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Post  Admin on Tue 05 Nov 2019, 8:53 pm

Jewish Conductor on the Underground Railroad
Nov 5, 2019  |  by Dr. Yvette Alt Miller
https://www.aish.com/jw/s/Jewish-Conductor-on-the-Underground-Railroad.html?s=mm
Jewish Conductor on the Underground Railroad
August and Henrietta Bondi’s Jewish home was a stop for slaves fleeing North.

The stirring new movie Harriet brings the incredible bravery and heroism of Harriet Tubman to life. Born a slave in Maryland in the year 1822, she escaped to freedom in 1849, then returned to the South 19 times to help other slaves escape, ultimately shepherding over 300 slaves to freedom.

In 1863, while the Civil War raged, Tubman became one of the only women in US history to lead an armed military raid. She guided three boats full of Union soldiers along the Combahee River in South Carolina, attacking Confederate soldiers and freeing 750 slaves who worked in plantations along the river.

One of the most moving scenes in the film is when Harriet is led to a top-secret cellar where she is inducted into Underground Railroad and named a “Conductor” who guided slaves to freedom. It’s unclear whether this moving scene is accurate; historians disagree about just how organized the “Underground Railroad” was. What we do know is that as far back as the 1700s, a loose network of individuals – both Black and White – worked together to help hide runaway slaves and guide them to safety.

Historians estimate that 100,000 slaves escaped through the Underground Railroad between 1800 and 1850.
Historians estimate that 100,000 slaves escaped this way between 1800 and 1850, primarily from border states such as Maryland, as Harriet Tubman did. In the 1830s, as railroads crossed America, people began using the language of trains to describe this network, calling it the Underground Railroad, labeling hiding spots “depots” or “stops”, and dubbing people who risked their lives and freedom to help runaway slaves “Conductors”.

August Bondi 

One important stop on the Underground Railroad was the home of a Jewish couple, August and Henrietta Bondi, in Greeley, Kansas. Their home became a refuge for an unknown number of slaves, and the Bondis worked tirelessly, as Jews, to oppose the horror of slavery.

August Bondi was born Anshl Mendel Bondi in Vienna in 1833 into a Yiddish-speaking family which was involved in radical politics. The family moved to St. Louis in 1848 and August worked various jobs throughout the Midwest where the treatment of slaves shocked him. Working on a riverboat, August travelled through Texas and later recorded his horror at the cruel outrages of American slavery: “During my stay in Texas I gathered a great deal of information on Southern life,” he wrote. “When in Galveston the howlings of the slaves receiving their morning ration of cowhiding waked me at 4 o’clock….”

August went duck hunting with a group of white ship captains and their children. When one enslaved oarsman accidentally dropped his oar and scared the ducks away, the teenage son of a ship captain shot the slave in the shoulder. August yelled at the teenager, and was shocked when all the white captains turned on him, chiding him and calling him an abolitionist for protesting this appalling cruelty. August later recalled that whereas he’d once felt indifferent to the plight of America’s slaves, he began to appreciate just how evil the institution of slavery was. He began to understand that his only option as a moral human being was to oppose it.

August Bondi fighting in the Civil War
When Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, allowing the residents of Kansas to decide whether they would be a slave state or a free state once they were admitted to the Union, August moved to the Kansas Territory to work for the Free State Movement. It seemed that anti-slavery activists would win the election, but on election day thousands of heavily armed pro-slavery “Border Ruffians” poured into the territory from Missouri, seized control of polling places and ballot boxes, and declared that the Kansas territory had elected a pro-slavery legislature.

As pro-slavery zealots attacked anti-slavery activists, August joined with other anti-slavery activists in the Battle of Black Jack, on June 2, 1856. Anti-slavery forces captured 48 “Border Ruffians” who’d been menacing and attacking anti-slavery Kansans. (August fought alongside the notorious anti-slavery figure John Brown, though he later declined to participate in Brown’s most infamous adventure, the 1859 raid on an arsenal in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, in order to obtain arms for anti-slavery fighters. Brown was captured and executed for treason.)

At the Battle of Black Jack, August fought alongside two other Jews: Theodore Wiener, from Poland, and Jacob Benjamin, from Bohemia.
At the Battle of Black Jack, August fought alongside at least two other Jews: Theodore Wiener, an immigrant from Poland, and Jacob Benjamin, from Bohemia. August later described the battle: “We walked with bent backs, nearly crawled, that the tall dead grass of the year before might somewhat hide us from the Border Ruffian marksmen, yet the bullets kept whistling.” Theodore Wiener was right behind him and August asked him in Yiddish, "Nu, was meinen Sie jetzt? Now, what do you think of this?" In the thick of battle, Wiener respond in Yiddish-accented Hebrew: "Sof adom mavis – the end of the man is death."

Harriet Tubman
All three Jewish fighters survived the battle and August went on to work tirelessly against slavery. He married Henrietta Einstein in 1860 and the couple moved to Greeley, Kansas. Their home became a stop on the Underground Railroad. Runaway slaves knew that they could find a place to shelter there, receive food and rest for a time.

Faced with unfettered evil, August Bondi risked his life and freedom to help others.
The film Harriet can help give us a clue what their home might have been like. In the movie, Harriet Tubman walks for days, following the directions that a member of the Underground Railroad gave her, until she arrives at the home of a sympathetic Quaker who lets her stay in his home and gives her food, a change of clothes, and treats her with the dignity that every human being deserves.

When the American Civil War broke out in 1861, August Bondi volunteered for the Union Army. He was still fighting on January 1, 1863, when President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, abolishing slavery in areas controlled by Union forces. A joyous August recorded in his diary: “No more Pharaohs and no more slaves.”


August continued to fight and was lightly wounded several times. In 1864, he was seriously wounded and left for dead by Confederate soldiers. He survived, and after the war, attended law school, eventually working as a lawyer, a farmer and a judge in the small town of Salina, Kansas.

Though he lived far from established Jewish communities, he always lived his life as a proud Jew. When his daughter got married, August insisted that her wedding be held in Leavenworth, Kansas, where there was a Jewish community and a rabbi could officiate. August died in 1907; a rabbi travelled from Kansas City to officiate at his funeral.

Faced with unfettered evil, August Bondi had the moral clarity not to explain away the horrors of slavery as so many Americans once did. Bondi was willing to risk his life and freedom to help others. We’ll never know the exact number of slaves he and Henrietta helped, but their shining example should continue to inspire us today.
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Post  Admin on Mon 04 Nov 2019, 7:45 pm

https://www.aish.com/jw/s/The-Nazis-Knew.html?s=mm
The Nazis Knew
Nov 3, 2019  |  by Rabbi Avi Shafran
The Nazis Knew
“They don’t hate us as a people. They hate us because of our holy books."

A dear friend who had a secular upbringing and maintains an irreligious outlook took issue, gently, if a bit cynically, with something I had written for Aish.com, a website that reaches out to a broad swath of Jewish readers.

The article was about Reb Yosef Friedenson, z”l, the longtime editor of Dos Yiddishe Vort, the Yiddish-language periodical published for many years by Agudath Israel of America. “Mr.” Friedenson, as he preferred to be called, survived the Holocaust and was a keen historian, meticulous journalist, eloquent speaker – and one of the nicest people I have ever met. I had the pleasure of his company for some 20 years in the Agudah national offices in Manhattan.

In my tribute to Reb Yosef, I included a story from his recent, posthumously published collection of memories, Faith Amid the Flames (Artscroll/Mesorah).

At the start of World War II, when Poland had been overrun by the Nazis, Mr. Friedenson was a 17-year-old living with his family in Lodz. One day, two German soldiers burst into the family’s apartment.

At one point, they demanded the teenager identify the stately tomes on the bookshelf.

He had no reason to lie. “The Talmud,” he answered.

At the mention of the word "Talmud", they became like mad dogs, throwing them on the floor and trampling them.
“At the mention of that word, they became like mad dogs,” Mr. Friedenson recalled many decades later. “They threw the holy books on the floor and trampled them, ripping them to shreds with their heavy boots.”

And when they had left, the young Yosef asked his father why the Nazis had responded so viciously.

“They don’t hate us as a people,” was the response. “They hate us because of our holy books. What is written in them is a contradiction to all they stand for, to their outlook and corrupt mentality.”

My friend was suitably impressed with my description of Mr. Friedenson. “Nice memory,” he emailed me, “of what sounds like a remarkable man.”

But, he continued, “I’ll take a pass, out of respect, as to the assertion that the Nazis hated Jews because of the content of books the former almost certainly never read.”

My friend found it hard to imagine that the Nazis’ hatred was qualitatively different from the antipathy of various ethnic or national groups toward others. His materialistic outlook attributed no specialness to our mesorah, our chain of tradition and, hence, no rationale for how a movement based on power and paganism might find Torah a mortal threat to its success.

I can’t prove otherwise to him, but shared something to buttress Mr. Friedenson’s father’s observation, a memorandum discovered by the noted Holocaust historian Moshe Prager, z”l.

It was sent on October 25, 1940 by the chief of the German occupation power, I.A. Eckhardt, to the local Nazi district governors in occupied Poland. In it, he instructs German officials to refuse exit visas to “Ostjuden,” Jews from Eastern Europe.

Eckhardt explains that these Jews, as “Rabbiner un Talmudlehrer,” Rabbis and Talmud scholars, would, if allowed to emigrate, foster “die geistige erneuerung,” spiritual revival, of the Jewish people in other places.

So it seems that it wasn’t just Jews whom the Nazis hated, but Judaism. In fact, writing in 1930, Alfred Rosenberg, Hitler’s chief ideologue, denounced “the honorless character of the Jew” – his take on the idea of personal conscience and devotion to the Creator – as “embodied in the Talmud and in Shulchan-Aruch.”

The “spiritual renewal” that the Nazi memo author so feared, despite the best evil efforts of the movement he championed, has in fact, thank God, come to pass.

Torah-committed Jewish survivors helped rejuvenate Jewish life on these and other shores, rebuilding Jewish communal and educational institutions and fostering observance of mitzvot and, yes, Talmud study, in new lands. The scope and enthusiasm of the Siyum HaShas, the celebration of the completion of learning the entire Talmud, one page a day, is powerful evidence of that.

Daf Yomi was introduced by Harav Meir Shapiro, zt”l, in 1923. It isn’t known how many attended the first or second Siyum HaShas. But, amazingly, right after the Holocaust, in 1945, thousands of Jews in Israel, the Feldafing displaced persons camp and New York united to mark the third Siyum HaShas.

The 1968 Siyum at the Bais Yaakov of Boro Park drew 300 people; by 1975, at the 7th Siyum, five thousand celebrants gathered at the Manhattan Center; and, at that gathering, the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah permanently dedicated the Siyum HaShas to the memory of the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust.

The 1990 Siyum filled Madison Square Garden’s 20,000 seats. In 1997, the Siyum required both Madison Square Garden and the similar-sized Nassau Coliseum.

In 2012, the 12th Siyum Hashas filled MetLife Stadium with close to a hundred thousand Jews – joined at a distance in countless other locales by thousands of others.

The Talmud and its learners had emerged victorious.

This article originally appeared in Hamodia.
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Post  Admin on Mon 04 Nov 2019, 7:36 pm

https://www.aish.com/jw/s/Abraham-Altering-the-Course-of-History.html?s=mm
Abraham: Altering the Course of History
Nov 3, 2019  |  by Rabbi Berel Wein adapted by Yaakov AstorAbraham: Altering the Course of History
Our forefather changed the way the world thought about itself, life and especially the Creator.

Our forefather Abraham changed the course of history. He altered the way the world thought about itself, life and especially the Creator. That is why his name, in Hebrew, means, “Father of Numerous Nations.” He is the father of civilization as we know it. From his time and onwards people would never think about themselves the same way.

He was born in a time of tremendous upheaval and turmoil. Abraham lived in a world with a collective memory of the Flood; a world contending with the tyranny of Nimrod, the first true tyrant; a world that will divide into separate nations; a world deeply at conflict with itself that will endure more than two decades of war between major powers; a world buried under the heel of a thousand years of idolatry; a world gone mad – ultimately, a world with no hope for the future.

Until Abraham appeared.

The Tyranny of Idolatry
He was born in Mesopotamia, modern-day Iraq and Iran. His father Terach was a merchant who sold idols. Selling idols was big business in those days. There was a different one for every mood, temperament and personality.

The masses believed in paganism. They were frightened of it. However, the more sophisticated people knew it was nothing, but as far as they could see they was no other alternative. There was no other philosophy in the world. They did not have the tools to go beyond it.
 
Abraham provided the leadership to change all that.

He traveled a number of times from Mesopotamia to what would become the Land of Israel. He was not alone in his travels. It was a time of great movement and migration. Great cities and city-states were springing up, each with their own unique culture and deities.

Jerusalem was called Shalem (Salem) at the time. According to the Oral Tradition, Noah’s son Shem, and his grandson Eber, started and headed an academy located there dedicated to the traditions of the Creator and morality. The knowledge and philosophy of monotheism were developed there. However, it did not have a large following. It was an ivory tower that did not influence society. One had to go to it; it was not exported to others.

Abraham changed that. Every place he went he opened an “inn” and offered people a free meal. When people came to thank him he told them, “Don’t thank me. Thank the One who gave us everything.”

Likewise, wherever he settled he opened a school. In our terms, we would say he established institutions of social welfare and education. Through those institutions he was able to reach thousands and thousands if not millions of people.

Historians say that a number of the Pharaohs were essentially monotheists. Not coincidentally, those Pharaohs lived around and after the time of Abraham. His visit to Egypt (Genesis 12) made an impression. The idea of monotheism took hold in the highest echelons of Egyptian society. However, they had no way to sell it to the masses because there was a tremendous bureaucracy of idol worship. None of the priests in the temples were going to give it up. Egyptian society remained pagan because the infrastructure of idol worship was so strong that the Pharaoh himself could not turn it around. Whether they believed it or not, the priests were not going to give up their jobs.

Outside of Egypt, however, Abraham’s name spread rapidly among the masses. His ideas, character and personality became the talk of the civilized world. He roused the world from the slumber of paganism. Now there was an echo within countless individual families that there is a God, morality and a greater purpose to life.

Family Life
Abraham married Sarah, who was a great person in her own right. Even without Abraham she would have been a tremendous force to reckon with in the world. God told Abraham to listen to Sarah, because, Tradition has it, she was greater in prophecy than Abraham was.

Nevertheless, these two great people had a long and difficult life together. Sarah was barren for many years. In trying to remedy the situation, Sarah asked Abraham to bear a child for her through her maidservant, Hagar. Ultimately, the child born from her, Ishmael, caused many problems. Eventually, God told Abraham to banish Hagar and Ishmael from his household, which was extremely difficult for him.

Abraham had a nephew, Lot, whom he hoped would be his heir apparent, but once Lot tasted success he decided to go his own way and settle in Sodom. Lot is not necessarily an evil person; he just does not want to shoulder any responsibilities – and Sodom is the ideal place for a person who wants to escape responsibility.

Domestic strife in Abraham’s house is omnipresent. All he wants to do is build civilization through his family and all his family does is fall short of the task or forsake him.

The Covenant
Finally, when Abraham was seventy years old he had a great vision known as the “Covenant between the Parts” (Genesis 15). This covenant singled out him and his family for a special existence in humanity. It is really the beginning of the Jewish story. Indeed, Jewish history cannot be understood properly except through the lens of covenantal theory.

This special covenant is a two-way commitment between God and the Jewish people that will unleash forces to compel it to continue, including horrific suffering. And that is why Abraham is at first terror-stricken by the vision. He sees darkness, vultures and fire. He sees the enslavement in Egypt and the destructions that will come upon the Jewish people throughout history. He sees Auschwitz.

Nevertheless, far from a punishment leading to annihilation, the suffering of the Jewish people will ultimately make them stronger and bring them back to their commitment to the covenant. And we have seen this borne out in history again and again. Just look at the enormous advances of the Jewish world after the Holocaust, which is only the most recent example of this phenomenon.

Jewish history begins with Abraham's acceptance of the covenant. Whatever happens to the Jewish people is a result of that covenant. All the ups and downs are based on its predictions.

In reality, Abraham’s choice is the choice that faces each and every generation, indeed each and every Jew. The struggle within the Jewish people to live by the covenant and pursue its goals or to give up on it — as well as the struggle of the world to break the covenant from them – is part and parcel of the struggle implied by acceptance of the covenant.

Beyond Impossible
Of course, at the time Abraham is offered to enter into the covenant there is one technical problem: he has no children and his wife is incapable of having children. She is infertile.

That, too, is part of the covenant: under normal circumstances there is no Jewish future. The Jewish people are always “infertile,” coming face-to-face with the impossible. There cannot be another generation. And the world counts upon it; it is a sure thing that they will disappear.

After 3,000 years they are still waiting for it to happen.

The future of the Jewish people is that there is no future. On paper it will never add up. The covenant does not rely on logic. It is a truth that exists on a different plane. Who could imagine that after so many years we are still here?

That is the covenantal nature of Jewish history.

The covenant, impressed in the flesh of the Jew through circumcision, emanates from a realm beyond human reason. It is our commitment to our God and a higher morality. It is our faith and our responsibility; our history and destiny.

And it all originates in the great person, Abraham, who single-handedly changed the course of civilization.

This article originally appeared on https://www.jewishhistory.org/
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Post  Admin on Thu 31 Oct 2019, 8:37 pm

The October 31 Pogroms
Oct 29, 2019  |  by Dr. Yvette Alt Miller
The October 31 Pogroms
https://www.aish.com/jw/s/The-October-31-Pogroms.html?s=mm
On October 31st, 1905, thousands of Jews lost their lives in violence that swept across Russia.

For most people October 31 is a day of parties and dressing up in costumes. But just over a century ago, October 31, 1905 was a tragic day, ushering in hundreds of pogroms that killed thousands of Jews across Russia. Crowds surged through the streets, yelling threats, destroying property, and murdering Jewish men, women and children with impunity.

The immediate cause of this seismic wave of violence was the October Manifesto, a declaration from Czar Nicholas II guaranteeing basic freedoms and political rights. Promulgated on October 30, 1905 (sometimes referred to as October 17 on Russia’s “Old Calendar”), the declaration came amid rising political turmoil and the threat of revolution. Instead of calming tensions, the manifesto led to huge demonstrations and riots in many Russian cities. Tragically, it was Russia’s Jews who suffered the most.

In the city of Odessa, crowds rushed into the street to celebrate the manifesto. One student recorded that “a joyous crowd appeared in the streets; people greeted each other as if it were a holiday.” Among the throngs were many Jews who believed the new laws would help grant them long-sought legal rights. But violent scuffles soon broke out.

As the mood in Odessa darkened, many Russians began turning on the city’s Jews with almost unimaginable sadism. At first, angry rioters beat Jews in the streets and ransacked the homes and businesses belonging to local Jews. The extreme right-wing anti-Semitic group, the Black Hundreds, entered the fray, encouraging pro-Czar Russians to blame Jews for their country’s ills. When a city official was shot dead, the surging crowds became enraged and attacks accelerated, turning into a violent pogrom that lasted several days. The police either turned a blind eye or eagerly participated in the attacks.


 
Eyewitnesses described Jews being thrown out of high windows to their deaths. Jewish children were murdered in front of their parents. Rioters targeted Jewish pregnant women, assaulting them and killing some by cutting open their stomachs. Parents were tortured by watching their children die. By the time the pogrom was over, over 400 Jews were dead and about 300 injured in Odessa alone.



October 31 saw hundreds of other pogroms across Russia, mostly in the south. 690 pogroms cost 4,000 Jews their lives; the wave of hatred and murder saw another 10,000 Jews injured.

In the Belarusian town of Rechysta, local Jews, many of whom belonged to Communist and Communist-Zionist groups, organized to defend themselves from murderous mobs. The threat of violence was high: local Black Hundred members issued warnings calling Jews “enemies of the Czar” and demanding Jews’ “extermination”. Police officers distributed rifles to townspeople, and a parish priest announced “the Jews should be killed to a man, since they want to overthrow the Czar.” Violence erupted in the town when some locals beat up Jewish businesswomen and ripped up the dry goods they were selling.

About twenty Jewish men organized and fought back, but were soon hopelessly overwhelmed. One Jewish fighter, Noi Geizentsveig, later explained, “We did not see the enemy during the skirmish, therefore we did not throw the bombs (the Jewish self-defense group had acquired) and responded by aimless shooting." The Jewish fighters were overwhelmed; local thugs shot and stabbed them, yelling “Here is your freedom!” and “Here is your constitution!”, references to the October Manifesto they blamed the Jews for bringing about.

New York Times, November 5
Within hours, eight Jewish fighters were murdered and twelve were wounded. They were dragged to the town’s police station and locked up with no food, water, or medical care, dead fighters together with those still living. Later on, the fighters who were still alive were consigned to house arrest, denied medical care even though some were severely injured.

The final pogrom of the hundreds that started October 31, 1905 was in the town of Bialystok (in present day Poland). Eighty-two Jews were murdered in those few convulsive days of violence, and about 700 people were injured. Czar Nicholas II dispatched officials throughout Russia’s territory to report back on the pogroms, which dissipated nearly as abruptly as they began.

Victims of the Kiev Pogrom

For many Russian Jews, the October 31 pogroms was proof that they had no future in Russia and spurred many to leave. One Russian Jew who fled was the famous Yiddish writer Shalom Aleichem. He and his family watched three days of pogroms overwhelm the Jewish community of Kiev from their hiding spots in one of the town’s hotels. When the violence was over, they hastily made plans to flee Russia, eventually moving to America.

On November 25, 1905, three weeks after the terrifying pogrom and just before he left Russia for good, Shalom Aleichem wrote to a friend in New York, Dr. Maurice Fishberg, begging him to use his influence with American Jews to encourage the United States not to help Czar Nicholas II (who was embroiled in the Russo-Japanese War and was looking for a loan). After watching his fellow Jews murdered in cold blood, Shalom Aleichem, like many Russian Jews, despaired of Jews’ future there. “Six million Jews” in Russia could be “murdered” there, the author wrote, in a long, impassioned letter about Russian politics and the war.

Over a century after the horrible spasm of violence that consumed much of Russia, we owe it to the many thousands of Russian Jews massacred in the pogroms of October 31, 1905, to remember their deaths and honor their memories.


   
 https://www.aish.com/tp/b/sw/48971156.html?s=mm
Noah's Ark
Noach (Genesis 6:9-11:32)
Oct 10, 2004  |  by Rabbi Shraga Simmons
Noah's Ark
Pivotal lessons from this week’s enigmatic parsha.

We all know the story of this week's Parsha: God wants to send a flood to destroy the world, so He tells the righteous Noah to build an ark and bring in two of every animal. Then it rains for 40 days and 40 nights, God sends a rainbow, and Noah lives happily ever after. Right?

Well, at least it makes a good children's story. But given that the Torah is the driving force of the Jewish nation and the eternal source of our collective wisdom, let's take a few minutes to uncover deeper layers of "Noah and the Ark"...

Big Boat

Our first question: What was the terrible sin of Noah's generation that God sought to destroy them? The Talmud (Sanhedrin 57a) tells us that the world was immersed in jealousy, greed, theft, violence, lying, intolerance, deception and fraud. The worst of all transgressions? Explain the great commentators Rashi and Ibn Ezra: People exploited each other sexually.

Before God sends the Flood, Noah spends 120 years building an Ark. (They lived long in those days.) This was no ordinary boat. It measured larger than a football field and contained over a million cubic feet of space! It was outfitted with three separate levels: The top for Noah and his family, the middle for the animals, and the bottom for the garbage.

(Which, by the way, shows the Torah's unique concern for the environment: Even while the world was being destroyed, they wouldn't throw the garbage overboard!)

But there are obviously many ways by which God could have saved Noah. So why did Noah have to bother building an ark? And why did it take him 120 years?!

The Midrash says that God specifically wanted Noah to undertake a strange and unusual project, to arouse people's curiosity. God accentuated the oddity of it all by having Noah construct this huge boat ― not at the sea shore ― but on a mountain-top! This way people would ask Noah ― "What the heck are you doing?!" ― and Noah could engage them in discussion about the global crisis, and how catastrophe could be avoided if people would change their ways.

Well, 120 years is a long time, and you would think that Noah would have convinced a lot of people to get back on track. But alas, instead of reaching out to influence others, Noah saw the Ark as his own ticket to survival ― a chance to build a big wall and insulate himself from the evils of society.

One Big World

In one sense it is true that we have to protect ourselves and our families. Maimonides warns us about the danger of living next to neighbors who don't share our system of values. Where there's corruption, the good frequently get swept up with the bad. And we have to guard against this.

It's like the story of the community where everyone was employed as chimney-sweeps. Each day they went to work and got very dirty. But they had one rule: One person from the group had to stay at home each day ― so that when the others would return and see his clean face, they'd be able to gauge how dirty they'd become.

In a spiritual sense as well, a home has to stand as a safe haven, to rejuvenate and clean oneself up.

But there's a second side to this. The "Ark" cannot be completely insulated; it must be porous as well. We have to reach out and try to make a difference in the world. The Chasidic writings compare this to a wealthy person who needs to warm himself in the winter. He could build a fire, in which case everyone in the room would benefit. But imagine instead that he warms only himself with a heavy coat and blankets. In both cases he's warmed; the only question is to what degree he's concerned about others.

Even if we aren't willing to fix things out of altruistic love for others, then at least we should do so for ourselves. Because the reality is that no matter how hard we try, some "bad" does seep in. And in the end it will get us as well.

It's like the story of two guys on a boat, and one of them is drilling a hole in the bottom. "What are you doing?!" his friend shouts. "Oh, don't worry," replies the other, "I'm only drilling under my OWN seat."

The hole in the ozone layer does not discriminate. Drugs and theft and violence have no boundaries. Ignoring this reality was Noah's tragic mistake. He believed that he could lock himself inside the Ark, and escape from it all.

Noah's Painful Lesson

After the Flood ended, Noah re-emerged with his family onto dry land. The Torah records what happened next:

"Noah, the man of the earth, debased himself and planted a vineyard. He became drunk and uncovered himself in his tent. [His son] Cham saw his father's nakedness..." (Genesis 9:20-22)

When Noah emerged from the Ark and saw devastation heaped upon the world, he knew deep down that he had selfishly stood by and watched it all happen. Depressed and disappointed, he got drunk. Then "Cham saw his father's nakedness," meaning that Noah's son either sodomized or castrated him (Talmud ― Sanhedrin 70a).

It was a painful lesson for Noah, yet in a sense it was fitting justice. While Noah's generation sexually exploited each other, Noah thought he could ensconce himself in the Ark and escape. But it had penetrated inside.

The Jewish Fight

Every Jew recognizes that all the Jewish people are bound together. When there is a terrorist attack in Israel, we all feel it. The Talmud (Shevuot 39a) says "Kol Yisrael areivim zeh ba-zeh" ― every Jew is responsible one for another.

I once heard Rabbi Motty Berger of Aish HaTorah speaking to a group of Holocaust survivors. What he said impacted me for the rest of my life. He told them: "When I was a child, I would look at my grandparents and wonder, what were they doing during the Holocaust? The fact that millions of Jews were being placed into ovens was no secret; these horrors were reported regularly on the front page of the New York Times. So I wondered... were my grandparents out raising money to help ransom Jews? Were they organizing secret rescue efforts? Were they demanding media attention and marching on Washington?"

Today, the Jewish people are fighting wars on many fronts. The very existence of the State of Israel is being questioned in world forums. Anti-Semitic acts around the world are mindful of 1938. And there is the cancer of assimilation, where every year, 50,000 Jews between the ages of 20-29 opt out of the Jewish people, lost to us forever.

So what are we going to do about it? Because one day, our own grandchildren will look at us and wonder...

Taking Responsibility

The Kabbalists explain that "taiva," the Hebrew word for "ark," also means "word." For they are two sides of the same coin. Each of us wants to build an ARK ― the best life possible for ourselves and our family. Yet at the same time we are obligated to use the power of WORDS to reach out and influence others. Noah was given 120 years to build his "taiva." So too, we are given 120 years ― a full lifetime ― to do the same.

What can we do? We can speak out against garbage in our rivers and garbage on TV. We can attend a Torah class and teach over what we've learned to others. We can understand clearly why humanity must refuse to tolerate gossip and infidelity. We can organize a community campaign to demand objectivity in the media.

Noah's failure to try and influence his generation is why the Flood is called "the waters of Noah" (Isaiah 54:9). Don't think the problem isn't affecting you. Because it is.

Let's commit to taking responsibility ― for ourselves, our family, our community, our world.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Shraga Simmons
COMMENT ON THIS ARTICLE
https://www.aish.com/jw/s/Jews-of-Kurdistan-10-Facts.html?s=mfeat
Jews of Kurdistan: 10 Facts
Oct 27, 2019  |  by Dr. Yvette Alt Miller
763
SHARES
Jews of Kurdistan: 10 Facts
Jews lived in thriving Kurdish communities for thousands of years.
Kurds are one of the oldest and largest ethnic groups in the Middle East. For hundreds of years they have called an area encompassing parts of Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Armenia home. Promised an independent homeland by Western powers in 1920, they have never achieved a state of their own. Instead, distinctive Kurdish communities have maintained Kurdish culture and language in a number of countries, often in the face of hatred and violence from neighboring ethnic groups and central governments.

The modern-day region of Kurdistan.

For much of Kurdish history, Jews were an integral part of life. Persecuted in much of the Middle East, Jewish towns and villages flourished in Kurdish lands. Here are ten little known facts about Jews from Kurdish lands in the past and today.

Ancient Origins
Many Jewish communities in Kurdish lands claim they have lived there for over 2,500 years, ever since the Jews of the northern kingdom of Israel were sent into exile there. The Tanach records that in the 8th Century BCE, “Shalmaneser king of Assyria went up against” the Jewish King Hoshea, invading Jewish lands and laying siege to cities and towns. Eventually, “the king of Assyria captured Samaria and exiled Israel to Assyria. He settled them in Halah, in Habor, by the Gozan River, and in the cities of Media” (Kings II, 17:1-6). These sites listed are within the Kurdish regions of Iran and Central Asia.

For generations, the Jews in Kurdish areas lived in relative isolation. Many worked as farmers and their insular communities developed distinct customs, including marrying at a very young age and praying at the graves of Jewish prophets. The medieval Jewish traveler Benjamin of Tudela visited Kurdish areas in 1170 CE and encountered over a hundred Jewish communities in Kurdish lands. One of the largest was Amadiya in current-day Iraq, where he recorded that the Jewish community numbered about 25,000. Though the largest community of non-Jewish Kurds is found in present-day Turkey, Kurdish Jews lived primarily further east, in modern Iraq.

Language of the Talmud
The Babylonian Talmud is written in Aramaic, a language that uses Hebrew letters and is closely related to Hebrew, but with some key differences. For generations, Jews living in Kurdish lands maintained Aramaic as their everyday spoken language. They adopted some words from Turkish, Persian, Kurdish, Arabic and Hebrew, but in general spoke an Aramaic very similar to their ancestors in Talmudic times.

Kurdish Jews called their language “Lishna Yahudiya”, meaning the “Jewish Language” or “Lashon Ha’Targum”, meaning “Language of the Translation”, presumably referring to translations of the Torah, or “Lashon HaGalut”, meaning “Language of Exile” (from the land of Israel). Local Arabs called the Jews’ language Jabali, meaning “from the mountains”, referring to where some Jews in Kurdish lands lived.

A Jewish Queen
In the First Century CE, the kingdom of Adiabene in Iran became a loyal part of the Jewish community after the local monarch’s wife, Queen Helene, converted to Judaism and encouraged her subjects to do the same. Kurdish Jews still recall the kingdom of Adiabene in what is today Kurdish lands as part of their unique heritage.

Queen Helene’s remarkable journey is recorded in the writings by the Roman Jewish historian Josephus and in the Talmud (Gittin 60a). Queen Helene and her husband King Monobaz of Adiabene regularly encountered Jewish merchants passing through their lands. Queen Helene was so impressed with Jewish life that she hired a teacher to tutor her in Judaism.

An immigrant from Kurdistan arrives in Israel with her son, 1951. (Photo: Israel Government Press Office)
After King Monobaz died, his son Izates took his place on the throne. Like his mother Queen Helene, Izates was also interested in Judaism and the pair learned all they could, first from a Jewish trader named Chananyah, then from a rabbi named Rabbi Eleazar of Galilee. Eventually, the royal family converted to Judaism and encouraged their subjects to do the same. They sent many gifts to the land of Israel, including beautiful golden candelabras and goblets for the Temple in Jerusalem, and shipments of emergency food during a famine. When Roman forces battled Jews, Queen Helene sent soldiers to help their Jewish brethren.

The Jewish kingdom of Adiabene lasted until 115 CE, when Roman forces crushed its leaders, but Kurdish Jews continue to regard its descendants as part of their Jewish community.

Holy Woman
One of the greatest Jewish scholars from Kurdish lands was a woman named Asnat Barazani, who led a respected yeshiva in the town of Mosul, in present day Iraq, in the 1600s. Asnat’s father Rabbi Shmuel ben Netanel Ha-Levi of Kurdistan built the school in Mosul to train a new generation of Jewish scholars – including his daughter. Perhaps because he had no sons, Rabbi Shmuel lavished care and attention on his daughter’s studies.

In a letter, Asnat described the intense education of her childhood: “I never left the entrance to my house or went outside, I was like a princess of Israel… I grew up on the laps of scholars, anchored to my father of blessed memory.”

Asnat married a fellow scholar, Rabbi Jacob Mizrahi, and had an unusual clause in her marriage contract: Asnat was never to be expected to perform any housework so that she could devote herself entirely to learning Torah.

After her husband died, Aseat continued to run the family yeshiva, which by then was plagued by financial problems. Asnat wrote a famous prayer, Ga’agua L’Zion, or “Longing for Zion”, which allowed many Jews to put their deepest hopes and desires into words of prayer.

Jewish Refugees to Kurdish Lands
In the 12th Century CE, some Jews fled violent Crusaders in Syria and the Land of Israel, finding refuge among the Jewish communities of Kurdistan. In the mid-13th century CE, Iraqi Jews fled from major Jewish centers like Baghdad as Mongol captured those areas; many moved north and west into Kurdish areas, joining the vibrant Jewish communities there.

As Jews poured from the land of Israel into Kurdish areas, David Alroy, an infamous Kurdish Jewish figure, arose. In the 12th century in the city of Amadiya, he raised a Jewish army and prepared to march to Jerusalem and liberate the city from the Crusaders. Before his Jewish warriors could depart on this mission, David Alroy was killed.

Accounts vary. The Jewish explorer Benjamin of Tudela wrote that he was murdered by the local sultan after encouraging Jews to rise up against their rulers. Some accounts maintain that Alroy was killed in his sleep by his father-in-law. After his death, some Jews falsely revered Alroy as the Messiah, even though his grand plan to come to the aid of Jerusalem’s Jews had utterly failed.

The Prophet Nahum
Kurdish Jews particularly revere the Jewish prophet Nahum who wrote about the end of the Assyrian Empire and its capital city Nineveh. Each year during the holiday Shavuot, Jews travelled to Nahum’s tomb, in modern-day Iraq, staging elaborate holiday celebrations there.

Nahum's Tomb

Local Jews described a major renovation of the tomb in 1796, paid for by wealthy Jews from Iraq and India. The tomb was owned and operated by the local Jewish community, and was a sumptuous center of gathering. A visitor during World War I described its splendor: the floors were covered with beautiful Persian rugs, and hundreds of notes with Hebrew prayers on them covered the walls. The building also housed lodging rooms where visitors could stay and pray.

After Kurdish Jews fled their homes for Israel in the 1950s, the Tomb of Nahum was cared for by a local Chaldean Christian family. They were not able to keep it up and today the building is largely in ruins. The tomb is located in a Christian village about 30 miles north of the Iraqi city of Mosul, which was the site of many bloody battles recently between ISIS fighters and local Kurds. Kurdish Peshmerga forces protected Nahum’s tomb throughout the fighting, preventing ISIS forces from destroying it completely.

Longing for Israel
Kurdish Jews in Rawanduz, northern Iraq, 1905
Jews from Kurdish lands were intensely Zionist; generations longed to return to the land of Israel from where their ancestors originally came. Jews in Kurdish areas had contact with travelers and rabbis from the land of Israel, and learned Torah and heard news from them. In the 16th century, Kurdish Jews began moving to the land of Israel, settling in the city of Safed. Thousands more moved to Israel during the 1920s and 1930s.

Coming Home to Israel
Despite its vibrancy, life was hard for Jewish in Kurdish lands. Tribal squirmishes posed danger to many groups, including Jews, and the area’s harsh landscape made it difficult to farm and thrive. After 1948 when the State of Israel was established, life became even more difficult for Kurdish Jews, most of whom lived in present-day Iraq. Iraqi’s government passed a series of harsh decrees against Iraqi Jews, seizing their assets and stripping many Jews of citizenship.

Rabbi Moshe Gabbai, head of the Jews of Zacho Iraq who immigrated to Israel in 1951. He is petitioning then president of Israel Yitzchak ben Zvi to help his community.

The fledgling nation of Israel came to the rescue of Iraqi Jews, including the approximately 25,000 then living in Kurdish areas. Between 1949 and 1952, a series of airlifts, called “Operation Ezra and Nehemia” in honor of ancient leaders who helped restore Jewish life in Israel, brought over 120,000 Iraqi Jews to Israel. Many Jews from Kurdish lands settled in Jerusalem, often helped to flee the country by friendly Kurdish neighbors. Virtually all other Jews from Kurdish areas followed their brethren to the Jewish state; it’s estimated that only a handful of Jews remain living in Kurdish lands today.

Refugee Kurdish Jews in Tehran, Iran, in 1950. Via the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, UC Berkeley.

Writer Ariel Sabar’s father was born in Iraq’s Kurdish north. He wrote about him and his family in My Father’s Paradise: A Son’s Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq. “The moment his foot touched the ground at Israel’s Lod Airport near Tel Aviv” in 1951, Sabar wrote, “my great-great grandfather Ephraim began to cry. He dropped to his knees, bent forward, and kissed the tarmac.”

As Kurdish Jews stepped off the plane, they were amazed to find themselves in the land of Israel at long last. Sabar writes:

“The Kurds stepping off the Near East Transport planes in their hand-spun jimidani head coverings looked as dazed and disoriented as if a time-travel machine had just deposited them in a distant future. Parents descended the steps to the brightly lit tarmac with wary gazes and armfuls of children. Tired bodies clanked, with teapots slung to belt loops and demon-banishing amulets bunched at necks and wrists. Few had ever before seen an airplane, let alone traveled one.”

Sukkot and Saharane
For generations, Jews in Kurdish lands celebrated their own unique holiday, called Saharane, during Passover. It mirrored the non-Jewish Kurdish holiday Newroz, and featured singing competitions and outdoor picnics.

Celebrating at a Saharane festival

When Jews from Kurdish lands moved to Israel, some worried that Saharane was getting confused with another Passover-time festival, Mimouna. (Mimouna originated with Moroccan Jews and became popular in Israel. It’s celebrated the day after Passover concludes and is marked by visiting friends and neighbors for friendly meals and open houses.) In the 1970s, Kurdish Jews began celebrating Saharane during the Autumn Jewish festival of Sukkot instead.

Today, one of the largest Saharane festivals is held each year in Jerusalem, drawing over 10,000 participants for Kurdish Jewish food, music, and story-telling. In recent years, non-Jewish Kurds have even travelled to Jerusalem’s vibrant Saharane festival from Iraq, Europe, and elsewhere. In 2013, one Syrian Kurd now living in the Netherlands visited Jerusalem’s Saharane festival and explained to an Israeli journalist that even though she’s not Jewish, hearing the Kurdish music and watching people wearing traditional Kurdish dress made her feel at home: “We feel we are a part of Israel.” she explained about her fellow Kurds at the festival, who all received a warm welcome when visiting the Jewish state.

Life in Israel
Many Kurdish Jews entered the stonework and construction industries in Israel in the 1950s. Some Israeli towns such as Mevasseret Tzion and neighborhoods in Jerusalem housed vibrant Kurdish communities. Today, over 150,000 Israelis trace their heritage to Kurdish lands. The beautiful songs, foods, traditions and prayers of Jews from Kurdish lands continue to flourish in Israel today.

Photo at top: Refugee Jews from Iranian Kurdistan, 1950 © The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life



https://www.aish.com/ho/i/The-Holocaust-and-Sephardic-Jews.html?s=mfeat
The Holocaust and Sephardic Jews
Oct 27, 2019  |  by B. Gordon
The Holocaust and Sephardic Jews
Are Sephardic and Mideastern Holocaust victims being forgotten?

The Holocaust – one of the greatest tragedies in Jewish history – has understandably become an Ashkenazic symbol. But by defining the Holocaust as an “Ashkenazic tragedy”, do we risk forgetting the Sephardic and Middle Eastern victims, or the encompassing definition of antisemitism?

While the destruction of Ashkenazic Jewry dwarfed the Holocaust’s impact on Sephardim, some traditionally-Sephardic populations – such as Salonika, Yugoslavia, Rhodes, and the former Habsburg Islands – shared the same fate of their Ashkenazic brethren.

The community of Salonika in particular was almost completely wiped out. According to the Sephardicstudies.org, 86% of the Sephardic Jewish community in Salonika was killed. There were approximately 10,000 survivors from what was once thriving community of 80,000 Jews.

Skopje, Yugoslavia, Jews rounded up prior to their deportation
in the Monopol tobacco depot, March 1943. Yad Vashem archive

Stephanie Shosh Rotem, author of the essay Holocaust Museums as Civic Spaces, notes that Salonika wasn’t included in the collective memory of the Holocaust. To this day, says the author, the story of the Salonikan tragedy is not a part of the main exhibition at the Yad Vashem but displayed outside the museum halls.


 
On a similar note, Isaac Jack Levy compiled the anthology And the World Stood Silent. The poignant book commemorates the nearly 200,000 Sephardic victims of the Holocaust. On its jacket cover, he writes, “The Sephardic victims of the Holocaust were, indeed, forgotten at the gates of the camps. Their tragedy at the hands of the Nazis remained unknown...”

Henriette Asseo, a woman of Salonikan heritage, contributed to Levy’s work. In the anthology, she lamented:

My people do not exist
Banished from memory
at the gates of the camps.

While North African and Middle Eastern Jews were thankfully spared from the final solution, they weren’t immune to Hitler’s wrath.

Deportation of the Jews of Macedonia, March 1943. Yad Vashem Archive

In the 1940’s, anti-Jewish laws were enacted and labor camps were established throughout Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya. Thousands of North African Jews suffered in these labor camps.

Libyan Jews under Mussolini
In 1938 the Fascist Mussolini implemented anti-Jewish laws on Libyan Jews by marking Jews’ passports and restricting their freedom and cultural activities. Later, Mussolini sent close to 5,000 of his citizens to concentration camps where hundreds died of starvation and disease. Jews who weren’t Libyan citizens were even less fortunate. Hundreds of Jews with foreign citizenship were shipped out to concentration camps in Europe.

Shimon Teshuva, survivor of the labor camp Giado, Libya, recounts his experience:

“The area was divided and each family was given 1 meter squared.... A long wooden plank with holes – was used for latrines... There was no running water, we were covered in lice. The majority of the camp inhabitants contracted illnesses, including typhoid.”

562 Libyan Jews perished at Giado concentration camp.

North African Jews under French Rule
Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia were colonies of the Vichy regime which fell to the Nazis in the 1940s. During that time, the Vichy-German controlled government established anti-Jewish laws on its approximately 415,000 Jewish inhabitants.

On November 23, 1942, the Germans arrested Moises Burgel, the president of the Tunis Jewish community, and several other prominent Jews, signaling the beginning of Nazi oppression under the Vichy regime. Tunisian Jews were required to wear the yellow Star of David, had their property confiscated and were sent to forced labor camps. Four thousand Jews were deported and forced into hard labor camps while foreign citizens and some of Tunisia’s Rabbis were deported to the European concentration camps. 2, 575 Jews died in Tunisia during the war.

Some 7,000 Jewish men ordered to register for forced labor assemble
in Liberty Square in German-occupied Salonika, Greece, July 1942.

In Algeria, and to a certain extent in Morocco, Vichy law stripped Jewish citizens of their rights, confiscated their land, expelled Jewish children from schools, and sent some of the men to labor camps. According to Sephardic Gen resources, some were forced to relocate to ghettos and Jewish foreigners in Morocco were detained in “special concentration camps.”

According to SephardicGen.com, the Nazis didn’t intend to leave North African Jews alone. The Vichy-appointed High Commissioner Henri Dentz also planned to establish European-style concentration camps in North Africa. His efforts were stymied when the allies began to liberate North Africa in 1942.

Pogroms in Iraq
Another tragedy largely overlooked in the history of the Holocaust is the Farhud, the Nazi-inspired pogrom in Iraq. Though Iraq was never under control of the Nazis, Iraqi Jews also suffered the ripple effects of Nazi hatred.

Iraqi Jews reach British Mandatory Palestine after the Farhud pogrom in Baghdad of 1941.
Beit Hatfutsot, the Oster Visual Documentation Center, courtesy Moshe Baruch

During the war, pro-Nazi propaganda was spread throughout the country and the book “Mein Kampf” was translated into Arabic for the public. In May 1941, on the festival of Shavuot, mobs swearing allegiance to the Mufti and Hitler went on a rampage through Iraqi cities and instituted a bloody pogrom. Approximately 180 Jews were killed, more than 2,000 were injured or maimed, 900 Jewish homes, and hundreds of Jewish shops were destroyed. Victims of the pogrom are not recognized as Holocaust survivors liable for compensation under Israeli law.

The Nazi threat to Israel
There were close to 450,000 Jews in the British Mandate of Palestine in 1939. Were the Nazis content with leaving them alone?

Evidence shows that in 1942 the Einsatzgruppe SS squad in Egypt was set up in the Athens and prepared to carry out a mass killing of Jews in the British Mandate of Palestine. Thank God, the Nazis' plans for the destruction were not carried out after their defeat by the allies at the Battle of El Alamein, Egypt.

The majority of the Jews killed in the war were Eastern Europeans of Ashkenazic descent. But let's also remember the Sephardic and North African victims who were killed because they were Jews.

May the memories of all Holocaust martyrs be a blessing.

Photo credit at top: Deportation of the Jews of Macedonia, March 1943. Yad Vashem Archive

Links for additional information:
North African Jews in the Holocaust: https://www.yadvashem.org/articles/general/the-jews-of-north-africa.html

Sephardic Greek Jews in the holocaust: https://www.yadvashem.org/articles/general/sephardic-jews-in-yugoslavia.html

The Holocaust of North Africa: https://www.sephardicgen.com/holocaust.HTM

Jewish Holocaust victims of Salonika: http://www.sephardicstudies.org/thess.html

The Farhud: https://www.bh.org.il/blog-items/nazi-germany-farhud-iraq/
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The Holocaust and Sephardic Jews
Oct 27, 2019  |  by B. Gordon
81
SHARES
The Holocaust and Sephardic Jews
Are Sephardic and Mideastern Holocaust victims being forgotten?

The Holocaust – one of the greatest tragedies in Jewish history – has understandably become an Ashkenazic symbol. But by defining the Holocaust as an “Ashkenazic tragedy”, do we risk forgetting the Sephardic and Middle Eastern victims, or the encompassing definition of antisemitism?

While the destruction of Ashkenazic Jewry dwarfed the Holocaust’s impact on Sephardim, some traditionally-Sephardic populations – such as Salonika, Yugoslavia, Rhodes, and the former Habsburg Islands – shared the same fate of their Ashkenazic brethren.

The community of Salonika in particular was almost completely wiped out. According to the Sephardicstudies.org, 86% of the Sephardic Jewish community in Salonika was killed. There were approximately 10,000 survivors from what was once thriving community of 800,000 Jews.

Skopje, Yugoslavia, Jews rounded up prior to their deportation
in the Monopol tobacco depot, March 1943. Yad Vashem archive

Stephanie Shosh Rotem, author of the essay Holocaust Museums as Civic Spaces, notes that Salonika wasn’t included in the collective memory of the Holocaust. To this day, says the author, the story of the Salonikan tragedy is not a part of the main exhibition at the Yad Vashem but displayed outside the museum halls.
 
On a similar note, Isaac Jack Levy compiled the anthology And the World Stood Silent. The poignant book commemorates the nearly 200,000 Sephardic victims of the Holocaust. On its jacket cover, he writes, “The Sephardic victims of the Holocaust were, indeed, forgotten at the gates of the camps. Their tragedy at the hands of the Nazis remained unknown...”

Henriette Asseo, a woman of Salonikan heritage, contributed to Levy’s work. In the anthology, she lamented:

My people do not exist
Banished from memory
at the gates of the camps.

While North African and Middle Eastern Jews were thankfully spared from the final solution, they weren’t immune to Hitler’s wrath.

Deportation of the Jews of Macedonia, March 1943. Yad Vashem Archive

In the 1940’s, anti-Jewish laws were enacted and labor camps were established throughout Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya. Thousands of North African Jews suffered in these labor camps.

Libyan Jews under Mussolini
In 1938 the Fascist Mussolini implemented anti-Jewish laws on Libyan Jews by marking Jews’ passports and restricting their freedom and cultural activities. Later, Mussolini sent close to 5,000 of his citizens to concentration camps where hundreds died of starvation and disease. Jews who weren’t Libyan citizens were even less fortunate. Hundreds of Jews with foreign citizenship were shipped out to concentration camps in Europe.

Shimon Teshuva, survivor of the labor camp Giado, Libya, recounts his experience:

“The area was divided and each family was given 1 meter squared.... A long wooden plank with holes – was used for latrines... There was no running water, we were covered in lice. The majority of the camp inhabitants contracted illnesses, including typhoid.”

562 Libyan Jews perished at Giado concentration camp.

North African Jews under French Rule
Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia were colonies of the Vichy regime which fell to the Nazis in the 1940s. During that time, the Vichy-German controlled government established anti-Jewish laws on its approximately 415,000 Jewish inhabitants.

On November 23, 1942, the Germans arrested Moises Burgel, the president of the Tunis Jewish community, and several other prominent Jews, signaling the beginning of Nazi oppression under the Vichy regime. Tunisian Jews were required to wear the yellow Star of David, had their property confiscated and were sent to forced labor camps. Four thousand Jews were deported and forced into hard labor camps while foreign citizens and some of Tunisia’s Rabbis were deported to the European concentration camps. 2, 575 Jews died in Tunisia during the war.

Some 7,000 Jewish men ordered to register for forced labor assemble
in Liberty Square in German-occupied Salonika, Greece, July 1942.

In Algeria, and to a certain extent in Morocco, Vichy law stripped Jewish citizens of their rights, confiscated their land, expelled Jewish children from schools, and sent some of the men to labor camps. According to Sephardic Gen resources, some were forced to relocate to ghettos and Jewish foreigners in Morocco were detained in “special concentration camps.”

According to SephardicGen.com, the Nazis didn’t intend to leave North African Jews alone. The Vichy-appointed High Commissioner Henri Dentz also planned to establish European-style concentration camps in North Africa. His efforts were stymied when the allies began to liberate North Africa in 1942.

Pogroms in Iraq
Another tragedy largely overlooked in the history of the Holocaust is the Farhud, the Nazi-inspired pogrom in Iraq. Though Iraq was never under control of the Nazis, Iraqi Jews also suffered the ripple effects of Nazi hatred.

Iraqi Jews reach British Mandatory Palestine after the Farhud pogrom in Baghdad of 1941.
Beit Hatfutsot, the Oster Visual Documentation Center, courtesy Moshe Baruch

During the war, pro-Nazi propaganda was spread throughout the country and the book “Mein Kampf” was translated into Arabic for the public. In May 1941, on the festival of Shavuot, mobs swearing allegiance to the Mufti and Hitler went on a rampage through Iraqi cities and instituted a bloody pogrom. Approximately 180 Jews were killed, more than 2,000 were injured or maimed, 900 Jewish homes, and hundreds of Jewish shops were destroyed. Victims of the pogrom are not recognized as Holocaust survivors liable for compensation under Israeli law.

The Nazi threat to Israel
There were close to 450,000 Jews in the British Mandate of Palestine in 1939. Were the Nazis content with leaving them alone?

Evidence shows that in 1942 the Einsatzgruppe SS squad in Egypt was set up in the Athens and prepared to carry out a mass killing of Jews in the British Mandate of Palestine. Thank God, the Nazis' plans for the destruction were not carried out after their defeat by the allies at the Battle of El Alamein, Egypt.

The majority of the Jews killed in the war were Eastern Europeans of Ashkenazic descent. But let's also remember the Sephardic and North African victims who were killed because they were Jews.

May the memories of all Holocaust martyrs be a blessing.

Photo credit at top: Deportation of the Jews of Macedonia, March 1943. Yad Vashe
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My Encounter with al-Baghdadi’s Victims
Oct 29, 2019  |  by Sara Yoheved Rigler
My Encounter with al-Baghdadi’s Victims
Shabbat dinner with three Yazidi women from Iraq.
An intriguing request showed up on the e-bulletin board of our community in the Old City of Jerusalem a few months ago:
Dear Neighbors,
Professionals from a foreign country that does not have diplomatic relations with Israel are quietly being brought for professional development. The lead coordinator host wants them to encounter the positive face of Judaism. They will be at the Kotel next Friday night. The host body would like to arrange home hospitality for 17.
Barnea Levi Selavan
My husband Leib and I volunteered to host three for the Shabbos night meal. Our neighbor Barnea, a tour guide and archeologist, made it clear that no information would be forthcoming about who our mystery guests would be or from what country they came.
The day before their arrival, Barnea confided the secret: They were Yazidi women from Iraq, brought surreptitiously to Israel to get training on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in order to help the thousands of their fellow Yazidi women who had been enslaved by ISIS.
Participants in the workshop. The faces of the Iraqi women are
blurred for security reasons. Courtesy Bar-Ilan University
I keenly remembered seeing years ago the video of a Yazidi woman in the Iraqi parliament shouting and crying because ISIS, at the height of its power, was raping Yazidi women and taking them as sex slaves. It was that video that first woke up the world to the abhorrent evil of ISIS and moved President Obama to use American forces to stop them.
Leib and I were nervous about how to relate to our guests. On Friday afternoon, I googled “Yazidi” and discovered the basics of their history and religion. They espouse a monotheistic religion derived from various traditions including Islam (although Muslims are forbidden to marry them), tracing their roots back seven or eight centuries. An embattled minority, a half-million adherents lived in northern Iraq, in villages clustered near Mosul and Sinjar, until they were displaced by the ravaging hordes of ISIS. They believe that God entrusted the world to seven angels, one of whom is called, the “Peacock Angel.” I duly put my Shabbos flowers into a vase decorated with a peacock and placed it at the center of our Shabbos table, my meek gesture at trying to make our mystery guests feel comfortable.
Barnea brought them to our door—three thin women dressed in slacks. Two of them, V. and R., smiled warmly. They spoke English and greeted me with a hug.
The third, N., looked pale and worn, older than what we would later learn was her age of twenty-nine.
N. described how the men were given the choice to convert to Islam or be killed. The women and girls over the age of 9 were taken as sex slaves.
They were so open, so friendly, so eager to experience whatever we wanted to share about Judaism and Shabbat. At that point they had been in Israel, at Bar Ilan University, for just a few days, yet they obviously felt safe with us. Was it because they recognized in us Jews an innate empathy with those who suffer?
Twelve of us sat down around the table, including our adult son and six Jewish guests. Leib made Kiddush, and then we did the ritual hand-washing for bread. During the meal, as is our custom, we went around the table for each person to introduce his/her self. Although Barnea had cautioned us to ask no searching questions, the Yazidi women seemed driven to talk about themselves. V., who spoke excellent English, said that she lived in a town that ISIS approached but did not conquer. R., who spoke halting English, had fled her village with her family before ISIS attacked.

N. spoke only Kurdish and Arabic; V. translated her for. N.’s voice, like her eyes, was lifeless, but she told her story like a tired sentinel guarding truth, as word after word marched out of her cavernous heart. Her village was captured by ISIS. She described how they separated the men from the women and children. The men were given the choice to convert to Islam or be killed. The women and girls over the age of 9 were taken as sex slaves. (Because, she explained, Mohammed had relations with his 9-year-old wife, that is the minimum age for Muslim men to take sexual partners.)
N. had 91 members in her extended family. Only 24 came back after ISIS was defeated. All the men chose death rather than convert.
After Shabbos, we heard from other neighbors who had hosted Yazidi women. One related the story of their guest: She and her two friends had been taken as sex slaves by ISIS. At some point, they decided to escape. This entailed running through a mine field. Both her friends stepped on mines and were blown up in front of her. She kept running and somehow managed to get to safety.
Our Shabbos guests were among 18 Yazidi and Christian mental health workers who had been brought to Israel by Bar Ilan University and IsraAID for an intensive two-week workshop on how to treat PTSD, C-PTSD, depression, attempted suicide, insomnia, etc. Professor Ari Zivotofsky and Dr. Yaakov Hoffman organized the program. Their research among Yazidi women who were captured by ISIS found that over 50% of them suffer from C-PTSD (complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and another 23% suffer from standard PTSD. Of the 6500 women and children kidnapped by ISIS, 3500 managed to escape or were liberated (3000 are still missing), but few mental health services are available to these survivors. "We feel a moral obligation not only to study the effects of genocide but to share our know-how to assist those suffering from it," said Dr. Hoffman.
I felt like I was hearing the testimony of a Holocaust survivor just out of hell.
Listening to N.’s story at our Shabbos table, I felt like I was hearing the testimony of a Holocaust survivor just out of hell. I have read innumerable Holocaust books and wrote a biography of a Holocaust survivor, but this was the first time in my life that I was hearing such a story “raw,” not mellowed by decades of time and the mental enzymes the mind uses to digest the indigestible. Hearing N.’s story and looking at her anguished visage, I felt a kaleidoscope of emotions: Horror at what had been done to her people, repulsion at the unmitigated evil of ISIS, recognition because her tragedy was like our Jewish tragedies, relief that the world had responded to their cry and vanquished ISIS, and the prescience of knowing that, even though her group had come to Israel to learn how to cope with trauma, she would never be able to cleanse her soul of the nightmare she had been through. We Jews post-Holocaust know that.
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https://www.aish.com/jw/s/Tree-of-Life-Massacre-One-Year-Later-Fighting-Hate-with-Love.html?s=mm
Tree of Life Massacre One Year Later: Fighting Hate with Love
Oct 27, 2019  |  by Rabbi Shraga Simmons
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Tree of Life Massacre One Year Later: Fighting Hate with Love
From Pittsburgh, Aish.com reports on anti-Semitism in America – and possible solutions.

Standing at the corner of Wilkins and Shady Avenues in Squirrel Hill, I gaze at the Tree of Life building and reflect how a Jewish prayer hall is called “sanctuary” – a safe haven of peace, love and spiritual communion.

On October 27, 2018, this sanctuary was shattered when – in the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in American history – a gunman burst into Shabbat services and gunned down 11 worshippers.

Squirrel Hill is at the heart of Pittsburgh’s 50,000 Jews, one of America’s oldest and most respected Jewish neighborhoods, an otherwise quiet, tree-lined community that Mister Rogers called home and where 40% of residents are Jewish.

One year after the attack, a walk along Murray Avenue – the strip of Jewish bookstores, bakeries, butchers and boutiques – reveals a community forever transformed. Store windows and lampposts proclaim “Pittsburgh: Stronger than Hate,” with the Star of David superimposed on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ logo. Windows of the local Starbucks bear the words “love, kindness and hope” – written in both English and Hebrew.

Poignantly, the Tree of Life building remains bolted shut (with plans to rebuild). Jeffrey Myers, rabbi and cantor of Tree of Life who emerged as the face of the Jewish community following the attack, told Aish.com: “We're displaced from our home, which is a constant reminder of our loss and of the need to move forward.”


 
Aish.com visited Squirrel Hill to examine the challenges of American Jewry grappling with a new normal.

Makeshift memorial at the Tree of Life building.

Graffiti and Violence
Anti-Semitism isn’t new to America. (Think General Ulysses S. Grant, Henry Ford, and Charles Lindbergh.) Yet the exceptions prove the rule: The United States has been safer for Jews than anywhere in Diaspora history.

Post-Pittsburgh, however, this security has been shaken. Anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. are at near-record highs, fueled by the far-right (KKK, The Daily Stormer) and far-left (BDS, Ilan Omar, Farrakhan), toxic political rhetoric, and social media free-for-alls.

According to latest FBI stats, 58% of all anti-religious hate crimes are anti-Jewish, and 80% of all hate crimes in New York City feature swastikas. These crimes extend beyond mere graffiti – to the synagogue shooting in Poway, Molotov cocktails thrown at synagogue windows, vandalized menorahs and gravestones, multiple attacks on Orthodox Jews on the streets of Brooklyn, and dozens of foiled plots to target Jewish institutions.

In a sad paradox, the Squirrel Hill community was one of the synagogues best prepared to handle an assault. In the year prior, Jewish community officials had run dozens of security training sessions, including at Tree of Life, and congregants had cellphones on hand to call 911.

For American Jews, the fear is real. According to a new poll by the American Jewish Committee (AJC):

88% of American Jews believe that anti-Semitism is a problem in the United States today.
31% of American Jews avoid publicly displaying items that might identify them as Jewish.
25% avoid certain Jewish places or events out of safety concern; children exhibit particular fear.
Security: The New Normal
The result has been a permanent mind shift in the American Jewish community regarding security. Guided by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, Jewish infrastructures are now being fortified into “hard targets” – with Kevlar-coated shatterproof windows, video surveillance systems, reinforced gates, and barricades of concrete pylons.

Many U.S. congregations now offer Krav Maga and other self-defense courses. Others offer defensive firearms training, with many American Jews considering the purchase of their first handgun. The nonprofit Secure Community Network (SCN) and Israeli counter-terrorism experts conduct active shooter drills, where the primary lesson is “Run, Hide, Fight”:

Run – In any active shooter situation, the preferred response is to quickly exit the building.
 
Hide – Second-best, hide in a bathroom or closest – with lights out and door locked.
 
Fight – As a last resort, fight back using any available means – chairs, books, guns.
With synagogues across America beefing up security – armed guards checking bags, metal detectors, and police patrols – the question becomes: What of the synagogue’s traditional role as an open, hospitable, welcoming space?

To address this, many congregations now have longtime members serving as plain-clothes security – “shul marshals” with concealed weapons who do not reveal their role to other congregants. Other congregations instruct security guards to dress business-casual and greet congregants with a hearty “Shabbat Shalom.”

In Squirrel Hill, the windows of Starbucks bears the words
love, kindness and hope – in English and Hebrew.

Why the Jews?
History provides many examples of oppression, racism and intolerance. Yet despite the tendency to “universalize” anti-Semitism, Jew-hatred is unique in intensity, longevity and irrationality, falling outside of normal sociological bounds. Anti-Semitism has haunted Jews for millennia, ever since the Bronze Age when Nimrod, the world’s most powerful leader, tried to murder Abraham for his Monotheistic beliefs. Today, Jews collectively suffer the scourge of anti-Semitism violence that a new United Nations report says has increased 38% across the globe.

So whether it is a Yom Kippur attack in Halle, Germany, headstones smashed at UK Jewish cemetery, or missiles raining down on Sderot, anti-Semitism is – in the words of New York Times' columnist and Squirrel Hill native Bari Weiss – an "ever-morphing conspiracy theory" where the Jew is "whatever the anti-Semite needs him to be."

As an ethical response, Pittsburgh Jewry has adopted the beautiful rallying cry of “Fight hate with love.” To succeed at such an effort, the 16th century kabbalist Rabbi Moshe Cordovero suggests that “love is achieved by pondering a person's virtues. One should strive to ignore deficiencies, focusing not on flaws but rather on positive qualities” (Tomer Devorah 2:4). Indeed, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov says that every person has some element of “good,” and it is our job to search and find that good in every person (Likutey Moharan – Torah 282a).

As Rabbi Noah Weinberg says in 48 Ways to Wisdom: The more we identify people with positive qualities, the more we will love them. It's all a matter of appreciation and focus on virtues.

In Squirrel Hill, store windows proclaim that Pittsburgh is “Stronger than hate.”

Moving Forward
After a year of recovery and healing, Squirrel Hill is moving forward with resiliency and rebuilding. Plans for the 60-year-old Tree of Life building include a massive refurbishing to incorporate mixed-use communal spaces, a memorial for the 11 victims, and the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh.

To commemorate the first anniversary of the attack on Sunday, October 27, 2019, people around the world can receive a text message from “Pause With Pittsburgh,” prompting a moment of silence at 5 pm Eastern time (11 pm Israel).

In that moment, the question for each us of is: What can I do to best honor the memory of the victims?

An insight is found in the Talmud (Shabbat 89a), which ponders the existential question of anti-Semitism and points to Mount Sinai, where Jews were charged as a Light Unto the Nations. Despite never constituting more than a tiny fraction of the world’s population, Jewish ideals became the basis for the civilized world. And with that, Jews became a lightening rod for those opposed to the moral message.

Which brings us to the exquisite irony of Jewish history. The problem and its solution are one and the same: Jewish values are the cause of anti-Semitism, and Jewish values are the solution. Only by strengthening the moral doctrine that Judaism brought to the world from Sinai, can we hope to create a peaceful, loving, and compassionate society where no anti-Semite could reasonably exist.

In this spirit, to mark the upcoming yahrtzeit on Cheshvan 18 (November 16, 2019), the Pittsburgh Kollel is welcoming everyone to study a particular portion of Chumash or Mishnah in the merit of the 11 Pittsburgh Kedoshim, hy”d:

Joyce Feinberg – Yehudit Bultcha bat Abba Menachem
Richard Gottfried – Yosef ben Hyman
Rose Mallinger – Raizel bat Avraham
Jerry Rabinowitz – Yehudah ben Yechezkel
Cecil Rosenthal – Chaim ben Eliezer
David Rosenthal – Dovid ben Eliezer
Bernice Simon – Mayla Rochel bat Moshe
Sylvan Simon – Zalman Shachna ben Menachem Mendel
Dan Stein – Daniel Avrom ben Baruch
Mel Wax – Moshe Gadol ben Yosef
Irving Younger – Yitzchak Chaim ben Menachem

As I stand at the Tree of Life building, its cornerstone hewn from limestone quarried in Jerusalem, I am reminded of that part of the synagogue service when we put the Torah into the Ark and sing the verse from Proverbs 3:18: Aitz chaim hee – “Torah is a ‘tree of life’ for those who grasp it.”

Jewish national destiny depends on our commitment to study Torah, to live it passionately, and to share its wisdom with a world desperate for its loving, peaceful message.
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Post  Admin on Wed 23 Oct 2019, 8:36 pm

https://www.aish.com/sp/so/Hidden-in-a-Monastery-Saved-by-His-Birthmark.html?s=mm
Hidden in a Monastery; Saved by His Birthmark
Oct 22, 2019  |  by Adam Ross
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Hidden in a Monastery; Saved by His Birthmark
The Shtemler brothers survived the Holocaust hiding in monasteries disguised as Christian children. The youngest of the three boys tells his incredible story.

Elimelech, with the birthmark on his neck
Elimelech Shtemler was the youngest of three brothers who were hidden as Catholic boys in monasteries during the Nazi occupation of Belgium. Their mother emerged from hiding after the war hoping to rebuild her family, only to learn that Elimelech, aged two, had disappeared without a trace.

Determined that he be raised as a Jew she hung on to the hope that a distinguishing birthmark on his neck would help identify him. With the assistance of a Jewish soldier attached to the British army, she combed institutions, schools and orphanages across the countryside before they were reunited. Now aged 78, living in Israel, Elimelech is the proud grandfather of 27 Jewish grandchildren.

Meeting the Shtemlers
The Shtemler family lived in the heart of the thriving Orthodox community of Antwerp, Belgium. Yosef Tzvi, a tradesman, also served as a cantor (chazan) in one of the city's many synagogues. Frida, his wife, was a dedicated housewife raising their three sons. Elimelech was born in October 1941, 18 months after Hitler invaded Belgium. Motke, his oldest brother, was seven at the time, and Eliezer was five.

The three Shtemler boys, taken after the war in 1947
 
“I remember very little from my childhood,” Elimelech Shtemler told Aish.com from his home in Jerusalem. “I was just too young. What I know was told to me by my mother and older brothers." Motke passed away three years ago and Eliezer died last year. “Now it is down to me to tell our family’s story.”

Mechelen detention camp
Within a year of the occupation, Belgium's Jews were forced to wear a yellow star and in November 1942, when Elimelech was just one year old, along with many other Jews, he and his family were arrested and sent to the detention and deportation camp of Mechelen, a converted army barracks in the south west of the country.

As the arrests gained pace, the Jewish community sought the help of Elisabeth of Belgium, the benevolent queen mother of King Leopold III of Belgium, who as the daughter of a Bavarian Duke had some influence in Germany.

Saved by a righteous queen
After hearing of the daily arrests, imprisonment and deportation of Jews, Elisabeth wrote to Hitler, requesting that Jews with Belgium citizenship not be persecuted. A telegram reply from Berlin stated that the Jews with Belgian citizenship would not be deported, and that those who were under arrest in the camps awaiting deportation could receive visitors.

Most of Belgium's approximately 75,000 Jews had fled to the country from neighboring Germany or from Poland in the East, and being without citizenship, did not benefit from the queen mother’s intervention, however the Shtemler’s did, and after being held for nine months at Mechelen, they were released shortly after.

A year later the Nazis reneged on this decision, ordering all Belgian Jews to be deported. The Shtemlers had at least been granted some precious time to arrange places to hide.

In all, 25,000 Jews were deported from Mechelen, with around 24,000 murdered, mainly at Auschwitz.

“I owe my life to the efforts of this queen,” Elimelech says adamantly. “It is so important to recognize the efforts of those who were righteous.”

Into Hiding
Elimelech was not yet two years old in 1943 when his father received his second fateful order to report to the Gestapo. He chose to hand in himself in rather than put his family at risk. In a memoir for his family, Motke wrote, “It was a Friday morning, he went alone, and we waited hopefully for his return. The table was set for Shabbat, and as nightfall came, we sat waiting for him, we waited and waited, and yet he never returned. We never saw him again.”

The following day, frightened and sensing their arrests were also imminent, Frida Shtemler acted instinctively, taking the boys to a nearby forest overnight. When they returned the following day, they found out the Gestapo had indeed paid a visit to their home.

Activating a plan to go into hiding, she headed immediately to a friend in the Belgian underground who directed her to Joseph Andre, a young Catholic priest who took the Motke and Eliezer to a monastery, while Elimelech was separated from his brothers and taken to an institution for younger boys. Frida was hidden in the region of Namur in the South of the country, on a farm close to where her two oldest sons were.

Hanging on to the Shema
Motke wrote, “Our father had gone, and now our mother was handing us over to a priest. I couldn’t understand why, it is one of my most difficult memories. On one of our first days, the priest took me before the altar and told me to bend on one knee, but I told him I was Jewish and I wouldn’t do it. He took me to a side room and explained that I could never say that again, because my life was in danger.”

Years accompanying their father to synagogue gave them a way to hold on to their identity. “My brother and I remembered the shema from synagogue, it was the only prayer we knew by heart from start to finish, and we decided every time we were taken to pray this is what we would say.”

Frida did her best to keep track of how her sons were doing, and remarkably, on a number of occasions Motke and Eliezer even absconded from the Monastery to visit her. But during the two years in hiding Frida lost all connection with Elimelech.

Rebuilding a family
When the war finished, Frida, like so many survivors, set about piecing her family back together. Her hopes of seeing her husband again ended when Belgian officials confirmed his death at the Dachau concentration camp. Tragically he had survived years of slave labor, only to die of Typhus two days after being liberated.

Devastated by the news, she collected Motke then 11, and Eliezer 9, before beginning a desperate search for her youngest son.

“I must have been moved to another institution because when the war ended. My mother had no idea where I was. No one knew where I had been taken.”

Locating children became a major issue following the liberation of the camps, especially when it became clear that many would have no close relatives alive to reclaim them.

In Belgium, thanks to an active underground and the efforts of the church, over 40% of the country’s Jews – the highest percentage across Europe – survived by living in hiding.

Although, as Motke wrote, “The monasteries were not always keen to return Jewish children. Some felt they were redeeming them by bringing them up as Christians.”

Along with those searching was Tuvia Ettinger from Petah Tikva, who had volunteered for the Jewish Brigade, fighting alongside the British to defeat the Nazis, on meeting him. Frida asked him for his help in finding her son.

Elimelech’s Birthmark
Despite knowing that Elimelech would probably not recognize her, she had one hope: a distinctive birthmark on his neck could be the ticket to finding him. Frida asked Ettinger for his help going from institution to institution, asking for with every young boy to unbutton his collar. Eventually, Elimelech was found in a monastery in the town of Mechelen close to where the family had originally been imprisoned.

“I don’t know how long they were looking, or how many places they had to go to, but without a sign like the one I had on my neck, it would have been very difficult for my mother prove to the monastery that I was the son she had been looking for.”

In the hands of Jewish Brigade soldier, Tuvia Ettinger, the day he was found
A photograph, taken on the day he was found shows Elimelech in Ettinger’s arms. From the expression on the young soldier’s face, one would think that Ettinger had been reunited with his own child, such was the relief and joy of locating a Jewish child after the Holocaust.

A new life in Israel
With family in Israel, Frida sent Motke there to learn in a yeshiva to rebuild his Jewish education, while the two younger brothers lived in a Jewish institution in Antwerp until 1949 when they too left for Israel. This journey stands as Elimelech’s earliest memory.

“I can still remember seeing the Carmel Mountains as we approached Haifa on the boat. It was the start of a new life.”

Elimelech celebrating his bar mitzvah in Israel
The family settled in Petach Tikva where they stayed in close connection with Tuvia Ettinger and his family. “We lived near to them and I became good friends with Tuvia’s younger brother.” When he reached the age of 12, Ettinger’s father prepared Elimelech for his bar mitzvah.

My father’s final request
Ten years ago Elimelech discovered a letter his father, Yosef Tzvi, had written days before his death.

“The U.S army soldiers who liberated the camp offered the survivors an opportunity to write a letter home. My father wrote to a family friend.”

The letter from Elimelech's father
Stating that he was okay, even though he knew he must have known he was seriously ill, he included one question: ‘Have you heard any news about my son in Mechelen?’ Presumably he knew where his youngest son would be taken.

“I was in shock. After all these years I found out that I was on my father’s mind. He knew I was there and he had asked about me. That is the only thing I have from him.”

Elimelech and his wife Rina have been married for over 50 years. They have 27 grandchildren and four great grandchildren. “Baruch Hashem we live in Israel,” he says defiantly, taking the rough times with the good. Tragically, his oldest grandchild Shlomit Krigman was murdered in a terrorist attack in 2016.

Elimelech and Rina Shtemler, celebrating 50 years of marriage

Today he carries the responsibility of telling his family’s story, speaking to groups of students and communities throughout the country. When he does, he always concludes the same way: by opening his shirt collar and showing the birthmark that reunited him with his family.

“As the years go on,” he says, “I think it’s more and more important to explain about the Holocaust, to thank the righteous people who acted, and to marvel at how we have remained Jewish throughout.”
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The Oldest Love Affair in History
Oct 18, 2019  |  by Jeff Jacoby
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The Oldest Love Affair in History
Amid rising anti-Semitism, the People of the Book rejoice with the Torah.

On Oct. 14, 1663, the English civil servant Samuel Pepys decided to pay a visit to the Jewish synagogue in London’s Creechurch Lane. Jews were a novelty in Restoration England. They had been expelled from the realm nearly four centuries earlier, and it was only in 1656 that they had once again been permitted to live on English soil. Pepys, knowing nothing of Judaism, wasn’t aware that his excursion happened to coincide with the most euphoric day in the Jewish calendar — the festival of Simchat Torah, or “rejoicing with the Law.”

What he saw bewildered him.

“But, Lord!” he recorded in his famous diary, “to see the disorder, laughing, sporting, and no attention, but confusion in all their service, more like brutes than people knowing the true God, would make a man forswear ever seeing them more and indeed I never did see so much, or could have imagined there had been any religion in the whole world so absurdly performed as this.”

What Pepys had unwittingly walked in on was a celebration of the oldest love affair in history -- the infatuation of the Jewish people with the Torah. In Judaism, there are no saints to adore or icons to venerate. Rather, there is a book to study and teach: the scroll of the law, the Torah given by God to Moses and the Israelites at Mount Sinai, the essential text with which Jews have engaged intellectually and been sustained emotionally for more than three millennia.

That book is “our most cherished possession,” writes Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the noted British theologian and member of the House of Lords. “We stand in its presence as if it were a king. We dance with it as if it were a bride. We kiss it as if it were a friend. If, God forbid, one is damaged beyond repair, we mourn it as if it were a member of the family.” If a Torah scroll is accidentally dropped, everyone who witnesses it is expected to fast in penance. When a synagogue is burned, whether by accident or by arson, there is an immediate, palpable anxiety to know whether the Torah scrolls were saved or lost.

Simchat Torah occurs on the last day of a three-week sequence of fall holidays. It follows Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. Unlike those holidays, however, Simchat Torah is not biblically ordained. It was not imposed by religious authorities from the top down, but grew organically from the bottom up. Its roots reach back 15 centuries to the ancient Jewish community of Babylonia, which formalized the practice of publicly reading the entire Torah — from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Deuteronomy — over the course of a year. The completion of the annual cycle became an occasion of joy, marked by singing and dancing around the synagogue with the Torah scrolls. Adults and children alike take part in the festivities. And as soon as the final verses of Deuteronomy are chanted from the end of one scroll, another is opened and the first chapter of Genesis is chanted: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” The Jewish engagement with the Torah never ends; as soon as we finish, we start again.

The “people of the book,” Jews are called. The phrase comes from the Koran, where it appears 31 times — an apt emphasis, for no nation has ever been as closely identified with a book as have Jews with the Torah. Sacks notes that by the time Simchat Torah had spread throughout the Jewish world, Jews had lost everything that would seem indispensable to national survival: land, sovereignty, political freedom, a military. Yet they still had their book to study and teach and rejoice with. Somehow, that was enough to keep Jewish peoplehood alive.

Three centuries after Pepys made his diary entry, another renowned writer encountered Jews celebrating Simchat Torah. In 1965, Elie Wiesel traveled to the Soviet Union, where Jews lived in fear and religion was repressed. And yet, he discovered, on one day of the year — Simchat Torah — throngs of young Jews streamed to the remaining synagogue in Moscow, bravely defying the KGB to openly celebrate their Jewishness.

Wiesel was astonished.

“Where did they all come from?” he marveled. “Who told them that tens of thousands of boys and girls would gather here to sing and dance and rejoice in the joy of the Torah? They who barely know each other and know even less of Judaism — how did they know that? I spent hours among them, dazed and excited, agitated by an ancient dream.” It was a harbinger of the coming struggle to save Soviet Jewry, which would eventually crack open the Iron Curtain and change the trajectory of the Cold War.

Simchat Torah returns this week amid a rising global tide of anti-Semitism. One year after the Tree of Life massacre in Pittsburgh, and just days after the Yom Kippur shooting in Halle, Germany, Jews increasingly require police protection when they gather in prayer. Nevertheless, synagogues the world over will be filled anew with the same euphoria that so startled Pepys and amazed Wiesel. The People of the Book will once again rejoice with the Law, dancing with the scrolls that have been, for 33 centuries, the ultimate source of their identity and strength.

This article originally appeared in the Boston Globe
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Post  Admin on Thu 17 Oct 2019, 6:03 pm

https://www.aish.com/ci/sam/The-Age-of-the-Universe-One-Reality-Viewed-from-Two-Different-Perspectives.html?s=mm
https://www.aish.com/ci/sam/The-Age-of-the-Universe-One-Reality-Viewed-from-Two-Different-Perspectives.html?s=mm
The Age of the Universe: One Reality Viewed from Two Different Perspectives
Oct 9, 2019  |  by Dr. Gerald Schroeder
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The Age of the Universe: One Reality Viewed from Two Different Perspectives
Can the universe be young and old simultaneously?

For centuries, science and theology have been locked in an ideological battle as to the ultimate source of truth. And basic to this standoff is the question of the age of our universe. Is it an old universe with a history containing fossils of dinosaurs and cavemen, or young with just a few days passing between the creation of the universe and the creation of Adam, the first human being? And if our universe is young, then the so-called ancient fossils were placed in the ground by God to test our faith in the truth of the Bible.

The old age measure of our universe is based on research by astronomers and cosmologists. These scientists measure how much light waves from distant galaxies are stretched and lengthened due to the stretching of the space of the universe as those light waves travelled over eons of time to reach us here on earth. The data embedded in those stretched rays of light reveal that our magnificent universe was created at just under 14 billion years ago.

The young age measure of our universe is based on data in the Bible. The opening chapter of Genesis states that six days passed between the creation of the universe and the creation of Adam. Then in Genesis, Chapter 4 we read that Adam and Eve had two sons, Cain and Abel. Cain murdered Abel and Cain was exiled by God. The achievements of Cain’s progeny are listed in chapter 4. Then in Chapter 5 we read that 130 years passed before Adam and Eve had their third child who is named Seth, and then 105 years passed before Seth fathered his first child. This pattern of stating the time spans between births is continued with no break until Joseph is sold as a slave into Egypt (Genesis 37:2, 28, 36). We add all those ages plus the years to their exodus from Egyptian slavery and their entering the Promised Land and then their exile from that Land. With the conclusion of the Hebrew Bible we add the ages of the kings, queens, presidents etc. that followed, Summing all those data we reach an age for the universe of a bit less than 6000 years.

There is a crucial difference between the information given in the Bible about of the progeny of Cain and the progeny of Seth. This difference is that although the accomplishments of Cain’s progeny are listed, no ages are given for Cain’s progeny but detailed age data are given for Seth’s. This difference in the age data is the hint that the Bible wants us to develop a calendar. It is through Seth that we reach Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the lineage that becomes the Israelite nation. The family line of Cain ends in Chapter 4, so it is irrelevant to an on-going calendar. Age data for Cain’s line would be superfluous if we are to build a calendar and there are no superfluous data in the Bible. This is the clue that the Torah wants us to make a calendar: the Torah tells us all the age data that can contribute to the calculation of a biblical calendar and omits age data (i.e., Cain’s) that would be irrelevant to such a calendar. If no age data were given in the Bible for any of the persons, there would be no theological /scientific controversy today over the age of our magnificent universe. Since the data are given, there must be a reason and a resolution that is faithful to these two sources of wisdom – the ancient words of Torah and the modern discoveries of science, especially since the Author for the Torah is also the Creator of nature.

Is it possible that the six days of Genesis are also the 14 billion years of cosmology, even as the six days of Genesis are 24 hours each and the 14 billion of years embrace all our cosmic history without bending either the words of the Torah or the discoveries in science?


 
We must keep in mind that the major commentators on the words of the Torah, Rashi (ca. 1090) and Nahmonides (ca. 1250), stated explicitly that the six days of Genesis are 24 hours each (Rashi commentary on Talmud Hagigah 12A; Nahmonides commentary on Gen. 1:3). Therefore, an explanation of saying that the days of Genesis One were actually long periods of time could be construed as bending the Bible to match the science. They may have made these comments since the sun is not mentioned in the Bible until fourth day of Genesis.

The key to the resolution of this seeming conflict is the change in perspective of viewing time. Recall that in Psalm 90:4, we read: “For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past, and like a watch in the night.” In this one verse we read about three perspectives of time: 1000 years, a day and a watch in the night. In our universe, perspective is everything when determining the apparent passage of time.

Nahmonides insightful viewpoint on the days of Genesis is so direct that it is hard to believe that we have missed it so often.

First, we must recall that the biblical New Year, Rosh Hashanah, marks the creation of Adam, not the creation of the universe. The six days of Genesis form a separate calendar and stand alone. Therefore, they are described in a unique way. The recurring phrase “and there was evening and there was morning” is unique to Genesis chapter one, the “creation” chapter.

At the end of each Genesis day, the day is numbered: day one; second day; third day; fourth day…. Nahmonides asked almost 800 years ago, long before theologians were worried about ancient fossils of cavemen and dinosaurs, why does the form of the day number change from absolute, “one”, to comparative, second, third…? His answer is brilliant. The Torah writes “day one” on that first day because there was not yet a second day. And to write "first", it must be comparative to a second (commentary on Genesis 1:5). We see this in the naming of the world wars. The “great war” (world war one) only became the “first world war” when the second started.

The biblical perspective of time for the six days of Genesis is from day one, looking forward. If that perspective were from Sinai looking back, the Torah would have written a “first day” since by Sinai that had been over 890,000 “second” days!

We look back in time and measure 14 billion years of cosmic history since the big bang creation of our universe. How would those years be measured from the Bible’s perspective of looking forward from the beginning? This is a totally non-human view of time.

The amazing reality of time in our magnificent universe is that the perspective of the time for a series of events compresses as we project that perspective back in time, and it compresses, contracts, gets shorter, exactly as the “size” of the universe compresses as we go back in time.

Professor Peebles in his book, Principles of Physical Cosmology, states this perfectly but in technical terms:

“The standard interpretation of the redshift (the amount a light wave has been stretched as it travelled to us from a distant place in the universe) as an effect of the expansion of the universe predicts that the same redshift factor applies to observed rates of occurrence of distant events . . . even when the epoch is so early the redshift cannot be observed in detected radiation.”

If we can calculate the magnitude of the expansion of the universe from the start of the biblical calendar’s six days to now, we can calculate how the 14 billion years (dinosaurs and all the rest) would appear from the perspective of the Bible. The key word here is perspective. We are calculating the age of the universe from two vastly different perspectives: the Bible’s perspective looking forward from the beginning when the universe was vastly smaller than now; our perspective looking back with the universe being vastly larger than in the era near the creation. They are two views of one reality.

Again, it is Nahmonides who leads the way. He tells us that time was created at the creation (a brilliant insight mirrored by modern scientific concepts) but that time only “grabs hold” when matter forms (commentary Genesis 1:4,5), and that is scientifically true.

Energy, light beams, are outside of time; they do not measure time. If an ethereal weightless you travelled on a light beam from the sun to the earth, your watch would record zero time. But if I could watch that light beam as it travelled, I would measure that about 8 minutes and a few seconds passed in that identical journey from sun to earth. Two true perspectives of one event.

The first stable matter that formed from the energy of the big bang creation that “ages,” that experiences the passage of time, was protons, the subatomic particles that produce much of the mass of an atom and are theorized to be the product of the decay of neutrons into electrons and protons (free neutrons decay with a half-life of about 10 minutes but are stable when they are within the nucleus of an atom). The Bible views time looking forward into the expanding space of the universe from the moment of the formation of protons, a moment that was a tiny fraction of a second following the big bang creation of the universe, when the universe was vastly smaller than it is today.

Our earth-based scientific measure views time looking back in time from the present perspective of our huge universe toward that moment when protons formed, a tiny fraction of a second following the big bang creation of the universe. a time when the universe was vastly smaller than it is today.

Calculations
With this combination of ancient wisdom and modern discovery, we can now calculate the age of the universe as measured from these two vastly different perspectives.

The key to the calculation that relates our time perspective looking back into time to that of the Torah which looks forward into the expanding space of the universe is to realize that even if the rate of expansion is approximately constant after the initial fraction of a second, the fractional rate of change (i.e., how much time it takes for the universe to double in size) changes drastically over time. That is because when the universe was smaller it doubled in size more rapidly than when it got bigger. This becomes what is known by scientific jargon as a non-linear relationship.

The most common non-linear relationship in the universe is A = A0e-Lt . This equation defines the decay rate of every atom in the universe. It also can be used to describe the distances from the sun for the seven inner planets except for the earth. With this relationship there should not be an earth where the earth is. And yet this is the only location in the solar system that is suitable for sustaining life.

This equation is also the relationship that describes the link between the earth view of time looking back into the history of the universe from the present and the Biblical view of time looking forward from the beginning for the six days of Genesis.

Recall that the years of the Biblical calendar start with Adam, not with the creation of the universe. The six days of Genesis form a separate calendar and are therefore described in a unique way. The recurring phrase “and there was evening and there was morning” is unique to this chapter. Nowhere else in the entire Hebrew Bible do we read this couplet for the description of the passage of time.

Here comes a bit of math needed to “solve” that equation. Some people run away at the sight of a math equation. If that is you, just skip down to the results, but as the advert tells us, getting there is half the fun.



The fun part of the calculations comes when the equation is evaluated day by day and we can compare the claims of the Bible for each Genesis day with the discoveries in science for those days.

To determine the duration of each of the six 24-hour Genesis days, we evaluate the equation for each day; t (time) goes from 0 to 1 for day one, 1 to 2 for the second day, etc.



With the chronology of the days of Genesis established, it is a simple matter to compare the key events of each day as recorded in Genesis and interpreted by ancient commentaries with the discoveries of modern science. In doing so we must bear in mind that what science presents in literally tens of thousands of publications, Genesis brings in 31 sentences. Don’t expect to find every detail for each period in those few sentences. When seeking a deep meaning of the biblical text, only ancient commentators are used, commentators who read the depth of the Bible’s text centuries and even a millennium before persons knew about fossils and dinosaurs and cavemen. As such there is no bending of the ancient Bible to match the discoveries of modern science.

Day One: 13.8 billion years to 6.8 years before the present (B.P.)

Bible (Gen.1:1-5): God creates the universe and then light separates from dark.

Science: The big bang creation of the universe [Recall that until some 60 years ago, the overwhelming opinion of the scientific community was that the universe was eternal. The Bible was wrong from its first sentence! Then the evidence for the big bang creation was observed and overnight the world learned that the Bible got it right!];

Immediately following the big bang creation of the universe, as the universe expanded from its initial miniscule point at creation, the energy of the universe became increasingly more dilute in the increasing volume of space. At the lowered energy level, electrons were able to bond to atomic nuclei, and light was able to separate from the initial plasma. First stars and galaxies form approximately 13 billion years ago (Bromm, V., The First Stars, Google Books).

Second day: 6.8 to 3.3 billion years B.P.

Bible (Gen. 1:6-8): The heavenly firmament forms. Notice that the text does not sate “and it was good” on this day apparently because the processes that were started on this day had not yet reached their “intended” forms.

Science: Approximately 4.6 billion years ago, the Sun, a main sequence star, and the planets including the earth formed from the star dust of previous supernovae.

Third day: 3.3 to 1.5 billion years B.P.

Bible (Gen. 1:9-13): The oceans and dry land appear, followed by the first life, plants. This marked the start of plant life with the plants mentioned in the text developing over the following Genesis days (Nahmonides, ca 1250, commentary on Gen. 1:12).

Science: By 3.8 billion years ago, the initially molten earth had cooled sufficiently from its initial molten state to allow liquid water to form (Cloud, P., Oasis In Space; W. W. Norton). A crust of solid rock formed on the surface of the earth that gradually broke into continent-sized blocks. As these blocks of crust moved over the surface of the earth at about a centimeter a year, rock piled up at the leading edge forming mountain ranges. The Rocky Mountains on the west coast of North America and the Andes on the west coast of South America are the result of this motion. As these mountains weathered and eroded, they raised the surfaces of the continents above sea level. If this would not have happened, the entire surface of the earth today would be totally covered by approximately 2 km deep water.

Perhaps the most famous evidence for this mountain-forming phenomenon of continental drift are the fossils found in the Burgess Pass of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Approximately 10,000 years ago, toward the end of the last ice age, glaciers originating in the Artic had skimmed the top off a mountain and formed the Burgess Pass. This exposed shale filled with fossils that had been buried for over half a billion years. The fossils, now known as the Burgess Shale fossils, are fossils of aquatic animals, but the Pass is 8,000 feet above sea level! What today are the shales and rocks of the Rocky Mountains, approximately 560 million years ago were the mud and slime of a shallow tropical sea bed teaming with aquatic life. Life that became trapped in the mud and slime over millennia became the Burgess shale fossils and the slow drift of the continents moved and raised what was once a tropical sea bed to the dizzying heights of the Burgess Pass. It is these fossils and the explosion of animal life that is alluded to in the opening sentences of the fifth day (Genesis 1:20). The event and the date are a spot-on match with the Biblical account of the fifth day.

The original theory of the origin of life had in error predicted that billions of years must have passed between the appearance of liquid water on earth and the appearance of life. Discoveries of microfossils of bacteria and of the first “plant” life in the form of photosynthetic algae reveal that life on earth appeared at approximately 3.6 billion years ago, that is, much more rapidly that originally theorized (DeDuve, C., Blueprint for a Cell: The Nature and Origin of Life; Neil Paterson Publishers).

Fourth Day: 1.5 to 0.6 billion years B.P.

Bible (Gen. 1:14-19): The Sun, moon and stars become visible in the heavens (Talmud Hagigah 12a). The Hebrew now states me’or’ot which means the actual bodies that emit light are visible. Previously the text stated or’ot which means light but not the actual luminaries that give the light.

The text here describes a view looking upward from the earth’s surface since the sun and moon are described as “two great bodies.” The only location in the entire universe where both the sun and the moon each appear as a great body is from the earth. Although the diameter of the sun is 400 times greater than the moon’s diameter, the moon is 400 times closer to the earth than is the sun. Hence, they both appear as the same size.

Science: During the period of the fourth day, the Earth cooled sufficiently for the moisture in the previously cloud-covered earth to condense. As a result, the atmosphere cleared and the sun, moon, and stars became visible. Prior to this period, although the sun’s light could reach the earth, the actual body of the sun was not visible from the earth due to the heavy cloud cover. I personally have measured the photosynthetic production of oxygen on days that were so heavily overcast that although there was light penetrating the cluds, there was no indication of the glow of the sun behind the clouds.

Fifth Day: 0.6 to 0.2 billion years B.P.

Bible (Gen. 1:20-23): The first multicellular animal life flourishes abundantly in the waters, followed by large reptiles and winged animals.

Science: With no forewarning by the underlying fossil record of the large animals and their extreme abundance about to appear, the Cambrian explosion of life, 530 years ago, produced every basic animal body plan extant today as the waters swarmed with life (Levinton, J., The Big Bang of Animal Evolution; Sci. Am.; Bowring, S., et al., Calibrating rates of early Cambrian evolution; Science 261:1293; Kerr, R., Did Darwin get it all right? Science 267:1421). Winged insects appeared 340,000,000 years ago with no hint found in older fossils of their impending arrival (Marden, J., and Kramer, M., Surface skimming stone flies, a possible intermediate stage in flight evolution; Science 266:427; Kaiser, J., A new theory of insect wing origin, Science 266:363).

Sixth Day: 200 million to 5779 years before the present

Bible (Gen. 1:24-31): The land is populated by animals. Mammals and then humans appear.

Science: 250 million years ago, a massive extinction decimated life and 90% of animals disappeared from the fossil record (Erwin, D., The mother of mass extinctions, Sci. Am.). The land was then repopulated. What intrigues persons who study the fossil record is why, when the earth was re-populated and many ecological niches were opened due to the massive extinction, no basically new body types evolved. It may be that only those that preceded the extinction were suitable for the earth. Scientific American asked the question: “Has the mechanism of evolution altered in ways that prevent fundamental changes in the body plans of animals?” (Levinton, J., The big bang of animal evolution; Sci. Am.). It is not that the mechanism of evolution has changed. What has changed is that we now realize that only certain types of life fit the earth’s conditions, varied as they are (Gould, S.J., The evolution of life on Earth, Sci. Am.).

In 31 sentences the Bible describes the flow of existence from the creation of our magnificent life-supporting universe to the appearance of humanity. The scientific community’s study of the secrets of nature provides literally millions of bits of data for these same ages. The agreement between these two sources of knowledge, one ancient, one modern, is not surprising since there is one Author for both the ancient wisdom of the Bible and the secrets of nature so recently discovered by scientists.
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Post  Admin on Sun 13 Oct 2019, 9:59 am

Sukkot and Reconciliation
Oct 10, 2019  |  by StevenZvi
Forgive me like it never happened.
https://www.aish.com/h/su/tai/Sukkot-and-Reconciliation.html?s=mm
The sukkah commemorates the miracle that God gave us in the desert in the form of the Ananei Ha-Kavod (the Clouds of Glory). These miraculous clouds protected us from the surrounding enemies as well as provided us with shelter from all the negative elements associated with living in a desert.
Yet there were other miracles that God provided to us in the desert, such as the manna which fell directly from heaven or the Well of Miriam, a rock which spewed forth fresh drinking water for the Jewish nation to drink from while in the desert. So why are the Clouds of Glory the only miracle that merit its own holiday, the holiday of Sukkot? And shouldn't the holiday be during the month of Nisan, Passover time, when the Jewish people first received the miracle of the Clouds of Glory? Why is the holiday during the fall?
To fully understand the answer to this question let us pause for a minute and obtain a deeper understanding as to why we commemorate these special clouds at all. The Clouds of Glory followed and protected the Jewish people from all the negative elements of the desert starting from when the Jewish people left Egypt. Yet following the sin of the golden calf God punished the Jewish people by removing the protecting clouds. After the terrible transgression of the golden calf, Moses went up to heaven for 40 days to beg for God’s forgiveness on behalf of the Jewish people. Following his 40-day successful trip, Moses spoke to the Jewish people and relayed the three things he received from God:
The second Tablets with The 10 Commandments”
A one-word message from God: “Selachti” (“I have forgiven you”) regarding the sin of the golden calf
The return of the Clouds of Glory, marking the reconciliation between God and the Jewish people
Rabbi Eli Mansour gave a beautiful answer as to why we specifically celebrate the Clouds of Glory versus all the other miracles that happened in the desert. Rabbi Mansour explains that when Moses returned from heaven with the good news that the Jewish people were forgiven for the sin of the golden calf, the Jewish people could have been worried that the relationship would not be the same as it was before the sin.
God returned the clouds to teach important message about the concept of forgiveness. As Rabbi Mansour eloquently states, “When God forgives us for our sins, it is such a full and complete forgiveness that it is as if the sin never happened thereby enabling everything to go back exactly to the way it was.” Sukkot, therefore, celebrates the complete reconciliation between God and the Jewish people, represented with the return of the Clouds of Glory, which occurred on the 15th of Tishrei. That is why Sukkot is commemorated in the fall.
And yes, there were other miracles in the desert, but only the return of the Clouds of Glory signify the restoration of the closeness between God and the Jewish people.
There are unfortunate times in all of our life’s where we get wronged by somebody else. Be it in the home, the workplace or the community, people say or do the wrong thing to us and it’s very painful to forgive. We somehow find a way to pick up the pieces and move on yet we can never seem to go back to the way it was. Our reaction is the same: “Do you have any idea what he has done to me” or “I mean I guess I sort of forgive him, but we can never go back to being friends again.”
Sukkot reminds us to forgive our fellow man in the same way that God has forgiven the Jewish people. Let us emulate God’s example of how to deal with hurt, pain, and betrayal with one word “Selachti – I have forgiven you”. Let us not only superficially forgive our fellow man for all the wrongdoings they have caused us, but to find the emotional strength within ourselves to fully forgive to the point of as if we were never even wronged.
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Post  Admin on Thu 10 Oct 2019, 10:21 pm

Bring the Joy of Judaism into Your Home
Oct 10, 2019  |  by Dr. Yvette Alt Miller
https://www.aish.com/f/p/Bring-the-Joy-of-Judaism-into-Your-Home.html?s=mm
Bring the Joy of Judaism into Your Home
Don't just celebrate the heavy Jewish holidays. Sukkot and Simchat Torah show us a joyous side of Judaism that you'll want your family to experience.

Are we Jewish parents celebrating the wrong Jewish holidays? Most Jewish parents I know, myself included, want to give our kids an appreciation and love of our religion. We want them to have a sense of community and history. We want our kids to love being Jewish.

So many parents go to extraordinary lengths to help foster a sense of Jewishness in their families during the High Holidays. Kids stay home from school on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We join synagogues and buy tickets for the High Holidays.

But by focusing on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we’re missing out on other joyous Jewish holidays in this season and giving our kids a misleadingly stern and guilt-heavy sense of what being Jewish is all about. Kids need to experience the joy of Judaism in order to fall in love with it.

Here are four reasons why Sukko tand Simchat Torah is tailor-made for family celebrations, and ways Sukkot and Simchat Torah can help kids love to be Jewish.

Time of Our Joy
Sukkot is called Zman Simchateinu, or the “Time of Our Joy”. Sitting in a beautiful sukkah, eating outside, having holiday meals with friends and family - so many of the mitzvot of Sukkot are designed to spark a feeling of well-being and happiness.

Building a sukkah is a big undertaking and it can feel daunting to find a sukkah to eat in or a Sukkot holiday meal to be invited to. While many schools let students take off days for the High Holidays, Sukkot is less widely known and it can feel harder to find the time to celebrate.

But the energy we parents put into making sure that our kids appreciated Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur can carry us through Sukkot too. If you don’t have a sukkah handy, consider building one of your own this year. (New, ready-made pop-up sukkahs are now available on the market and can be assembled by just one person.) Call your local synagogue or Jewish Community Center and ask about community meals and celebrations. It may be a perfect time to enjoy a meal with an observant family living nearby who would relish the opportunity of hachnasat orchim, having guests. Sitting outside in a beautifully decorated sukkah, sharing food, and singing (another integral part of Sukkot meals) creates a magical feeling for kids and adults alike, that you won’t want to miss.

Multisensory Learning
Sukkot engages all of our senses, providing a multisensory learning experience.

On Sukkot, we sit in beautifully decorated sukkahs, enjoying the feel of the sun and the breeze on our faces. We smell the fragrant etrog, grasp the four species of plants that the Torah commands us to gather into a bundle and shake in six directions (symbolizing that God exists everywhere, in all directions).

Like so much in Judaism, there are always new layers to peel back and beautiful, hidden meanings to explore. The four species we shake on Sukkot are said to symbolize four different types of Jews, from the most righteous and learned to the least involved. On Sukkot we grasp them together to symbolize that all Jews are one family. Each day in the sukkah, it’s traditional to recall one ancestor from the Torah whom we symbolically invite to our meals. There are special songs and prayers on Sukkot, each helping us engage with the holiday in different ways.

Gratitude
Sukkahs recall the small huts that our ancient ancestors lived in following the Exodus from Egypt, when we wandered in the desert for 40 years. Living in these tiny huts, open to the elements, reminds us in a visceral way that we are dependent on God. During the rest of the year, when we dwell inside our heated and air-conditioned homes, it can be easy to lull ourselves into a sense of security, feeling that we’re responsible for our own well-being.

The beauty of Sukkot is that it turns this thinking on its head. For eight days (seven days inside Israel), we spend time out of doors, acutely aware of the elements. It’s a reminder that, in reality, every aspect of our lives is dependent on the Divine. In today’s world where it can be a struggle to instill a sense of gratitude in our children, Sukkot can be a timely lesson in how blessed we truly are. You don’t need to have your own dedicated sukkah to experience this feeling: try joining a holiday meal in a synagogue or Jewish community center for an al fresco experience in spending time outside, appreciating the blessing of being alive in a brand new way.

Sense of History
I teach Hebrew School and every year I ask my students what are the most important Jewish holidays. They have never correctly identified them. In addition to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and the weekly holiday of Shabbat, there are three major festivals each year: Sukkot, Passover and Shavuot.

In ancient times, Jews from all over the Land of Israel used to congregate in Jerusalem for these three festivals; they’d offer sacrifices to God and share holiday feasts. Sukkot was an especially wonderful holiday: every night of Sukkot, tens of thousands of people celebrated in the streets of Jerusalem, singing songs of praise to God, dancing and listening to music. Then, when morning broke, our ancestors would walk to a spring just outside the city and bring sweet clear water back to the Temple in Jerusalem as another offering to God, appreciating the miracle of having fresh water to drink.

It’s still customary for Jews to try and make the week of Sukkot an especially fun and joyous time, even now thousands of years later. By celebrating Sukkot today, we’re drawing a line directly from our ancestors in the time of the Torah to us today, ensuring that we and our children are part of an unbroken chain going back generations. It’s a powerful lesson to send to our kids, and helps them realize that they are the next link in this chain called the Jewish people.

Simchat Torah
Sukkot culminates in another wonderful holiday, Simchat Torah, when we complete the yearly cycle of Torah reading and immediately start the cycle anew. Simchat Torah shows us just how much fun we can have inside the synagogue. It's a time of energetic dancing and singing. Chairs are cleared away and people take turns dancing while holding the Torah scrolls. There’s a plethora of candy for kids and adults alike. Some synagogues have festive dinners on Erev Simchat Torah (the evening it begins) or lavish Kiddush spreads on the morning of the holiday.

It’s not easy to gear up for another round of Jewish holidays right after Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. For many of us, missing work and school a real challenge. But if we want our kids to really love being Jewish, Sukkot and Simchat Torah are incredible opportunities. This year consider making room for both. This year, consider making plans for Sukkot and Simchat Torah. Your kids will love it (and so will you).
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Post  Admin on Tue 08 Oct 2019, 4:49 pm

A Relatable Translation of the Viduy Confession
Sep 23, 2019  |  by Rabbi Daniel Fine
https://www.aish.com/h/hh/yom-kippur/guide/A-Relatable-Translation-of-the-Viduy-Confession.html?s=mm
A Relatable Translation of the Viduy Confession
A helpful translation and application of the first section of Viduy that will make your confession more meaningful.

The Viduy confession is the centerpiece of Yom Kippur. During viduy we stand with our posture bent and bang our chests as we list and confess our sins, regretting each one and committing not to do them again. In doing so, we are wiping away past spiritual baggage as we cleanse our sins.

The prescribed list can seem unfamiliar or remote. Below is a helpful translation and application of the first section of Viduy that will make your confession more meaningful.

Ashamnu – we have become guilty, we have destroyed our sense of spirituality

We have exposed ourselves to things that ruin our sensitivities to spiritual growth
We waste time and inward focus looking at others’ lives instead of fixing our own
We have viewed and shared material that is unbefitting
We struggle to find time for the people and things that matter most in life, yet we freely waste time on meaningless things
Bagadnu – we have betrayed, we have been disloyal

We freely ask Hashem for things we want or lack, but we do not properly thank Him for what He has given us already
We fail to notice the good in others, instead we reflect our inner frustrations on them
We do not listen to people properly – instead we impose our interpretations of what the other person means
Gazalnu – we have robbed

We rob others of a truthful impression of us, we hide our real selves
We have used our employers’ time for our own personal purposes
We make organisational decisions based on our own personal conveniences
We brush off others’ deceitful actions as funny instead of confronting them

 
Dibarnu Dofi – we have spoken slander, we have spoken behind people’s backs

We say things about people we would never say to their faces
We dismiss others too quickly, without looking at the full picture
Our children hear ‘no’ or words of negativity and criticism from us far more than they hear ‘yes’ or words of encouragement and praise
We enjoy reading or watching people making fun of or trolling others
He’evinu – we have caused perversion, we have corrupted others

We have prioritised short-term wants and current values over Divine wisdom and mitzvos
We have influenced others to cut corners
We have not discussed spiritual matters with others enough
We think and talk about ourselves far too much
We encourage others to spend time doing meaningless things
Ve’hirshanu – we have caused others to sin, we have spread wickedness

Is the world a better place because of us?
Do we try and correct others when they have made bad decisions or when they have done something wrong?
We prefer not to get involved rather than to stand up for what is right
Do we emit positive energy and optimism or negative energy and pessimism?
Zadnu – we have sinned intentionally, and then rationalised it

When was the last time we truly gave up something because of what Hashem wants of us?
Who influences our moral decisions the most?
Is our value system in sync with Hashem and His Torah? Who are our role models?
We begin projects that are exciting at first, but we do not have the commitment to complete them – then we rationalise and justify abandoning them
We have shied away from making difficult and courageous moral decisions by claiming that there are grey areas
Chamasnu – we have extorted, we have taken advantage of those weaker than us

We are content with seeing people as ‘lower’ than ourselves
We have used other people for our projects or favours without properly appreciating them or paying them back
We make more of an effort with certain people because of their social status
We point out to others what we feel they are incapable of achieving, without building them up to achieve in areas in which they can excel
Tafalnu Sheker – we have attached ourselves to falsehood

We have exaggerated, misrepresented or lied about events
We have believed others’ distorted views of the world
We have accepted rumours or gossip too quickly, and passed them on to others
We have judged people too quickly without trying to understand them
Ya’atznu Ra – we have abused trust, we have offered bad advice

We have been too quick to give advice without thinking it through properly
We aren’t understanding enough to prompt others to confide in us
We do not offer impartial advice, especially when we have a conflict of interest
We have put others in a position where they cannot say ‘no’ to our requests
Kizavnu – we have been deceitful

We have promised things just to appease others
We have inflated things that are not of worth in life
We have used words that are misleading
We have followed the crowd, irrespective of whether what they are doing is right for us
We have been selectively lazy, we have been too tired when it suits us to be so
Latznu – we have scorned and made light of serious things in life

We have made fun of meaningful things in order to shy away from them
We have thoughtlessly put others down
We have tolerated a society in which trampling over others is the way to get ahead
We have not always been proud of our Judaism, we can be willing to hide it
Maradnu – we have rebelled and defied Hashem

We know what Hashem expects of us, but we have not made a road map of how to get there
We have viewed mitzvos as cultural feel-good activities, instead of Divine commands to get close to Hashem
We have been flippant with our relationship with Hashem
Ni’atznu – we have angered God by disregarding His mitzvos

We have devoted lots of time to our bodies, but not enough for our souls
We have not taken up opportunities to study Torah when they present themselves
We have not shown enough reverence and respect to mitzvos
Sararnu – we have turned away, we have ignored our responsibilities

We have tried to wriggle out of responsibilities in life
We have recoiled from accepting positions of responsibility
We do not take the time to develop a considered view on things – we are quick to judge and decide
We have been cliquey and kept to our own social circle instead of branching out and reaching out to others
Avinu – we have been perverse

We have done things that do not reflect our potentials
We have looked at and discussed lowly, undignified things
We assume that our way of thinking is right
We do not disassociate ourselves with people who post, discuss or share vulgar things
Pashanu – we have acted wantonly, we have denied the validity of mitzvos

We have cherry-picked bits of Judaism, we have half-observed the part of Judaism that we fancy
We have developed conflicted priorities in life
We do not think long enough about our values
Tzararnu – we have caused suffering

We have cause others pain and then distanced ourselves
We have seen others in pain but have walked past them
We don’t feel each other’s pain enough, preferring to focus on our own lives
We have not spent enough time pondering the repercussions and knock-on effects on others of decisions we make
Kishinu Oref – we have been stubborn, we have refused to see Hashem’s hand

We blame Hashem if things go wrong, but don’t praise Him when things go right
We have seen daily life as a series of coincidences instead of seeing God’s hand
We speak about people’s achievements in history without speaking about Hashem’s involvement and control
We remain in our comfort zone, deflecting attempts to grow beyond
Rashanu – we have been wicked

We do not see ourselves as having a mission to spread goodness in the world
Sometimes we do not see the world as having objective Divine morals – we see them as matters of choice and convenience
We have flaunted our sins and publicised them
We have brushed off our mistakes instead of learning from them
Shichasnu – we have corrupted our characters

We have been arrogant at times
We have let our idealism slip away
We have not self-analysed
Ti’avnu – we have been abominable

We have lost our self-image too quickly
We have got angry when things did not go our way
We have not realised what impacts our characters
Ta’inu – we have strayed, we have drifted further from Hashem

We lost sight of our goals and we do not accept when we are criticised
We limit religion to particular days and places
We do not share our religion with others enough
Titanu – You have let us stray

We do not call out to Hashem for spiritual help
We don’t feel bad that we have used freewill to distance ourselves from Hashem
We do not feel lacking when we ignore our relationship with Hashem



https://www.aish.com/f/mom/Unholy-Thoughts-on-Yom-Kippur.html?s=mm
Unholy Thoughts on Yom Kippur
Oct 2, 2019  |  by Emuna BravermanUnholy Thoughts on Yom Kippur
How do I let my soul soar while my body is desperately trying to ground me?

On Yom Kippur we're supposed to be like angels, free of all bodily desires. In order to effect this transformation, we abstain from physical intimacy, food and drink and leather shoes, a sign of luxury. On this day we have cast off the shackles of our earthly drives, we are no longer restrained by the finite, by the cares of daily living, by the obstacles that block our ability to connect with the Almighty. On this day, we are souls preparing to soar and touch the Infinite.

Well, at least in theory. It sounds inspiring but it’s oh-so difficult to achieve. I personally find that refraining from food and drink doesn’t lessen my desire for them, doesn’t allow me to focus solely on my spiritual existence. The opposite seems true. The more I can’t have them, the more I want them. (Hence my desire for toast on Passover even though I never eat toast!) I might skip a meal on a regular day, but on Yom Kippur it can come to dominate my thoughts, thoughts that are supposed to be engaged in holy pursuits.

I am perfectly content to wear my Toms-style shoes every day – the cotton ones without the leather insoles – but somehow on Yom Kippur they just won’t do. I’m drawn to those beautiful new leather ones, experiencing that negative inclination that I thought I wasn’t supposed to have on Yom Kippur!

What’s wrong with me? Sometimes I feel like I am less holy on this holiest of days than on other days, more obsessed with my body and its drives than at other times. How does a person who truly wants to soar deal with a body that is trying equally desperately to ground her?

For just one day, can I put aside all my material longings and concentrate all my thoughts on my spiritual ones?
I think the answer lies in how much I really want it. Can I, for just this one day, put aside all my material longings and concentrate all my thoughts on my spiritual ones? Can I ignore that loud voice of my body and focus on the quieter one of my soul? I can, if I truly want to.

When I went to camp (back in the day), we used to sing an old Yiddish folk song called “Dona, Dona”. You know “On a wagon bound for market…” Sing along! Anyway, it’s actually a metaphor for the struggle between the body and the soul (now you’re tempted to look up the words). And the final verse is the telling one: “But whoever treasures freedom, like the swallow has learned to fly.”

If I really treasure it, if I really want it, If I really commit to it and put my all into it, then I can have a truly spiritual Yom Kippur. But if I treat it casually, if I don’t make the appropriate investment, if I lack concentration or serious motive, then I will miss the opportunity. I will experience the pain of a body denied instead of the joy of a soul sated.

It’s a challenge. The Talmud teaches that the type of death we have is dependent on how attached we are to the physical world. If we are very attached, then leaving is very painful. If we are less attached (more soul than body) then leaving is a gentler experience. I think the same may be true of Yom Kippur. The more important the satisfaction of the body desires is to us, the more difficult it is to sacrifice them, to ignore them, even for a day. And, conversely, if we are more focused on feeding our soul, the easier and more joyful will be our experience of Yom Kippur.

This means we can’t start Erev Yom Kippur. We need to begin ahead of time – perhaps as soon as the holiday ends this year, we should prepare for the next. But the truth is we ‘re not really preparing for the Day of Atonement. We’re preparing for life itself. And seeking to distance ourselves from the material world, even just a little, is a good place to begin. It’s like those of us who experience caffeine withdrawal symptoms. If we want to be headache-free on Yom Kippur, we can’t just not drink coffee the day before. We need to begin a whole process of weaning ourselves. We need to do it slowly and gradually. It will be significantly less painful that way and we should ideally have a more successful fast. We can apply this principle to the holiday in general.

So, I’m going to begin now (better late than never) to wean myself, ever so slightly, from my involvement in the physical world, so the experience on Yom Kippur will be less jarring and more productive, less painful and more spiritual. I may not quite make it to angel status but hopefully I’ll get a lot closer than in the past.

I’m going to start now. Just as soon as I buy those new leather shoes I saw on sale and have one more snack…
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https://www.aish.com/jw/s/Shocking-Anti-Semitism-in-Public-Schools.html?s=mm
 
Shocking Anti-Semitism in Public Schools
Oct 6, 2019  |  by Dr. Yvette Alt Miller
105
SHARES
Shocking Anti-Semitism in Public Schools
Anti-Jewish bullying in Australia draws attention to anti-Semitism in public schools around the globe.

“Jewish cockroach!” “Jewish vermin!” These hate-filled taunts were directed at a five-year-old Jewish boy in Melbourne, Australia, who’d just started kindergarten in his local public school.

Each time the little boy went to the bathroom, he found himself confronted with a group of hostile children who taunted him for being Jewish and screamed insults at him. The boy began wetting himself at school and home, and didn’t want to go to school. Finally, one recent morning, he spilled his breakfast cereal, then broke down completely.

“He literally fell down on the floor,” his distraught mother told an Australian Jewish newspaper recently. The boy cried, “Mummy, you shouldn’t love me. I’m a worthless, Jewish rodent. I’m vermin.” Horrified, his mother comforted him, then called the school to let them know the horrible abuse her son was receiving.

Incredibly, instead of taking her complaint seriously, the school was “dismissive” and ignored the anti-Semitic elements of the bullying. Instead of addressing the anti-Jewish hatred in their school, school authorities suggested the boy use a different bathroom instead. Within a day, the anti-Semitic bullying repeated itself. The five year old has been diagnosed with acute anxiety and is now being home schooled.

At the same time, another shocking case of anti-Jewish bullying in a Melbourne public is finally coming to light. A 12-year-old student at Cheltenham Secondary College was lured to a sports field to play games - then confronted by a group of nine other boys, ages twelve and thirteen. The students ordered the Jewish boy to bow down and kiss the feet of a Muslim student or else be beaten up (see above photo).


 
The Jewish boy did bow and kiss his classmate’s feet. The humiliating encounter was filmed and shared widely on social media for months. In that time, the boy endured months of misery, with students routinely calling him “Jewish ape” and worse offensive slurs. He was physically attacked, punched in the face, and required a hospital visit. He’s been diagnosed with acute anxiety. When his mother complained to the school, school authorities were also dismissive, saying at first that since the original attack didn’t happen on school grounds, there’s little they can do.

Australian authorities have expressed “concern” in recent days, but some Jewish parents in Melbourne are feeling abandoned. “Essentially, everyone’s solution to this problem is to send your child to a Jewish day school,” the mother of the bullied five year old told reporters. “Do we live in a society where we really have to do that in order to be safe?”

Increasingly, the answer seems to be yes: not only in Melbourne, but in cities and countries around the world, where attending local public schools is no longer safe for Jewish students. Rising numbers of parents are pulling their children out of schools, as rates of enrollment in Jewish schools in many areas soar.

In France, the first official warning that rampant anti-Semitism in public schools was driving Jewish students away came in an official government report in 2004. Teachers and inspectors warned that Muslim students were beating and harassing Jewish students. Instead of tackling the violence and intimidation head on, many French public schools were ducking the issue, the report warned, letting a hostile atmosphere of anti-Jewish hatred grow.

“In the Paris region, there are virtually no more Jewish students attending public schools,” noted Francis Kalifat, a French Jewish communal leader, recently explaining that “a bad atmosphere of harassment, insults and assaults” against Jewish pupils was to blame.

“There are hardly any Jewish children left in state schools. The teachers can’t stick up for them,” Haim Musicant, vice president of B’nai B’rith in France recently confirmed. Across France, Jewish students are increasingly choosing Jewish schools. So great is demand that some Jewish families aren’t able to secure places in local Jewish schools for their kids. Many families - accounting for a whopping 5,000 Jewish students in Paris alone - have been turning to another option, sending their children to Catholic schools, where they say there is less anti-Jewish bullying from Arab and Muslim students.

In neighboring Belgium, public schools are now virtually “Jew free” after a series of high-profile attacks on Jewish students. In 2016, one Belgian Jewish schoolboy was injured after a crowd of fellow students surrounded him, spraying him with spray cans in what they said was an attempt to “gas” him like Jews in the Holocaust. When the student’s mother complained, she said the teacher in charge “downplayed” the incident.

Anti-Semitic graffiti carved into a green at the Woollahra Golf Club.

That same year, another high profile case of a Jewish student identified only as “Samuel” in the Belgian press brought national attention to anti-Semitic violence in an affluent public school in the wealthy Brussels neighborhood of Uccle. Samuel’s mother explained that she’d enrolled him in public school because she wanted him to meet people from diverse backgrounds. When word got out that Samuel was a Jew, students turned on him. He was beaten up and called epithets, often by Muslim students. School officials did little and Samuel’s mother eventually sent him to a Jewish school to escape the bullying.

In 2017, Germany had an anguished national dialogue about anti-Semitic bullying in schools after one Berlin family went public with their son's experiences in his local public school. On the boy’s fourth day of school, in a class on ethics, the teacher asked students to share which houses of worship they’d visited. When the student raised his hand and said he’d been in a synagogue, a strange silence settled on the class he explained he was Jewish. “Everyone was shocked, especially the teachers,” the student later recalled. Afterwards, one teacher told him he’d been “very brave” to admit being Jewish.

Following that, the student endured intense bullying. His grandfather was a Holocaust survivor and he visited the school to share his experiences, hoping that would stop the abuse directed at his grandson. If anything, the anti-Jewish bullying got worse. Finally, the parents, Gemma and Wenzel Michalski, took their story to the press, revealing the hostile situation for Jews in their son’s school. In the weeks that followed, dozens of other instances of anti-Jewish hatred and attacks in German public schools came out. One typical attack involved a Jewish ninth grader in Berlin repeatedly taunted, “Off to Auschwitz in a freight train” by his classmates.

“We have individuals who are thoroughly anti-Semitic… and simply lack the knowledge (about Jews) - and everything in between,” explained Saraya Gomis, Berlin’s official in charge of addressing discrimination in schools. School responses to anti-Semitic bullying of students have been spotty, with some Jewish students left to face anti-Jewish hatred with little support from teachers and school officials. This horrific pattern of tolerating anti-Semitic abuse has been repeated in countless schools around the world.



The hatred directed against Jewish students in many areas is sparking an upsurge in Jewish life, as families choose Jewish schools to avoid hatred and harassment in local public schools.

In Britain, about 70% of Jewish students aged 4-18 now attend Jewish schools; that number is rising rapidly, and increased 12% in the past year alone.

French law prohibits gathering statistics about religious choices, but anecdotal evidence suggests a surge in Jewish families choosing Jewish schools. Elodie Mariano, the co-founder of the nonprofit group Choisir L’Ecole Juive says her organization has helped over 400 French families shift their children from public schools to Jewish schools in France in recent years. “Often these families are not particularly religious,” she explains.

In Australia, observers note that more and more Jewish families are looking at Jewish schools. There is mounting evidence that families are forced to take their children out of public schools and to enroll them in Jewish day schools due to a growing sense of insecurity and fear that their kids will be harmed simply because of who they are,” explained Dvir Abramovich, chairman of Australia’s Anti-Defamation Commission.

This upsurge in Jewish education and identity is perhaps the most fitting answer to anti-Semites. For many Jewish families, the choice to give their children a Jewish education is a resounding victory over the anti-Semites whose hatred is turning too many schools into no-go zones for Jews.
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Post  Admin on Wed 02 Oct 2019, 10:27 pm

How to Get the Most Out of Yom Kippur
Sep 24, 2019  |  by Slovie Jungreis-Wolff
https://www.aish.com/h/hh/gar/atonement/How-to-Get-the-Most-Out-of-Yom-Kippur-.html?s=mm
How to Get the Most Out of Yom Kippur 
The three Rs of repentance.

The High Holy Day period are gifted to us to take stock of our lives. We are granted time so that when our verdict is sealed on Yom Kippur, our prayers can be accepted. We remember our essence and rediscover what lies within.

This opportunity of teshuva, repentance, is a miracle. Think about it. The other day my dry cleaners returned a white blouse with a note attached. “We are sorry but as hard as we tried, we could not remove these stains. They are permanent.” Yet in the world of teshuva we rise above nature where no stain is permanent. No matter how far we’ve fallen, we can always come back and undo the damage.

How can we make the most of these days?

THE THREE RS OF REPENTANCE
1. Regret
The first step to change is feeling the need to make a transformation. This comes about through remorse. Feeling badly for the lapses, the pain we have caused others, and the times we could’ve done better. Truly looking at ourselves in a spiritual mirror and saying, "Enough! I don’t want to do this anymore."

What prevents us from feeling true regret?


We rationalize. We excuse our behavior by finding valid reasons for our actions.

“I know I shouldn’t have said that but my husband/wife/mother in law/boss/kids….”

“I really shouldn’t be doing this but everyone does it.”

You are the captain of your ship. Your actions and reactions are up to you. You define your destiny.
We blame others for our shortcomings. We cast the responsibility on everyone but ourselves. It's easier to think that others are at fault than confronting reality.

It's also easy to get stuck in the past and fall into dysfunctional patterns.

In order to move forward we need to realize: You are the captain of your ship. Your actions and reactions are up to you. You define your destiny.

We are all created with a Divine spark of holiness and capable of greatness. It doesn't matter who you are, your level of Jewish education, who you were born to. All that counts is that you get in touch once again with your inner light.

It is not about giving huge donations or saving a village. You can make a spouse feel loved through expressing gratitude. You can make a difference in a child’s life with patience instead of blowing up. You can prevent harm by holding back from sending an embarrassing text or WhatsApp. You can touch another person with an encouraging word.

Regret the times you’ve caused hurt. Determine to become the person you were meant to be instead of stagnating. Reconnect to your infinite light.

2. Recite
These 10 days of teshuva provide us with prayers that can propel us toward our goal. Said with a full heart, these prayers open up the gates of forgiveness, repentance and atonement. We recite the prayer of Avinu Malkeinu – Our Father, Our King, each day. We ask God for the gift of life. Not because we want to spend our days in trivial pursuits but we know that we can live a life filled with purpose. We recognize that we’ve messed up and ask for compassion.

On Yom Kippur, we recite the Vidduy Confession, going through in alphabetical order the various mistakes we’ve made throughout the year.

To be most effective it’s a good idea to take time and contemplate the words before we say them. Think about your relationship with God as well as your relationship with the people in your lives. The confession steers us towards pondering our thoughts, deeds and words. (Click here a contemporary translation of Viduy.)

We are asked to use our gift of speech to confront ourselves. Words create a reality. Beyond thoughts, we are uttering the truth and facing the stark actuality of what we have done.

3. Resolve
Real repentance is only complete with resolution for the future. It is not enough to regret our wrongs and then recite prayers and confession for our failings. What we must do now is think about how to actually become new beings by not repeating the mistakes of the past. If we are judgmental, how can we learn to give people the benefit of the doubt? Realizing that we have neglected our Judaism and cast aside mitzvot, how can we reconnect? Which character trait do we wish to work on? How can we set up a steady time, even if it’s for a few minutes a day, to study Torah?

It is not the big things that God is seeking from us. Every single little action makes an impact. Think of a doable plan and commit to implementing it.

Taking the step towards thinking about a strategy for transformation shows that we are serious. We want to make a change. Thinking about the future is the glue that keeps our teshuva together.

Let us be brave during this time period. If we can decide how we will conquer one character trait, grow in one mitzvah, reach out to one person with whom we do not have peace, then we have experienced the triumph of these days.

About the Author

Slovie Jungreis-WolffMore by this Author >

Slovie Jungreis Wolff is a noted teacher, author, relationships and parenting lecturer. She is the leader of Hineni Couples and daughter of Rebbetzen Esther Jungreis. Slovie is the author of the parenting handbook, Raising A Child With Soul. She gives weekly classes and has lectured throughout the U.S.,Canada, Mexico, Panama, and South Africa. You can reach slovie at sloviehineni@gmail.com
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Post  Admin on Sun 29 Sep 2019, 8:42 pm

The Meaning of Rosh Hashanah: An In-Depth Analysis
Sep 25, 2016  |  by Rabbi Asher Resnick
https://www.aish.com/h/hh/rh/new_year/The-Meaning-of-Rosh-Hashanah-An-In-Depth-Analysis.html?s=mm
The Meaning of Rosh Hashanah: An In-Depth Analysis
Exploring the philosophical underpinnings of this misunderstood holiday.

Before discussing the specific aspects of any particular holiday, it is important to understand the uniquely Jewish perspective of time as well as holidays in general. The world at large views time essentially as a straight line. The present moment is a unique point along this line that never existed before and will never exist again. The past is completely finished and the future is yet to occur.

The Jewish model of time is a spiral. While time is certainly moving forward, it progresses ahead specifically through a seasonal cycle. Each year we pass through the same seasonal coordinates that are imbued with whatever spiritual potentials were initially established within them.

This is the significance of the Jewish holidays. They serve as signposts on the spiral of time to teach us which specific quality has been embedded into that particular season. When the Jewish people left Egypt at Passover time, for example, it showed us that both physical and spiritual freedom are incorporated within the fabric of every springtime. Whenever our cyclical journey through time encounters a holiday, therefore, we directly re-experience the quality of that time. In addition, whatever it is that originally occurred at that time actually occurs again every single year. Thus, every holiday is a metaphysical window of opportunity.

So, the key question regarding every holiday is – What is the particular opportunity that it presents us with? There are three clues which help us to uncover the meaning of each holiday.

First, what was the actual historical event that occurred the first time that this day was significant? And what was its metaphysical impact upon the Jewish people and the world? This is the most obvious question to ask. As we explained, it is specifically this metaphysical impact that recurs every subsequent year at the same time. This is what the holiday actually consists of.


 
Second, what are the various mitzvot, Rabbinical guidelines, and customs of the holiday?

If the Torah or the Rabbis tell us to do certain activities or to refrain from others during the holiday, clearly these do's and don'ts are designed to help us access its opportunity. Even the customs, developed from the subconscious of the Jewish people over the centuries, are rooted in an awareness of the unique potential of these days. The more one understands the particular tools that are appropriate for each holiday, the more one will understand the opportunities themselves that these tools are designed to access.

And, finally, what is the name of the holiday?

Judaism views Hebrew names as having tremendous significance. Far from merely serving as convenient labels, Hebrew names both identify and express the underlying essence of whatever it is that they are describing.

With these three clues to guide us, we can now begin to unravel the various layers of meaning and significance within each of the Jewish holidays.

Rosh Hashanah
Let's begin by thinking about some curious aspects of the High Holidays. We'll discuss three different questions and then try to resolve them with the help of our three clues.

What is Rosh Hashanah all about? In addition to its meaning as the “head of the year”, we also refer to it as the "Day of Judgment". Every single person in the world is judged individually on Rosh Hashanah.

In fact, the Talmud tells us that three different books are opened on Rosh Hashanah: The Book of Life – for those judged to be completely righteous, the Book of Death – for those judged to be completely wicked, and the Middle Book for all who are judged to be in between.

If Rosh Hashanah is really the day when every single person is evaluated for life or death, how would we expect people to act on that day? Wouldn't we expect people to spend the day fixing up past mistakes, pleading their personal cases, and praying for God to give them all good judgments?

What, in fact, did the Rabbis tell us to do on Rosh Hashanah? Curiously, there is virtually no mention of our own personal judgment in the Rosh Hashanah prayers. Instead, the prayers are all about the general condition of the world. We pray that the world will recognize God is its exclusive King, that He is aware of everything that occurs, and that the shofar of Mt. Sinai will demonstrate God's love and concern for all of mankind. These are certainly beautiful and meaningful prayers. The difficulty is why we would focus exclusively on the overall world situation just at the time when our lives are on the line? This is our first difficulty.

Now let's think about Yom Kippur. Why is it such a significant day? It is the "day of kapara" – the time of spiritual cleansing. It is the day that we are able to fix up the damage caused by our various past mistakes. That being so, wouldn't it be much more logical for Yom Kippur to come first, i.e., for the "day of cleansing" to precede the "day of judgment"? This is our second difficulty.

The third question arises from a discussion in the Talmud tractate Rosh Hashanah on the nature of the judgment of Rosh Hashanah. The Torah reading for the first day of Rosh Hashanah presents the story of Yishmael (the father of the Arab nation) pleading for his life (on Rosh Hashanah). The verse tells us that "God heard the voice of the lad where he was." The Talmud explains that the words "where he was" do not refer to Yishmael’s physical location. That would be completely superfluous. Where else would God be answering him other than the specific place he was in? Rather, the verse is speaking in terms of time. Based on this, Rebbe Yitzchak (in the Talmud) said, “A person is not judged (on Rosh Hashanah) except according to his actions of that exact moment."

The commentaries explain that Yishmael was saved at that time even though his descendants were destined to hurt the Jewish people throughout later history. In other words, the negative future deeds of his descendants did not change his judgment at that time.

There is a different source quoted by the Jerusalem Talmud, however, which seems to go much further than this. It tells us that even if an individual was not pure and straight in the past, as long as he is pure and straight in the present, on Rosh Hashanah itself, then he will have a positive judgment.

These two different sources together (i.e., the positive judgment of Yishmael on Rosh Hashanah despite his descendants hurting the Jewish people later in history, and ignoring the fact that the person being judged was not pure and straight in the past) teach us a remarkable fact. It sounds like the judgment of Rosh Hashanah does not have to do with either the past or the future, but rather exclusively with one's situation on the day of Rosh Hashanah. This would seem to be telling us that even if the one being judged was evil during the entire previous year, as long as he was righteous on Rosh Hashanah, he would be judged as a righteous person. This, of course, runs counter to any notion of logic and fairness in the nature of judgment. This is our third difficulty.

To summarize, the three questions are:

Since we are all being judged for life and death on Rosh Hashanah, why don't we do teshuva or plead our personal case?
Why doesn't Yom Kippur – the "day of cleansing" – precede Rosh Hashanah – the "day of judgment"?
How can the judgment of Rosh Hashanah be exclusively a function of the day of Rosh Hashanah itself, irrelevant of the future and even of the past?
We mentioned previously that every holiday has three clues that help us to unlock its hidden meaning. Let's begin with the first one, its historical significance, to try to resolve these various difficulties.

What is it that actually occurred on the very first Rosh Hashanah? Although in the davening (prayers) of Rosh Hashanah it is referred to as “yom harat olam” (the birthday of the world), it was not actually the day of creation of the world, but rather the creation of mankind. The first Rosh Hashanah was day number six of creation, and the day upon which the first man, Adam, was created.

The Birthday of Free Will
Let's ask what may seem like an odd question – What is the great significance of the creation of mankind? Prior to day six, the Torah tells us that God had already created the entire physical world as well as a vast number of different forms of life. What, then, did mankind bring to the world that had not previously existed?

When the Torah describes the creation of mankind, it tells us that man was created "b'tzelem Elokim" (in God's image). One of the most central meanings of this fundamental concept is that human beings have the ability to exercise free will in relation to moral decisions.

To properly understand this, we need to appreciate the Jewish view of a human being. Every person has a body and a soul. The body desires physicality, the soul wants spirituality; the body is interested in short-term gratification, the soul in eternity. What is it that decides which side will prevail?

Judaism understands that there is a third component in the system – free will. Free will is what arbitrates this existential tug-of-war between the body and the soul. It is specifically the creation of free will, which epitomizes our very humanity, that we celebrate and relive every Rosh Hashanah. As Rav Berkowitz, a teacher of mine, once expressed it – Rosh Hashanah is the birthday of free will.

Free will Exists Only in the Present
It is significant that of these three different components within every human being – the body, the soul, and the free will – it is specifically the free will which exists exclusively in the present moment. For example, a person could live his life by a particular set of moral guidelines for many years and then, in an instant, decide to completely shift course. The state of one's free will is, by definition, whatever he chooses at that particular moment.

In contrast to free will, which exists only in the present, the state of both the body and the soul are almost entirely a function of the past. A person's physical health at any given time, for example, is mostly determined by their past diet and exercise even if they happen to deviate from that at the present. Similarly for the soul, it is generally the cumulative past behavior that determines one's spiritual health, not occasional changes afterwards.

Focus of Rosh Hashanah
Now if we put this point – that free will exists exclusively in the present, together with the cryptic statement in the Talmud that: "A person is not judged (on Rosh Hashanah) except according to his actions of that exact moment," we come to a remarkable insight – the judgment of Rosh Hashanah is specifically on the state of our free will. Let's try to understand what that means.

We generally assume that the focus of Rosh Hashanah is on the state of our soul – i.e., the spiritual repository of our actions of the previous year, not on what our free will is choosing at that particular time. This would explain why it seems so obvious that the judgment of Rosh Hashanah would be a cumulative evaluation based on our actions of the previous year.

The spiritual health of one's soul as a result of one's past behavior is obviously of critical importance, it just happens not to be the focus of Rosh Hashanah.

Everything that we have ever done, both positively and negatively, has affected our souls. And if this is left as is, these various impacts will be with us forever, in both this world and the next. Fortunately Judaism says that there is a way to minimize or even to eliminate the negative impact of our past mistakes on our eternity. This mechanism is "teshuva" (return) and the result is called "kaparah" (a spiritual cleansing). This goal of kaparah is so important that we have a holiday devoted exclusively to its attainment – Yom Kippur (the "day of kaparah"). It is on Yom Kippur that we try to address our actions of the previous year and fix up all of our mistakes.

Since it is specifically Yom Kippur that addresses our behavior and situation of the previous year, what, then, is the purpose of Rosh Hashanah? We mentioned earlier that one of the clues to uncovering the essence of a holiday is to examine its name. The way that Rosh Hashanah is often understood, it would seem more appropriate for it to have been called "Sof Hashanah" (the "end of the year"), and for it to have been placed at the end of the previous year. However, it is actually called Rosh Hashanah (the "head of the year"), and, of course, it is situated at the very beginning of the brand new year. Besides reinforcing that the focus of Rosh Hashanah is not on our actions of the previous year, what else does the name teach us?

Potential in the Present for the Future
The essence of Rosh Hashanah is specifically this point – that it is the very beginning of the new year. Just as God originally created mankind as a completely blank slate on the very first Rosh Hashanah, similarly He creates every one of us anew with a similarly blank slate at the beginning of each new year. Rosh Hashanah is our once-a-year opportunity to establish a fresh new direction and reality in our lives. Don't get stuck in the past. Ask yourself: "If I was born this very instant, without the constraints of my various past habits and patterns, what would I do? How would I ideally want to live this brand-new year?"

This is what it means that the judgment of Rosh Hashanah is a judgment on our free will, or in other words, on the choices and values that we express on the day of Rosh Hashanah itself. Since the new year is a completely blank slate for every one of us, God presents all of us with the opportunity to set up whatever values and parameters we would like to govern our brand new year. And then God gives us the type of a year that we ourselves actually chose. In other words, God gives us for this coming year as much as we want to do, not as much as we have done.

The fear and trepidation that is commonly felt on Rosh Hashanah isn't only a fear that God will be tough on us, but also because the opportunity of the day is so enormous. Imagine winning a contest which allows you to have five minutes inside of a department store where you can keep whatever you carry outside. The fear you would be likely to feel just before those five minutes begin is that you will not get all that you can out of this enormous opportunity.

Let's now return to our three original questions. Our first question was – "Why shouldn't we be spending the day fixing up past mistakes in order to receive the best possible judgment?" That was clearly based on our assumption that the judgment of Rosh Hashanah was a judgment on our actions of the previous year.

The key to understanding this actually comes from the third question – the puzzling statement in the Talmud that the judgment of Rosh Hashanah is exclusively on the day of Rosh Hashanah itself. This told us that the judgment of Rosh Hashanah is not on the state of our souls, but rather on our free will choices. Once we understand that the judgment of Rosh Hashanah is basically an assessment of what we ourselves want for our coming year, it is obvious that our past behavior is not the point here. The relevant issue is whether we will appreciate what is truly valuable and make the proper choices for the coming year. This also explains why our prayers on Rosh Hashanah are that the entire world will come to a deep appreciation of God's existence, awareness and supervision. By making these the prayers of Rosh Hashanah, the Rabbis are teaching us the following critical lesson: Recognizing the needs of others, seeing ourselves as responsible for others, and understanding that the greatest need any of us have is to appreciate reality more deeply – are the most important values to base our upcoming year on.

Change for the Future Must Precede Fixing Up Past Damage
This leaves us with just the second question – Why Yom Kippur, the day of cleansing, didn't precede Rosh Hashanah, the day of judgment. On a simple level, this question was also based on the mistaken assumption that the judgment of Rosh Hashanah is a judgment on our actions of the previous year. It, therefore, seemed logical that God should allow us the chance to cleanse ourselves from our previous mistakes before He would actually judge us on them. However, even now that we recognize the judgment of Rosh Hashanah to be on the choices we will make on this first day of the upcoming year, the logic of Rosh Hashanah preceding Yom Kippur still needs to be understood.

Everyone is capable of choosing a new path in life, independent of their situation up until that point, anytime they really want to. This could be done anytime throughout the year, and all the more so on Rosh Hashanah. How likely is this, however, to occur? We are all carrying around a lifetime full of past habits and patterns. In light of this, how many people will be strong enough to simply make a decision to carve out a brand new direction in their lives? It would seem, therefore, that it would still make more sense for the purification of Yom Kippur to come first, and thereby help our choices on Rosh Hashanah for the coming year to be less impeded by all of our past mistakes.

Let's use an analogy to point out the mistake in this way of thinking. Imagine that you know someone who is an alcoholic or a drug addict. This addiction has damaged every aspect of his life – his family, his job situation, his friendships, etc. One day he comes to you and tells you that he has decided to fix up all of the damage he has caused. He has compiled a comprehensive list of all the mistakes he has made during the past number of years. And he is planning to go to every person that he hurt with these mistakes and ask for their forgiveness. As admirable as this certainly is, there is one obvious circumstance in which you would be likely to strongly discourage him – if he has not yet begun to work on the alcoholism or the drug addiction itself. You would tell him to direct his energy first and foremost to his personal life situation and direction. Not only because it is so much more fundamental, but also because if he doesn't address this first, it is likely that he will end up hurting many of these same people again in the future. As important as it is that he go to all of the people he has hurt and ask them for their forgiveness, it only makes sense for him to do this once he has straightened his life out first.

Let's try a second analogy to make this even clearer. Imagine a person whose car is full of dents and scratches because he has been such a poor driver. He goes to a body shop to get all of the dents and scrapes fixed up. The man in the body shop, however, tells him not to bother because this would likely end up being a waste of money. He recommends that this lousy driver first work on becoming a better driver. To merely fix up the damage to his car without first changing his poor driving habits would be pointless; it is inevitable that he will end up damaging his car all over again. Only once he has improved his driving, will it make sense for him to get his car fixed up.

Every human being makes mistakes. At least once a year we all need to take stock of ourselves and work on improving. Our spiritual improvement must occur in two different parts of ourselves – our free will and our soul. We need to examine our free will, meaning our values as well as how those values translate into a vision and direction for the future. In addition, we must assess the damage which our previous values and direction have caused to our souls as well as to others around us. Both tasks are critical. Working on our values and choices will determine the quality of our upcoming year, while working on the damage from our mistakes of the past will determine the nature of our soul. By the Torah placing Rosh Hashanah before Yom Kippur, it is telling us very clearly that the first step must be to work on our values and our vision. Only then can we be sure that the work we do to fix up the damage from our past mistakes will end up lasting.

New Direction
It is interesting that people usually assume that the effort required to fix up their soul (i.e., repairing the damage from their mistakes of the previous year) will be much more time consuming than what will be necessary to work on their free will (i.e., improving their values and direction for the coming year). After all, to repair their soul will require first identifying and then rectifying every single mistake they have made during the past year. In contrast to this, we might imagine that improving our free will merely requires some basic introspection and making a few different resolutions for the new year.

Judaism, however, tells us that the reality is exactly the opposite. We have an entire month of Elul to prepare ourselves for Rosh Hashanah, and only one week after Rosh Hashanah to get ourselves ready for Yom Kippur. Think back to the two previous analogies. Isn't it obvious that the work involved in breaking an addiction is enormously greater than rectifying the damage that resulted from that addiction? And, similarly, with changing how one drives versus having the dents taken out of one's car? Changing our values and our vision involves changing who we are. Fixing up past mistakes, on the other hand, is basically a mechanical process. It is critically important, but it is mechanical nonetheless. Additionally, the more that we are able to make ourselves into brand new people for the upcoming year, the easier it will be to rectify our past mistakes through this process.

One of the biggest mistakes we all make is to allow our past to govern and determine our future. The defining quality of our free will, which is really what defines us as human beings, is that it is free and unencumbered. And it is the past, perhaps more than anything else, which is specifically what it is free of. While, as this expression itself spells out (and as Judaism would certainly agree), this is an obviously relevant consciousness for one to have the entire year, Rosh Hashanah is the time which is most ideal for its implementation. At least once a year, at its very beginning, we must take the time to think, not about what we have already done, but rather what we want to do; not about where we have already been but, instead, where we really want to go with our lives. This should give us the ability not only to fix up the damage from our past mistakes, but also to allow us to live an upcoming year which is truly new, not only in name but in reality.

For more in-depth essays, visit Rabbi Resnick’s site at JewishClarity.com
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Post  Admin on Thu 26 Sep 2019, 8:44 pm

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What Rosh Hashanah Says to Us
Sep 21, 2019
by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
What Rosh Hashanah Says to Us
10 essential insights that go to the heart of Judaism.

An excerpt from Ceremony and Celebration: Introduction to the Holidays by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

What then does Rosh Hashanah say to us? How can it transform our lives? The genius of Judaism was to take eternal truths and translate them into time, into lived experiences. Rosh Hashanah, the anniversary of the creation of humanity, invites us to live and feel the human condition in graphic ways.

The first thing it tells us is that life is short. However much life expectancy has risen, we will not, in one lifetime, be able to achieve everything we might wish to achieve. Untaneh Tokef tells the poetry of mortality with haunting pathos:

Man is founded in dust and ends in dust. He lays down his soul to bring home bread. He is like a broken shard, like grass dried up, like a faded flower, like a fleeting shadow, like a passing cloud, like a breath of wind, like whirling dust, like a dream that slips away.

This life is all we have. How shall we use it well? We know that we will not finish the task, but neither are we free to stand aside from it. That is the first truth.

The second is that life itself, each day, every breath we take, is the gift of God:

Remember us for life, O King who delights in life, and write us in the book of life – for Your sake, O God of life. (Zikhronot)

Life is not something we may take for granted. If we do, we will fail to celebrate it. God gives us one gift above all others, said Maimonides: life itself, beside which everything else is secondary. Other religions have sought God in heaven, or in the afterlife, the distant past or the distant future. Here there is suffering, there reward; here chaos, there order; here pain, there balm; here poverty, there plenty. Judaism has relentlessly sought God in the here-and-now of life on earth. Yes, we believe in life after death, but it is in life before death that we truly find human greatness.

Third, we are free. Judaism is the religion of the free human being freely responding to the God of freedom. We are not in the grip of sin. We are not determined by economic forces or psychological drives or genetically encoded impulses that we are powerless to resist. The very fact that we can do teshuva, that we can act differently tomorrow than we did yesterday, tells us we are free. Philosophers have found this idea difficult. So have scientists. But Judaism insists on it, and our ancestors proved it by defying every law of history, surviving against the odds, refusing to accept defeat.

Fourth, life is meaningful. We are not mere accidents of matter, generated by a universe that came into being for no reason and will one day, for no reason, cease to be. We are here because a loving God brought the universe, and life, and us, into existence – a God who knows our fears, hears our prayers, believes in us more than we believe in ourselves, who forgives us when we fail, lifts us when we fall and gives us the strength to overcome despair.

The historian Paul Johnson once wrote: “No people has ever insisted more firmly than the Jews that history has a purpose and humanity a destiny.” He concluded: “The Jews, therefore, stand right at the center of the perennial attempt to give human life the dignity of a purpose” (Paul Johnson, A History of the Jews, Prologue). That too is one of the truths of Rosh Hashanah.

Fifth, life is not easy. Judaism does not see the world through rose-tinted lenses. The sufferings of our ancestors haunt our prayers. The world we live in is not the world as it ought to be. That is why, despite every temptation, Judaism has never been able to say the Messianic Age has come, even though we await it daily. But we are not bereft of hope because we are not alone. When Jews went into exile, the Shekhina, the Divine Presence, went with them. God is always there, “close to all who call on Him in truth” (Ps. 145:18). He may hide His face, but He is there. He may be silent, but He is listening to us, hearing us and healing us in ways we may not understand at the time but which become clear in retrospect.

Sixth, life may be hard, but it can still be sweet, the way the challah and the apple are on Rosh Hashanah when we dip them in honey. Jews have never needed wealth to be rich, or power to be strong. To be a Jew is to live for simple things: the love between husband and wife, the sacred bond between parents and children, the gift of community where we help others and others help us and where we learn that joy is doubled and grief halved by being shared. To be a Jew is to give, whether in the form of tzedaka or gemilut ĥasadim (acts of loving-kindness). It is to learn and never stop seeking, to pray and never stop thanking, to do teshuva and never stop growing. In this lies the secret of joy.

Throughout history there have been hedonistic cultures that worship pleasure and ascetic cultures that deny it, but Judaism has a different approach altogether: to sanctify pleasure by making it part of the worship of God. Life is sweet when touched by the divine.

Seventh, our life is the single greatest work of art we will ever make. Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, in one of his earliest works, spoke about Ish HaHalakha, the halakhic personality and its longing to create, to make something new, original. God too longs for us to create and thereby become His partner in the work of renewal. “The most fundamental principle of all is that man must create himself.” That is what teshuva is, an act of making ourselves anew. On Rosh Hashanah we step back from our life like an artist stepping back from his canvas, seeing what needs changing for the painting to be complete.

Eighth, we are what we are because of those who came before us. Our lives are not disconnected particles. We are each a letter in God’s book of life. But single letters, though they are the vehicles of meaning, have no meaning when they stand alone. To have meaning they must be joined to other letters to make words, sentences, paragraphs, a story, and to be a Jew is to be part of the strangest, oldest, most unexpected and counterintuitive story there has ever been: the story of a tiny people, never large and often homeless, who nonetheless outlived the greatest empires the world has ever known – the Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, the Greeks and Romans, the medieval empires of Christianity and Islam, all the way to the Third Reich and the Soviet Union. Each in turn thought itself immortal. Each has gone. The Jewish people still lives. So on Rosh Hashanah we remember and ask God to remember those who came before us: Abraham and Isaac, Sarah, Hannah and Rachel, the Israelites of Moses’ day, and the Jews of every generation, each of whom left some living legacy in the prayers we say or the melodies in which we sing them.

And in one of the most moving verses of the middle section of Musaf we recall the great words said by God through the prophet Jeremiah: “I remember of you the kindness of your youth, your love when you were a bride; how you walked after Me in the desert, through a land not sown” (Jer. 2:2). Our ancestors may have sinned, but they never stopped following God though the way was hard and the destination distant. We do not start with nothing. We have inherited wealth, not material but spiritual. We are heirs to our ancestors’ greatness.

Ninth, we are heirs to another kind of greatness too, that of the Torah itself and its high demands, its strenuous ideals, its panoply of mitzvot, its intellectual and existential challenges. Judaism asks great things of us and by doing so makes us great. We walk as tall as the ideals for which we live, and those of the Torah are very high indeed. We are, said Moses, God’s children (Deut. 14:1). We are called on, said Isaiah, to be His witnesses, His ambassadors on earth (Is. 43:10). Time and again Jews did things thought impossible. They battled against might in the name of right. They fought against slavery. They showed that it was possible to be a nation without a land, to have influence without power, to be branded the world’s pariahs yet not lose self-respect. They believed with unshakable conviction that they would one day return to their land, and though the hope seemed absurd, it happened. Their kingdom may have been bounded by a nutshell, but Jews counted themselves kings of infinite space. Judaism sets the bar high, and though we may fall short time and again, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur allow us to begin anew, forgiven, cleansed, undaunted, ready for the next challenge, the next year.

And finally comes the sound of the shofar, piercing our defenses, a wordless cry in a religion of words, a sound produced by breath as if to tell us that that is all life is – a mere breath – yet breath is nothing less than the spirit of God within us: “Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being” (Gen. 2:7). We are dust of the earth but within us is the breath of God. And whether the shofar is our cry to God or God’s cry to us, somehow in that tekia, shevarim, terua – the call, the sob, the wail – is all the pathos of the Divine-human encounter as God asks us to take His gift, life itself, and make of it something holy by so acting as to honor God and His image on earth, humankind.

For we defeat death, not by living forever but by living by values that live forever; by doing deeds and creating blessings that will live on after us; and by attaching ourselves in the midst of time to God who lives beyond time, “the King – the living, everlasting God.”

The Hebrew verb lehitpalel, “to pray,” more precisely means “to judge oneself.” On Rosh Hashanah we stand in judgment. We know what it is to be known. And though we know the worst about ourselves, God sees the best; and when we open ourselves to Him, He gives us the strength to become what we truly are. Those who fully enter the spirit of Rosh Hashanah emerge into the new year charged, energized, focused, renewed, knowing that to be a Jew is to live life in the presence of God, to sanctify life for the sake of God, and to enhance the lives of others – for where we bring blessings into other lives, there God lives.
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Post  Admin on Tue 24 Sep 2019, 3:23 pm

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Making New Year’s Resolutions Like a Doctor
Sep 22, 2019  |  by Dr. Ari Grubner
Making New Year’s Resolutions Like a Doctor
How to set SMART goals for the new year.

I didn’t think my inspiration for Rosh Hashanah would come from my boss in the hospital, in a room full of fresh new medical doctors.

I had just started my residency in a busy New York hospital and I didn't bank on having much time for spiritual growth and improvement. But it seems God sends us the inspiration we need, no matter where we are or what we are doing.

On a regular Thursday afternoon I took my seat among a room full of my resident colleagues and waited for Dr. Thompson to arrive for our weekly meeting. Dr. Thompson, an experienced and wise physician, is in charge of our residency program and he meets with us periodically to touch base and discuss our progress as new physicians.

On this particular Thursday afternoon, just a few days before Rosh Hashanah, it was clear that Dr. Thompson had a specific agenda to discuss.

“I’d like to discuss goals,” he began. “You have all graduated from medical school. You have all spent countless years studying, taking tests and excelling academically. However you are now at a new stage of your training. You are now practicing as physicians. No one will be on top of you to ensure that you keep studying and to keep improving. No one will call you aside and chastise you for mediocre performance. I know this is new for you, and that’s why I feel the need to point it out.”

He paused for a moment and looked around the room. We were all silent.

“The only way you will continue to grow in your professions is if you set goals for yourself. No one else can do this for you, and no one will really know or care whether you set goals or not. But at the end of the day, if you want to be the best you can be, you will need to be self-driven and you will need to do this.”

Some in the room shifted uncomfortably. “Besides needing to be self-driven, there is another issue with goal-setting at this stage of your careers. In medical school, there was an objective, measurable way to know how you were doing – your test grades. Your goals may have been ‘get an A in microbiology’, or ‘pass this upcoming anatomy test’. Those are good goals, and there is a simple way to keep track of whether or not you have been meeting those goals: simply look at the grade that you’ve received. But this stage in your life is different. Things are not as clear cut.

“Many of you may have some vague goal in your mind, perhaps something like ‘I would like to be a perfect doctor’. That is a nice goal but what's wrong with it?”

The room was silent. Some looked down to avoid being called upon. Finally someone shyly answered, “That goal is too vague.” Another said, “It's unattainable.” Someone else shared, “it is impossible to know when you’ve accomplished it.”

Dr. Thompson nodded and then continued. “Exactly. All those points are correct. We need guidelines to ensure that the goals we are setting actually make sense. We need to set SMART goals.”

Dr. Thompson shared with us a deep, yet simple, structure for goal setting that applies to all goals in life:

Specific: In order for a goal to be appropriate and attainable, it should not be vague.

Measurable: Goals must be objectively measurable. A famous painter was one asked how he knows when he is done adding strokes to his paintings. “When I am done, I just know,” he replied. This is not the way to set personal goals. Goals should be objectively measurable by an onlooker, and should not simply be an inner feeling of “being done”.

Accountable: People spend thousands of dollars to hire personal trainers and diet coaches. The bulk of the benefit from such coaches comes from the accountability to another person. People all have biases and if we are not held accountable by others, we will inevitably bend the truth or simply forget to follow up on the goals we have set. When setting a goal, involve someone else. Tell them about your goal, include them in it if possible, and make it clear that you want them to follow up with you.

Realistic: Goals that are set too high will leave us feeling dejected when we are not able to actualize them. Goals set too low will not help us grow. The only way to really find that perfect balance is through trial and error.

Time-line: When setting a goal, tell yourself you will try it for a specific amount of time. This gives one the ability to re-assess periodically and then to re-assign goals.

Dr. Thompson did not plan on giving a Rosh Hashanah sermon. But God can send us messages that we need to hear through any avenue, even the most unexpected. We just need to have our eyes and ears open to make sure we pick up on it.
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Post  Admin on Sun 22 Sep 2019, 11:20 pm

https://www.aish.com/h/hh/rh/ag/God-Loves-You--Do-You-Love-Him.html?s=mm
God Loves You – Do You Love Him?
Sep 21, 2019  |  by Rabbi Efrem GoldbergGod Loves You – Do You Love Him?
We want to count on God, but can He count on us? We want Him to think of us but how often do we think of Him?

We often picture God this time of year as a judge, sitting at His bench, waiting to catch us, judge us and hold us accountable. Not only is this not a healthy and constructive image, it is not the image our rabbis and our tradition want us to have.

We are deep into the month of Elul, the last month of the year. Elul is an acronym for ani l’dodi v’dodi li – I am for my beloved and my beloved is for me, conveying a deep and profound sense of love that is overarching sentiment this time of year.

"I am for my beloved and my beloved is for me" describes a reciprocal love, of give and take, of two parties both invested in the relationship with each other. God loves us. He thinks about us, cares about us, and craves a relationship with us.

God loves us means He isn’t looking to catch us or punish us. He wants what is best for us. He roots and cheers for us. He wants us to succeed and He wants us to be happy. God knows all of our faults and shortcomings. He is aware of our mistakes and our challenges, and yet He loves us. He is never jealous of us, He is never competing with us and He is never tired of us. He simply loves us. What He wants in return is to be loved by us as well.

But we need to remember: I am for my beloved and my beloved is for me. Elul is all about reciprocity. God relates to us as a reflection of how we relate to Him. We want to count on Him, but can He count on us? We wish He would talk to us, but do we sincerely talk to Him? We want Him to think of us but how often do we think of Him?


 
A few years ago, I saw someone around minyan during the week when I hadn’t seen him coming often before. I met with him about something else and took the liberty of praising him and telling him how great it has been to see him at shul. I asked him, “If you don’t mind, would you tell me what motivated you to start coming?”

He explained that recently he had suffered a terrible disappointment in his life. Something he was longing for and had been seriously invested in didn’t work out and left him back at square one. He was so mad, so angry, so devastated that he got in his car to go for a drive just to clear his head and cool off.

As he was driving around he started screaming at God: How could you? Why would you do this to me? Where have you been?! It was with those last words that it suddenly struck him – where have you been, that is exactly what God is wondering about him. He was overwhelmed not with anger or disappointment towards God, but with a sense of how disappointed God must be with him for cutting Him out of his life. At that moment he decided he was going to start going to shul more, talking to God more, showing God a little more love.

Ani l’dodi v’dodi li – this is the month of reciprocal love. Start showing God some love and you will see and feel Him loving you back.

God doesn’t need our mitzvot. He gives them to us because He wants us to care about Him, to think about Him, to love Him.

And He loves us so much. He showers us with blessings. If we would only take the time each day to think about it we would recognize how much goodness, how many blessings we receive that far surpass what we deserve.

God loves us. The question is: do we show Him love in return?
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Post  Admin on Fri 20 Sep 2019, 12:30 pm

NOW MORE THAN EVER: WHY ISRAEL MATTERS
Tags: Jewish Unity, Jewish Identity, Am Yisrael, Rosh Hashanah, Zionism, Israel Under Fire
By Rabbi Joseph R. Black
An old story is told of how Leon Blum, the Socialist French Prime Minister, met with Ben Gurion, shortly before the establishment of the Jewish State. Addressing Ben Gurion, Blum said: I want you to know that 1st I am a Frenchman, 2nd I am a socialist, and 3rd I am a Jew.
To which Ben Gurion responded, "That's ok. In Hebrew we read from right to left."
I love that story, although when I tell it, I feel a bit nostalgic. Ben Gurion's response to Blum assumes that every Jew should ultimately feel a strong connection to his or her people and the State of Israel; that there is something within every Jewish soul that pulls them to the Promised Land.
While that may have been the case 20, 30 or 40 years ago, I'm not sure that we can assume it anymore. And that concerns me greatly. Simply put, the emotional, historical, and spiritual ties that bound us to Israel in the past are slowly and steadily becoming unraveled in the present.
During the first few decades of Israeli independence, the vast majority of American and World Jewry saw the embattled Jewish State as a symbol of pride, national and spiritual identity. Zionism, and its message of self-sufficiency in a Jewish homeland, was a central component of Jewish identification. This, coupled with the recent memory of the Shoah and its horrors, caused us to see Israel as an extension of our Jewish selves.
We defended Israel's right to exist - holding our collective breaths during times of crisis and rejoicing in her miraculous victories. We demonstrated our support with our political clout and our pocketbooks, by making Aliyah, traveling on organized tours and sending our Children to study and experience the "Miracle on the Mediterranean."
Today, however, the word "Zionist" has become divisive. Israel's enemies have tried to co-opt the term by linking it with policies of oppression and racism.
Some of our Christian friends have used it to describe their love of Israel – and while I understand that this is done out a desire to show solidarity and support, this also can be seen by some as ignoring or redefining the essential element of Zionism as a natural outgrowth of Jewish identity in connection with the land of our people.
Over the past several decades, a great deal has changed. Instead of being the underdog, Israel, in the eyes of many, is now a pariah state. It has become de riguer to demonize Zionism as the source of numerous evils.
As riots continue to increase, I have no doubt that, in addition to Anti-Americanism, they will also be fueled by anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist rhetoric.
Sadly, for many American Jews, Israel, instead of being a focal point of pride has become a source of discomfort or embarrassment.
I have colleagues who are afraid to even mention Israel from the pulpit – not because of their convictions, but because of the divisions and discord that doing so may create in their communities.
In addition, the more we talk about Israel's "survival" the less focused we are on the real mission of the modern State of Israel as the embodiment of Jewish values, vision and history.
For a growing group of individuals – Jews and non-Jews alike, the issue of whether or not to be openly supportive of the State of Israel goes beyond politics. There are those for whom the idea of a Sovereign Jewish State just feels wrong; for whom the concept of a separate country for the Jewish people is somehow backwards and inappropriate. Their logic goes something like this:
In olden days, it was the divisions between peoples that caused wars and hatred. The mere existence of a modern-day state that proudly and openly proclaims itself to be "Jewish" is contrary to 21st century values and understanding. Our shrinking, modern world with its inter-twined systems of commerce, currency and communication is multi-national and "post-ethnic."

Rather than focusing on the differences between nations, the western world needs to move beyond archaic and divisive ethnic, nationalist and religious distinctions and embrace a Universal ideal of all people united under the banner of a common truth and belief in the equality of all humankind.
Perhaps it was John Lennon who embodied this vision best with his lyrics:
Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...
You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one
How many of us grew up singing this song? How many of us saw it as a plea for sanity, peace and harmony in a world that seemed to be daily descending into the depths of destruction? I know that I did.
John Lennon's anthem of Universal peace reflects a central leitmotif of much of modern Western thought. The concept of tearing down the walls that separate us has become so intertwined with our collective conscience that any talk of particularism goes against the grain of much of modern thinking.

Jewish tradition walks a fine line between Universalism and Particularism. Unlike other faiths, Judaism does not teach that it is only through living a Jewish life that one can achieve salvation. There are many pathways to holiness. We are not the only religion, nor do we see ourselves as the "best" religion.
The often mis-understood concept of "Chosenness" implies that the Jewish people have a unique role to play in the unfolding of history. But we were not chosen to be better. Rather, we were chosen to receive Torah and bring God's presence into the world.

Most of us are comfortable with the Universal ideals of our faith. To state that all humanity was created in the Divine image; to reinforce the concept that salvation is open to all humanity makes us feel good about ourselves and our faith. But there are times when speaking of specific Jewish values, privileges and responsibilities make some feel uncomfortable.
An example of this occurs every Shabbat morning when we celebrate a bar or bat mitzvah – especially when there are many non-Jewish guests present. One of our goals during this service is to make everyone feel as welcome as possible –and we do a pretty good job. And yet, there is a fascinating point in the beginning of the service – during the opening blessings - called Nissim b'chol yom.
These prayers speak of our awareness of God's presence in our lives – whether we know it or not. The blessings state appreciation for God's "everyday miracles." We thank God for rising of the sun, for clothing the naked and healing the sick. It's quite moving. But there is a point in the recitation of these blessings where they shift from Universal to Particularistic concerns and I can sometimes feel a sense of discomfort move over the congregation.


When we say: "Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheynu Melech Ha-Olam – she asini Yisrael. Blessed are You, Eternal our God, for making me a Jew."  I can see people pause for a moment.
Should we be saying this? Is this right? Why are we saying a prayer that's so….. "Jewish?" It's OK to talk about Universal concepts like peace and harmony, fellowship and God's love for humanity…but thanking God for making me a Jew? That seems almost out of place…..
My friends, there is nothing wrong in a Jewish service about thanking God for the gift of our heritage. Yes, our non-Jewish friends and family may not feel included in these words, but that's ok….. they probably don't mind. They are here because they love and support us. If we go to a Christian service, there are lots of prayers that we don't or can't say. This prayer – thanking God for making us Jewish doesn't state that Judaism is better – but it does state that our heritage is a gift from God – and for that we are grateful.
The truth is – while we share so much in common with our non-Jewish friends, neighbors and relatives, we're not all the same. We don't pray the same way and we don't necessarily agree on everything. And that's a good thing. Diversity in an essential element for human interaction.
Copyright © Photo by Bernadett Alpern
1. It is because we are different that we find ways to infuse our lives with understanding and growth through sharing our differences
2. It is because we are different that we can reach out and learn from one another.
3. It is because we are different that we can share, celebrate and, when necessary, overcome our differences - thereby enriching our lives in the process.

Of course, there are those who have no tolerance for differences – who see the world through a prism of perfection and fundamentalist triumphalism. It is fiery fundamentalist rhetoric that is fueling rioting in the streets around the globe. It is intolerance and bigotry that produced an amateurish film that was designed to insult an entire religion. This is not who we are. And this is not who we should be allowed to frame the perspective around our differences.
There is nothing wrong with being proud of who we are and what we stand for. And that goes double for the State of Israel.
When it comes to Israel, instead of being defensive, we have the right and responsibility to be proud of her successes.
No, Israel is not perfect. There are many serious issues that need to be confronted. But the Jewish State is not a pariah either.
Our task, on this Rosh HaShanah and every day following is to work to change the conversation: first in the American Jewish Community and then around the globe.

It's not enough to simply defend Israel's right to exist; we need to spend more time talking about the incredible gift we and the rest of the world have been given by the existence of the modern Jewish State of Israel.
In his recent book, The Promise of Israel, Rabbi Daniel Gordis writes about how we need to refocus our conversation about Israel to the values that the Jewish State provides – not only for the Jewish people, but for the entire world. Gordis writes:
What is at issue between Israel and the international community is whether ethnic and national diversity ought to be encouraged and promoted. Israel has something to say about the importance of human difference that is at odds with the prevailing attitudes in the world today. It is a country that insists that people thrive and flourish most when they live in societies in which their language, their culture, their history and their sense of purpose are situated at the very center of public life.
Gordis posits that Israel is unique because it is Jewish. Unlike the United States, or most other countries around the world, Israel was not designed to be a multi-national melting pot. If someday Israel were to have an Arab majority and elect a Muslim Prime Minister, it would be a catastrophe because the modern State of Israel was created for the purpose of providing a homeland for the Jewish people and to show the world what we, as Jews stand for and believe in. It is for this reason that the Two State Solution is a necessary step in creating peace in the Middle East.
The State of Israel is different than any other nation in the world today. Yes, it exists in order to ensure that the Jewish people will always have a homeland. But it also serves as an example of the power of a people to infuse 4,000 years of history and tradition into the building of a modern nation that embodies the highest aspirations towards which humanity can reach.

Out of the ashes of the Shoah the Jewish people created a vital and complex country that serves as a beacon of Democracy, intellect, artistic genius and economic success for the entire world to see.
Of course, there are problems. The specter of a nuclear Iran poses an existential threat. There is Civil War in Syria. The peace treaty with Egypt may be jeopardized with the new Islamist government. Hamas continues to shell rockets in the south…the list is long and frightening.
If we put these issues aside for a moment – and only for a moment - we also know that Israel is threatened – not only by external enemies – but by internal divisions as well - fueled by some of the same intolerance, bigotry and fundamentalist world views that plague its neighbors. But there is one difference: Jewish tradition teaches that we need to confront our differences – openly and honestly. To do otherwise would be a Chilul Hashem – a profaning of the Divine name.
How many of Israel's neighbors, in the aftermath of the recent anti-American and anti-Israel demonstrations, have gone through a Cheshbon Ha-Nefesh - soul searching? Where is the voice of the Imams and the teachers of the Muslim world who are condemning violence? If they are there – they have been silenced.

The world needs Israel because Israel has so much to teach. If, for example, instead of demonizing the Jewish state, Israel's enemies attempted to emulate her successes, think of what could be accomplished!
I feel very strongly about these issues. My convictions are deep because I am a Zionist. I have always been a Zionist. Ahavat Eretz V'Am Yisrael - a love of the land and people of Israel is central to understanding of who I am - as a Jew and as a human being. And I also believe that most of you feel the same way.
We are all Zionists because the State of Israel - the Land and People of Israel – warts and all - is central to our historical and spiritual birthright as Jews.
Throughout our history the land of Israel has been inexorably linked to our self-understanding.
When pray, we face Jerusalem. During Passover, at the end of our Seder, we pray: "L'Shanah Ha-Ba-ah B'yerushalayim - Next year in Jerusalem." In our prayer books, in our poetry and music, in every age, Jews have been spiritually and physically connected to this land. Zionism is a movement that is the natural outgrowth of that connectedness.

Our task, as we welcome this New Year, is to celebrate the State of Israel. We need to change the conversation about Israel and understand that we have the ability and the responsibility to be proud of what our people have created.

I also want to encourage you to find ways to travel to Israel. Whether it is your first trip or your 10th, there is no better way to truly understand your relationship with the Jewish State and the Jewish people.

May the coming year bring peace to Israel and the world. May all of us come to appreciate and share our love for the State of Israel and our faith.

AMEN
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Post  Admin on Tue 17 Sep 2019, 7:49 pm

But I Haven’t Changed All Year!
Sep 5, 2015  |  by Sara Debbie GutfreundBut I Haven’t Changed All Year!
4 common thoughts that block change before Rosh Hashanah.
https://www.aish.com/h/hh/gar/fulfillment/But-I-Havent-Changed-All-Year.html?s=mm
“Don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life,” leadership expert Robin Sharma once said. Soon it will be Rosh Hashanah and I feel almost exactly the way I did the year before. Could all this time have gone by without me making any real changes? Am I going in circles, living the same year over and over again?

What are the key thoughts that block us from change every year and how do we dispel them?

1. Thinking that we can’t learn. We become so entrenched in our habits and our routines that many of us believe that we can’t learn how to begin again. But there is a saying: If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. But when you are determined to learn, no one can stop you. There are countless scholars and successful people in every field who struggled when they first started out, but they were determined to learn. We are not imprisoned by our past; it’s never too late to learn new ideas and change the story.

2. Believing that we tried everything. Many people try to change and give up after trying different approaches. But as Thomas Edison warned, “When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this: You haven’t.” Often we feel like giving up right before we are about to find our answers. We feel like quitting right before we are about to succeed. The path to success is only through failure. As long as we are alive, there are more possibilities and more ideas to try. Every failed approach is a lesson that brings us closer to our goals.

3. Thinking we can remain the same. Even if we’re on the right track, we’ll get run over if we just sit there. Sometimes it seems like the safest route for us is to remain in our comfort zones and not change at all. But not growing doesn’t keep us in the same place; it pulls us down. And when we are down we begin to think that since we have already veered off track, we might as well push off changing for tomorrow. Or next week when our schedules are easier. Or perhaps next month we’ll try again. But when we find ourselves in a hole, the first thing we need to remember is to stop digging. Don’t run back to what broke you. Keep moving forward, however slowly you need to go.

4. Forgetting that we are created in the image of God. Rabbi Noah Weinberg ztz”l said, “Treat yourself with the same awesomeness that you would a volcano. There is tremendous energy available. You just need to tap into it. Open yourself up to see your real potential. Stop looking at what you are. Look at what you can be.” You have the potential for greatness. Instead of knocking yourself, at the end of each day, focus on something that you did right that day and take pleasure in your accomplishment. Connect to the Divine spark within. You can’t change if you’re constantly putting yourself down. Treat yourself as if you have extraordinary power to change yourself and the world around you at any moment. Because you do.

This Rosh Hashanah, let’s all take one concrete step forward in improving ourselves and taste the sweetness it brings to the new year.
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Post  Admin on Sun 15 Sep 2019, 10:20 pm

Queen Wilhelmina and the Munkaczer Rebbe
Sep 14, 2019  |  by Rabbi Yaakov Cohen
54
SHARES
A royal encounter and the importance of gratitude.
https://www.aish.com/sp/so/Queen-Wilhelmina-and-the-Munkaczer-Rebbe.html?s=mm
With thanks to Rabbi Paysach Krohn for publishing this story as well as to Rabbi Nachum Aaronson and Rabbi Motel Aaronson for 


About the Author
Rabbi Yaakov CohenMore by this Author >
Rabbi Yaakov Cohen grew up in New York and earned his Bachelors in Psychology, his Rabbinic Ordination and his Masters in Education and Administration; all from Yeshiva University. He now lives in Chicago, IL where he works as the Judaic Studies Principal of Akiba Schechter Jewish Day School and Educational Director at NCSY. Rabbi Cohen is a passionate educator and an inspiring speaker who has travelled throughout the country speaking for organizations, schools, synagogues and universities on a variety of topics and to audiences of various sizes and affiliations. Rabbi Cohen is a community leader and is actively involved with several local organizations and synagogues.



Eli Cohen: The Real Story of Mossad's Master Spy
Sep 14, 2019  |  by Jerusalem U
How did his dangerous work help Israel and what led to his identity finally being revealed?

https://www.aish.com/jw/me/Eli-Cohen-The-Real-Story-of-Mossads-Master-Spy.html?s=mm
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Post  Admin on Thu 12 Sep 2019, 8:47 pm

https://www.aish.com/ho/p/Britains-Kitchener-Camp-Saved-4000-German-Jews.html?s=mm
Britain's Kitchener Camp Saved 4,000 German Jews
Sep 9, 2019  |  by Dr. Yvette Alt Miller
Britain's Kitchener Camp Saved 4,000 German Jews
The little known story is now being told.

Life for German and Austrian Jews had become steadily more restricted ever since the Nazis were elected to power in Germany in 1933. Then on November 9, 1938, mobs ran wild in the streets of German and Austrian cities, vandalizing Jewish homes and businesses, burning synagogues and terrifying and beating up Jews.

That night, which became known as Kristallnacht, nearly 100 Jews died and hundreds of buildings were destroyed. 30,000 Jewish men were sent to concentration camps in the aftermath.

Jews scrambled to leave, but there were very few places in the world willing to take in desperate Jewish refugees. The Jewish men confined to concentration camps in 1938 were told they were free to leave - if they could find a country willing to take them in. It proved an almost impossible task.

The Jews of Britain came together to help. In 1933, with Hitler’s rise to power, a group of prominent Jews, including Anthony de Rothschild, Otto Schiff, Simon Marks (chairman of the famous department stores Marks & Spencer), and Dr. Chaim Weitzman (who later became the first President of Israel), had formed the Central British Fund for German Jewry (CBF). In the aftermath of Kristallnacht, the CBF came up with two audacious plans to rescue Jews.

The CBF brought about 10,000 Jewish children to Britain in 1938 and 1939 in a massive program that was called the “Children’s Transport”, or Kindertransport.
After the horror of Kristallnacht the British government relaxed the rules of entry of certain categories of people. Unaccompanied refugee children could enter the country, receiving a temporary travel visa, if private citizens guaranteed they would pay for each child’s education, care and eventual ticket out of the country. The CBF organized British citizens to guarantee the expenses.

Kitchener camp, 1939. Georg Benjamin, front left. Courtesy http://www.kitchenercamp.co.uk/

Some Jewish women were allowed into Britain on two year “domestic” worker visas in order to alleviate the servant shortage. (My own grandmother was among these Jewish women whose lives were saved because British households wanted a supply of cheap domestic servants.) But the 30,000 Jewish men who languished in Nazi concentration camps had no options. No country wanted them.

The CBF got to work, lobbying officials to take in these Jewish men. Britain’s government didn't want refugee camps on its soil. Housing German citizens, whatever their religion, was seen as particularly risky. But the CBF gained permission for a transit camp. A disused military camp called Kitchener camp in the southern English county of Kent was requisitioned to provide temporary shelter. Up to 5,000 men could be brought to Kitchener if the CBF pledged funds to support their upkeep.

Kitchener camp, 1939, Moshe Chaim Gruenbaum, http://www.kitchenercamp.co.uk/

Time was short and the CBF started bringing Jewish men from concentration camps to England in February 1939. The Jewish community turned to a pair of Jewish brothers, Jonas and Phineas May, who’d previously helped run the Jewish Lads Brigade, a youth group, to run the camp. With their background in running summer camps, the CBF thought Jonas and Phineas could help welcome the traumatized Jewish men.

Lothar Nelken was a judge in Germany who’d been fired from his post for being Jewish and imprisoned in Buchenwald concentration camp. He arrived in Kitchener camp on July 13, 1939. “At around 9pm we arrived in the camp,” he recorded in his diary. “We were welcomed with jubilation…The beds are surprisingly good. One sleeps as if in a cradle.”

Eventually thousands of Jewish men called Kitchener Camp home. “It was necessary to start a system for admitting 400 men a day,” Phineas wrote on June 14, 1939.

Kitchener camp, Jack Agin, Cook, 1939. Source: Clare Ungerson’s Four Thousand men,
with the kind permission of the Wiener Library

The camp bustled with life. Shabbat services, classes, a newspaper, several bands all occupied the camp’s swelling population. The camp also hosted weddings between the refugees and their fiancées who’d manage to make it out of Nazi Europe. The men hoped to bring their wives and children over to start new lives in England. As war became more likely, the mood in the camp plummeted. Jewish women and children left behind in Nazi Europe were in grave danger.

By September 3, 1939, when World War II was declared, about 4,000 Jewish men had been brought to Kitchener camp. With the world at war, the men realized their families wouldn’t be able to join them.

Many of the refugees were determined to fight Nazis. “Kitchener men” were allowed to join Britain’s Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps, a logistics division that helped plan British military invasions. Over 800 Kitchener refugees accompanied the British Army as they fought in northern Europe in 1940. After the evacuation of British troops from Dunkirk, the Kitchener refugees were brought back to England.

After France fell to the Nazis in 1940, the public mood changed and British authorities were uncomfortable having so many German-born men on English soil. Refugees who’d enlisted to fight were allowed to remain in the army. Other refugees were moved to internment camps, mainly on the remote Isle of Man; many of the refugees were sent to Canada and Australia. Few saw their families ever again.

For 70 years, the story of Kitchener camp was very little known. It is now being told. On September 2, 2019, a plaque was unveiled in the town of Sandwich, near the camp, marking the remarkable story of 4,000 Jewish men who were rescued. Phineas and Jonah May’s children were present, as were the descendants of some of the refugees whose lives were saved at Kitchener.

One descendent who attended was Paul Secher, whose father Otto arrived in the camp in May 1939. “My father didn’t talk about it very much,” Secher said. “I sensed it was a painful subject for him. He managed to escape (Germany) but his parents and a sister didn’t. The burden must have been immense.”
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Post  Admin on Tue 10 Sep 2019, 10:25 pm

https://www.aish.com/ci/sam/Darwinism-Judaism-and-the-Clash-between-Science-and-Religion.html?s=mm
Darwinism, Judaism and the Clash between Science and Religion
Sep 8, 2019  |  by Melanie PhillipsDarwinism, Judaism and the Clash between Science and Religion
The opposition between religion and science that is assumed to be fundamental by secular liberals is, in fact, foreign to Judaism.

Yale University professor of computer science David Gelernter has renounced his previous belief in Darwinian evolution.

Writing that he was sad to give up on “a brilliant and beautiful scientific theory,” he said he had concluded that it couldn’t explain the big picture – not the fine-tuning of existing species, but the emergence of new ones.

Whether or not his argument is well-founded is a discussion for another time. The point here is that it’s unsayable by anyone who isn’t prepared to risk professional and social suicide.

Darwinism, said Gelernter, had passed beyond a scientific argument. Although his Yale colleagues had treated him in a courteous and collegiate manner, people took their life in their hands to question Darwinian evolution.

“They will destroy you if you challenge it,” he said. There was nothing approaching free speech on this topic. “It’s a sort of bitter, fundamental, angry, outraged, violent rejection, which comes nowhere near scientific or intellectual discussion.”
 
Gelernter’s conclusions about Darwinism have derived principally from his analysis of the statistical probability of the evolution of new species. Yet anyone who queries Darwinism is immediately labeled “anti-science” and accused of being a religious nut.

Indeed, the pushback against Gelernter’s apostasy has included the observation that he is a religious Jew. Apparently, the only reason he could possibly have come to this “denialist” conclusion, says one pro-evolution website, is that he views science through “Old Testament goggles.”

In fact, a belief that’s unchallengeable has the characteristic of religious faith. That’s why Gelernter calls Darwinism a religion.

Our era is supposedly devoted to promoting individual freedom, tolerance and an end to prejudice. So why are so many views being silenced?
There are plenty of other unsayables in our thought-policed society. Human-made global warming, for example, is considered beyond challenge because the science of that theory is said to be “settled.” This is, in fact, anti-science dogma because nothing is ever settled in science, which is always open to fresh challenges.

So how come our scientific age promotes anti-science ideas more akin to religious doctrine and calls them science?

Our era is supposedly devoted to promoting individual freedom, tolerance and an end to prejudice. So why are so many views being silenced? Why has debate been so widely replaced by hateful insults? And how come this has been accompanied by an upsurge in anti-Semitism, often among precisely the same subscribers to the liberal anti-racist “woke” agenda?

There may be a connection here that is generally overlooked. And it involves the Jews.

At the core of all this moral and intellectual confusion lies an onslaught against the core principles of Western civilization on the grounds that these are innately exclusive, prejudicial and oppressive.

That’s because they are rooted in biblical values that are held to be cruel, obscurantist and inimical to reason, enlightenment, and generosity of spirit.

By contrast, the secular agenda is believed to stand for all good things associated with modernity, such as kindness, rationality, and progress.

The West tells itself that modernity sprang from a repudiation of religion in the 17th-century Enlightenment.

In fact, as a new book points out, Christianity remains at the core of contemporary Western thinking even among those who disdain it. "Dominion," by the British historian Tom Holland, is a magisterial analysis of the way in which Christian values have shaped the West and still do so even in the most unlikely places.

His book is not merely a fascinating account of the extraordinary reach and persistence of Christianity, which has evolved and adapted down through the generations and across societies. He also argues that Christian values, which have sometimes led to slavery, empire, and war, nevertheless lie at the core of what makes the West civilized and good.

This has startled people for whom it is axiomatic that only secularism produces goodness while religion produces only bad stuff. But Holland points out that even attacks by secular liberals on Christian thinking are motivated by Christian values of tolerance and fairness.

Of course, there’s an elephant in this particular room. For although these core Western principles were introduced and spread by Christianity, their origin lay in the Hebrew Bible.

Holland pays due regard to the Jewish foundations of Christianity and also to the terrible way that Christianity has behaved in the past towards the Jews.

But what so many overlook is that moral principles assumed to have been invented by Christianity, such as compassion, fairness, looking after the poor or putting others first, were all introduced to the world by the Hebrew Bible.

It is Judaism’s Mosaic code that gave the West its conscience and the roots of its civilization by putting chains on people’s selfish appetites. And strikingly, every contemporary ideology that aims to undermine or transform the West is based on opposition to Jewish religious beliefs, Jewish moral codes or the Jewish homeland in Israel.

Deep green environmentalism, for example, wants to knock human beings off their pedestal in Genesis as the pinnacle of creation; sexual lifestyle choice negates Judaism’s moral codes; scientific materialism repudiates belief in the Divine creator of the world; anti-Zionism denies the Jews’ right to their own homeland; and liberal universalism is an innate challenge to Judaism which, as a stubbornly and uniquely distinct set of beliefs, always stands in the way of any universalizing ideology.

Much of this secular onslaught goes back to the central Enlightenment idea of a world based on reason, which French Enlightenment thinkers in particular perceived to be in opposition to religion.

But the West’s concept of reason actually comes from the Hebrew Bible. Ideas such as an orderly and rational universe structured on a linear concept of time were revolutionary concepts introduced in the book of Genesis.

These ideas were essential to the development of Western science. Early scientists believed that natural laws necessarily presupposed a law-giver. As Galileo Galilei said: “The laws of nature are written by the hand of God in the language of mathematics.”

The opposition between religion and science that is assumed to be fundamental by secular liberals is, in fact, foreign to Judaism. With so much of the Hebrew Bible interpreted over the centuries as allegory or metaphor, Judaism has never seen science as a threat.

The 12th-century Jewish sage Maimonides was the great exemplar of the belief that science and religion were complementary. He wrote that conflict between science and the Bible arose from either a lack of scientific knowledge or a defective understanding of the Bible.

Without the Hebrew Bible, there would have been no Western rationality or principles such as justice or compassion. But secularism holds that the rule of reason divorced from biblical religion would banish bad things like prejudice or war from the world and the human heart.

Impossible utopianism like this invariably results in oppression. So it proved with medieval apocalyptic Christianity, the French Revolution, communism and fascism; and so it is proving today with the cultural totalitarianism of the Left.

Like all utopians, the Left believes that their ideas are unchallengeable because they supposedly stand for virtue itself. All who oppose them are therefore not just wrong, but evil. So heretics like Gelernter must be stamped out because no quarter can ever be given to any challenge to secularism.

What secular liberals don’t understand is that in attacking the Jewish concepts at the core of the Christian West, they are not merely repudiating their own supposed ideals of tolerance and rationality, but are sawing off the branch on which they themselves are sitting.

Reprinted with permission from JNS.org.
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Post  Admin on Tue 10 Sep 2019, 10:23 pm

https://www.aish.com/ci/sam/Darwinism-Judaism-and-the-Clash-between-Science-and-Religion.html?s=mm
Darwinism, Judaism and the Clash between Science and Religion
Sep 8, 2019  |  by Melanie PhillipsDarwinism, Judaism and the Clash between Science and Religion
The opposition between religion and science that is assumed to be fundamental by secular liberals is, in fact, foreign to Judaism.

Yale University professor of computer science David Gelernter has renounced his previous belief in Darwinian evolution.

Writing that he was sad to give up on “a brilliant and beautiful scientific theory,” he said he had concluded that it couldn’t explain the big picture – not the fine-tuning of existing species, but the emergence of new ones.

Whether or not his argument is well-founded is a discussion for another time. The point here is that it’s unsayable by anyone who isn’t prepared to risk professional and social suicide.

Darwinism, said Gelernter, had passed beyond a scientific argument. Although his Yale colleagues had treated him in a courteous and collegiate manner, people took their life in their hands to question Darwinian evolution.

“They will destroy you if you challenge it,” he said. There was nothing approaching free speech on this topic. “It’s a sort of bitter, fundamental, angry, outraged, violent rejection, which comes nowhere near scientific or intellectual discussion.”
 
Gelernter’s conclusions about Darwinism have derived principally from his analysis of the statistical probability of the evolution of new species. Yet anyone who queries Darwinism is immediately labeled “anti-science” and accused of being a religious nut.

Indeed, the pushback against Gelernter’s apostasy has included the observation that he is a religious Jew. Apparently, the only reason he could possibly have come to this “denialist” conclusion, says one pro-evolution website, is that he views science through “Old Testament goggles.”

In fact, a belief that’s unchallengeable has the characteristic of religious faith. That’s why Gelernter calls Darwinism a religion.

Our era is supposedly devoted to promoting individual freedom, tolerance and an end to prejudice. So why are so many views being silenced?
There are plenty of other unsayables in our thought-policed society. Human-made global warming, for example, is considered beyond challenge because the science of that theory is said to be “settled.” This is, in fact, anti-science dogma because nothing is ever settled in science, which is always open to fresh challenges.

So how come our scientific age promotes anti-science ideas more akin to religious doctrine and calls them science?

Our era is supposedly devoted to promoting individual freedom, tolerance and an end to prejudice. So why are so many views being silenced? Why has debate been so widely replaced by hateful insults? And how come this has been accompanied by an upsurge in anti-Semitism, often among precisely the same subscribers to the liberal anti-racist “woke” agenda?

There may be a connection here that is generally overlooked. And it involves the Jews.

At the core of all this moral and intellectual confusion lies an onslaught against the core principles of Western civilization on the grounds that these are innately exclusive, prejudicial and oppressive.

That’s because they are rooted in biblical values that are held to be cruel, obscurantist and inimical to reason, enlightenment, and generosity of spirit.

By contrast, the secular agenda is believed to stand for all good things associated with modernity, such as kindness, rationality, and progress.

The West tells itself that modernity sprang from a repudiation of religion in the 17th-century Enlightenment.

In fact, as a new book points out, Christianity remains at the core of contemporary Western thinking even among those who disdain it. "Dominion," by the British historian Tom Holland, is a magisterial analysis of the way in which Christian values have shaped the West and still do so even in the most unlikely places.

His book is not merely a fascinating account of the extraordinary reach and persistence of Christianity, which has evolved and adapted down through the generations and across societies. He also argues that Christian values, which have sometimes led to slavery, empire, and war, nevertheless lie at the core of what makes the West civilized and good.

This has startled people for whom it is axiomatic that only secularism produces goodness while religion produces only bad stuff. But Holland points out that even attacks by secular liberals on Christian thinking are motivated by Christian values of tolerance and fairness.

Of course, there’s an elephant in this particular room. For although these core Western principles were introduced and spread by Christianity, their origin lay in the Hebrew Bible.

Holland pays due regard to the Jewish foundations of Christianity and also to the terrible way that Christianity has behaved in the past towards the Jews.

But what so many overlook is that moral principles assumed to have been invented by Christianity, such as compassion, fairness, looking after the poor or putting others first, were all introduced to the world by the Hebrew Bible.

It is Judaism’s Mosaic code that gave the West its conscience and the roots of its civilization by putting chains on people’s selfish appetites. And strikingly, every contemporary ideology that aims to undermine or transform the West is based on opposition to Jewish religious beliefs, Jewish moral codes or the Jewish homeland in Israel.

Deep green environmentalism, for example, wants to knock human beings off their pedestal in Genesis as the pinnacle of creation; sexual lifestyle choice negates Judaism’s moral codes; scientific materialism repudiates belief in the Divine creator of the world; anti-Zionism denies the Jews’ right to their own homeland; and liberal universalism is an innate challenge to Judaism which, as a stubbornly and uniquely distinct set of beliefs, always stands in the way of any universalizing ideology.

Much of this secular onslaught goes back to the central Enlightenment idea of a world based on reason, which French Enlightenment thinkers in particular perceived to be in opposition to religion.

But the West’s concept of reason actually comes from the Hebrew Bible. Ideas such as an orderly and rational universe structured on a linear concept of time were revolutionary concepts introduced in the book of Genesis.

These ideas were essential to the development of Western science. Early scientists believed that natural laws necessarily presupposed a law-giver. As Galileo Galilei said: “The laws of nature are written by the hand of God in the language of mathematics.”

The opposition between religion and science that is assumed to be fundamental by secular liberals is, in fact, foreign to Judaism. With so much of the Hebrew Bible interpreted over the centuries as allegory or metaphor, Judaism has never seen science as a threat.

The 12th-century Jewish sage Maimonides was the great exemplar of the belief that science and religion were complementary. He wrote that conflict between science and the Bible arose from either a lack of scientific knowledge or a defective understanding of the Bible.

Without the Hebrew Bible, there would have been no Western rationality or principles such as justice or compassion. But secularism holds that the rule of reason divorced from biblical religion would banish bad things like prejudice or war from the world and the human heart.

Impossible utopianism like this invariably results in oppression. So it proved with medieval apocalyptic Christianity, the French Revolution, communism and fascism; and so it is proving today with the cultural totalitarianism of the Left.

Like all utopians, the Left believes that their ideas are unchallengeable because they supposedly stand for virtue itself. All who oppose them are therefore not just wrong, but evil. So heretics like Gelernter must be stamped out because no quarter can ever be given to any challenge to secularism.

What secular liberals don’t understand is that in attacking the Jewish concepts at the core of the Christian West, they are not merely repudiating their own supposed ideals of tolerance and rationality, but are sawing off the branch on which they themselves are sitting.

Reprinted with permission from JNS.org.
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