Saturday, September 29, 2007

Paying attention to the stop signs-a yizkor message

News item: An idea to give drivers pause
Oak Lawn officials are hoping some creative signage will get motorists to hit the brakes

If the red, octagon-shaped, universally known stop signs aren't enough to get motorists in Oak Lawn to step on the brakes, the mayor hopes adding a snide or comic remark will.
Signs in the same shape and color with such sayings as "and smell the roses," "right there pilgrim," "or we'll hunt you down" and "means that you aren't moving," were attached to 50 stop signs in a campaign launched Friday by Mayor Dave Heilmann.The new signs were placed at troublesome intersections and near schools, Heilmann said. Too often, drivers roll past those signs, barely tapping the brakes."I thought it might make people smile and take notice," he said. "You've got people on their cell phones, their BlackBerries and iPods while driving. Those are all distractions. Hopefully, when they see a sign they're not expecting it might make them stop."

My reflection" Do we roll through the signs telling us to stop? What will it take to wake us up?
1. Our health? eating, drinking, smoking, not exercising2.
2. Our realtionships-children? Spouses? Parents? Freinds
3. God? Sinning
4. Rolling through life, going through the motions?
5. Is the Torah our stop sign? is Yizkor>

Cruelty and Mercy 1.Iran 2. Teen drinking

And so we learn:
One who becomes compassionate instead of cruel, will ultimately become cruel instead of compassionate, as it is written (I Samuel 22:19): “And Nov, the city of priests, he smote with the edge of a sword.” Is Nov any worse than the descendants of Amalek?!

Midrash Rabba, Ecclesiastes 7:16.

1. Time to be cruel, not merciful-Iran and bomb-and Sukkot Haftorot The Haftorot during the Festival of Sukkot speak of end times-a huge final battle of Gog and Magog, and final a celebration in Jerusalem at the end when all nations will celebrate Sukkot and recognizes Adonai as God (the final verse of Alenu prayer comes from this Zachariah Haftarah.) Sometimes the events of the world feel like those days.
From The Chicago Tribune editorial Saturday:

Case closed? You wish
Fresh from his performance as a human pinata at Columbia University, the Iranian president took the opportunity this week to remind the nations of the world just how much contempt he and his country held for the UN Security Council. In sum, a lot.
After two sets of sanctions, and many more deadlines for Iran to suspend its nuclear program, Ahmadinejad dared the nations of the world to stop Iran's nuclear program. He scoffed at the power of the UN Security Council and declared that "the nuclear issue of Iran is now closed."
That brought the quick response from the U.S: You wish.
"The Iranian president is badly mistaken if he thinks the international community is going to forget about the fact that his country is continuing -- against the will of the UN Security Council -- its nuclear research programs," said Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns.
And from Germany: "Let's not fool ourselves," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said. "If Iran were to acquire the nuclear bomb, the consequences would be disastrous."One of the sharpest warnings came from France's new president, Nicolas Sarkozy. Allowing Iran to build a bomb, he said, would be an "unacceptable risk to the stability in the region and in the world." In his first major foreign policy speech a few weeks ago, he startled some of his countrymen by asserting that Iran could be attacked militarily if it did not abide by Security Council resolutions to suspend its uranium enrichment program.

Whatever Iran does, or doesn't, divulge about its years of deceit is beside the point. Tehran is still running its outlaw nuclear program. It is building and installing centrifuges, enriching uranium and following a path that could lead to the bomb. It is defying the Security Council.
Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune

2. Don't be merciful (too buddy buddy with our kids when we should be tough:
Remember the Hutsells
In all likelihood, you won't read in these pages again about Jeffrey and Sara Hutsell. They're the Deerfield parents who opened their home for a teen drinking party. In the aftermath, two kids died in a car crash near their home.

On Wednesday, the Hutsells were sentenced for allowing underage drinking at their home, endangering a child and obstruction of justice.

Sara Hutsell was ordered to serve 18 months of probation, do 250 hours of public service, pay a $500 fine and donate $1,000 each to Students Against Drunk Driving and the Lake County Children's Advocacy Center.

...That's likely to be the last public chapter in a case that has, we hope, scared many parents away from hosting teen drinking parties.

A note to parents and teens who might have been watching this case with some detached interest: The punishment meted out Wednesday won't end the Deerfield couple's ordeal. They're likely to face one or more civil lawsuits. There will be the unimaginable pain that comes from knowing that your action -- or inaction -- contributed to the deaths of two teens. Judge Christopher Stride called the Hutsells' actions "a mistake ... that will resonate for a lifetime." Resonate? No, the correct verb there is haunt.

Some parents will, however, ignore this message, just as kids often ignore anti-drinking messages on the illusory grounds that bad things like car accidents only happen to other people. They'll continue to open their homes to teens for drinking parties. They'll shrug and trot out the usual rationalization -- the kids will drink anyway. They'll continue to confiscate the kids' car keys and pat themselves on the back for keeping their teen and his or her friends "safe." They may even secretly, or not so secretly, pride themselves on being a "cool" parent, a friend to their teen rather than an adversary.

They won't remember the Hutsells.

Remember the Hutsells."

Friday, September 28, 2007

New videos on Zioinism

see my new youtube videos

Zionism-The Jewish people's right to Israel Jewu 243

2 8 day miracles-the Sukkot-Hannukah tie

"Miraculous survival story
After a crash, a woman survives eight days trapped in her car without food or water. "
Fantastick. Hannukah is really 8 days because opur ancestors could not celebrate Sukkot that year since the temple was desecrated. But still,
So why can't oil meant for one day, last 8?
See the new youtube video

Sukkot-Hannukah connection Jewu 244

Thursday, September 27, 2007

She wasn't at 9-11-made the whole thing up?

Tania Head’s story, as shared over the years with reporters, students, friends and hundreds of visitors to ground zero, was a remarkable account of both life and death.
She had, she said, survived the terror attack on the World Trade Center despite having been badly burned when the plane crashed into the upper floors of the south tower.Crawling through the chaos and carnage on the 78th floor that morning, she said, she encountered a dying man who handed her his inscribed wedding ring, which she later returned to his widow.Her own life was saved, she said, by a selfless volunteer who stanched the flames on her burning clothes before she was helped down the stairs. It was a journey she said she had the strength to make because she kept thinking of a beautiful white dress she was to wear at her coming marriage ceremony to a man named Dave.But later she would discover, she said, that Dave, her fiancé, and in some versions her husband, had perished in the north tower.
....But no part of her story, it turns out, has been verified.The family and friends of the man to whom she claimed to be engaged say they have never heard of Tania Head and view the relationship she describes with the man, who truly died in the north tower, as an impossibility.
A spokeswoman for Merrill Lynch & Company, where she told people she worked at the time of the terror attack, said the company had no record of employing a Tania Head.A Résumé With Many Holes. The board of the Survivors’ Network voted this week to remove her as president and as a director of the group, which seeks to support those who escaped the terror that day. “Tania Head is no longer associated with the World Trade Center Survivors’ Network,” its acting president, Richard Zimbler, said yesterday."

Why did she compelled to make that up? Wanted attention? Felt inadequate as she was?
The hasidic Rabbi Zusyia taught us God will not ask us why we weren't like x, God will only want to know whether we were as good and holy as we could have been. The measuring scale for each of us is tailor made for us individually.

Terra-Cotta warriors and view of life-yizkor message

China's terra-cotta warriors descend on the British
By Robert Barr | Associated Press
September 27, 2007

In the former reading room of the British Library, where Karl Marx labored on "Das Kapital," visitors can stand almost face-to-face with commanding, life-size figures of warriors, archers, horses, musicians, acrobats and a charioteer.
Their faces are impassive; only a bronze goose turns an inquisitive eye toward the visitor.
The exhibition, running through April 6, includes 19 human figures selected from the more than 7,000 figures discovered in 1974 near the tomb of the emperor Qin Shihuangdi.

"It's all about the afterlife, that he wanted to go on ruling the universe in the afterlife," said curator Jane Portal.
The imperial tomb is a display of "funereal megalomania" on a scale never seen before in Asia, said Lukas Nickel, a lecturer on Chinese archeology at University College, London. Qin brought all of China under his rule in 221 B.C. and started the construction of the Great Wall. Coins on display point to his achievement of imposing a unified currency on the nation. He presumed not just to unify China, but the spirit realm as well."

I was in China with my daughter in 2001 and saw the 7000 figures. They are amazing. Some of the burial sites of the Chinese deceased emperers are as big as cities. They and the Pharaohs tried to take it with them, and have protection. A recent discovery of a Viking Queen buried in a 70 foot boat was made, and a small body was found near her, which scholars speculate mught be a servant killed to tend to her in the next world. Judaism embraces life, in this world but has no notion about ruling the after world. The focus is on this-world and judgement by God in the world-to-come. Yizkor reminds us firmly of the loss, that we can't take it with us except the memories and good we leave behind, and what we do take is our immortal soul.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

new video on Lulav

Sukkot Lulav and etrog shown and discussed Jewu 240

What to focus on today? My top 4

What to focus on today? My top 4
1. Health body-let's try and eat well and exercise
2. Earth's health: Our adult ed committee met last night and asked that we prioritize educationally healthy eco habits
so do our part to reduce harm to the Earth - Recycle/ Use one water bottle and refill it/Less meat/bike or walk more/ Unplug unused appliances/ Take grocery bags to the store to refill/
3. Israel's and the world's security-no nuclear Iran
4. How can I best be a good Jew? How to Learn?Live?Love?

Judaism: Learn/Live/Love God and your fellows
Learn-study about Sukkot today.
Live-get that Sukkah up/prepare yontiff meals/light candles for Yom tov tonight,Thursday night/Friday night Shabbat/come to synagogue for Sukkot services/kiss that mezuzah/
Love: pray today/be a mentch-no gossip, smile,be helpful,give, start with the family and freindship,work and neighbor circle

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

New Video on youtube Sukkah 123 an easy to assemble canvass SUKKAH JEWU 238

Sukkah 123 an easy to assemble canvass SUKKAH JEWU 238

Monday, September 24, 2007

My outline of Gelb's critique of Mearsheimer and Walt book

Leslie Gelb published a great review of the troubling book by Mearsheimer and Walt in the NYT book review section Sunday. Here is MY OUTLINE of his arguments using his words.

Dual Loyalties
Published: September 23, 2007
Jennifer Daniel
By John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt.
484 pp. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. $26.

1. John Mearsheimer, a professor at the University of Chicago, and Stephen Walt, a professor at Harvard, can’t, because the Middle East is vital and because they’re arguing that the Jewish lobby pushes policy in directions that “jeopardize U.S. national security.”
2. This commentary could not be more serious, and I believe that the authors are mostly wrong, as well as dangerously misleading. Former President Jimmy Carter made similar points, if rather hotly and self-righteously, in his recent book, “Palestine Peace Not Apartheid.” Mearsheimer and Walt, together with Carter and their phalanx of backers at universities and research institutes, have to be answered, not by calling them anti-Semites, but on the merits.
3. no one familiar with their extensive scholarship or their lives ever accused them of harboring anti-Semitic sentiments ... until the appearance of their article last year. …“They asked for trouble” — by the way they make their arguments, by their puzzlingly shoddy scholarship, by what they emphasize and de-emphasize, by what they leave out and by writing on this sensitive topic without doing extensive interviews with the lobbyists and the lobbied.
1. Publishing these one-liners as some kind of evidence is not the stuff of good scholarship.
2. Mearsheimer and Walt move on to one story after another, premised on the lobby’s domination of United States policy toward the Middle East. But they rarely back that premise up.
3. There isn’t much discussion about the $2 billion yearly aid package for Egypt. The United States regards this $5 billion as insurance against an Egyptian-Israeli war, and it’s cheap at double the price.
4. But instinctively and without being lobbied, American presidents don’t want to gang up on Israel, since virtually every other state does so. While most countries hammer Israel for crackdowns on the Palestinians, they hardly ever criticize Palestinian terrorists or other Arab terrorists and say little about the misdeeds of Arab and Muslim dictators.
5. As for the American government, the record clearly shows that when Israel crosses certain important lines, as when it expanded Jewish settlements into Palestinian areas like the West Bank and Gaza, Washington usually expresses its displeasure in public and, even more so, in private. Mearsheimer and Walt just don’t mention that.
6.. More troublingly, they don’t seriously review the facts of the two most critical issues to Israel and the lobby — arms sales to Arab states and the question of a Palestinian state — matters on which the American position has consistently run counter to the so-called all-powerful Jewish lobby.

7. But at a deeper level, one ignored by Mearsheimer and Walt, these problems would not disappear or seriously lessen if Washington abandoned Israel. The main source of anti-Americanism and anti-American terrorism is America’s deep ties with highly unpopular regimes in countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, not to mention the war in Iraq.
8. Similarly, Mearsheimer and Walt mostly dodge the question of how to fix this problem. They don’t want to abandon Israel, they say, but they do want the United States to distance itself from Israeli policies. Does that mean talking to the Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists? These groups are relentlessly committed to violence and to the total destruction of Israel. What is there to talk about?

9. As for pressing Israel to turn over the territories and accept Palestinian statehood now, there is the slight problem of which Palestinians to bargain with — the Hamas leaders, who genuinely have broad support, or the far less popular and far more corrupt Fatah party. Besides, what concessions do Mearsheimer and Walt want Israel to make beyond what it has made? In the closing days of the Clinton administration, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak met almost all Palestinian demands for a negotiated solution and was effectively turned down.
10.. historically, the prime effect of the relationship has been to provide Arab leaders and discontented Arabs with an excuse for not putting their own houses in order. I doubt Mearsheimer and Walt believe that if Washington stiff-armed Israel, this would induce Arab leaders to address their real problems or produce peace in the Middle East.
11. Then there is the issue of nuclear weapons and taming the proliferation genie. Yes, Israel’s nuclear ability adds to the hurdles Washington faces. But Mearsheimer and Walt should know that the driving force behind Saddam Hussein’s quest for these arms had much less to do with Israel’s nuclear weapons than with the threats he saw from Iran and the United States. The same is true for Iran today. Like Hussein, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad knows that only the United States can topple him and the regime of the mullahs he represents, and he wants the bomb principally for deterrence.
12. America’s central strategic problem in the region — the main reason to worry about future terrorists, nuclear proliferation and energy supplies — is that we need our corrupt, inept and unpopular Arab allies because the likely alternative to them is far worse. There is no reliable and strong Arab moderate force in the Middle East at present. Washington’s long-term goal must be to help build one. Yet Mearsheimer and Walt offer us no counsel on how to do this.
13. As it happens, America’s commitment to Israel rests far more on moral and historical grounds than on strict strategic ones. Israel does not harm American security interests to anywhere near the degree that Mearsheimer and Walt claim it does. And the major reality is that despite whatever difficulties the Israeli-American relationship might cause, the United States is helping to protect one of the few nations in the world that share American values and interests, a true democracy. This is the greatest strategic bond between the two countries. (And not to be overlooked is the fact that when push has come to shove, Israel has always defended itself.)
14. The inevitable last question is this: Why have two such serious students of United States foreign policy written so weak a book and added fuel, inadvertently, to the fires of anti-Semitism? The answer lies in their treatment of the Iraq war. Their vitriol about the Iraq war — about being so right while others were so wrong — is so overwhelming that they minimize two key facts. First, America’s foreign policy community, including many Democrats as well as Republicans, supported the war for the very same reasons that Wolfowitz and the lobby did — namely, the fact that Hussein seemed to pose a present or future threat to American national interests. Second, the real play-callers behind the war were President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. They hardly have a history of being in the pockets of the Jewish lobby (more like the oil lobby’s), and they aren’t remotely neoconservatives. The more we know, the clearer it is that the White House went to war primarily to erase the “blunder” of the elder Bush in not finishing off Saddam Hussein during the Persian Gulf war of 1991.
Now, Mearsheimer and Walt fear that Israel and the lobby will shove the United States into a new war with Iran: “They are the central forces today behind all the talk ... about using military force to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities. Unfortunately, such rhetoric makes it harder, not easier, to stop Iran from going nuclear.” …Meanwhile, plenty of foreign policy experts and politicians now call for “getting Iran.” And by the way, so do the two most powerful men in America, who neither need nor heed lobbying — George Bush and Dick Cheney.

Leslie H. Gelb, a former columnist for The Times and the president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, is finishing a book on international power in the 21st century.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

My Do it yourself jewish prayer videos on youtube

Shma first and last paragraphs sung JewU 149
Mourner's kaddish how to say it JewU 139
Jewish Songs and prayers series #3 JewU 137
Sabbath Kiddush sanctification and havdalah JewU 96
Hannukah songs and blessings sung JewU 69
Final prayers: ein kelohenu, alenu, adon olam sung Jewu 232
Yigdal Prayer ends Shabbt eve services Jewu 236
Half and Full Kaddish sung Jewu 237
Jewish Songs series 1 Birkat hamazone JewU 134
Jewish Blessings Brachote -2 JewU 166
Jewish Songs and prayers series #3 JewU 137
Jewish Songs and Prayers Series #4 JewU 144
Jewish Songs and Prayers series #5 JewU 145
Jewish Songs and Prayers series #6 JewU 146
Jewish Memorial prayer chanted-El Moleh rahamim jewu 215
Jewish Healing Prayer Jewu 217

2 more videos on youtube

new videos
Yigal Prayer ends Shabbt eve services Jewu 236
Half and Full Kaddish sung Jewu 237

new videos on youtube

New videos
Books used referred to in High Holiday sermons JewU 234
Rabbi Reflects on News 5 JewU 235

Book titles used in High Holidays sermons requested

I particularly enjoyed services and sermons this year -- though your most recent sermon always seems to be the best. Thanks for inspiring me. I saw the same newspaper articles this week and thought "that's interesting," but you show me -- all of us -- how they relate to our lives and to Judaism.
I'd like to read a couple of the books you mentioned during your Yom Kippur sermons. I've already forgotten specifics. Could you send me titles and authors?

Thanks so much. Much appreciated
The Gift of the Jews by Cahill
Getting our Groove Back Scott Shay
Why Good Things happen to Good People Dr. Sheldon Post
How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci by Michael Gelb
Mainmonides' Code of Law and Ethics Mishneh Torah (abridged edition? Phillip Birnbaum

Carbon Nuetral sins and mitzvot

Oxford dictionary undergoes climate change on new words
By Kate Schuman Associated Press
September 23, 2007
Article tools
Carbon footprint, green audit and Chelsea tractor are among the raft of environmental terms being added to the latest Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, published Thursday in the United States and Britain.In the new edition, "carbon footprint" is defined as the amount of greenhouse gas emissions an individual is responsible for, while a "green audit" is an inspection of a company to define its impact on the environment. "Chelsea tractor" is a British slang term for a gas- guzzling sport-utility vehicle.
The additions also include "carbon-neutral,"
achieving a zero level of carbon dioxide emissions, and "emissions trading," selling or buying permits handed to nations or businesses to emit a certain level of carbon dioxide.

Rabbi reflects:In the beginning of the third chapter of Hilchot Teshuva (listen to audio for precise citation), the Rambam (Rabbi Moshe Maimonides, Spain-Egypt, 1135-1204) describes the famous notion of the "account" that each person has of Misvot and sins. A person whose Misvot exceed his sins is deemed a Sadik (righteous person), whereas one whose sins outweigh his Misvot has the status of a Rasha (wicked person), Heaven forbid. One whose sins and Misvot are equivalent is considered a Benoni ("middle" person). On Rosh Hashanah, the Rambam writes, every person's merits are weighed against his sins, and if his merits outweigh his sins he is sentenced to life; if his sins exceed his merits, then he is sentenced to death, Heaven forbid. If he is perfectly balanced between merits and sins, then his sentence is suspended until Yom Kippur.

The Rambam adds that this categorization applies to nations, as well: a nation whose merits outweigh their sins is deemed a righteous nation and is sentenced for life, while a nation whose sins exceed its good deeds is considered wicked and sentenced to destruction. Moreover, the Rambam writes, the entirety of mankind is also subject to this judgment. If the world's sins exceed its merits, then it is sentenced to destruction, Heaven forbid.

Point: we should be at least carbon nuetral in our sins and mitzvot,then do one mitzvah to tip balance.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Pork is a bridge to nowhere

Some called it a bridge to the future. Others called it the bridge to nowhere.

On Friday, Alaska decided the bridge really was going nowhere, officially abandoning the project in Ketchikan that became a national symbol of federal pork-barrel spending.

The $398 million bridge would have connected Ketchikan, on one island in southeastern Alaska, to its airport on another nearby island.

Rabbi reflects-pork is a bridge to nowhere. Give it up. Keep kosher

Hyphenated words are gone

News story just off the presses:
About 16,000 words have succumbed to pressures of the Internet age and lost their hyphens in a new edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary.

Bumble-bee is now bumblebee, ice-cream is ice cream and pot-belly is pot belly.
And if you've got a problem, don't be such a crybaby (formerly cry-baby).
The hyphen has been squeezed as informal ways of communicating, honed in text messages and emails, spread on Web sites and seep into newspapers and books.

Rabbi reflects Yizkor tie-one hyphen still is very critical and won't disappear-in evaluating our lives-the one on the tombstone between birth date and death.

Friday, September 21, 2007

New video our Cantor blowing shofar

Our cantor blowing shofar on video. Sound is not that great because my camera isn't terrific but you'll get the idea of why he is such a great shofar blower, besides a great cantor.

An Amazing Shofar ram's Horn Service

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Nation's #1 accountant dies-our time to be accountants

I don't know him but see a link in nation's #1 accountant dying at a time we all are accountant's of our souls-the term is heshbone nefeshSidney Davidson: 1919 - 2007
U. of C. accounting scholar

Retired professor's research and academic leadership helped set a new standard in the field of accounting that reached Wall Street and beyond
By Mary Owen | Tribune staff reporter
September 19, 2007
Sidney Davidson was a nationally recognized accounting scholar whose research changed practices in boardrooms and on Wall Street.

"Sidney was a giant in the field of accounting," said Raymond Ball, the Sidney Davidson professor of accounting at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.

In a 1971 article about the influence of the University of Chicago, The New York Times said Davidson is "sometimes called the nation's number one accountant."

Rather lawsuit says he was 'scapegoat'

Rather lawsuit says he was 'scapegoat'

Lev. 16 Torah reading Yom Kippur day describes original Yom Kippur where High Priest took goat and made "escape goat" into wilderness with one and sacrificed other, carrying the sins of Israel cathartically away.

Associated Press

NEW YORK - A $70 million lawsuit filed by Dan Rather alleges CBS and its former parent company intentionally botched the aftermath of a discredited story about President Bush's military service to curry favor with the administration.

CBS spokesman Dana McClintock called Rather's complaints "old news" and said the lawsuit filed Wednesday in state Supreme Court in Manhattan was "without merit." Former CBS parent company Viacom Inc. had no comment.

The lawsuit claims Rather was made a "scapegoat" to placate the Bush administration after questions arose about the story, which concerned President Bush's military service during the Vietnam War.

Today we have no scapegoat-its just us and God. On Yom Kippur we don't blame anyone else, we look inward, accept responsibility and repent.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

My videos on the Upcoming Fall Holidays

My videos on the Upcoming Fall Holidays

Yom Kippur Jewish Atonement Day
How world's smartest person helps with Yom Kippur JewU 163
Repentance-Teshuva in Judaism
Origin of Yizkor memorial service
High Holiday Bible readings jewu 153
Biblical Book of Jonah-its meaning JewU 152
Sukkot and Simhat Torah

New video

New video on youtube
Final prayers: einmkelohenu, alenu, adon olam sung Jewu 232

Family Education Ideas

Family Education Ideas
1. Watch my videos on Yom Kippur and Sukkot and discuss them
Yom Kippur Jewish Atonement Day
How world's smartest person helps with Yom Kippur JewU 163
Repentance-Teshuva in Judaism
Origin of Yizkor memorial service
Biblical Book of Jonah-its meaning JewU 152
Sukkot and Simhat Torah

2. Build a Sukkah easy, fun and very meaningful

One easy way is order a Sukkah to put up this year. Go to or
Sukkah depot of Chicago
7512 N. St. Louis
Skoki, IL

2906 W.Devon Ave.

Its easy-even I can put one up (with Gail's help!)

3.. Watch my videos on the portion of the week and discuss them (probably 5th grade and up)

Breisheit Genesis Shabbat of Oct. 6
Torah Portion Breisheit Genesis and
Creationism Evolution A Jewish View

Noah Shabbat of Oct.13
Torah portion Noah and the flood

4. Come to services over Sukkot, especially Simhat Torah

1. Erev Sukkot Minyan Wednesday September 26, 2007
7:00 PM
2. Yontiff Day 1- Thursday with Rabbi Ginsburg,
September 27, 9:30 AM; Minyan 7:00 PM
3. Yontiff Day 2- Friday, September 28, 9:30 AM
4. Shabbat Hol Hamoed; Tot Shabbat 5:45 PM, Shabbat
Sukkot Dinner September 28, 6:30 PM-$15 members,
$17 non members, Rabbi Ginsburg & Lori Lippitz 8:00 PM
5. Lunch & Learn-September 29, 12:00 PM-Topic
Sukkot - $5.00
6. Erev Shemini Atzeret Wednesday, October 3, 7:00PM
7. Shemini Atzeret and Yizor Services-Thursday,
October 4, 9:30 AM Cantor Warschawski
8. Simchat Torah Celebration-Thursday, October 4,
6:00 PM-Dinner
7:00 PM Service, unrolling Torah Celebration
Pizza Dinner & Dance with the Torahs! RSVP-$9/Adult & $5/Child.
As we conclude the Torah readings for the year and begin again, share in
an evening of rejoicing and fun!!! Caramel apples and Israel Flags will
be provided.
All generations see Torah unrolled in sanctuary for Simhat Torah.
Friday, October 5, 9:30 AM
Simhat Torah Yontiff Service-Cantor Warschawski

5. To learn to chant Shabbat Kiddush, or Sat. night Havdalah, watch
Sabbath Kiddush sanctification and havdalah ceremonies chant

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Dying languages

Researchers say many languages are dying By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - When every known speaker of the language Amurdag gets together, there's still no one to talk to.


Native Australian Charlie Mungulda is the only person alive known to speak that language, one of thousands around the world on the brink of extinction.

From rural Australia to Siberia to Oklahoma, languages that embody the history and traditions of people are dying, researchers said Tuesday.

While there are an estimated 7,000 languages spoken around the world today, one of them dies out about every two weeks, according to linguistic experts struggling to save at least some of them.

Five hotspots where languages are most endangered were listed Tuesday in a briefing by the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages and the National Geographic Society.

In addition to northern Australia, eastern Siberia and Oklahoma and the U.S. Southwest, many native languages are endangered in South America — Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Brazil and Bolivia — as well as the area including British Columbia, and the states of Washington and Oregon.

Losing languages means losing knowledge, says K. David Harrison, an assistant professor of linguistics at Swarthmore College.

"When we lose a language, we lose centuries of human thinking about time, seasons, sea creatures, reindeer, edible flowers, mathematics, landscapes, myths, music, the unknown and the everyday."

As many as half of the current languages have never been written down, he estimated.

That means, if the last speaker of many of these vanished tomorrow, the language would be lost because there is no dictionary, no literature, no text of any kind, he said.

Rabbi Reflects: SO LEARN HEBREW-Its the language of the BIBLE

Mearsheimer and Walt

Tim Rutten, LA Times: "Anyone familiar with the tortured history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will have a hard time recognizing the history Mearsheimer and Walt rehearse. Every hoary old Israeli atrocity tale is trotted out, and the long story of Palestinian terrorism is rendered entirely as a reaction to Israeli oppression. The failure of every peace negotiation is attributed to Israeli deviousness under the shield of the American Israel lobby. There is nothing here of Palestinian corruption, division and duplicity or even of this unhappy people's inability to provide a reliable secular partner with whom peace can be negotiated.

At times, the authors simply contradict themselves, asserting -- rather remarkably -- at one point that the United States has nothing to fear from a nuclear-armed Iran and, at another, that the dangerous prospect of a nuke-equipped Tehran is the Israel lobby's fault. Similarly, they write, Al Qaeda would hammer its swords into ploughshares and Osama bin Laden would lay down with the lamb if only the United States would come out from under Israel's thrall and create by coercion a Palestinian state.

Baloney. If -- as was long ago proposed -- the Jewish state had been established in Uganda, the Twin Towers still would be rubble."

David Remnick, The New Yorker: "Where many accounts identify Osama bin Laden's primary grievances with American support of "infidel" authoritarian regimes in Islamic lands, Mearsheimer and Walt align his primary concerns with theirs: America's unwillingness to push Israel to end the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. (It doesn't matter that Israel and the Palestinians were in peace negotiations in 1993, the year of the first attack on the World Trade Center, or that during the Camp David negotiations in 2000 bin Laden's pilots were training in Florida.) Mearsheimer and Walt give you the sense that, if the Israelis and the Palestinians come to terms, bin Laden will return to the family construction business.

It's a narrative that recounts every lurid report of Israeli cruelty as indisputable fact but leaves out the rise of Fatah and Palestinian terrorism before 1967; the Munich Olympics; Black September; myriad cases of suicide bombings; and other spectaculars."

Steve Huntley, Chicago Sun Times: "The two go to lengths to try to rebut any suggestion of anti-Semitism in their criticism of the American Israeli Political Action Committee and other pro-Israel groups. But you can't read The Israel Lobby without realizing that whenever two interpretations exist for some action by Israel or its supporters, Mearsheimer and Walt automatically default to the darker view."

William Grimes , The New York Times: "The general tone of hostility to Israel grates on the nerves, however, along with an unignorable impression that hardheaded political realism can be subject to its own peculiar fantasies. Israel is not simply one country among many, for example, just as Britain is not. Americans feel strong ties of history, religion, culture and, yes, sentiment, that the authors recognize, but only in an airy, abstract way.

They also seem to feel that, with Israel and its lobby pushed to the side, the desert will bloom with flowers. A peace deal with Syria would surely follow, with a resultant end to hostile activity by Hezbollah and Hamas. Next would come a Palestinian state, depriving Al Qaeda of its principal recruiting tool. (The authors wave away the idea that Islamic terrorism thrives for other reasons.) Well, yes, Iran does seem to be a problem, but the authors argue that no one should be particularly bothered by an Iran with nuclear weapons. And on and on."

Mark LeVine, Asia Times: "Mearsheimer and Walt seem to know little about the Middle East, Israel's role in US foreign policy, and what are core US goals and strategic interests in the region. They argue that this is a case of the "tail wagging the dog" - a small client state and its allies in the US leading the US government to engage in policies that are manifestly against its interests because of undue political power. But this is nonsense. In fact, it is the other way around."

Richard Cohen, The Washington Post: "In the end, Mearsheimer and Walt disappoint. They had an observation worth making and a position worth debating. But their argument is so dry, so one-sided -- an Israel lobby that leads America around by the nose -- they suggest that not only do they not know Israel, they don't know America, either."

New youtube videos

Intro to Judaism terms #11 Kashrut/ Jewu 230
Intro to Judaism terms #12 Peoplehood/Convert/ Jewu 231
Intro to Judaism terms #13 Anti semitism/Holocaust Jewu 232
Intro to Judaism terms #14 Israel Jewu 233
Intro to Judaism terms #15 life cycle 1 Jewu 234
Intro to Judaism terms #16 life cycle 2 Jewu 235

Rabbi Reflects on the News

Rabbi Reflects:

1. News story this week:
Astronomers say Earth could survive sun's demise
International team finds similar planet that outlasted its star's change into a red giant
New York Times
Article Launched: 09/13/2007 12:01:00 AM CDT

There is new hope that Earth, if not the life on it, might survive an apocalypse 5 billion years from now.
That is when, scientists say, the sun will run out of hydrogen fuel and swell temporarily more than 100 times its diameter into a so-called red giant, swallowing Mercury and Venus.
Astronomers are announcing that they have discovered a planet that seems to have survived the puffing up of its home star, suggesting there is some hope that Earth could survive the aging and swelling of the sun. "
Earth may survive death of our star in 5 billion years. 3 points:
a. but will we have destroyed the earth before that, with our misuse?
Other news story is scientists are racing to identify most species they think we have not identified, and new DNA advances makes more possible, before they disappear from our ruining the world.
DNA-Reading Tool Helps Quickly Identify Species
downloadable pdf

Biologist Christopher Meyer (left) and zoologist Gustav Paulay examine cowries in the collection at UF's Florida Museum of Natural History.
Within a decade, scientists may be able to use a hand-held device to instantly identify any species from a snippet of animal tissue, says a University of Florida researcher.
That may be possible thanks to scientific advances that include the first test quantifying the effectiveness of a DNA identification tool among brightly colored shells. With an error rate as low as 4 percent, two UF scientists have been able to identify cowries collected from around the world by analyzing tissue samples from the marine organisms and comparing them to a comprehensive catalog of species they compiled.
The findings were published in the December issue of PLOS Biology.
“DNA barcoding — the ability to take a remnant of animal tissue or blood and compare it with a known database — has attracted widespread attention with its promise as a valuable aid in species identification and discovery,” said Christopher Meyer, a UF biologist and one of the researchers. “However, few comprehensive data sets are available to test its performance. This is the first study to actually put realistic numbers on it.”
Because species around the world are disappearing faster than biologists can identify them, the need for a quick and accurate method of classifying life has never been more pressing, Meyer said. With millions of animal species on Earth, DNA barcoding can be a helpful identification tool for ecologists who may not necessarily be taxonomy experts, he said."

b. Analogy with our lives-our individual bodies will flame out and be extinguished at some future point. Our soul survives that, if we live righteously and repent when we don't. Yom Kippur is a self-correction mechanism to help insure that.

c. Chgo Tribune editorial on it-"the grimer realization of
recent decades, -at a time of looming made-made cataclysms,-is that we do not live in geological or astronomical time. We live in ethical and cultural time. The sensible questions are how to live that time to the fullest and how to stave off a premature ending."

2. Madonna, not Jewish took name Esther and is in Israel calling herself "Ambassador for Judaism." Met with President Peres and gave him kabbala books.

a. convert already
b. why can't Jews be more "ambassadors for Judaism"? A cardiac surgeon new member and recent-Jew-by-choice spoke pre-selicote at our synagogue. He says he goes around asking his Jewish doctor and other Jewish friends if they light Shabbat candles and urges them to be more observant.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

New Videos

Want an intro to Judaism course? jewu 228
Terms for Intro to Judaism class session 1 Jewu 219
Terms for Intro to Judaism class session 2 Jewu 220
Terms for Intro to Judaism class session 3 Jewu 221
Intro to Judaism #4 Terms Jewish life/synagoue Jewu 222
Intro to Judaism #5 Terms Prayer Jewu 223
Intro to Judaism #6 Terms Jewish History Jewu 224
Terms for Intro to Judaism class #7 Shabbat Jewu 225
Intro to Judaism #8 Terms Time/ Jewu 226

As we prepare for Yizkor on Saturday

1. Alex the parrot
Calm down," Alex, an African Gray parrot, told Dr. Irene Pepperberg, the scientist at the University of Arizona who owns him. "Don't tell me to calm down," Dr. Pepperberg snapped. Sometimes Dr. Pepperberg and Alex squabble like an old married couple. He even says, "I love you."
For the last 22 years, Dr. Pepperberg has been teaching Alex, who is 23, to do complex tasks of the sort that only a few nonhuman species -- chimpanzees, for instance -- have been able to perform. But unlike those other creatures, Alex can talk, or at least, he can vocalize. And, Dr. Pepperberg says, Alex doesn't just imitate human speech, as other parrots do -- Alex can think. His actions are not just an instinctive response, she says, but rather a result of reasoning and choice.

Jeff Topping for The New York Times
Alex the parrot is urged to count objects by Dr. Irene Pepperberg of the University of Arizona.

So, just how smart is Alex?

Alexs dies this week. last words to the doctor?
As she put him into his cage for the night last Thursday, she recalled, Alex looked at her and said: “You be good, see you tomorrow. I love you.”
He was found dead in his cage the next morning, Dr. Pepperberg said.

2. Pavarotti
Died at 71 leaving one small child. Chgo Trib story by Garrison Keillor on him.
"That was his tragedy at the end. All that money and acclaim and a great career to look back on, but what he really wanted was 10 more years to see that kid grow up. Dear God, give us more time. The heart weeps at the thought."

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Let Osama bin Laden be first

"Osama bin Laden urged sympathizers to join the "caravan" of martyrs as he praised one of the Sept. 11 suicide hijackers in a new video that emerged Tuesday to mark the sixth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. "

I nominate him for the first one.

Why doesn't Israel do more to protect its citizens?

The IDF, who confirmed the
attack, said that the rockets were fired from Beit Hanun.

These attacks wounded 60 soldiers - could have killed many but we
were lucky. I don't get it. There is no nation on the face of the
earth that wouldn't consider this an all out act of war.
Some sugestions:alternative response to these shellings should be:
1. Create and drop leaflets with the names of 500-1000 of the top Hamas

officials/terrorists and demand that they deliver their bodies, dead or

alive to the Israeli border within 24 hours.
2. If this isn't done within 24 hours, turn off electricity for all of

3. If this isn't done within 48 hourse, cut off all water
4. If this isn't done in 72 hours, start shelling one kilometer per
into the Gaza Strip. The longer they wait, the less their country will

remain intact.

How many deads Israel's will it take? Hamas is lobbying missiles everyday.

But maybe we should let Israel's pros handle this-
Ehud Barak, the current Defense Minister and a former Prime Minister is
also a
former Chief of Staff of the IDF and is the most decorated officer in
the IDF
barring none. He is not Peretz. The current Chief of Staff is highly
The Head of Shin Bet is a highly respected professional.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

A wrinkle in time author dies

Madeleine L’Engle, Author of the Classic ‘A Wrinkle in Time,’ Is Dead at ...
“The cosmic battle between light and darkness, good and evil, love and indifference, personified in the mythic fantasies of the ‘Wrinkle in Time’ series, here is waged compellingly in its rightful place: within ourselves,” Carol Van Strum wrote in The Washington Post in 1980...

Her deeper thoughts on writing were deliciously mysterious. She believed that experience and knowledge were subservient to the subconscious and perhaps larger, spiritual influences.

“I think that fantasy must possess the author and simply use him,” she said in an interview with Horn Book magazine in 1983. “I know that is true of ‘A Wrinkle in Time.’ I cannot possibly tell you how I came to write it. It was simply a book I had to write. I had no choice.

“It was only after it was written that I realized what some of it meant.”

Much of her later work was autobiographical, although sometimes a bit idealized. Some books, like “A Stone for a Pillow: Journeys With Jacob” (1986) and “The Genesis Trilogy” (2001), combined autobiography and biblical themes. But she often said that her real truths were in her fiction.

“Why does anybody tell a story?” she once asked, even though she knew the answer.

It does indeed have something to do with faith,” she said, “faith that the universe has meaning, that our little human lives are not irrelevant, that what we choose or say or do matters, matters cosmically.”


NYT Magazine Snday on Freud

"Part of the appeal of Greek religion lay in the fact that it offered adherents direct, and often gorgeous, renderings of the immortals — and also, perhaps, the possibility of meeting them on earth. With its panoply of saints, Christianity restored visual intensity to religion; it took a step back from Judaism in the direction of the pagan faiths. And that, Freud says, is one of the reasons it prospered.
Judaism, on the other hand, never let go of the great renunciation. The renunciation, according to Freud, gave the Jews remarkable strength of intellect, which he admired, but it also made them rather proud, for they felt that they, among all peoples, were the ones who could sustain such belief.
Freud’s argument suggests that belief in an unseen God may prepare the ground not only for science and literature and law but also for intense introspection. Someone who can contemplate an invisible God, Freud implies, is in a strong position to take seriously the invisible, but perhaps determining, dynamics of inner life. He is in a better position to know himself. To live well, the modern individual must learn to understand himself in all his singularity. He must be able to pause and consider his own character, his desires, his inhibitions and values, his inner contradictions. And Judaism, with its commitment to one unseen God, opens the way for doing so. It gives us the gift of inwardness.
...Freud believed that he had suffered for his commitment to psychoanalysis (which did not and does not lack detractors) and clearly looked to Moses as an example of a great figure who had braved resistance to his beliefs, both by Pharaoh in Egypt and by his own people. Moses hung on to his convictions — much as Freud aspired to do."

to read


The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism.

By Norman Podhoretz.

230 pp. Doubleday. $24.95.


The Mullah Zealots’ Quest for Destruction.

By Michael A. Ledeen.

234 pp. Truman Talley Books/St. Martin’s Press. $24.95.

New and Holiday videos on youtube

New videos
Jewish Memorial prayer chanted-El Moleh rahamim jewu 215

Do it yourself Jewish unveiling dedication Jewu 216

Jewish Healing Prayer Jewu 217

The Bible says "Be strong and of good courage" jewu 218

My videos on the Fall Holidays

Origins of Jewish holidays
Prepare for Rosh Hashanah-Elul JewU 189
Selihote-penitential service prior to Rosh Hashanah jewu 123
Origins of Jewish holidays
High Holiday Bible readings JewU 153
Rosh Hashanah Jewish New year
Shofar-Ram's horn JewU 94
Yom Kippur Jewish Atonement Day
How world's smartest person helps with Yom Kippur JewU 163
Repentance-Teshuva in Judaism
Origin of Yizkor memorial service

Friday, September 7, 2007

Gail's spiritbuilder for Nitzavim

Go to for the entire spiritbuilder
Spirit Builder for 9-7-07, Choosing Judaism From Gail Ginsburg
New website
You stand this day all of you, before the LORD your God: your tribal heads, your elders, and your officials, all the men of Israel, your children, your wives, and the stranger within your camp, from woodchopper to water drawer—to enter into the covenant of the LORD your God, which the LORD your God is concluding with you this day, with its sanctions; to that end He may establish you this day as His people, and be your God, as He promised you, and as He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I make this covenant, with its sanctions, not with you alone, but both with those who are standing here with us this day before the LORD our God, and also with those who are not with us here this day. Deuteronomy 29:9-14

This Saturday evening the High Holiday season begins with Selichot, a late night service of penitential prayers. Before the Selichot service at 9:00 p.m. a program at the synagogue will feature three recent Jews-by-choice telling the stories of how and why each of them came to Judaism. I will be moderating the event. If you are available, I encourage you to attend, as each of these wonderful people, Jessica Clark, Joanna Haskett, and Dr. Don Thomas, have a unique and valuable perspective to offer.

Muslim converts?

Osama bin Laden appeared for the first time in three years in a video Friday released ahead of the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, telling Americans they should convert to Islam if they want the war in Iraq to end

Germans concerned about Muslim converts By ALEXANDER G. HIGGINS, Associated Press Writer
Fri Sep 7, 1:49 PM ET
BERLIN - Fritz and Daniel — two of the three militant Islamic suspects arrested in a purported plot to bomb American targets are as German as their names.

The pair allegedly are among the small number of Western converts who have been used by terrorism masters because their ability to blend in is matched by their willingness to become violent, Muslim and non-Muslim experts say.


1. The parasha begins with "you are standing today"
a. The Torah is timeless. it is as real for us as for them 3000+ YEARS AGO
b. its a reminder of the key of "LIVE NOW'. This is the day the Lord has made.
2. When I was a kid, my father Z'L, would put his hands on me and say "hazak veematz" be strong and of good courage. That expression comes from this parasha, both used in plural for Israel and individually for Joshua, who is to take over for Moses.

Question to ponder-who are the people who were not there? Too busy shopping to receive the Torah?

Hzak Veematz!!!
Shabbat shalom

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Lakota and jewish Death practices

Gail is teaching World religion. Just finished a section on Indigenous people-using Lakota as an example. Here is
Lakota Native American tribe "Keeping the Soul" ceremony.-Death practice

The White buffalo woman (messianic figure who is credited with giving Lakota their ceremonies. As part of their original ceremony asked them to make an alter of red earth.

Main "shma" like statement of lakota is "We are all related" -all creation. Our value is ohave habriote-love all creation.

There is no word for religion-their life is completely interwoven with "religion."

When someone dies, they are buried but a lock of their hair is cut, purified over burning sweet grass or sage, the sacred pipe is smoked, (the human acts a bridge, the exhaled smoke goes up to the spiritual realm-it functions as a portable alter) the hair is then wrapped in a piece of buckskin and put in the care of a designated soul keeper. The soul keeper, is someone who volunteered for this duty, a family member or a close friend. In order to fulfill this requirement, they have to live in state state of purity and harmoniously, for a year. The soul bundle is kept in the tee pee of the soul keeper. After a year, the bundle is taken outside, the sacred pipe is smoked , the bundle is opened and the soul is released to be reunited with the GREAT SPIRIT. The soul is judged and the soul may be sent for correction before it can join with the Great Spirit and ancestors. It is a place of bliss

1.Jewish-family members must say kaddish for deceased for a month 3x a day, except for parents which is 11 months.
2. Soul is judged (Maimonides principle of faith 11 of 13.
3. Afterwards, soul lives in Olam Habah, world-to-come-with God, in a state of bliss.

Cubs? No-Wake

I'm in the locker room this am after working out and a guy in my section says to another guy- "dressing down today? Must be a Cub's game." The guy answers, "no, its my brothers wake. Did not feel up to going into work." The rest of us offered condolences and asked about the brother. 64, heart attack while he slept. Leaves, wife, grown son and handicapped daughter.

Life is short. Enjoy and live holy

Videos,/ For now, ok nuks,/ Israel bonds among our kids

New Videos
Key issue of the time:Iran Iran Iran JewU 212
Parashat Netzavim- Free will, Jewu 213 THIS WEEK's PARASHA
Taste of American Jewish History Jewu 214

1. Tribune today:
Military probes how nukes flew over U.S.
A bomber carrying missiles armed with nuclear warheads flew across the central U.S. after the weapons were mistakenly attached to the plane's wing."

If we don't do something, in a year those will be real nukes , made in Iran. See my video above.

2.Youth's bond to Israel loosens
By Margaret Ramirez | Tribune religion reporter
September 6, 2007
Article tools
Younger Jews in the U.S. feel less attached to Israel and even alienated from the Jewish nation, reflecting a major shift in the American Jewish identity that some leaders find troubling, according to a new study released Thursday.Many older American Jews who still vividly remember the horror of World War II and the Holocaust forged a strong connection to Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. But younger non-Orthodox Jews, especially those under age 35, show far less support and caring for Israel than their elders, said Steven M. Cohen, a prominent sociologist of American Jewry at Hebrew Union College and lead author of the report.The study found this lack of attachment is unlikely to change even as the younger generations age, marry and have children. "That each age group is less Israel-attached than its elders suggests that we are in the midst of a long-term and ongoing decline," the report states.

All the more reason our kids need to be encourage to go there, and thank God for the wise philanthropists like Michael Steinhardt, who have donated many millions to offer free trips to 18-26 year olds under the Birthright program.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Israel, Democracy and the Arabs

Even as Israel is continually attacked and condemned, today the paper reported the Israel's High Court orders rerouting of separation barrier. Dozens of court cases have been filed. The Court "usually rules in favor of the easing hardships caused to Palestinians." That's democracy and a great nation. Contrast that with the horrible abuses, lack of rights and tyranny in virtually all Middle East nations

Travels and chronicling

Two interesting travel stories in the paper.
A column about a man who decided, as a teen, to take a cross country road trip to visit a friend who had done something dumb and was in jail across the country. he go together the $100 for the bus fare. He cites Jack Kerouac's book "Holy road" as the impetus for his trip. The author of this article writes :Americans have, or at least once had, for quest-journeys." He says a book by John Bunyann called "Pilgrim's Progress, was second only to the Bible as a best seller pre Civil War. "It redemptive impulse powers Thoreau's perambulations in Walden"

Second: modern quest-Man buys 1984 Volvo on Craig's list to go cross country. People send in suggestions along the way of where to go and what to see. Tried to do it very cheaply-the Frugal Road Trip was the NYT headline.

We are all on journey. Life is a journey with unclear and unsatisfactory end (death). Unfinished work always remains. Think Moses. If so, don't the high Holidays offer our way to chronicling the journey, assessing our progress, enjoying the experience aseven as we strive for holiness on the way?

Change/ Repentance and free will

1. I am President of the Niles Township Clergy Association. We had a goodbye breakfast for4 retiring Christian colleague. When it cam, time to pay the bill, the waitperson said "anyone need change." Normally, nothing special. But a few days before our penitential payer service selihote, it added extra meaning. Yes, we need to change.
The torah portion includes
"And it will be, when all these things come upon you the blessing and the curse which I have set before you that you will consider in your heart, among all the nations where the Lord your God has banished you, 2. and you will return to the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul, and you will listen to His voice according to all that I am commanding you this day you and your children,
verse 30:3. then, the Lord, your God, will bring back your exiles, and He will have mercy upon you. He will once again gather you from all the nations, where the Lord, your God, had dispersed you" This small section has the root word of repentance, Shoove, several times-to remind us about chnaging just before selihote?

Mattel is recalling million more toys taint with excessive lead. The word for recall should have the root shoove in it too. We need to recall the excessively tainted part of ourselves and send out a revised, better verson.

2. CHOOSE LIFEJudasim teaches at its heart Bicharah Chofshit-free will.
This week's Torah reading is almost the end of Dvarim, Deuteronomy.
It as the famous phase "I put before you blessing and curse, choose life. ".
Deut. 30:19. This day, I call upon the heaven and the earth as witnesses [that I have warned] you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. You shall choose life, so that you and your offspring will live; The great Rabbi Rashi says about this
you shall choose life. "[God says: “Even though you have free choice, nevertheless,] I instruct you to choose the portion of life.” It is like a man who says to his son, “Choose for yourself a fine portion of my estate,” and then directs him to the best portion, saying to him, “This [is the portion which] you should choose for yourself!”

From by Rabbi Dr. Louis Jacobs is the rabbi of the New London Synagogue, Goldsmid Visiting Professor at University College London
Maimonides (Mishneh Torah, Teshuvah, 5:5) holds that man has free will and God has fore­knowledge so that there is, indeed, a problem but it is one incapable of solution by the finite mind of man. Maimonides is not simply saying that there is an insoluble problem. If he were saying that, his critics would have been right in protesting that a wise man does not formulate problems of faith for which he has no solution and Maimonides should have kept silent on the whole question. But, in reality, Maimonides is putting forward a solution of his own, as is clear from his actual formulation.

According to Maimonides, the problem is due to the fact that God's knowledge is incorrectly understood as akin to human knowledge, albeit of an infinitely greater degree. If a human being were to know beforehand how a man will behave, and know it beyond all doubt, that man would not be free to do otherwise. But God, says Maimonides, does not "know," as humans do, that which is outside of Him. God is a Knower but never a Learner. God's knowledge is not something added to His essence but is God Himself. God's foreknow­ledge is as incomprehensible as God Himself since God's knowledge is God Himself.

Conse­quently, the whole formulation of the problem, employing human ideas and human language, is logically meaningless. When we ask how God's foreknowledge can be reconciled with human freedom, we are operating within the human universe of discourse in referring to human freedom, and attempting to go beyond the human universe of discourse in speaking of God's foreknowledge. The question is as meaningless as if we were to ask: "How can X be reconciled with human freedom" without any possibility of stating what the X factor is.

Maimonides is insistent that the Jew must hold fast to both propositions. God does have foreknowledge and man has free will, though it is utterly beyond our scope to comprehend what the first proposition means. All this is in line with Maimonides' view that of God only negative attributes can be postulated. We can say what God is not but can never know what God is.

Now,not all great rabbis agreed.
Solution #1: God Has No Foreknowledge
Gersonides, unwilling to compromise in any way human free will, posits as a solution (The Wars of the Lord, iii. 6) that God does not know beforehand how a man will behave in particular circumstances. God knows beforehand all the choices open to a man but which of these he will follow depends entirely on his own free will. Gersonides' "solution" does provide for free will, but from the theological point of view it is surely odd to deny God's knowledge of the future in all its details.

Solution #2: Humans Have No Free Choice
[Hasdai] Crescas attempts to deal with the problem (The Light of the Lord, iv. 5) by distinguishing between fatalism, the notion that man must act in the way he does, and determinism, the notion that man is free to choose which acts he performs but the choice itself is determined. God's foreknowledge is of the choices man actually makes of his own free will. Crescas admits that, since his choices are determined by God's foreknowledge, man is not really free, and is obliged to face the problem of why, if this is so, there are rewards for virtuous living and punishments for vicious living.

Crescas tries to deal with this further problem by suggesting that the promise of reward and the threat of punishment are only to spur a man on to choose virtue and reject sin. The good man thus does not really deserve his reward nor the wicked man his punishment. Crescas is as unconventional in his qualification of human free will as is Gerso­nides in his qualification of divine foreknowledge.

Solution #4: Choice Precedes Knowledge
Isaac ben Sheshet Perfet (1326‑1408), in his Responsa collection (no. 118), is severely critical of Gersonides' attempted solution. According to Gersonides, God does not know beforehand which choice a man will make in the future but, presumably, Gersonides must hold that the act the man chooses does become known to God once it has been performed. This means that God acquires knowledge of that of which He had been previously ignorant, which is surely theologically impossible.
Perfet's own solution is that God knows beforehand not only the act but the choice upon which the act is based. God knows beforehand how man will choose in his freedom. It is not the foreknowledge that determines that choice but the choice which, as it were, determines that foreknowledge. God knows how man will choose in his complete freedom. Perfet believes that this is the best solution to the problem, but the difficulty remains of how God's foreknowledge can fail to be determinative.

Past, Present, and Future Are the Same
Some of the Jewish mystics deal with the problem by invoking the mystical idea of the Eternal Now. It is incorrect to speak of God knowing now what a man will do in the future since past, present, and future are all seen by God, as it were, at once. God does not have foreknowledge of how man will behave in the future but he sees him when he acts in His Eternal Now.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


Yesterday's Chicago Sun-Times had series of sad stories about crimes in the cities bad neighborhoods-shootings, carjacking, robberies. Then I noticed the time of the crimes 2:30 am , 3 am etc. My 92 year old mother-in-law always said to my wife when she was a teen "nothing good happens after midnight."

Why are these people out that late (unless they are working)? Only one good thing happens at midnight- Selihote-our penitential service this Saturday night ends at 12 AM. A Swedish theologian once said "there comes the midnight hour when every person must unmask."

Upside down thinking/99% vs. 99.9%

Reform Jewish leader tells U.S. Muslims that Islam is being demonized

By Shlomo Shamir, Haaretz Correspondent and Reuters

The president of the Union for Reform Judaism accused American media, politicians and religious groups on Friday of demonizing Islam.

Addressing the annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America, Rabbi Eric Yoffie said Muslims have been turned into "satanic figures."

"There exists in this country among all Americans, whether Jews, Christians, or non-believers, a huge and profound ignorance about Islam ... there is no shortage of voices prepared to tell us that fanaticism and intolerance are fundamental to Islamic religion, and that violence and even suicide bombing have deep Koranic roots," he said.
Yoffie said his organization is discussing with Muslim leaders a dialogue and education program in the near future to increase understanding between the two faiths.

He said Americans need to know "how far removed Islam is from the perverse distortions of the terrorists who too often dominate the media, subverting Islam's image by professing to speak in its name." Yoffie also called for an end to racial profiling and legal discrimination of any kind against Muslim Americans, and urged North America's Muslims to keep condemning violence committed in the name of Islam until the message sinks in.
In his address, Yoffie said "to all those who desecrate God's name by using religion to justify killing and terror, let us say together: Enough."
"No cause in the world, and surely no religious cause, can ever justify murdering the innocent or targeting the uninvolved ... You cannot honor God if you do not honor the image of God in every human being; and you cannot get to heaven by creating hell on earth," he said.

He's calling for more dialogue. NYT said last time Jews tried this it broke up over Israel. After Yoffie left, today's NYT reports (page a12) "Leaders of American Muslim organizations attribute the growing intolerance to three main factors: global terrorists attacks i the name of Islam, disappointing reports from the Iraq war AND THE AGENDA OF SOME SUPPORTERS OF ISRAEL WHO TRY AND TAINT ISLAM TO UNDERMINE THE PALESTINIANS"

1. Who fired 70 missiles from Gaza at Israel on the first day of school, with a tree stopping a missile from landing squarely on the day care center? They say it as retailiation for Israel for killing 3 kids in Gaza the day before in an airstrike. That is after daily missiles from Gaza flying at Sderot. What is Israel to do? Let missiles continue to fly? Stop sendig kisssiles, rearming for a conflict and peace will reign.
2. Open up any major newspaper-yesterdays NYT front section, story of Lebanon fighting militant in camps, Chaos in Darfur as arabs fight Arabs, Iran defiant, Iraq, Pakistan militants, etc al on the front page or front section. That Islam based trouble is Jews fault?
3. What are we supposed to do when polls show about 1/3 of US Muslims under 30 think suicide bombing is legitimate?


On another matter
Scientists today reveal humans are only 99% alike DNA, not 99.99% as they thought.
Still close enough to say Adam Echat-we all have the same father and yet God made us unique, with unique gifts and responsibiliies to the world.

Monday, September 3, 2007

3 new videos on youtube

Idea behind all these webs and blogs jewu 211

Rabbi stories: shofar, messages, reward Jewu 210

Rabbi Reflects on the news 4 Jewu 209

Tick Tock Redemption Clock


1. NYT front page Kentucky Derby hopeful named Maimonides visited by children from Maimonides school.

Old joke guy given $5 by rabbi for rescuing hat. Bets in on horse races-picks horses with "hat" names Stetson, wins, Derby wins, bets on all Chateau. Loses. Wife mad and says idiot its chapeau not chateau. who won-I don't know-some Japanese horse named Yarmulke.

2.North Korea says it will shut down nuclear weapon program

Iran announces nuclear enrichment. Guess is a nuclear bomb within the year.
Prof. Berk told rabbis Aipac lunch that 28% of Israel says they'll leave if Iran has bomb.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

To Do Lists

Scratch another off the list
September 2, 2007
Chgo Tribune Sunday
"We were jotting down a few items for our customary Saturday errand list when we heard about a new Web site dedicated to lists. It's called Meosphere -- a perfect name, really -- and it offers list enthusiasts a chance to compile lists in at least 2,500 categories. Examples: Audis you wrecked. National parks you visited. Fads you've done, worn or bought.Then, when you're done, you can e-mail the list to your friends and relatives so they can drool with envy or try to match your lists with their own. Yes, it's competitive listing. It's not as big yet as, say, those egregiously ridiculous hot-dog eating contests, but give it time.For many the urge to create a list is primal. Who can't admire the power and beauty of one executive's 450-item checklist for a leadership class he teaches, memorialized by The Wall Street Journal. And what about the book that is a collection of grocery lists that the author found in the trash. Or listing goddess Jennifer Scully-Lerner, a Manhattan exec who, the paper marvels, "using Microsoft Word, Excel, errant scraps of paper and her BlackBerry ... makes lists that govern almost every aspect of her life. She has lists of work projects all around her desk. There's a packing list on her closet wall, to simplify the preparations for her frequent business trips.

Jewish to do list: daven/pray daily, learn some Torah, pray with the synagogue of your choice at least weekly, watch what you eat (kosher), light Shabbat candles

Rabbi Reflects on the news

Rabbi Reflects on the news

1. Hasidei omot haolam=non-Jews who are the righteous of the world. Death of Cong. Charles Vanik this week -co-sponsor of the Jackson-Vanik amendment, tying US trade with Soviet Union to freedom for Soviet Jews. Helped free a million people from tyranny.

2.Tick tock clock towards redemption-in the news today
A.Illinois parents who let teens drink, will be targeted in new effort
B. Algeria making big push on solar power, hopefully to power not just them, but Europe using the Sahara. (a related joke-Jewish guy, 5'2 applies for job in Washington state as a lumberjack. Owner asks him his experience-he says I chopped down the Sahara forest "You mean Sahara desert?" It was forest until I got finished with it.)
c. Berlin's biggest synagogue to reopen, beautiful anew
By Kirsten Grieshaber | Associated Press
August 31, 2007
BERLIN - Werner Bab remembers going with his father to Berlin's Rykestrasse Synagogue in the 1930s, soon after the Nazis came to power -- a time, he says, when all the talk among the Jews at Sabbath services centered on politics and how to get out of Germany."But what most impressed me as a little boy was the sheer size of the building," says Bab, an 82-year-old survivor of the Auschwitz death camp.
The synagogue, Germany's biggest Jewish temple and architectural landmark, reopens Friday after more than a year of work to restore its prewar splendor.

3. On Teshuva repentance
a.Tribune special report: The toughest assignment:
Lesson No. 1: No excuses Sep 02, 2007
A perennially underperforming school was closed after it failed to meet federal testing standards six years in a row. It reopened three months later under the management of a nonprofit group that trains teachers. .
B.In Parade mag. After nearly dying in 2003, Alan Alda decided to take stock oh his life. The result is Things I overheard while talking to MyselfHigh Holidays for Jews is time to overhear things while talking to ourselves prompted by near death scenerio (Book of Life).
C.'Deeply sorry' senator resigns amid scandal
By Jill Zuckman | Tribune national correspondent
September 2, 2007
Saying he was "deeply sorry," a humbled Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) said Saturday that he would resign from the Senate, an announcement national party leaders greeted with relief after days of worrying that his arrest in an airport bathroom would hurt all Republicans in the 2008 elections. "-Enough said
d. New Age repentance Modern confession: Bless me Web master, for I have sinned
By Stephanie Simon | Tribune Newspapers: Los Angeles Times
September 2, 2007
- In the hush of a warm afternoon, Rev. Larry Solan waits for sinners.
The veteran priest sets aside a half-hour every Saturday to hear the failings of his flock at St. Mark Catholic Church. On a typical week, he sees two penitents, perhaps three. Some weeks, no one comes.Confession is not what it used to be in the Roman Catholic Church; cultural and theological shifts have pushed the age-old sacrament aside.
Church leaders have tried to revive interest in the sacrament with tactics as varied as radio ads (in Washington, D.C.) and a strip-mall chapel dedicated solely to confessions (a few doors down from a tanning salon in Albany, N.Y.). The Vatican has even allowed priests to do away with the wooden confession booth in favor of more relaxed face-to-face encounters.
Outside the Catholic Church, too, the rite of confession is being reshaped, this time by Protestant megachurch pastors who see it as a self-help tool for the lost and lonely -- and as a marketing opportunity for themselves.
Click over to IveScrewedUp .com, and a black-and-white Goth-tattoo-style graphic bursts onto the screen. You're invited to type in a description of your sins, along with your age and hometown. Click "send" and it's done; you've confessed -- to the Web master of Flamingo Road Church, a Florida congregation affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention."
Catholics can try, which invites you to fill a shopping cart with your sins (choices include vainglory and use of Ouija boards). The site then calculates an appropriate penance -- say, 228 Hail Marys and 43 Our Fathers. Another church-sponsored site,, pushes the concept of healing even further. Anyone can comment on posted confessions, starting an anonymous dialogue with the sinner: "you need therapy. get it now."

The Jewish way?
In Chapter 1, Section 1 of the Laws of Repentance, Maimonides wrote: "With regard to all the precepts of the Torah, both affirmative and negative, if a person transgresses any one of them, either willfully or in error, when he repents and turns away from his sin, he is under a duty to confess before God, blessed be He, as it is said, 'when a man or woman shall commit any sin that men commit...they shall confess their sin which they have done' (Numbers 5:6‑7)--this means confess in words; and this confession is an affirmative precept."

And Maimonides continues:
"How does one confess? By saying, 'I beseech Thee, 0 Lord, I have sinned, I have acted perversely, I have transgressed before Thee, and have done thus and thus, and lo, I am contrite and ashamed of my deeds and will never do this again. This constitutes the essence of confession."
"This constitutes the essence of confession"--these are the core components and basic framework of confession. Of course, various additions may be made, but they must always center around the three fundamental components, which are: 1) acknowledgment of sin ("I have sinned, I have acted perversely, I have transgressed'); 2) remorse ("I am contrite and ashamed of my deeds'); 3)resolution for the future ("I will never do this again'). These three stages constitute "the essence of confession." And Maimonides adds: "The more one confesses and elaborates on this matter, the more praiseworthy he is. ... Even if one has decided to abandon sin and to radically alter one's way of life, it does not amount to a complete act of repentance; without confession acquittal is denied. Confession is mandatory not only for those who, having sinned are obligated to bring sacrifices, but also for "those who have incurred the judicial penalty of death or punishment of stripes"--"they do not attain acquittal through death or [by the punishment of]stripes, until they repent and confess. Similarly, one who inflicts a wound on another person or causes him monetary damage, is not acquitted even after he has paid [the injured party] what he owes him, until he confesses and penitently resolves never to commit the same offense again..."

Note carefully that only the first half of the formula of confession which Maimonides sets forth as obligatory is identical with the formula employed by the High Priest in the Temple on the Day of Atonement ("I beseech Thee, 0 Lord! I have sinned …;" cf. Mishnah Yoma 3:8). In place of the second half ("I am contrite and ashamed ... I will never do this again"), the High Priest used to offer a prayer and say: "I beseech Thee, 0 Lord, acquit me of the iniquities and the transgressions and the sins which I have committed before Thee!" Maimonides deleted the prayer portion from the formula of remorse ("I am contrite and ashamed and resolution for the future ("I will never do this again").Rabbi Reflects on the news

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Towards and away from redemption

The other day I posted
"Ed Feinstein's new book has Hasidic tale about clock of hasid that is unique-it counts towards redemption."

Let's start a redemption barometer

What trends are moving towards redemption and what away?

1. Berlin's biggest synagogue reopens
2. PA securtiy saves Israel major who stumbled into Jenin
3. Abbas and Omert still talking
4. Human Rights Watch blames Hezbollah for shooting rockets at Israeli civilians

Away from redemption
1. Iran still moving to nuc bomb, Hezbollah and Hamas rearm more and more daily
2. We are still overpolluting, more than a billion hungry every day, 100,000 US murders since 9-11