodbye to his mother before being killed was denied by the hangmen, who ignored the mother's heartfelt pleas from the audience to say a last goodbye to her son.
In response to the cruelty, the man kicked out at one of the hangmen, knocking him from the gallows box and overturning the bench he was to stand on for the hanging.
Warning: Video footage below may be graphic. Viewer discretion is advised

A desperate struggle ensued as the outnumbered condemned man fought against hangmen with his hands tied. It was a struggle fated for a tragic outcome, as the guards overpowered the man and carried out the execution right before the man's mother and the public.
Iran has dramatically escalated the pace of hangings; Amnesty International revealed that in the first 21 days of 2014, a rate of two hangings were carried out every day.
Execution orders are often given in secret trials held by Revolutionary Guard courts, where defendants may have restricted access to legal defense and where sentences are often given in secret, reports Amnesty International.
“In Iran drug-related offenses are tried in Revolutionary Courts which routinely fall far short of international fair trial standards. The reality in Iran is that people are being ruthlessly sentenced to death after unfair trials, and this is unacceptable," remarked Hassiba Hadja Sahraoui, DeputyProgram Manager for Amnesty International in the Middle East and North Africa.
United Nations officials spoke out following the January report, denouncing “the inherently cruel, inhuman and degrading nature of the death penalty.” 
Among those killed by hanging was An Arab-Iranian poet and human rights activist, executed in late January for being an "enemy of G-d." The 32-year-old poet had spoken out against the mistreatment of ethnic Arabs in Iran's Khuzestan province, which borders Iraq.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks spends a weekend in L.A. envisioning the Jewish future

Swiping his finger to the left, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Britain’s now-former chief rabbi, and arguably the world’s most prominent religious Jewish leader, was looking for a text he felt might show how Orthodox Jews can spread a Jewish message to the Western world.
He wasn’t leafing through the Talmud, and he didn’t have in mind a specific passage from the Torah. He wasn’t even looking for a Jewish text. 
He was browsing his iPad, and after a few seconds lost in his app collection, he finally found what he was looking for.
“The Waste Land” — a poem by T.S. Eliot, an American-born Englishman widely regarded as among the 20th century’s most influential literary figures.
“Hang on,” Sacks said, as he prepared me for the pinnacle of the app, a specially filmed performance by actress Fiona Shaw. “This is magic. Thisis the masterpiece.” 
Shaw’s voice — that of the Petunia Dursley character from the “Harry Potter” series — emerged majestically from the speaker: “The Waste Land. The burial of the dead.” 
This is how Orthodox Jews might learn from and teach religious texts? 
Sacks put his beloved iPad down and looked at me, ready to clarify.
“Can you imagine having a siddur [prayer book] where you’ve got the text,” he said, “You’ve got the translation, you press one button [and] you get the commentaries?” Then added, “You press another button, and you get half a dozen shiurim [lessons] on that paragraph.”
It was Sacks at his most dynamic, blending Western poetry with ancient tradition, rabbinic commentaries with one of Silicon Valley’s proudest inventions. 
I was sitting with the former chief rabbi, his wife, Elaine, and his assistant at a table in the lobby of the Luxe Rodeo Drive Hotel in Beverly Hills. It was the morning of Feb. 23, and I was still absorbing the past four days, during which I had followed Sacks, the unofficial spokesman for Modern Orthodox Jewry, around Los Angeles. 
From Feb. 20 to Feb. 23, he gave 11 lectures to Los Angeles’ Orthodox community, all but one in the Orthodox Pico-Robertson neighborhood, as part of a weekend sponsored by Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy, a local Modern Orthodox school.
Last September, Sacks stepped down after 22 years as chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, where he oversaw more than 60 Orthodox communities. He now serves as a visiting professor at both Yeshiva University and New York University in Manhattan.
Throughout his visit, at every event, Sacks looked like a leader — perfect suit, perfect tie, perfect hair and, of course, his signature white beard. To my delight, he had clearly studied the list of questions I had offered up in advance but was perfectly OK when I went off script to explore new ideas that arose during our talk.
Like many of his stature, he had a way of being human when face to face, and did not make me feel as if I were in the presence of a larger-than-life figure. Unlike many public figures, though, he does not act Hollywood — I never sensed any arrogance in his interactions with the hundreds of community members he met while here.
At times, Sacks appeared so introspective and thoughtful, even in rooms with hundreds of people, that I found myself wondering if he was preparing to speak, or mentally working through his next book or essay.
During our 30-minute meeting in that hotel lobby, he spoke very softly, lightly tapped my arm when making important points and made it seem as if I were, in his mind, the only other person in the room.
My questions ranged from the general — “What encourages you most about world Jewry today?” — to the specific — “Which texts are you studying at the moment?” But what I really wanted Sacks to explain is why he keeps speaking about leadership — everywhere he goes, in everything he writes.
And what he told me is what he told every crowd he spoke to in Los Angeles — children and adults, educators and students, politicians and philanthropists —that Orthodox Jewry will within 25 years be the leader of American Jewry, and if and when that comes to pass, its own leadership must be prepared and willing to influence and dialogue not only with the non-Orthodox Jewish world, but with the non-Jewish one as well.
Sacks believes American Orthodoxy’s leadership should prepare for its ascent by learning how to disseminate what he broadly terms “the Judeo-Christian ethic” in an increasingly secular country — not just through the newest technologies, but also through Hollywood and other tools of popular culture.
Sacks is already widely recognized as the intellectual leader of the Modern Orthodox movement, the basic belief of which is this: Jews are obligated to engage with and impact the outside world (Modern) while living and preaching a Torah-observant life (Orthodox). 
Furthermore, as Sacks stated in a BBC broadcast debate with leading atheist Richard Dawkins, “If a biblical narrative is incompatible with established scientific fact, it is not to be read literally,” which allows Sacks and Modern Orthodoxy to simultaneously respect the science of evolution and the Torah, to read the story of Adam and Eve as parable rather than history.
“Reading the Bible literally,” Sacks told Dawkins, “Is heresy.”
Speaking everyone’s language
Sacks knows how to keep the tone light. 
His first public appearance in Los Angeles was on Feb. 20 at Young Israel of North Beverly Hills, joining talk-show host Michael Medved and the head of the Orthodox Union, Rabbi Steven Weil, for a panel discussion in front of 300 people. 
As at every event he spoke at during the weekend, he did not shy away from people who sought his attention. Dozens from the audience introduced themselves and wanted to speak with him. 
Like any good rabbi, he started with a joke. He recounted how, upon his appointment as Britain’s chief rabbi at just 43, someone asked him, “Aren’t you a little young for the job?”
His response: “Don’t worry, in this job I’ll age rapidly.” 
His audience that evening was predominantly parents and grandparents, so his leadership message to them was about communal religious leadership. “Make friends with Jews who are less religious than you are — and by lifting them, you yourself will be lifted.”
His speech followed a performance by the Shabbaton Choir, a British choral group that has traveled around the world with the rabbi. As he took the microphone, he expressed his gratitude to the choir and then asked the crowd to give them another round of applause. In fact, during a musical event on Feb. 22 at Congregation Mogen David, he joined the choir in song.
On Feb. 21, Sacks was at the Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy for three consecutive addresses. He spoke first to grade-school students, then to local political, educational and religious leaders, and, finally, to teens from local Orthodox high schools.
With the children, most of whom may not appreciate for years to come who they were meeting, the rabbi did not change his message; he simply tweaked his delivery and tone. 
“Your young [class] presidents are going to be presidents of the United States one day,” Sacks said as he walked through the aisle that separated the boys from the girls, making eye contact with the young children. “Get to know them now, because one day they are going to be very big stars — and so are all of you.”
A few minutes later, upstairs, Sacks led a roundtable discussion with a diverse group of Los Angeles’ political, educational and religious leaders, that notably included a woman rabbi — Rabbi Deborah Silver of Adat Ari El Synagogue — as well as a Christian clergymember — Monsignor John Moretta of Resurrection Catholic Church, illustrating that although Sacks predominantly speaks to Orthodox groups when speaking to Jewish audiences, he does not wish to restrict himself to that relatively small enclave. 
It was, for him, an opportunity to impart a few ideas to the people — Jewish, Christian, secular — who will help shape the next generation of leaders. 
More than 20 people were in the room, and when each said his or her name and position, he looked at them warmly and acknowledged their presence.
“Each one of you is engaged in God’s work,” he said. “The purpose of education is to allow people to achieve their full dignity in the image and likeness of God.” 
Sacks stressed teaching kids how to teach, relating a conversation that he’d had with his late father when he was only 5 years old. 
Walking home from Shabbat services with his father one day, the young boy asked his father to explain certain prayers and Jewish practices. Sacks’ father, who’d dropped out of school at 14 to help support his family, answered:
“Jonathan, I didn’t have an education, so I can’t answer your question. But one day you will have the education I didn’t have. And when that happens, you will teach me the answers to those questions.”
By the time he took the podium Saturday morning for his Shabbat address at Beth Jacob Congregation, the largest Orthodox synagogue in the Western United States, nearly 800 people filled the main sanctuary. It was so packed that, so as to not violate fire code, the synagogue had to turn away throngs of people who had hoped to hear the former chief rabbi.  
As he prepared to speak, the anticipation inside was palpable. 
Standing sideways, with his right arm propped on the podium, Sacks glanced toward Beth Jacob’s Senior Rabbi Kalman Topp, then toward the congregation, and said with a smile, “I am going to try very hard to deliver a good speech. Do you know why? Your rabbi promised me that if I do, he will give me a lollipop.” 
The room immediately relaxed as Sacks began to explore his main passion, and something he hadn’t yet spoken of at much length during this visit — the deeper messages hidden in the stories of the Torah.
The week’s portion was Vayakhel. On the surface, the text speaks in detail about the Israelites’ construction of the mishkan, the Tabernacle, a portable holy place the Jews built as they wandered in the desert where they could properly worship God. 
It’s a very technical, detailed Torah portion, and Sacks related that in one of his learning sessions with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, he had pointed out that while God needed only a few verses in Genesis to create the entire universe, the Torah dedicated five entire portions to the construction of the Tabernacle. Why?
Because, he said, until the Jewish people were given a task to build, a project that called for unity and purpose, they could not possibly lead.
Now 65, Sacks is a London native, but has known America well since the summer of 1968, when, while studying philosophy as an undergraduate at the University of Cambridge, he came to the United States to meet as many prominent rabbis as he could. With a $100 unlimited Greyhound pass, he traveled from New York to Los Angeles to stay with his now-late aunt in Beverly Hills.  
Based on the recommendations of many rabbis he met, the young Sacks was most eager to meet Rabbi Menachem Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe and the now-late leader of the Chasidic Chabad-Lubavitch movement — who was viewed as religious Judaism’s ambassador until his death in 1994.
That encounter, he’s often said, set him on the path to becoming the leader of two synagogues, the director of the rabbinic faculty at Jews’ College (now the London School of Jewish Studies) and, perhaps just as formative, a philosophy scholar and a lecturer at several secular British universities, including Manchester and Essex. 
Beyond the texts, Sacks demonstrated during his speeches here and in our interview his deep knowledge of non-Jewish philosophy and history — Plato, Aristotle, Darwin, Tocqueville, Locke, Churchill — as well as popular culture. 
Aaron Sorkin’s screenwriting in “The West Wing” was “genius,” he told me, and “Gravity” is an “extraordinary film” that demonstrates the existential need for faith.
Bridging Judaism with society
In his 22-year term as chief rabbi, Sacks was far more than a leader for British Orthodox Jewry and the 62-member synagogues, all Orthodox, of the United Hebrew Congregations. He became the bridge between Orthodoxy and British society, publishing 25 books in 24 years, several of which could just as well have been written for non-Jews.
Like many leaders, though, Sacks could never please everyone, on either side of him. Agudath Israel of America, a leadership organization of ultra-Orthodox Jews, criticized Sacks following his July 2013 retirement dinner, in which he critiqued what he sees as a trend toward increased insularity within the Orthodox world.
It was a message he repeated in Los Angeles. “There are Jews moving very far away from social engagement, turning inwards,” Sacks told me, choosing his words very carefully. The implication, though, was clear — much of the ultra-Orthodox world is not spreading the Jewish message to the outside world, and that has led to the growth of what he called “aggressively secularized tendencies.”
For the British Jews more liberal than he, Sacks was perceived as beholden to his country’s Charedi community during his tenure. He did not, for example, attend the funeral of prominent British Reform Rabbi Hugo Gryn, and he never attended Limmud, the largest annual interdenominational Jewish education event, now held worldwide and which got its start in London.
In 2012, Sacks signed his name to a joint response from Britain’s rabbinical court to the government, opposing same-sex marriage. In response, 26 prominent British Jews wrote an open letter criticizing Sacks for trying to “influence how the generality of the population leads its life”— somewhat ironic because influencing society, and not just the Jewish community, is one of his main goals.
And yet, even as he openly admires some of Nietzsche’s work, he also has written groundbreaking commentaries on four Orthodox prayer books, for Shabbat, Passover, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. According to his office, he’s currently working on ones for Sukkot and Shavuot.
And although as chief rabbi, Sacks did not speak on behalf of Britain’s Reform, Conservative or Charedi movements, from a marketing perspective he might as well have been, for British society viewed him as the Jewish spokesman.
As he became Great Britain’s de facto Jewish ambassador, a Sacks brand developed — a polished look for television appearances, a royal-sounding voice for radio broadcasts, a scholarly tone for books and op-eds, and an ability to condense his message into sound bites while rarely making news for saying the wrong thing.
Although he shies away from attracting controversy, Sacks will be outspoken when he feels he must. At a BBC-sponsored debate, Sacks told Dawkins that the beginning of Chapter 2 in the atheist’s book, “The God Delusion,” is a “profoundly anti-Semitic passage.”
In Britain, Sacks was viewed as the face of British Jewry by two groups of people — his natural followers, the Modern Orthodox, and also the politicians and media. His acceptance into the House of Lords as Baron Sacks of Aldgate, and his regular broadcasts and documentaries on BBC, helped inject Torah ideas into the British conversation.
In America, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour recently interviewed Sacks about Jewish assimilation, the Israeli-Arab conflict, anti-Semitism, the Vatican, Iran and Ariel Sharon — topics with which every Jewish community in the United States has grappled in recent months.
He is quickly climbing to the top of the American media’s speed dial list for interviews on all things Jewish — if he isn’t already there.
During his talk at YINBH, he told a story about one of his core goals — to reach Jews who don’t attend synagogue regularly (which includes 76 percent of American Jewry), teach Jewish things to non-Jews.
So Sacks decided that, as chief rabbi, he would broadcast regularly on BBC Radio. Yes, its audience is overwhelmingly non-Jewish, but, all the better.
“A Jewish guy comes to his office one morning, and the non-Jewish guy who has the office next to him says to him, ‘You know, I heard your chief rabbi on the radio this morning. He’s quite good,’ ” Sacks said at YINBH. “I turned a whole of non-Jewish Britain into an outreach organization for the sake of Judaism!”
The Orthodox ascent?
Sacks’ prediction of an Orthodox ascent in America stems from the October report by the Pew Research Center, “A Portrait of Jewish Americans,” which says that the Orthodox community’s relatively high birth rate and low, or nonexistent, rate of intermarriage could give it a comparative demographic advantage, over time, to both the Conservative and Reform movements.
“It has become really clear that Orthodoxy is the only element of the Jewish people in America that’s growing,” Sacks said. Based on Modern Orthodoxy’s current position in American Jewry, Sacks’ prediction sounds a bit, well, optimistic. 
According to the Pew survey, only 11 percent of Jews in America identify as Orthodox, and only 3 percent as Modern Orthodox. In other words, Sacks is predicting that a minority within a sliver of American Judaism may hold, within 25 years, the mantle of influence.
A second Pew analysis, however, shows that Orthodoxy is gaining ground on Conservative and Reform Jewry — very quickly. Twenty-seven percent of Jews younger than 18 live in Orthodox homes, and as sociologist Steven M. Cohen told the Forward in November, “Every year, the Orthodox population has been adding 5,000 Jews,” while the non-Orthodox has been losing 10,000.
Therefore, Sacks calls upon the Orthodox movement to prepare as if it will soon inherit American Judaism’s mantle, so that its members will know how to lead on a mass scale and not just in yeshivas or at Shabbat morning sermons.
“The non-Orthodox Jewish world always had a strong sense of tikkun olam [repairing the world],” Sacks told me. “What I’ve tried to show is we in the Orthodox world can have that sense as well.”
“We’ve got a technical glitch”
Mesopotamian cuneiform, Chinese ideograms, Linear B — Sacks was more philosopher than rabbi as he delivered a short keynote address at Harkham Hillel’s gala at the Universal City Hilton, offering a call to Orthodoxy’s leadership to use technology to reach as wide an audience as possible, and to make learning more interesting for Jewish children.
Today, he said, we are living through an information revolution, inaugurated by “Steve Jobs [coming] down the mountain with the two tablets, the iPad and the iPad Mini.”
In fact, he related, on the morning the iPad was released, Jan. 27, 2010, Sacks walked into his London office and told one of his assistants, “Thisis the game changer.”
When sitting with me, Sacks asked if I could wait a moment as he showed off some of his favorite Jewish iPad apps. “I hear God knocking at our door saying, ‘Use Me. Use this gift that I have given you to spread My message,’ ” Sacks said
“Let’s have a look at this week’s parsha [Torah portion],” he said as he played with an app that serves as a type of Wikipedia for Jewish texts. “Touch that, here are the mefarshim [Torah commentaries].”
And then, Orthodoxy’s challenge stared us in the face.
The app froze. 
“We’ve got a technical glitch,” Sacks said humorously, referring to his app — or was he speaking about the Orthodox movement? 
“It took a long time for Orthodox Jews to be able to develop the techniques and the skills,” Sacks said. “We just haven’t had enough time, to be honest with you, to develop the real resources for the Web and the iPad.”
And beyond creating operational iPad apps, Sacks wants Orthodox Jews to act more like, well, him — using mass media to communicate.
Of course, in America, the decentralized nature of Judaism — there is no chief rabbi — makes it difficult for any one person to spread his religious ideology. That’s why Sacks believes observant Jews should work with Hollywood.
“I would so love to see a film not just about how Jews died, but how Jews live, and I’m afraid I haven’t seen enough of those,” Sacks said, a message that recurred in several of his Los Angeles appearances. 
Speaking at YINBH, he even let the audience in on one of his script ideas — a film on the life of Jewish philanthropist Anne Heyman — and said, only half-jokingly, that he would love to see someone in the room help turn his idea into a film.
Less power, more influence
As he adjusts to a career in which he no longer has the power of chief rabbi, he seems to believe his new role may allow him more influence. 
Perhaps that is why issues of leadership seem to make its way into most of his work these days.
Every week, Jews across the world receive an e-mail from his office titled “Covenant & Conversation” containing his weekly essay on the Torah, written in English but also translated into Hebrew and Portuguese.
In it, he weaves together biblical narrative with a historical, philosophical and scientific framework — Oxford meets Yeshiva University. This year, he decided, each essay will center around one theme — leadership. 
In Britain, Sacks showed that to influence a society, leaders must work with the followers they are given, and not compromise on core principles for the sake of adding fans. 
In America, he suggested that a window of opportunity is opening up — a window that will allow America’s Modern Orthodox movement to inject Torah values into mainstream American culture, as he has tried to do in Britain. 
And whether the predicted Orthodox ascent comes to pass, and whether Sacks’ insistence on preparation for leadership pays off, he is giving something to American Orthodox Jewry, something that perhaps no one else can deliver quite as well — a clear, passionate and hopeful 25-year advance warning. 

Stunning video of concert on Masada


Jonathan Rosenblum: Charaidim in Israel

Jonathan Rosenblum: Charaidim in Israel 2/25/14 from Miracle of Change on Vimeo.

AGUDATH ISRAEL of CALIFORNIA presents JONATHAN ROSENBLUM, noted author and columnist for the Jerusalem Post, Yated Ne'eman and Mishpacha Magazine. Presented at the home of Dr. Irving and Mrs. Shirley Lebovics. Video by Reuven Fauman,

Rabbi Stern of Teaneck; worked to aid jobless (Robbi Yossi Stern ztl was one of my heroes - he will be sorely missed)

Rabbi Yossie Stern of Teaneck, whose Jewish charity, Project EZRAH, has helped thousands in Bergen County challenged by unemployment and financial distress, died Friday. He was 64.
Rabbi Yossie Stern of Teaneck
Rabbi Yossie Stern of Teaneck
The cause was complications of heart surgery, said Rabbi Steven Pruzansky, spiritual leader of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun, where Rabbi Stern was a member.
More than 1,000 people attended the funeral Saturday night at the Teaneck synagogue.
Project EZRAH — the word is Hebrew for “assistance” — had its roots in the trying days after 9/11.
After Congregation Bnai Yeshurun learned of a middleaged father of five in dire employment and financial straits, Rabbi Stern — a Brooklyn-born educator and jeweler — pushed to establish a helping network “because he realized there could be many others who needed assistance in finding jobs or retraining,” Pruzansky said.
Rabbi Stern’s goal initially was to offer help with job searching and basic living expenses. Today, the Englewoodbased non-profit he founded and directed offers a variety of services, including career counseling, fiscal planning and budget management, and aid for catastrophic needs. Among those in the Jewish community assisted by Project EZRAH was a divorced woman who lost four of her children in a 2005 Teaneck house fire.
“The need for employment opportunities and financial aid increases each day,” Rabbi Stern said in a 2010 interview with The Jewish Standard. “Many people are earning less than before, and their mortgage becomes a much higher percentage of their income than it used to be.”
Helping others was in Rabbi Stern’s nature, Pruzansky said. For many years, Rabbi Stern went to the synagogue at sunup daily to meet with a group of people who could not read Hebrew well “to get them mainstreamed into the conversation,” Pruzansky said.
“He had a tremendous heart,” Pruzansky added. “When Yossie saw a situation where someone was suffering emotionally, financially or psychologically, he felt innately that he had to do something to ameliorate that person’s plight.”
Rabbi Stern, who was buried Sunday in Israel, is survived by his wife, Rifka; his daughters, Dvora Marcus and Naava Schreiber, both of Israel; sons Shai Stern and Effie Stern, both of Los Angeles, and many grandchildren.
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Bennett on BBC: Jews Lived in Israel before Brits Lived in Britannia

NY Times Feature on Anti-Zionism a Reminder of the Sulzberger Legacy

Arthur Hays Sulzberger
The New York Times raised some eyebrows in the Jewish community earlier this month with a lengthy feature about four self-described religious Jews who oppose Israel. In an apparent attempt to legitimize Jewish anti-Zionism, the article stressed that Zionism “was not always the norm among American Jews” and that it was only “the persecution of European Jews [which] turned many American Jews into Zionists.” Interestingly, one of the most famous “religious Jews” who opposed Zionism did not change his mind even after the Holocaust. That was the Times’s own publisher from 1935 to 1961, Arthur Hays Sulzberger. Sulzberger was a devout adherent of classical Reform Judaism. In his view, Jewish identity should consist only of religious beliefs, not any sense of peoplehood, nationalism, or ethnic affiliation. He even rejected the existence of Jewish war veterans organizations on the grounds that they were examples of “Ghetto living.” As Prof. Laurel Leff explains in her critically acclaimed book Buried by The Times: The Holocaust and America’s Most Important Newspaper, Sulzberger instructed Times editors to bury news of the Nazi genocide on the back pages, and to tone down or eliminate references to the fact that the victims were Jews. Sulzberger worried that if the Times reported what was happening to the Jews in Europe, someone might accuse it of being a “Jewish newspaper.” As news of the Nazi atrocities moved many formerly anti-Zionist Reform rabbis and leaders to recognize the need for a Jewish state, Sulzberger pushed back. He was one of the earliest and most enthusiastic supporters of the American Council for Judaism, a group created by a handful of Reform rabbis in 1942 to oppose Zionism. The Times gave frequent and generous coverage to the activities of the tiny Council. Even a visit to former Nazi concentration camps in 1945 did not alter Sulzberger’s anti-Zionist convictions. In a speech the following year, Sulzberger said that while he felt sorry for the Jewish survivors living in Displaced Persons camps in Europe, they were “but a minor percentage of the total of displaced persons” and therefore should not be receiving so much attention. The Times publisher even went so far as to claim Zionism was to blame for some of the Jewish deaths in the Holocaust. He alleged, in that 1946 speech, that the refugee crisis during the war had been “a manageable, social and economic problem” until “the clamor for statehood introduced an insoluable political element” into the issue. “It is my judgment that thousands dead might now be alive” if “the Zionists” had put “less emphasis on statehood,” Sulzberger asserted. One of the Jewish anti-Zionists profiled in the Feb. 14 New York Times article described himself as a fan of the late Judah Magnes, who advocated a binational Arab-Jewish Palestine instead of a Jewish state. Sulzberger, too, thought highly of Magnes. In June 1946, Sulzberger tried to organize a dinner at Manhattan’s Hotel Pierre to raise funds for Magnes’s work. The Times publisher invited 23 of his associates. Only three accepted. The dinner was canceled. The increasingly isolated Sulzberger grew more and more frustrated. A pro-Zionist statement by the formerly anti-Zionist president of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) in early 1947 prompted Sulzberger to write to a friend, “Apparently if you are a Jew you have to contribute Jewishly, eat Jewishly, think Jewishly, part your hair Jewishly…. Gosh I’m sick!” On another occasion, Sulzberger was horrified to see the AJC and other Jewish groups listed as affiliates of the United Jewish Appeal in an advertisement in the Times. “The only thing I miss is the Jewish Chiropractors’ Society,” he complained. “In other words, J E W is to be the common denominator for everything we do. God help us!” In his final years, Sulzberger’s anti-Zionism never eased. He resigned from one of the Reform synagogues to which he belonged after it introduced the singing of Hatikvah along with the Star-Spangled Banner. He apparently considered visiting Israel on one occasion, but changed his mind after Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion made a speech he disliked. Ironically, after Sulzberger passed away in 1961, his widow established a scholarship in his name at Hebrew University. It seems unlikely he would have approved.

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A Rare Glimpse Inside the Domb of the Rock

The Temple Mount, the heart of the Israeli Arab conflict.'s cameras had the rare opporunity to film the interior of the Domb of the Rock mosque.Moslems throughout the world relate to the mosque as the symbol of the pan Islamic struggle against Israel. They deny any Jewish links to the site, but the archeological artifacts found there prove that it is the location on where the First and Second Temples were built.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

IDF Soldiers Train for Urban Warfare

Walk into the IDF's Urban Warfare Training Center, and you feel as if you have entered a different world. The center is just a couple hours drive from Tel Aviv, but looks like a terrorist stronghold in southern Lebanon. This is where IDF soldiers from across the spectrum come to learn how to deal with the most complex challenges in modern urban warfare.

Civil Trial Attorney Baruch C. Cohen meets Jonathan Rosenblum

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Shira Choir singing "Rechnitz medley"

The Shira Choir with the Aaron Teitelbaum orchestra and production conducted by the legendary Yisroel Laam featured at the "Wedding of year", On February 19 2014 at The Beverly Hilton Hotel Los Angeles CA. singing a heart warming medley composed by R' Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz at the wedding of his daughter.

חתונת השנה של ביתו של הפילונטרופ האגדתי שלמה רכניץ שיחק לידם של מפיקי הערב בביצוע מוזיקאלי מיוחד של מחרוזת שירי הנגיד שידועים ברחבי העולם חלקם כנסי צאן ברזל
ביצוע תזמורתו של אהרן טייטלבוים בניצוחו של ישראל לאם
ומקהלת שירה הידועה מארצות הברית

Civil trial attorney Baruch C. Cohen meets the Biala Rebbe of Yerushalayim

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Elder Of Ziyon - Israel News: Yemenis upset at woman who said Jews should have equal rights

Arabic media reports:
"People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones" is applicable for Tawakkul Karman, a hijab-wearing Yemeni Muslim woman, who demanded (on video) that Yemeni Jews be given the right to be nominated to presidency, local councils and the parliament, in a step that Yemenis described as "outrageous".

Yemeni activists said: "It is not strange for someone who belongs to the (Muslim) Brotherhood to say this. After all, Issam Eryan also demanded that the Jews return to Egypt and that their possessions be given back to them. This video is the price that Tawakkul paid for getting the Nobel Peace Prize."
Karman did receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.

Here's the video, from a UN webcast, that is getting her these insults:

Kerman: Concerning the religious minorities: We stress the necessity of equality for Jewish Yemeni citizens to their fellow citizens in enjoying all political rights, including the right to be nominated to the parliament, to local councils and the presidency.
Kerman has been repeatedly accused  by her political opponents in Yemen and also Egypt of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. The political party she belongs to includes Muslim Brotherhood members and she has railed against the rule of Egypt's Sisi, but it is unclear if she supports the Muslim Brotherhood directly - and this statement does not sound like something that the Ikhwan would support.

Elder Of Ziyon - Israel News: Samantha Power: Getting your head hacked off teaches "individual accountability and reconciliation"

This tweet from the US ambassador to the UN is mind boggling:

Excuse me? A man whose head was sawed off on video, specifically because he was a Jew, reminds us about how to break "cycles of violence?"

This incomprehensible leftist gobbledygook would be worthy of derision of it was spouted by some leftist professor at Berkeley. But for the US ambassador to the UN to publicly write this is breathtakingly naive and, really, offensive to Pearl's family. It is almost as if she is saying that Daniel Pearl would still be alive if he had only been more interested in "accountability and reconciliation" with Al Qaeda and Pakistani Islamists.

Is this what the US has become? Is the official position of the US government  that all that is needed for world peace is for Westerners to be more sensitive to the feelings of murderous Islamists?

If Jew-hatred is part of a "cycle of violence" then antisemitism must be partially Jews' fault.

This indicates that the official American position is no longer one of pride and leadership, but one of apologetics and beseeching to be loved by our enemies, who hate us because we just aren't working hard enough at reconciliation.

This is outrageous and scandalous, and in a sane world Power should be forced to resign by the end of the day. No one that says anything this sickening should represent the United States to the world.

Palestinian Arab Muslim Converts To Judaism

Every morning for the last two years, Yaniv comes to this tiny yeshiva in a Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem. Yaniv, a Palestinian, was born Muslim and converted seven years ago. He loves to study Judaism, he says, and is continuously excited by it. Yaniv is proud to be Jewish. Yaniv's rabbi says that he is proud of his student who is passionate and determined in his love of Judaism. 

Just two years ago he was called Busman, and lived in an Arab village near Nablus. Osman was released from an Israeli prison after 11 years, on charges of manslaughter. He discovered Judaism while in prison, and has since converted. This is Bussman, or Yaniv, moments after being released from jail, on the Palestinian side of the green line. Crying bitterly, Yaniv said that he had nowhere to go, now that he was a Jew. He could not enter Israel because he was considered a Palestinian, and in the territories, his life was in danger due to his conversion. 

As we film Yaniv, he is approached by a man who tells him that he saw the footageof his release from prison on the news and that it was Yaniv's steadfast belief in Judaism, which affirmed his own beliefs and brought him closer to his own faith. Yaniv is moved by the encounter. 

Two years later, Yaniv is a star student at his yeshiva, has an adoptive family, and several matchmakers working to find him the right match. He has been living in Israel as a temporary resident, dedicating his life to the Torah, working odd jobs, dreaming of becoming a citizen, and even joining the military.

Me'ein Olam Haba - Larry Brandt\Nadav Bachar

Ya Ribon Viznitz - Larry Brandt\Nadav Bachar

National Press Club Book Launch of "The Hague Odyssey"

"The Hague Odyssey: Israel's Struggle for Security on the Front Lines of Terrorism and her Battle for Justice at The United Nations"

*Richard D. Heideman, International attorney on behalf of victims of terrorism and author of author of "The Hague Odyssey"
*Dan Mariaschain - Executive Vice President, Bnai Brith International
*Aaron Kaplowitz - Director of Communications, Embassy of Israel in

About "The Hague Odyssey"
When Israel constructed a terrorism prevention security fence in an attempt to stop suicide bombings and other violent acts, the UN General Assembly - defying its own charter - requested an advisory opinion about the security fence from the International Court of Justice at the Hague. Israel's opponents question the legality of the barrier, with some even calling it an "apartheid wall."

In The Hague Odyssey, Richard D. Heideman, noted international attorney and advocate for victims of terrorism, challenges the Court and presents a compelling and insightful defense of the absolute right and obligation of the State of Israel, as every other nation, to protect her citizens.