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."