Friday, December 22, 2006

I want a Job action figure!!!

I thought this was a pretty funny article to read in the Business section of the newspaper:

The "crazy, crazy Jewish fun" of Kosherland looks a lot like the board game Candy Land, except gefilte fishing substitutes for visits to the Ice Cream Sea.

In Catholic-opoly, like Monopoly, the job is to bankrupt your opponents. The difference is it's done "in a nice, fun way."

And role-playing can get pretty realistic with the Biblical Action Figure of Job, which comes complete with boils.

Read the rest here.

"complete with boils"!?!?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Why deny the Holocaust?

It's such an interesting question. For me, the whole idea of Holocaust denial is just so ridiculous that I don't really have rational ideas about the whole thing. But the very title of this article made me think -- why would it even occur to someone to want to deny the Holocaust?

From an article by Caroline Glick, entitled "Why Deny the Holocaust?" (appeared in the Jerusalem Post)

There is something terribly confusing about Iran's penchant for denying the Holocaust. Given Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's stated desire to see Israel wiped off the map, it would seem more reasonable for Iran to be celebrating the Holocaust than denying it.

Such a good point, isn't it? Why don't they just "celebrate" the death of Jews, rather than say it never happened!? Glick continues:

But Ahmadinejad is slicker than that. He embraces not the Holocaust but the nation that pulled it off. In his August missive to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, he referred to the German nation as "a great contributor to progress in science, philosophy, literature, the arts and politics" who have had a "positive influence in international relations and the promotion of peace." These lines of course are open to interpretation. He could be referring to Goethe and Schiller and he could be referring to Heidegger and Goebbels. So why is the guy who is gunning for a new Holocaust belittling the last one?

First of all, by doing so he empowers those Germans and friends of Germany who carried it out. By denying the Holocaust Ahmadinejad turns the Nazis into victims and so provides a space for them to express themselves after a 60-year silence. Indeed, in Germany neo-Nazism is a burgeoning political and social force that proudly parades its links to Iran.

Read the rest of the article.

What do you think?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Need a Last Minute Chanukah Gift? checks. Let them choose the charity, you choose the amount.

Happy Chanukah!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Madness of Holocaust Denial

An entire conference devoted to "debunking" the Holocaust. Can someone please explain to me how this even can be explained!? This is sheer madness.

Read about it here: in the New York Times.

P.S. Deborah Lipstadt, who has made a big name for herself arguing with Holocaust deniers, will be our JUF Brunch speaker at Am Shalom this coming April. I'm sure she'll have something incredible to say about this scary nonsense in Iran.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Gay Pride in Jerusalem

I was pretty shocked to hear how far the Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem would go to try and stop the Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem. I was pleased to read this article that said things happened in relative calm. But I was pretty appalled by how it all sounded on NPR today. Can't we all just get along!?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Go Disney!

How often have you gone to the grocery store with your kids and had them say: "mom, can we buy this?" -- and "this" is some crazy (unhealthy) thing they'd never eat and you'd never buy...except it has Buzz Lightyear or that character from Cars on it!? This happens to me all the time. Usually the food item is completely unhealthy and I would never buy it but sometimes I succumb.

Thank you, Disney, for your announcement that you will no longer put your name on unhealthy food...! See this story in today's New York Times to read more.

P.S. Did you know that you don't have to buy the food at McDonald's to get the toys? You can JUST buy the toys. I think we never have to eat McDonald's again...the toys are only $1.00 when purchased separately! What a revelation.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

L'shana tova!

L'shana Tova...May 5767 bring happiness & peace to us all.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Rabbis of Israel

A thought-provoking piece about Israel's politics and religion -- which happen to be completely intertwined. Definitely read!

Don't Put Your Faith in Rabbis

[President Moshe] Katsav has been unable to bring himself to address the
leader of the largest Jewish religious movement in North America by his rightful
title of rabbi. Katsav chose a nationally broadcast interview marking Rosh
Hashanah, by tradition the period when all Jews are called to search their souls
and re-examine the wrongs they have done to others, to explain why he had
snubbed Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism.Katsav
explained that he grew up in a home in which the only people recognized as
rabbis, were those who had received a recognized Orthodox ordination."As soon as
the Knesset of the State of Israel decides to recognize a Reform rabbi as such,
the president will have to as well," Katsav said."As long as the State of Israel
does not recognize him, I will not be the first to do so."
Moshe Katsav will, however, be the first president of Israel to have faced
the strong possibility of indictment on a number of counts of allegations of
rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment.

Be sure to click on the title to read the whole story. Makes you want to support the Reform Movement in Israel even more:

World Union for Progressive Judaism
Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism

Monday, September 04, 2006

What is our mindset?

When I have a little bit of spare time, I like to catch up on my blog reading. I find it so interesting to read what others have to say; it's really like being able to peek into so many different people's minds and hear their thoughts, and sometimes rants.

Today I read a about the Beloit College annual "Mindset List."

From the introduction by its creators (and hopefully a better explanation of what the list is than I can give you):

...the list is a general statement of the experiences and events that shaped the view of the world maintained by entering students. We take a risk in some cases of making general statements, particularly given that our students at Beloit come from almost every state and dozens of nations. We inevitably find someone who still has an 8-track tape player or whose television station still signs off with the national anthem. Some of these events occurred some years after they were born, but they are important events in shaping the mindset of the entering students. Our effort is to identify a worldview of 18 year-olds in the fall of 2006.

So what's so interesting about it? Well, the list makes statements about these young people (most of them around the ages of the counselors I worked with at camp this summer...think of your own teenagers and college students) and about the world in which they grew up, the state of their thinking that they take with them into college...

But I wonder, as I read over the list, whether this is really the best use of the time of these professors. Perhaps they should be, instead of thinking about what these students didn't have in their young lives (a knowledge and fear of the Soviet Union, hearing things "rung up" on a cash register, live music in lobbies, vehicles other than minivans, smoking on airlines, food on get the idea) - perhaps they should be focusing in some way on what the goals of educating these young people should be, and how these "shortcomings" in their lives (and things they do have, also on the list, like instant messaging, wireless communications, Google, faux fur, "big box stores") will affect them as they grow up. What made our parents into activists and so many of our young people into acceptors? What is the differences between the generation that experienced Vietnam and the generation that is experiencing the War on Terror? The world they live in is so very different from the world these professors live in -- in some ways so very different than the world I live in, and I feel my age is probably closer to the age of these young people than to the professors -- shouldn't there be some kind of dialogue that goes along with the Mindset List? I'd be so curious as to how the freshmen at Beloit College and other institutions would respond to the list themselves. How do you respond?

What is your mindset? Can you construct a similar list for your own generation?

(In a sense, reading over this list as well as previous year's lists was definitely like a walk down nostalgia lane. These students are considerably younger than I, yet much of what they experienced or did not experience is familiar to me as well....)

P.S. If you are interested in checking out the world of blogs, I recommend the following method...I pick a topic of interest to me and find a blog that I like (you can search for blogs at amongst other blog-creating sites) and that has a long list of links to other blogs. Then I sort through them until I find ones that are worth reading on a regular basis. Sometimes this list is long, sometimes I end up with only a few "favorites" in any given topic. I try not to be too obsessive about this -- but I do like to keep up with one or two blogs at a case you're interested in what tickles my fancy these days, I read blogs from Israel, miscellaneous Jewish blogs, blogs on babies and parenthood, and most oddly, perhaps, food blogs. My favorite of these is a blog I found called -- a stay-at-home mom who makes her kid these incredible lunches each day. After school let out, she slowed down her blogging and I'm not sure what she's doing this year for his lunches, but it was fun while it lasted. Each day, a new lunch! Crazy but so fun and cool. There are tons of weird and wonderful things out there in the elusive world of interneting....

Friday, September 01, 2006

"Legislating Sin"

Hard to believe that this one isn't front page....from the JTA Daily Briefing:

U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris (R-Fla.), the leading GOP contender for a Florida U.S. Senate seat, said not electing Christians amounts to “legislating sin.”

“If you are not electing Christians, tried and true, under public scrutiny and pressure, if you’re not electing Christians then in essence you are going to legislate sin,” Harris told the Florida Baptist Witness in an interview last week. “Whenever we legislate sin and we say abortion is permissible and we say gay unions are permissible, then average citizens who are not Christians, because they don’t know better, we are leading them astray and it’s wrong.”

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who is Jewish, told the Orlando Sentinel that Harris’ comments were “disgusting.”

Harris, who also described the separation of church and state as a “lie,” later issued a clarification to Fox News saying that she is pro-Israel and supports Holocaust education.

And do we think that our local Republicans feel any different? I like how she covers it up by saying she supports Holocaust education. Hard to believe there's anyone out there who doesn't.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

What holidays?

Hard to believe that we are almost here....September 1st (tomorrow)... and the fall is truly upon us! We had kindergarten orientation this afternoon at Am Shalom, which means that school is really and truly just around the corner!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Speaking Truth to the Powerless

This interesting letter by a man named David White, who calls himself an agnostic, is a fascinating read. Speaking as a New Zealander, far removed from the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, he doesn't say anything new exactly, but he says it in a very blunt way that I'm not sure a Jew or a Muslim could "get away with." What do you think?

An excerpt:

Why I Stand. As I said, I do not, and I will not, support the Palestinian cause. Why not? I have a number of reasons, and here they are: 1. You have made it clear beyond any shadow of doubt that you intend to destroy Israel and kill or drive out its Jewish population. This is genocide, pure and simple. You justify this by saying that Israel has committed many crimes against your people, and that you seek "justice". I say this in response- NOTHING WHATSOEVER is an acceptable justification for genocide. Loss of land, humiliation at being militarily defeated - others have suffered these and moved on to create new nations and opportunities for themselves.
Examples abound- the Germans thrown out of East Prussia in Europe, 1945, the Nationalist Chinese who fled to Taiwan in 1949, to name but two. Germans and Taiwanese have coped with military defeat and the loss of land. They haven't warred with their neighbors, nor have they launched terrorist attacks upon them. Both countries have more wealth than any Arab nation. Why can't Palestinians cope? Are Germans and Chinese better able to deal with adversity than Arabs?
2. You have accused the Israelis of "genocide" against you. Here's a question for you: Israel has atomic bombs and powerful military forces. If they really, truly wanted you all dead, they could easily do it. Why haven't they? If the Israelis went all-out, you would be, as we say in New Zealand, "dog tucker". Why did they spend so much time negotiating with your leaders? Because Israel wants peace and secure borders. You refuse to give them even those. You plan genocide and accuse Israel of the same crime. Prove it!

Although he doesn't comment on this directly, I was fascinated by a similar parallel: When anti-Muslim political cartoons were published in Denmark, Muslims rioted and destroyed and killed. When Iran puts on a gallery exhibition of anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist political cartoons, in their opinion to "test Western limits of free speech/expression," no one rioted, destroyed, or killed. No one really even questioned the right of the gallery to exist! Had it taken place in America, probably a demonstration would have occurred -- but not rioting! Interesting how those responses are certainly different....hmmm...

Saturday, August 26, 2006

He's on our team!

Saturday's New York Times featured an article on Shawn Green. Even if you don't follow baseball, you might remember him as the one who refused to play on Yom Kippur. No, not Sandy Koufax. This is the modern version -- Shawn Green, who is now playing for the Mets.

The New York Times article was not about his baseball ability (which is pretty darn good) but rather about his religion! From the article:

Mr. Green, acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks this week to give the Mets an offensive lift as they look toward the playoffs, is the real deal. He is arguably the best Jewish baseball player since Koufax. He may be the most accomplished Jew to wear a New York uniform since Harry “the Horse” Danning, a four-time All-Star for the Giants in the 1930’s.

And his people are clamoring to embrace him. “I must have gotten 20 calls yesterday and today,” said Alan Freedman, the director of the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in Suffolk County, who recalled bringing a transistor radio into Hebrew school in 1963 to listen to Mr. Koufax’s World Series exploits. “Everyone is asking me: ‘How can I get in touch with Shawn Green? How can I get him to come to our temple?’ ”

On the streets of Borough Park, Brooklyn, where Orthodox Jews predominate, Alan Moskowitz, a 33-year-old schoolteacher, said he was thrilled to welcome Mr. Green, whose baseball cards he has sought out since his rookie season in 1993.

“He’s a team player, and he’s on our team, if you know what I’m saying,” Mr. Moskowitz said.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Reform Jewish Youth...

I just returned from NFTY (North American Federation of Temple Youth) Summer Kallah, a convention of high school youth groupers from the Northern and Chicago Regions. One hundred forty teenagers were together up at OSRUI in Oconomowoc. I spent two nights up there and joined the teens in their study sessions, worship services, meals, etc.... (Why? I am the Chicago Region Rabbinic Advisor)

I was, as always, impressed by a group of kids who come together to live and celebrate Judaism. I was, this time, a little shocked by one thing. The rabbinic faculty of the region generally come together on one day of this event to teach...a dozen rabbis and educators from around Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, Minneapolis join together to teach our teens. It's a great opportunity for us to meet with the youth groupers and it's a nice opportunity for them to get to know rabbis other than their own. This year the topic was Israel. We felt that most of these kids might not have had a chance to talk to a rabbi or perhaps anyone about the current situation...and in some ways we were right.

Most of the kids had little or no opinion on the war in Israel.
Most of the kids had little or no knowledge of what is going on in Israel.
Most of the kids didn't follow the news about Israel.
Many of the kids didn't have any...interest in Israel...

And I was shocked.

Do we as an American Jewish community have a responsibility to be informed about Israel? I believe the answer is yes.

Do we as an American Jewish community teach our young people the value of Zionism? I'm not sure that we're doing such a good job on that front.

What do you think?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

243 North American Immigrants Arrive in Israel Last Thursday

Look at this great picture!

The caption, from Arutz Sheva, Israel National News:

A new oleh (immigrant) blows a ram's horn, invoking the daily Jewish prayer: "Sound the great shofar for our freedom and gather us together from the four corners of the world to our land."

From the article:

The first chartered plane of a record-setting week of Western Aliyah arrived in Israel Thursday, with not a single one of the 243 immigrants signed up backing out or postponing due to the war.

The plane touched down and pulled alongside a special hangar near Ben Gurion Airport’s Terminal 1, where the new immigrants were greeted by hundreds of well wishers, family, friends, IDF soldiers, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter and prominent American Aliyah supporter Rabbi Hershel Schachter.

Definitely click on the article link. It's worth it to see all the pictures of all those new immigrants to Israel. It makes me so proud.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Outwitting History...A Fabulous Read!

I just finished reading a fantastic book: Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man Who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books by Aaron Lansky.

First of all, it was just a great read. The stories of Lansky's experiences as he collects books around the whole world are awesome. The characters that he encounters leap off the page like the real people that they are and make you wish that you were sitting at the table with them sharing the stories that they share with Aaron.

Secondly, it truly made me, a person with very little Yiddish literature experience, want to learn Yiddish! Any interest out there?

Third, it made me proud of what we as an American Jewish community can accomplish. I loved Aaron's descriptions of the manner in which he raised the money for the Yiddish Book Center. And I want to visit this uniquely American's now on my list of places to visit!

Definitely a must-read. Highly recommended. Am Shalom's library has a copy...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Red Cross Workers Help Soldiers?

From today's New York Times, front page picture...caption:

Red Cross workers helped wounded Hezbollah fighters on a makeshift bridge at the Litani River in Lebanon on Wednesday.

Read the whole article here.

Now, read that caption again. Who's helping whom? Oh yes, it's the RED CROSS helping HEZBOLLAH. International relief agency assisting terrorist organization. Hmmm....

The "Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross", as found on their website here, states the following as one of its main guiding principles:

Neutrality: In order to continue to enjoy the confidence of all, the Movement may not take sides in hostilities or engage at any time in controversies of a political, racial, religious or ideological nature.

Am I missing something? How is it that they can knowingly help terrorists? Please explain. Considering the International Red Cross' long standing history of not welcoming Magen David Adom (Israel's version) into their organization (Magen David Adom was admitted in June along with the Palestinian Red Crescent), I have never been a big fan. But now!?

By the way, check out this great little video from Aish (not always my favorite organization, but I'm pleased with this one for sure!) that gives an excellent and brief explanation of some of the news photo fraud that has been propagated in the current war between Israel and Lebanon.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Slanted Media

I hate to cry "conspiracy" and I am not prepared to believe that Israel hasn't made a few mistakes in its battles. But I also believe that this is a war, and sadly, people die in war. As evidenced by my previous posting, I do believe that Israel has a right to defend herself (that is not even strong enough language to explain how I feel!) and I am proud of her military and civilians for it. What I cannot fathom is how the world's media seems to be completely aligned against our little country, and how completely snowed over the rest of the world seems to be by this... I have always urged caution when reading the news about Israel. I regularly give out the website of CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, which regularly points out discrepancies in media coverage.

And as my husband regularly asks me, "why are you still shocked?"

But I am. And I continue to be shocked at the horribly biased media coverage. I truly am thankful for the Internet which allows me a variety of opinions and the ability to see many different sources of news. But I fear for those who only get their news from mainstream sources... because I think it's all full of a lot of misconceptions, misleading statements, and in some case, Hezbollah-created LIES....all meant to sway sympathy to their cause. (A cause, by the way, which is entirely devoted to the destruction of Israel and by extension, world Jewry.)

This article by Tom Gross in the National Review sums it all up rather well, I think.

From the article:

CNN senior international correspondent Nic Robertson admitted that his anti-Israel report from Beirut on July 18 about civilian casualties in Lebanon was stage-managed from start to finish by Hezbollah. He revealed that his story was heavily influenced by Hezbollah’s “press officer” and that Hezbollah have “very, very sophisticated and slick media operations.”

When pressed a few days later about his reporting on the CNN program Reliable Sources, Robertson acknowledged that Hezbollah militants had instructed the CNN camera team where and what to film. Hezbollah “had control of the situation,” Robertson said. “They designated the places that we went to, and we certainly didn’t have time to go into the houses or lift up the rubble to see what was underneath.”

Robertson added that Hezbollah has “very, very good control over its areas in the south of Beirut. They deny journalists access into those areas. You don’t get in there without their permission. We didn’t have enough time to see if perhaps there was somebody there who was, you know, a taxi driver by day, and a Hezbollah fighter by night.”

The other disturbing trend is the emergence of blatant antisemitism in international media. Again from Tom Gross' article:

But meanwhile anti-Semitic coverage and cartoons are spreading across the globe. Norway’s third largest paper, the Oslo daily Dagbladet, ran a cartoon comparing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to the infamous Nazi commander SS Major Amon Goeth who indiscriminately murdered Jews by firing at them from his balcony — as depicted by Ralph Fiennes in Steven Spielberg’s film Schindler’s List. (A month earlier Dagbladet published an article, “The Third Tower,” which questioned whether Muslims were really responsible for the September 11 attacks.)

Antonio Neri Licon of Mexico’s El Economista drew what appeared to be a Nazi soldier with — incredibly — stars of David on his uniform. The “soldier” was surrounded by eyes that he had apparently gouged out.

A cartoon in the South African Sunday Times depicted Ehud Olmert with a butcher’s knife covered in blood. In the leading Australian daily The Age, a cartoon showed a wine glass full of blood being drunk in a scene reminiscent of a medieval blood libel. In New Zealand, veteran cartoonist Tom Stott came up with a drawing which equated Israel with al Qaeda.

At least one leading European politician has also vented his prejudice through visual symbolism. Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero wore an Arab scarf during an event at which he condemned Israel, but not Hezbollah, who he presumably thinks should not be stopped from killing Israelis.

I recommend the whole article. And I recommend that you find alternative sources to the mainstream media. At least read the Israeli press such as or YnetNews. It's worth your time to be as fully informed as possible.

Why we will not lose this war

Golani Company Commander, talking to his troops before entering Southern Lebanon:
"We will not lose this war. We did not start it, but it's our duty to protect the Jewish nation and see to it that the residents of Metula and Haifa can live in peace. If we don't do it, no one will. We waited 2,000 years for our own state, and we won't fold because a group of terrorists think that they can scare us. Someone who cannot protect his freedom does not deserve it."

Monday, July 31, 2006

Quote of the Day

Daphnie Cohen, Tel Aviv university student union spokeswoman - when asked if her support of the war had changed following the Qana bombing:

"I feel the same. I am proud of our army. I am proud of the state of Israel. I feel the same, because it is a war. "

She was interviewed on BBC Newshour, which I heard today on Chicago Public Radio. I couldn't figure out how to give you the whole interview here, but I was impressed with the conviction of the two Israeli university students who spoke eloquently about their support of their own country. They also spoke, as so many are doing verbally and in writing, mostly on the Internet, of how Hezbollah is attacking innocent civilians in Israel, yet world opinion often seems to forget that fact.

Only in Israel....

Check out this story from Naomi Ragen about what's on Israeli TV. (You must know that I actually love the American version of this TV show. But I'll never watch it the same way again...)

This is what you would see on television if you lived inIsrael. An Israeli version of The Biggest Loser, theAmerican weight-loss game show, except with an Israeli twist. Tonight, they explored how it was these past twoweeks for contestant Chani, mother of two, who lives inHaifa. They showed Chani and her two little girls and heraging parents as the sirens went off in Haifa, howfrightened the children were, huddling in fear against thewalls of their apartment, waiting for the bombs to fall."They can fall anywhere," Chani pointed out. "And you hearthem, and the whole apartment shakes."

So, how is Chanidoing with her diet during all of this? "Well, it really puts that piece of chocolate into perspective. I've learnedthis about myself: That I want to live. I really want tolive. Sometimes, I speak to friends in Tel Aviv, and theysay:'Oh, be strong. We are really sorry you have to gothrough this... ' And I realize that they just don't get it.It's the way I felt when I used to hear about rocketsfalling in Sderot. I just didn't get it. Those sirens...the wailing, the horrible wait, not knowing. And having it happen eight, nine times a day, and each time thinking: Am I going to die? And worst of all, you areresponsible for these children. They are yourresponsibility. You have to keep them safe."

Chani admitted she hadn't been able to exercise for the lasttwo weeks because of the bombs. But "Nasrallah won't stopme from losing weight."Chani is right. In the great weigh-in she managed to loseweight anyhow.

Only in Israel.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Extra Extra -- the News You Haven't Seen

These are the pictures of Hezbollah that everyone's talking about. We know it's true -- they're using civilians as human shields.

And on the same subject...Naomi Ragen, an American-born Israeli writer, sends out a regular email. Here's an excerpt from a recent column:

My son is in the army. He is not the type at all, believe me. Quiet, studious, a writer, a lover of Jewish history,Talmud, ethics. He spent two years in a pre-army program inthe Galilee called Karmei Chayil. He made many good friendsthere from all over the country, and now he and all his friends are in the army. One of them I know well. A bit chubby, with payot, and a great laugh. He and my son havebecome like brothers. While both of them tried out for the elite paratroopers unit, only he made it in. He and his unit are the ones in Lebanon.

They were there over a week, fighting under horrific conditions, running out of food andwater. Even though the Israeli airforce dropped tons ofleaflets warning civilians to flee because they were interrorist territory and likely to be injured, they still encountered civilians. My son spoke to his friendyesterday,and this is how he described it:

"The village looked empty, and then we heard noises comingfrom one of the houses, so we opened fire. But when wewent inside, we found two women and a child huddled in thecorner of the room. We were so relieved we hadn't hurtthem. We took up base in one of the empty houses. And thenall of a sudden, we came under intense fire. Three rocketswere fired at the house we were in. Only one managed todestroy a wall, which fell on one of us, covering him inwhite dust, but otherwise not hurting him. I spent thewhole time feeding bullets to my friend who was shootingnon-stop. We managed to killed 26 terrorists. Not one ofus was hurt.

Our commanding officer kept walking around,touching everybody on the shoulder, smiling and encouragingus: "We're are better than they are. Don't worry." Itcalmed us all down.

And really, we were much better thenthem. They are a lousy army. They only win when they hidebehind baby carriages."

Please remember this when you hear about the "atrocity" ofthe Israeli bomb dropped on Kfar Cana, killing manycivilians, a place from which Hezbollah has fired hundredsof rockets at Israel. Unlike previous administrations, Mr.Olmert has my respect when he says: "They were warned toleave. It is the responsibility of Hezbollah for firingrockets amidst civilians." Terrorists and their supporters have lost the right tocomplain about civilian casualties, since all they have donethis entire war is target civilians. Every single one of themore than 2,500 rockets launched into Israel, is launchedinto populated towns filled with women and children. Justtoday, another suicide belt meant to kill civilians inIsrael was detonated harmlessly by our forces in Nablus. So don't cry to me about civilian casualties. Cry to those using your babies and wives and mothers; cry to those whostore weapons in mosques, ambulances, hospitals, and privatehomes. Cry to those launching deadly rockets from the backyards of your kindergartens and schools. Cry to the heartless men who love death, and however many of theirtroops or civilians die, consider themselves victorious aslong as they can keep on firing rockets at our women and children. Save your sympathy for the mothers and sisters andgirlfriends of our young soldiers who would rather besitting in study halls learning Torah, but have no choicebut to risk their precious lives full of hope, goodness andendless potential, to wipe out the cancerous terrorist cellsthat threaten their people and all mankind. Make yourchoice, and save your tears. That terrorists have been unsuccessful in killing more ofour women and children is due to our army, God and prayers,not to any lack of motivation or intention on their part.

If you hide behind your baby to shoot at my baby, you are responsible for getting children killed. You and you alone.

We are all Israel

Kol Yisrael aravim zeh b'zeh. All Israel is responsible for one another.

You know, all over the world, Jews support Israel. But we in the Diaspora, while intensely invested and deeply connected to the State of Israel, do not have say in what happens there. We do not vote, and frankly, I don't think that the government of Israel would change their minds based on the opinions of Diaspora Jewry.

But we are so often held responsible anyway.

When a Muslim-American man forced his way into the Seattle Federation office, he was holding random Jewish people responsible for what is happening on the other side of the world, in Israel. Rational? Not so much. But it happened nevertheless. And frankly, I'm just waiting for the first person to "justify" this man's actions in response to Israel's.

It's amazing to me how for a short while, this was the head story on all the Israeli newspapers' sites, as well as made headlines in the print editions (see this story in Seattle's paper). As much as we are held responsible for what happens in Israel, I believe that Israelis also feel responsibility for us, the Diaspora, as well. Their shock at what happened is perhaps equivalent to our shock at a bomb that falls in downtown Haifa or a young IDF soldier killed by a terrorist raid.

To both communities, it is a Jewish life risked or lost. Each carry immense weight to our people, both those in Eretz Yisrael and those in the Diaspora.

May the day come swiftly when Jews of all nations are safe in their homes, workplaces, streets, synagogues, kibbutzim...when all shall sit under their vines and fig trees, and none shall make them afraid. In our days? With God's help, for our children and their children.

Friday, July 28, 2006

What do you call the husband of a rabbi?

The Christian Science Monitor ran this story about women in the clergy that I found really interesting (some excerpts, click for the full story)...

Women clergy bring a new sensibility to an old calling

Some Christian and Jewish clergywomen with years of experience - and who've reached the challenging and often-elusive post of senior pastor- say they still encounter resistance. They point to frontiers thatremain, but are also encouraged by the strides already made.

"I wanted to be a rabbi long before women could, but I didn't think itwould happen in my lifetime," says Rabbi Susan Grossman, who leads Beth Shalom, a Conservative Jewish congregation in Columbia, Md. "There's been more change in women's role in Judaism in the last 30 years than probably all of Jewish history!" Women of both faiths share the experiences of difficulty in findingjobs, being shunted into smaller, often remote congregations, andreceiving lower pay and fewer benefits than their male counterparts, as shown by studies of both Protestant clergy and Conservative Jewish rabbis.

Partly out of necessity and partly out of inclination, women have extended the boundaries of ministry beyond the congregation to serve as both military and hospital chaplains, educators, and counselors for social service agencies, according to a major 1998 study, "ClergyWomen: An Uphill Calling."Studies also show that clergywomen experience more stress than theirmale counterparts in a demanding occupation. As a result, a number are leaving the pulpit.

At the same time, clergywomen have been credited with being less interested in hierarchy and more in collegiality. They've brought newperspectives into the theological discussion, a more inclusive style, and opened the doors to worshippers who've felt disengaged from institutional religion.

"My mother often said that if there had been women rabbis when she was young, she wouldn't have been alienated from Judaism," says Ms. Grossman.


Jaqueline Ellenson, director of the Women's Rabbinic Network in the Reform Jewish movement, also points to progress. The more liberal Reform denomination was the first, in 1972, to ordain a woman rabbi -the recently retired Sally Priesand. Now 450 women constitute about aquarter of the 1,800 Reform rabbis.

"The walls are down in terms of attitudes toward women rabbis in themovement - getting jobs is no longer an issue," she says. But otherchallenges remain, particularly bringing about pay and benefit equity.

"And women are not moving up in the congregational hierarchy atthe same speed as men," she says. Only about a dozen women serve assenior rabbis in large congregations.

Yet women are having an impact on "conversations about prayer andspirituality, interpretations of text, and recovering of history," she adds. For instance, the project to produce the soon-to-be published revision of the Reform prayer book was headed by a woman.
Don't you find it a little disturbing that Rabbi Grossman is referred to as Ms. Grossman when quoted, instead of using her title, Rabbi? Do you think a man would have had his title equally changed? Hmm...

The age-old question...If the wife of a rabbi is known as a rebbetzin, what do you call the husband of a rabbi? The usual answer: Lucky!

(But in my house, we call him Rabbi, too!)


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Leo Baeck Education Center in HAIFA

The Leo Baeck Education Center in Haifa is an incredible institution -- a school, an absorption center, an early childhood center, and now, a shelter for so many who have nowhere to go in Haifa. I remember visiting the school and seeing hundreds of Israeli children receiving a Progressive Jewish education in an incredible environment.

Up until a few days ago, the facility was closed.

Recently, Leo Baeck opened its underground parking garage (safer underground, of course) as a community center. This is from a member of their staff, Rebecca Kristovsky:

My two joined eighty other Haifa children and some of their parents six floors below me, in what was yesterday the lowest level of the Leo Baeck parking garage, and has today become an indoor play and activity area. Leo Baeck was approved by the Home Command of the IDF and the Haifa Municipality to run an emergency children's center in the safety of our subterranean parking garage.

Leo Baeck Community Center has again opened its doors and opened its
arms to populations in need.

Leo Baeck Community Center staff, together with volunteer reinforcements from the City of Haifa, have created a play area with board games, arts and crafts, foosball and air hockey, giant inflatable 'jolly jumpers' and climbing equipment, a clown performing magic tricks and making balloon animals, and an underground movie theater showing cartoons. Seven soldiers from the educational branch of the IDF and Home Command units are doing their service protecting, and entertaining, the children of Haifa.

The Director of Development at Leo Baeck explains the following:

Never before have we found ourselves on the front line of battle.

Never before have we witnessed this level of trauma.

In order to continue and to expand the emergency day camp we require $40,000.
Multipurpose mattresses for longer term occupation of our bomb shelters will cost $7,500. Emergency lighting, almost $1,300. Appropriate stocks of dry goods, over $10,000. Games, puzzles, toys - $2,500.

In the darkest days of the Jewish People on the eve of World War II, Albert Einstein said, "The power of resistance which has enabled the Jewish People to survive for thousands of years has been based, to a large extent, on traditions of mutual helpfulness. In these years of affliction, our readiness to help one another is being put to an especially severe test. May we stand this test as well as did our fathers before us."

May it be His will, and may the soldiers of Israel be crowned with victory.

Aharon Pulver
Director of Development

What I think is most incredible about all this -- what makes me so proud to be a Jew, so proud to support a country that is MY country, that holds the values and ideals and beliefs that I hold so dear -- is the following from Rabbi Ron Symons:

Despite this, the Board of Directors has made a commitment to pay salaries even though all tuition payments and fees are being returned. Over thecourse of the first 9 days of the war, we estimate that are initial loss isover $185,000. With each day of the war, we estimate our losses mounting by$18,000.

Staring on July 25, at the request of the Haifa Municipality, we will convert the 3rd level of our subterranean garage (already outfitted as a shelter) into a 'Gymboree' gymnasium for young children throughout Western Haifa. Of course, we agreed to provide these services even before we knew from where the $37,000 to provide the gymnasium equipment will come.

During a normal week, over 4,500 single-use individuals walk through the doors of Leo Baeck in order to explore Jewish living. Now, no one is walking through our doors, but we must maintain our commitments and we are fully committed to the safety of those on our campuses.

It is a Jewish obligation to support our workers, even in the face of a war. But somehow this institution needs to be supported as well.

To send tax-deductible donations to Leo Baeck: The Leo Baeck Education Center Foundation3555 Timmons Lane, Suite 1440Houston, TX 77027

There are thousands of stories and thousands of people affected by the current war situation. This is just one institution doing its part. Let's help them out.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Following the War

Friday night at services, I spoke about the need to keep track of what's going on in Israel, and to do whatever we can. While I get most of my Israel news directly from two Israeli websites: and, two English language versions of Israeli newspapers, I also find so much information and inspiration in the form of the blogosphere -- what you're reading right now! Here are a few great blogs that I think are so useful for getting the real pulse of what's going on in Israel...

An Unsealed Room
The View from Here
This Normal Life
Jerusalem Diaries

Most of them have links to other blogs. Find the ones that you think are interesting. There are so many out there. Some people are really regular about updating, and others are a bit slower. Either way, you can gain a great insight into the general feeling in Israel right now.

Also, I wanted to give you two other important links, organizations through which you can make donations to assist in whatever is needed in the state of Israel:

The Union for Reform Judaism's Israel Emergency Fund
The Jewish Agency for Israel

Now is the time not to lose our faith in the State of Israel.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Do you feel like the world is ignoring Gilad Shalit?

Sometimes I think there's just so much news out there today... stuff just gets lost. Remember Baby Jessica? She completely dominated the newsmedia for the few days of her entrapment in that that kind of news domination just doesn't happen.

But check out this blog entry ....

Tie a blue ribbon for Gilad. Don't let him be forgotten. Then FOR SURE Hamas is winning this battle.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Welcome back to my blog!

I have decided to resume blogging! I think that it can be a fun and interesting way to keep in touch with the Am Shalom community and to share my thoughts with you in an informal way. I also think that it's one of those cool new communication tools that we need to embrace. So here you'll find my thoughts, random and not-so-random....I'll try to keep it interesting, sometimes deep and sometimes light. I'll share links to things like news stories and other stuff that I find relevant to us and maybe book reviews, movie reviews, and the like. Stay tuned since I have lots of ideas and at the same time no idea what I'm going to post! Feel free to email me with your responses (see for my email's generally not a great idea to post your email address on a blog) or make comments here in the blog. This might be a great opportunity to connect with you all!

Stay tuned....
Rabbi Phyllis