Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Story on Sukkot

Skokie Celebrates Harvest Festival of Sukkot
Seven-day festive event follows solemn Yom Kippur holiday for Jews.
By Ted Regencia

Arlene Berke still remembers the Sukkot festivities during her childhood.

As a student at a religious school, she recalls attending evening service on the first night of the seven-day long commemoration of harvest, one of the most joyous holidays on the Jewish calendar.

"All the students were asked to bring their gayly decorated basket of fruits as an offering," said Berke, president of Temple Judea Mizpah along Niles Center Road in Skokie.

The offerings were then taken to several nursing homes in the Chicago area, and shared with the seniors, Berke said.

"It's a hospitality thing," she said. "You invite people into your sukkah to celebrate with you."

The sukkah is a temporary booth-like structure built outside synagogues and homes of the Jewish faithful. There, they can share meals, recite prayers, even sleep during the weeklong festivity.

The temporary hut, made of light materials and decorated with fruits, paper chains and drawings, symbolizes the 40-year journey of the Jewish people, who wandered in the desert after they fled Egypt on their way to Israel.

It is also required that the sukkah's roof has an opening to allow attendees "to see the stars," Berke explained.

While she never experienced building a sukkah in her home, Berke regularly attends get-together at relatives' homes where they "enjoy the refreshments."

According to Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg of the Ezra-Habonim Congregation at 4500 Dempster St. in Skokie, building the sukkah and spending time in it, is a reminder that there are people around the world who are experiencing "sub-standard" living conditions.

Ginsburg also remembered sleeping under the sukkah at night as a child and now neighborhood children joined him to share the food prepared by elders.

Across Skokie and the North Shore area, Sukkot is widely celebrated. Many families in the Skokie, which has a significant Jewish population, build their hut from various materials.

At the corner of Niles Center Road and Oakton Street in Skokie, the Lubavitch Chabad Congregation has set-up a "Sukkah of Civic Pride" within the village's Martin Krier Plaza.

This year the celebration runs from Sept. 22 to 29.

On Wednesday, Rabbi Amy L. Memis-Foler will read the Erev Simchat Torah at Temple Judea Mizpah. The service marks the end of the cycle of reading of the Jewish holy book. This will be followed by the unrolling of the new Torah cycle the next day.

Special rituals vary, and for the Orthodox congregations, such as the Agudath Jacob Synagogue just off Dempster along East Prairie Road, no work is permitted on the holiday's first two days. No writing or driving or talking on the phone, no checking e-mail or Facebook page.

The celebration concludes Thursday with synagogues staging different events featuring dancing, pot luck lunch or dinner.

Ginsburg recalled that during the ancient times, Sukkot was a time for Jews "to send blessings to all countries around the world."

He said during this year's celebration, he is offering his prayers to all the nations around the world, particularly to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "for a change of heart" and for him to stop "preaching hate."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

best screening method

> FINALLY - A Great Alternative to A Body Scan at Airports.
>> The Israelis are developing an airport security device that eliminates the privacy concerns that come with full-body scanners at the airports.
>> They have a booth that you can step into that will not X-ray you, but will detonate any explosive device you may have on you.
>> They see this as a win-win for everyone and there would be none of this junk about racial profiling.
>> This method would also eliminate the costs of a long and expensive trial. Justice would be quick and swift. Case Closed!
>> You're in the airport terminal and you hear a muffled explosion.
>> Shortly thereafter, an announcement comes over the PA system...
>> "Attention standby passengers - we now have a seat available on El Al flight number 386.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

My Rosh Sermon on Israel

For Zion's Sake I will not be Silent.

Rosh Hashanah 5771

Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg

Skokie Ill

Shana Tova

The opening words of today’s Torah reading _Adonoi Nisah et avranham__ God tested Abraham. And from that moment until this, all of us know that personally in our lives as individuals and together as a people, we face tests. One of those great, historic tests of our people has come right now. I know there are a lot of different views out there about Israel, but I’m the rabbi, it’s my pulpit, I’ll tell you what I think. Of course you can have your own thoughts. Of course I’m right.

When God promised Abraham over 4,000 years ago that we were going to be a great people he promised that it was based also on acquiring the land of Israel. We jump ahead to today’s Haftarah, about the prophet Jeremiah many hundreds of years later. Jeremiah too says there’ll be a great future because we’ll be restored to the land. From that moment to this. From Abraham to this… 4,000 years, we’ve been a people intrinsically intertwined with the land of Israel. There has been not one moment in all of that history when we have not cared and dreamed and prayed for the land.

As we think about that today we know we face a great test. I want to talk to you about that test and that test is called the Israel Test. What George Gilbert this non-Jew says in his book is “so goes Israel, so goes all of Western civilization”. I want to explain why I think that is true. Because there is a world-wide effort today to delegitimize and therefore destroy Israel. It has initials, it’s called BDS. B stands for boycott. D stands for divest. S stands for sanctions. And that’s just the beginning –there is a world-wide effort on the part of hundreds of millions of people to destroy the State of Israel.

We also face not only that boycott, divestment and sanction effort, but one of the most tyrannical regimes in all of history will soon acquire nuclear weapons if that haven’t already. Yesterday it was revealed that there was a brand new secret site that they spent 100 million dollars protecting in Iran and that they will soon have nuclear weapons. They have the missiles that can reach Israel and all of Europe and soon here. And if you think that the Time Square bomber who failed will fail next time with a dirty bomb from Iran, or God forbid that gas main that blew up and destroyed who knows how many homes near San Fransisco, when that’s a dirty bomb from Iran, we know what the consequences will be.

Politicians think “ it’s the economy stupid” and it is for most people, we know that that too will pass. That America will eventually be restored to growth. But this is not something that we can say this too will pass. This is the most serious issue of our time. President Bush should have done something about it, he didn’t. President Obama should do something about it, he’s not going to. Iran is going to get nuclear bombs, there’s no containing it. We’re in for a different kind of world. Every single Arab country is begging us to stop it and we are not.

But that’s not the only issue that Israel faces. Of course what gets the most media play is the issue with the Palestinians. The rabbis of Chicago were just invited to attend a briefing with the local AIPAC Midwest director. He presented us with such a long list of threats that Israel’s facing right now that we all just turned to each other and said “when do we get the good news?” There wasn’t any good news. There’s going to be a real concerted effort in the United Nations to deny the best democracy in the world next to the United States, a place in the United Nations. Twenty-two tyrannical Arab regimes and sixty-five Muslim nations are going to lead the charge to really deny Israel a place at the United Nations this fall. We’ve got Iran and its surrogates Hezbollah and Hamas. Hamas we know shot 8,000 missiles to Israel. Hezbollah was revealed a couple of days ago has 15,000 missiles on the southern border where Israel vacated. Plus another 40 or 50 thousand missiles in Lebanon, violating the UN sanctions, aimed right at Israel. These peace talks, Abbas who is supposed to be our partner in peace said two days ago, there is no compromise. “We are going to send 5 million refugees to the land of Israel. I will not allow a Jewish state.” He won’t allow a Jewish state!!!. And he is supposed to be Israel’s peace trading partner. And Turkey, which for 70 years has been a secular country with very good relations with Israel. The last 8 years, under the radar screen, they have become an Islamic republic, an Islamic regime. They stirred up this whole flotilla event this summer as you know, successfully making Israel look like the bad guys when it was a set up al along. . And they are now pretty firmly in the Islamic camp.

And as we move forward from this we think about all the vicious anti-Semitic lies. You may know the book, “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” which was a vicious lie about a Jewish about to run the world. It’s now in Arabic and is one of the bestselling books if not the bestselling book in the Arabic world. And regularly there are Arabic leaders that talk about the Medieval blood libel that Jewish children chew Christian and Arabic children’s flesh and use it in our matzo and the most vicious lies told regularly in that part of the world.

Now why is that? Well there are actually Jews that say it is Israel’s fault. “If we only had better pr.” Now I don’t know what you think but I think the only thing Israel could possibly do to solve these problems, and it wouldn’t even solve them, it is simply to close shop and leave. As long as Israel’s there, there is nothing Israel can do. There is no amount of pr that can turn the tide of those who simply want Israel gone.

GAZA: Think about Israel’s simply moving out of Gaza and saying “here take Gaza make a country”. And what did Gaza did besides build luxury homes with American dollars? They shot 8,000 missiles at Israel. Until Israel’s mothers and daughters finally said to their boys, “protect us”. So Israel went in door to door with booby-trapped homes and tried to save every Arab life that they could and still the world responded with an inditement of Israel for war crimes. The chief British military officer who watched it eye to eye said “no country in the history of the world has fought more honorably and nobly as the Israel soldiers did and still their accused of war crimes”.

And so it’s not a question of pr, it is a question of simply those people, not all of them but a lot of them, don’t want Israel there. They’re very clear about that and it’s simply a question about whether the Jews are going to pack up and leave or stay and live in the land that God promised us. There is no nation in the world that has a better claim to that land than the Jewish people. Or to any land. What claim do we have to this land that we are standing on right now? What claim? What claim does Germany have to their land? Or Syria have to their land. Or France have to their land? The Jews have the best claim there is. The claim of God, the claim of the bible, the claim of 4,000 years of history, the claim of international law going back hundreds of years. And yet there is this effort. Israel alone singled out among all the nations of the world for this kind of relentless abuse.

So why is this happening is a good question. Why have Jews always suffered? I don’t know the answer to that, but I’ll give you a couple of theories.

1. First of all, in this brilliant book “The Israel Test” and the other main book out this year by Dan Senor called “A Startup Nation” they both talk about the phenomenal economic miracle that is Israel. And let me just give you a couple of quotes. Here is what Gilder says, “The real case for Israel is as the leader of human civilization, technological progress and scientific advancement. Google, Cisco, Microsoft, Intel, Ebay, the list goes on. The best kept secret is that we all live and die by the work of our Israeli teams. It’s much more than just outsourcing, call centers. What we do in Israel is unlike what we do anywhere else in the world. As a result of this technological leadership Israel has been the second fastest growing Western economy in 1990.” The Western economy that is growing faster than Israel right now, you won’t believe it, the West Bank. The West Bank has 8% growth last quarter, Israel has about 4.5% and the U.S. is 1.6. And so for all the suffering we here about, we know the reality. But Israel is the economic miracle. It’s leading the world in innovations. We’re going to have great emission electric cars in 20 years. You wanna know why? Because Israel is setting up their whole country right now as an experiment to do electric cars. If there’s gonna be enough water in the world to drink in 20 years, you wanna know why? Because of the breakthroughs in Israel in water desalinization projects. The people are gonna have enough food to eat in the next 20 years, you wanna know why? Because of Israeli agricultural botanists creating all sorts of innovations in agricultural development. The cell phone in your pocket, the computer on your desk, they wouldn’t be what they are without Israel. And the medicines in your medicine cabinet? It’s when people talk about boycotting Israel that you may have seen these lists which say okay do you really want to boycott Israel? Toss out your medicine, your cell phone, your computer, your electric cars, your water and the list goes on and on and on. Israel is a miracle today. It’s gonna save the world if it simply had enough time and energy to do so. People are jealous of all this. Simple as that.

2. And of course there’s the plain old anti-Semitism. I just saw this joke I had to tell you. A man on a beach in Paris sees a little girl about to be destroyed by a pit bull. So he grabbed the pit bull and has to kill the pit bull sadly to save this little girl. So all the people rush up and say, “Oh what a wonderful man, you must be a Persian. And I could see the headline – Persian saves little girl from mad dog. He says “I’m not a Persian” Well then the headline will say – Frenchman saves little girl from mad dog. He says, “I’m not a Frenchman” Well then it will say – European saves little girl from mad dog. I’m not a European. “Then what are you” “I’m an Israeli.” Well then the headlines gonna say – Man kills little girl’s pet dog.

And so we think about the way in which the world distorts the reality, the anti-Semitism that seems to be in play here. Israel is not perfect. I mentioned on Erev Rosh Hashanah some of the severe problems in Israel. And life is not perfect. War is messy. In fact, one of my favorite perspectives on this from Rabbi Yitz Greenberg who said something like “I think it’s fair to say that the Israeli army engages in a moral way 5% better than the rest of the world, but if it was 10% Israel would not exist. And so it’s a very difficult thing when you’re trying to defend your daughters and your wives and your mothers in a real world which is messy.

Now some of you may have seen this week the story in Time magazine. I wish I had a better cover for you but I got so mad that I ripped it in half. But if you’ve seen it it’s a blue cover with a Jewish star and it says Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace. Now, a lot of people are not going to read the article. They’re going to see this anti-Semitic headline. Of course the author got it completely backwards. Israel doesn’t care about peace? They gave 25 thousand square miles to Egypt and their oil wells for peace. They have peace with Jordan. Do you think tomorrow if Israel laid down its weapons there would be peace? There would be genocide. If the Arabs laid down their weapons tomorrow, what would there be? There’d be peace. Who doesn’t want peace? And the article goes on to use the most classic anti-Semitic lines imaginable. What is the most classic anti-Semitic line that we hear today? He Jew'd you down. Jews and money right? You know what this article is about? It says that Jews in Israel are so rich, they do want peace. Can you imagine? The Jews in Israel or so rich, they don’t want peace. That is what that article is about. Classic Anti-Semitism. The implications are overwhelming.

And you know a new thing happened this last month. Something that’s been below the radar screen that none of us have thought about but turns out to be a reality. That one of the most powerful lobbies in America, the always accuse the Jews right, turns out to be the Arab lobby. A new book by a man named Mitchell Bard called The Arab Lobby, the invisible alliance that undermines America’s interest in the Middle East. And he talks about what happens when you have ambassadors for 65 Muslim countries and all of their officials, you have ambassadors for 22 Arab states and all of their officials. They’re promised huge parachutes when they leave the foreign service. The president of the United States who leave office, they’re libraries are funded to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars by Arab money. Saudi Arabia gives 20 million dollars for a center at Harvard and the list goes on and on and on. So Mitchell Bard is saying that the Saudi’s have had huge influence on the American culture and American life and it’s something that we simply have not paid much attention to.

3. But finally, I want to mention something that didn’t really dawn on me until I read this interesting book actually about science and paradigm shifts. This book was basically was about how when science has a particular paradigm of what’s true, whatever facts scientists come up with they fit in to that paradigm. And it’s only when there is a paradigm shift like to Euclidian geometry or Newtonian physics that the scientist are able to break through and see the truth. And the paradigm shift has changed about Israel. It clearly has. There was a time, a short time when the world said about Israel, “Oh those poor Jews, they deserve their homeland, they got slaughtered by the Nazi’s”. But what is the paradigm shift now? “Oh those mean Jews, they beat up those poor Arabs”. Have you seen a map of Israel lately? How small it is? Have you seen how wide it is? If you give up the West Bank which Israel is probably going to do if there’s peace and Gaza, Israel’s nine miles wide at one point. We used to have a map of 10 Israel’s fitting into Minnesota. Hundreds of Millions of square miles of Arab land, a billion Arabs, a billion Muslims and Israel is the bad guy simply trying to live in peace.

But we never despair. What do we do? We’ve been around a very long time and the good news is we’re not alone. We’ve got a lot of friends that understand the significance of Israel, the importance of Israel and the rightness of Israel. We’ve got to join hands with them. You know there was a very disturbing article during the summer by a guy named Beinart in the New York review of books. His thesis was that young Jews have turned away from Israel. And the way in which we should get them back is by turning away from Israel too a little bit so that we can win them over. And that was a very upsetting article and people debated hotly. Well guess what? He’s completely wrong. It’s not the facts. I know Brandeis sounds like Barnhart but there was a Brandies study out more recently which shows that whatever drop there is in allegiance to Israel among young Jews is explained simply generationally. And it will change over time. That actually when you ask most Jews do they feel the significance of Israel in their hearts, in their lives, does it make a difference to them, do they care if it exists or not, do they care if it’s healthy? Most Jews say yes. Now whichever one’s say no that’s an issue. And hopefully we can correct that through education and programs like birthright.

But we should never take Jewish support for Israel for granted and I’ll tell you why. I want to take you back to October 6, 1943. What was the situation that American Jewry faced on October 6, 1943? We were beginning to learn about the devastation of the Holocaust. So you know what happened that day? Four hundred rabbis went to Washington to try and beg President Roosevelt to do more to save Jewish lives. And you know, they didn’t get heard by him. Do you know why? Because Rabbi Steven Weiss said, “it’s a bunch of riff raff. They’re just causing trouble. Don’t Listen”. And so he never heard those 400 rabbis. They were turned away and we know what happened. Now it’s not their fault, it’s not his fault that 6 million Jews died. But what would have happened had they had an audience with the president and maybe perhaps something else would have been done. And today we have Jewish organizations that pretend to be pro Israel and pro peace, but are funded largely by enemies of Israel and work against Israel’s interests constantly.

So what do we do besides join hand with our friends? I want to tell you a little story about a friend of mine sitting here in the 3rd row who doesn’t live in Indiana but she got wind of an election going on in Indianapolis between a man who was backed by Louis Farrakhan he’s a Nation of Islam man named Carson. He’s the guy who claimed, turned out to be a lie, that racial epitats were shouted at him as he walked through a line at a Tea Party rally. . He got in because his grandmother died. He filed for her seat and nobody paid attention. And now we have a Farrakhan backed Muslim in the U.S. congress. And nobody would listen as she tried to raise a ruckus about this election. Doesn’t live in Indianapolis but was worried about this man and the seat he holds. Turns out he’s got an urbane sophisticated opponent, also an African American running against him, but nobody would pay any attention. But she’s a force of nature and pushed and pushed and pushed to get a hearing and I don’t know what’s going to happen but here’s one human being who said we’ve got to do something about this. This is a test for us. We have to awaken and be more politicaly active. The Arab lobby sure is.

I remember those nations who claimed neutrality in World War 2. Think about that for a minute. These are nations that could not decide who was right, Hitler or the U.S. A nation who says, I can’t figure out who’s right so I’m gonna stay neutral. Now even though that’s not why, they didn’t want to get run over by Hitler, imagine staying neutral in a situation like that. Well isn’t that what happens if we sit on the sidelines here because do you think that the enemies of justice and rightchousness and peace are sitting idly by? Do you think that they will do nothing while we do nothing? No. They work every minute on trying to perfect ways in which to hurt us and Israel. I talked to young guys who were spending their lives trying to figure out ways to help the CIA and the state department and congress tighten up our rules so things like the shoe bomber and the Time Square bomber and Al Qaeda getting here and infiltrating don’t happen.

But it takes all of us. There’s something called the Israel Project and you know what they found? It makes a huge difference if you talk to your neighbors. I know it may not seem like much, but every time you talk to your friends and make Israel’s case it actually makes a big difference statistically. Because then they maybe turn around and talk to somebody else and it’s something that we can do. How about getting educated about Israel. Sometimes you see these people and say oh Israel’s so nasty, Israel’s so this, we don’t have the information. Well you know what? It’s so easily available. I’ve got a website that is I got mad one night so I made a new website trying to figure out something to do. I’ve also created a blog that says And to counter the lie of the suffering gazans. I have 40 vieos on youtube on various aspects of the conflict. Watch them. youtube seach JewU Israel. And you know what? There are thousands of websites and thousands of blogs and thousands of organizations.

And if you think you’re just one person, that you can’t do it yourself, join a cause. Yesterday I talked about Rabbi Levine, today I’m gonna talk about Rabbi Weissberg. He’s being honored on Sunday at Touhy and Albany at 11 o’clock. They’re naming a street for him. You know what they should name a city for him. Twenty-eight years ago he started this group called Protect our Heritage. It’s the Midwest’s biggest pro Israel group today. They actually raise money and they seek out candidates for office and they say if you are pro Israel we’ll help you. You can join with groups like that. AIPAC is a membership based organization which tries to lobbey for Israel. We’ve got lots of people here in Zionist organizations and every time you join a Zionist organization that helps. How many Haddasah members do we have here? How many Namah members do we have? How many Ort members do we have? Now there agendas are not always political. But, activities like that plus the political activities do make a difference. And I think it’s time to say to our congressman “I know the economy is very important and I know it’s probably issues 1, 2, 3, and 4 but what are you going to do about Iran? I went to a fundraiser for one of our senatorial candidates and everybody there was asking him about the economy and I was getting so exasperated. Not one foreign policy issue, zip like the rest of the world doesn’t exist. Well today it exists. So we can’t sit idly by.

We must transorm the BDS campaign, Boycott, Divest, Sanction to BDS Brcha=tell the blessings of Israel D Din-make the eneimies of peace accountable S while pursuing shalom.

And I know this may be offensive to some people but you know what? We’ve been good Jews for so long. You know what a good Jew is? A good Jew doesn’t cause trouble. A good Jew went to their death in the Holocaust and did nothing to stop it. A good Jew laid down and die for thousands of years through all the horrors. Well you know what, the world likes good Jews. The world did not shame us. They said, oh too bad about all those dead Jews. And you know what, once the state of Israel decided we’re not going to be good Jews anymore, we’re going to be bad Jews, we’re going to stand up and fight for ourselves and defend our daughters and defend our mothers, the world suddenly doesn’t like that. Well too bad. We’re gonna be bad Jews. We’re gonna say that we have the right to live like everyone else on this planet and besides that we believe that God has a special place for us. That there’s a reason for all of this suffering. There’s a reason. Because Israel is a light to the nations. I think it’s so clear based on the evidence of the last ten years how Israel can transform the world. Now these two books, The Israel Test and the book by Dan Senor disagree as too why Israel has been such an amazing nation. They have different theories. Whatever the theory is, it’s happening. And they could really save the world. I mean that little tiny country with seven million people is the second largest high tech startup nation in the world. They have more museums per capita, more books per capita, more scientific papers per capita, more poetry books per capita, more music groups per capita, but it’s the real innovations that are transforming the world. And so I want to close with just a couple of quick stories. First of all, Alan Dershowitz wrote a book called Chutzpah. In the book Chutzpah he talked about what it means to be a good Jew. Not causing any trouble and he’s got this picture of two Jews about to be shot by a firing squad, and the captain of the firing squad asked if they had a last wish. One says he’d like a blindfolf and the other shushes him, whispering, don’t cause any trouble!!!

About thirty years ago many of you gathered in this building to figure out what to do about the neo-Nazis wanting to march in Skokie-home to so many survivors. We gather today on the eve of the new Nazis about to acquire nuclear bombs and have stated the desire over and over to destroy Israel while denying the Holocaust.

One of the most meaningful 2 hours of my life occurred in 2003 when I sat around a table with President Bush and ten other rabbis at the White House. I don’t care what your politics are-you can’t helped but be moved sitting across the table from the President of the USA.We were supposed to meet for 20 minutes but he stayed 90. I knew we would probably each have a chance to say one thing to him. He spent most of the time talking about how worried he was about anti-Semitism and how he wanted to help Israel so badly. When it came to my turn I told him a story I had heard about a Jewish sergeant who liberated a Concentration Camp and came up to a starving Jew who had been liberated five minutes before . This soldier expected a hug. In Yiddish the inmate asked if he was Jewish and when he said yes, the inmate spit on him and said-you are all too late. President Bush looked at me and said-I promise you we won’t be too late. Well, the hour is very late, Iran is about to get nuclear weapons and promises to destroy Israel. Israel faces many grave tests and so do we. When the Torah tells us that 2 ½ of the 12 tribes did not care to enter the land of Israel Moses asked them Will your brothers go to war AND YOU DO NOTHING. I ask us Will our brothers face these grave tests alone and we do nothing. Let the shofar wake us up from our slumber. May it be God’s will._________________

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

where the sea split for Moses

Where did waters part for Moses? Not where you think

An illustration based on new research shows how wind could have moved and split waters from two ancient basins.

The parting of the waters described in the book of Exodus that enabled Moses and the Israelites to escape the pharaoh's army is possible, computer simulations run by researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the University of Colorado at Boulder show.

To test the theory that the biblical account may have depicted actual events, the researchers studied maps of the region, archaeological records and satellite measurements to find a topographical feature where such an event might have been possible. They settled on an area south of the Mediterranean Sea where some oceanographers say a branch of the Nile River drained into what was called the Lake of Tanis, a coastal lagoon 3,000 years ago.

The computer model shows a 63 mph east wind blowing across the area and its 6-feet-deep waters for 12 hours. In the scenario, the wind pushed back the waters into both the lake and the channel of the river, exposing a mud flat 2 to 2.5 miles long and 3 miles wide for four hours. As the winds died down, the waters quickly flowed back in and in theory would have drowned anyone on the mud flat.

“The simulations match fairly closely with the account in Exodus,” said Carl Drews of NCAR, the lead author of the study published in the online journal PLoS ONE. (Read the full study)

“The parting of the waters can be understood through fluid dynamics. The wind moves the water in a way that’s in accordance with physical laws, creating a safe passage with water on two sides and then abruptly allowing the water to rush back in.”

YouTube: Parting the waters, Part 1: The physics of a land bridge

Parting the waters, Part 2: Carl Drews on wind setdown research
The biblical account of Exodus has Moses and his followers trapped by the pharaoh forces against a body of water, which has been translated to both the Red Sea and the Sea of Reeds. In the account, a strong wind comes up after night falls and parts the waters behind the Israelites. Moses leads them into the breach but when the pharaoh army pursues them at daybreak, the gap disappears and the army is lost.

Previous research has focused on areas of the Red Sea near the modern-day Suez Canal where the biblical miracle may have been possible. The NCAR/CU team said their research shows those scenarios unlikely. They ran a series of 14 computer simulations to pinpoint the area where the parting of the waters was most likely.

“People have always been fascinated by this Exodus story, wondering if it comes from historical facts,” Drews says. “What this study shows is that the description of the waters parting indeed has a basis in physical laws."

Drews conducted the Exodus research as part of a larger project on how winds can affect water depths.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Jewish Wisdom...
A Jewish woman goes to see her Rabbi and asks, "Yankele and Yosele are both in love with me,who will be the lucky one?''
The wise old Rabbi answers: "Yankele will marry you. Yosele will be the lucky one.
If a married Jewish man is walking alone in a park and expresses an opinion without anybody hearing him, is he still wrong?
My father says, "Marry a girl who has the same belief as the family." I said, "Dad, why would I marry a girl who thinks I'm a schmuck?"
Jewish Marriage advice: "Don't marry a beautiful person. They may leave you. Of course, an ugly person may leave you too. But who cares?"
Morris went to his rabbi for some needed advice. "Rabbi, tell me is it proper for one man to profit from another man's mistakes?" "No Morris, a man should not profit from another's man mistakes" answered the rabbi. "Are you sure Rabbi?" "Of course, I'm sure, in fact I'm positive" exclaimed the Rabbi.
"Ok, Rabbi, if you are so sure, how about returning the two hundred dollars I gave you for marrying me to my wife?"
The Italian says, "I'm tired and thirsty. I must have wine."
The Frenchman says, "I'm tired and thirsty. I must have cognac."
The Russian says, "I'm tired and thirsty. I must have vodka."
The German says, "I'm tired and thirsty. I must have beer."
The Mexican says, "I'm tired and thirsty. I must have tequila."
The Jew says, "I'm tired and thirsty. I must have diabetes."
Jewish proverb: "A Jewish wife will forgive and forget, but she'll never forget what she forgave."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Podcasts of my high holiday sermons

6 High Holiday sermons 5771
ACTUAL High Holiday PODCASTS. /13/moderation-vs-fanaticism/
My erev Rosh Hashanah sermon /13/good-news-bad-news-american-jewry/
First day Rosh sermon /13/for-zions-sake-i-will-not-be-silent/
The situation facing israel and our responsibility

Second day Rosh
Kol Nidre
Yom Kippur morning
Yizkor sermon

Friday, September 17, 2010

Peace talks disaster

Jewish World Review Sept. 17, 2010 / 9 Tishrei, 5771
Israel, alone
By Caroline B. Glick

Netanyahu has effectively stifled Israel's defenders | The current flurry of diplomatic activity is deeply disturbing. It isn't simply that the Obama administration has strong-armed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu into participating in diplomatic theater with the PLO whose successful completion will leave Israel weaker and less defensible. It isn't merely that the newest "peace process" diverts our leadership's attention away from Iran and its nuclear weapons program.
The most disturbing aspect of the latest round of the diplomatic kabuki is that Israel's leaders and Israel's staunch friends in the US are enthusiastically participating in this dangerous project.
True, Netanyahu is in an unenviable position situated as he is between US President Barack Obama's rock and hard place. Instead of standing up to this hostile American leader, Netanyahu is desperately seeking a magical concession to get Obama off his back.
Netanyahu's preference for appeasement is both ironic and destructive. It is ironic because he has turned to appeasement at the very moment that the notion it is possible to appease Obama has self-destructed.
Ten months ago Netanyahu found what he hoped was a magic concession. Capitulating to Obama, the Jewish state's leader prohibited all Jewish building in Judea and Samaria for a period of ten months. This unprecedented move to discriminate against Jews was supposed to get Obama off Netanyahu's back. It didn't.
Obama's public demand this week that Netanyahu extend the abrogation of Jewish property rights shows he will not be appeased. There is no magic concession. Every concession to Obama — like every Israeli concession to the Arabs — is considered both permanent and a starting point for further concessions.
And so Netanyahu concedes more. Not only has he effectively agreed to extend the discriminatory ban on Jewish rights. Netanyahu has moved on to even more outrageous concessions. According to the Lebanese media, Netanyahu has agreed to surrender large swathes of the Golan Heights to Iran's Arab puppet, Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. According to the reports, Netanyahu empowered Obama's emissary George Mitchell to present his offer to Assad in Damascus and even furnished Mitchell with detailed maps of his proposed surrender.
If Netanyahu thinks that this move will diminish US pressure for a full withdrawal from Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, he is in for an unpleasant surprise. Mitchell made this clear at his press conference Wednesday. Mitchell said the "two tracks can be complementary and mutually beneficial if we can proceed to a comprehensive peace on more than one track."
In plain English that means that the administration feels perfectly comfortable pressuring Israel to surrender to the Syrians and to the Palestinians at the same time.
Leaving aside the strategic insanity of surrender talks with Syria, it cannot be said too strongly that the talks with the Palestinians have absolutely no upside for Israel.
Many observers have pointed out that PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas is unlikely to make a deal. And this is probably true. With Hamas in charge in Gaza and widely supported in Judea and Samaria, Abbas will probably not risk signing a peace deal with Israel that will likely serve as his death warrant.
But the same observers who bemoan the poor chances for a treaty ignore the fact that the alternative — that Abbas signs a peace deal with Israel — would be a disaster for Israel. Any deal Israel signs with the PLO will make the country weaker. We know this because we have already signed deals with the PLO. And all of those deals made Israel weaker.
All the agreements between Israel and the PLO have been predicated on Israeli territorial surrenders and Palestinian promises of moderation. Israel has implemented its commitments and surrendered land to the PLO. The PLO has never abided by its commitment to moderate its behavior. To the contrary, the PLO's response to every agreement has been to escalate its political and terror war against Israel.
The Palestinian terror war that began in September 2000 was the direct result of the Oslo "peace" agreement of September 1993 that created the framework for Israeli land surrenders to the PLO, and the framework agreement's follow-on agreements. The terror attacks that have killed and wounded thousands of Israelis would never have happened — indeed they would have been inconceivable — had Israel not withdrawn from Gaza, Judea and Samaria in accordance with peace deals it signed with the PLO.
The track record of the past 17 years demonstrates that withdrawals are dangerous. But still the "peace deal" now on offer is predicated on withdrawals.
Obama and his advisors claim that these talks will improve Israel's relations with the wider Arab world. But again the last 17 years expose this claim as fatuous and wrong. Israeli land surrenders in exchange for pieces of paper have not convinced the Arab League member states to accept Israel as a permanent state in the Middle East. They have convinced Israel's Arab neighbors that Israel is weak and getting weaker. This in turn has signaled to the wider Arab world that its best bet is to join forces with the likes of Hamas and fund and otherwise actively support the war against the Jewish State.
Engaging in the phony "peace process" isn't only bad because there is little prospect for reaching and deal or because any potential deal would be a disaster for Israel. There are three additional reasons the government's decision to engage in this diplomatic psychodrama is terrible for Israel.
First, there is great harm in talking. Talking to Abbas and his deputies legitimizes a Palestinian leadership that is wholly committed to Israel's destruction. As Abbas and his mouthpieces make clear on a daily basis, they do not accept Israel's right to exist. They do not condemn or oppose the murder of Israelis by Palestinians. They will not accept a deal with Israel that leaves Israel in control over sufficient lands to defend itself from Palestinian or other Arab attacks in the future. And they will never end or abate their diplomatic war against Israel.
The very act of legitimizing the likes of Abbas expands their ability to wage diplomatic war on Israel.
Second, just as Netanyahu's magic concessions to the Americans are but a starting point for further magic concessions, so Israel's willingness to engage in talks with its Palestinian adversaries forces our leaders to concede still more important things to maintain them. For instance, today in the face of a clear Hamas terror offensive that has already claimed the lives of four Israelis and sent tens of thousands running for cover in bomb shelters, Israel is compelled to sit on its hands. An effective campaign against Palestinian jihadists would weaken the PLO because most Palestinians support the jihad against Israel. In the interest of "peace," Hamas is allowed to attack at will.
So simply by agreeing to talk with the Palestinians, the government has made it all but impossible to carry out its primary function — defending the country and its citizens from aggression.
The third reason that the talks are inherently against Israel's interests is because they undermine Israeli democracy. Consistent, multiyear polling shows that the public overwhelmingly rejects more withdrawals. The public rejects any compromise in Jerusalem. The public rejects maintaining prohibitions on Jewish building. The public rejects expelling Jews from their homes. And the public rejects withdrawing from the Golan Heights.
Recognizing this, the Obama administration has insisted that the content of the current talks remain hidden from the public. As far as Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Mitchell are concerned, they are better judges of the prospects and wisdom of these talks than the Israeli public that will have to live with their consequences. By agreeing to these demands, Netanyahu is collaborating with a project that is inherently anti-democratic and harmful to Israel's political order.
There is another aspect of the current diplomatic season that is upsetting. This aspect involves the negotiations' deleterious role in shaping Israel's position and options in the US.
When Netanyahu announced he was caving to White House pressure and barring Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria last November, his defenders argued it was necessary given Obama's relative political strength at the time. But a lot has changed in the past ten months.
Today Obama is deeply unpopular. The Democrats are likely to lose their control over the House of Representatives, and at a minimum, their hold on the Senate will be diminished. Today Israel has nothing to gain and much to lose by bowing and scraping before Obama.
True, Obama's positions on issues relating to Israel are not likely to substantively change after November 2. But Obama's ability to implement his policies will be seriously constrained. Indeed, the anticipated Republican resurgence has already incapacitated him.
By playing along with Obama's sham peace talks, Netanyahu has made it difficult for Israel's supporters in the US to explain why these talks are dangerous and offer a counter-policy that is based on experience and reality. Even worse, Netanyahu has encouraged Israel's friends to support what Obama is doing.
This much was made clear by an article penned last week by syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer titled, "Your move, Mr. Abbas."
Krauthammer is widely perceived by the American public as a firm supporter of Israel. His many readers — who by and large are not close observers of Middle East events — defer to his judgment.
Unfortunately, his latest column shows that trust is unfounded. Krauthammer wrote, "No serious player believes [Israel] can hang on forever to the West Bank."
Not only do many serious players believe Israel can — and indeed should — hang on forever to Judea and Samaria, most close observers of events in the Middle East recognize that the central lesson of the past 17 years is that Israel must hang on to Judea and Samaria. The partial territorial surrenders Israel conducted in the 1990s led to the murder of more than a thousand Israel. Ceding these areas entirely would imperil the country. Even Clinton acknowledged this week that the current situation can continue for thirty years. And as all close observers and serious players in the Middle East know, thirty years is tantamount to forever.
Given Krauthammer's tremendous influence in shaping public opinion and policy in the US, his arrogant and false portrayal of reality is debilitating. This is particularly true in the current electoral season where Americans are seriously questioning the received wisdom of their policy elite for the first time in a generation. Now not only will Israel's supporters need to battle the administration for the US to adopt a rational policy towards the Palestinians and Israel. They will need to battle their supposed allies on the Right.
But while devastating, Krauthammer's position is a side issue at the end of the day. Krauthammer is not the man charged with defending Israel. He's a newspaper columnist and television commentator.
The man charged with leading and defending Israel is Netanyahu. Netanyahu is the man who stood for election. Netanyahu is the man who is responsible for leading and defending this country. And Netanyahu is the man that is now leading us on a path to degradation and defeat.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

J Street unmasked

J Street Unmasked
Jennifer Rubin - 09.16.2010 - 3:23 PM

The Washington Jewish Week reveals just how far off the path J Street has wandered from its ostensible purpose:

J Street — the self-professed “pro-Israel, pro-peace” group — appears to have waded further into domestic waters in recent weeks with the launch of a website assailing “neoconservatives and far-right evangelical Christians” for purporting to speak on behalf of the Jewish community. …

J Street’s website,, purports to expose Bauer and Kristol as far-right extremists who are out of sync with the majority of American Jews by outlining the pair’s views on a range of foreign and domestic policy issues.

Among other topics — such as the Gaza Strip and Iraq war — the site highlights the pair’s stances on gay marriage, a woman’s right to choose, Sarah Palin, the Tea Party movement and the separation of church and state.

What does all that have to do with Israel? Not much — and it has confused even the Democrats:

“This [J Street] website confuses me,” said Ira Forman, an independent consultant who recently stepped down as the CEO of the National Jewish Democratic Council. “To me, if you are trying to push a pro-Israel, pro-peace message, you want to be non-ideological and nonpartisan. … But when you use these terms [such as gay marriage and others], it’s making Israel a partisan wedge issue. I don’t understand how that helps the central mission of J Street.” (Forman made it clear that he was speaking on his own behalf, and not the NJDC’s.) Added another pro-Israel Democratic operative, who was not authorized by his employer to speak on the record: The website “takes away from some of J Street’s legitimacy as a foreign policy voice when they buttress their arguments with domestic issues.”

“What J Street is saying is people who don’t support gay marriage and who are pro-life are out of the mainstream Jewish community. That is a fact, but it has nothing to do with their support for Israel,” the source said. “Is J Street saying you can’t have an individual who’s pro-life, anti-gay” also be “supportive of the state of Israel?”

OK, so let’s all be clear here. J Street is a leftist group, not a pro-Israel one. And for leftist Jews the mantra is: global warming is killing the planet, abortion on demand must be protected, and Israel is wrong on [fill in the blank]. Once you have that straight, its website and ongoing Israel-bashing make perfect sense. Meanwhile, is it relevant? The reporter seems skeptical:

But if the group is to increase its political clout, it needs to demonstrate that it’s not simply an Obama administration tool, said an official with a pro-Israel organization who agreed to speak only on background. “There is a sense in the pro-Israel community — and there have been complaints — that J Street has not [made] a fair effort to show bipartisanship.”

So far in the 2010 election cycle, JStreetPAC, the group’s political action committee, has distributed nearly $1 million to 60 Democratic candidates and one Republican.

Yeah, not too bipartisan. (And that one Republican? Why, it’s the longtime Israel critic Charles Boustany.) Meanwhile, it’s not clear J Street is even a tool of the Obami. Since the later went on the charm offensive and dropped the settlement freeze as a precondition for talks, J Street hasn’t even been in sync with the administration. So I’m still stumped: who does J Street speak for?

Jews claim to Israel

Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People: From the San Remo Conference (1920) to the Netanyahu-Abbas Talks - Joshua Teitelbaum (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
According to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the real root of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians had been their ongoing refusal to recognize "the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own in their historic homeland" and he has singled out this issue as a key "prerequisite for ending the conflict." Netanyahu's proposal puts back on the global agenda a fundamental Jewish national right that was once axiomatic but today is rarely mentioned.
Ninety years ago at the San Remo Conference following World War I (April 1920), the Supreme Council of the Principal Allied Powers determined the allocation of the Middle Eastern territories of the defeated Ottoman Empire and decided to incorporate the 1917 Balfour Declaration supporting a Jewish national home in Palestine into the British Mandate for the territory, a move which confirmed international recognition of the right of Jewish self-determination.
The language adopted at San Remo was a triumph for Zionism, which saw a national solution to the problem of the Jews. It recognized the existence of the Jews as more than individuals who subscribed to a certain religion - Judaism - but rather as a corporate group deserving of national expression, in this case in the form of a national home. And this home was to be in Palestine, the ancient homeland of the Jews. The language agreed upon at San Remo was, as British Foreign Secretary Lord Curzon put it, "the Magna Carta of the Zionists." It was clear at the time that the term "national home" really meant a state.
Jewish self-determination was part of a process that ended up decolonizing the Middle East in an effort that led to Arab as well as Jewish independence. Repeated recent associations of Israel with colonialism - an ahistorical canard that erases the millennia-long association of Jews with the Land of Israel as an indigenous people - ignores the benefit that Zionism actually brought to the Arabs through the process of decolonization. The British Peel Commission Report of 1937 was quite clear on this. Indeed, it was the return of the Jews to the Land of Israel that gave critical mass to a distinct and unique Palestinian identity as well.
The Jews have been brought back into history through the establishment of the State of Israel. This was accomplished with the aid of international institutions which recognized the justice and importance of Jewish national self-determination. These institutions accepted the validity of Zionism, the national liberation movement of the Jews. Today, those who deny the Jewish right to national self-determination, more than 60 years after the founding of Israel, engage in a new kind of anti-Semitism.

Europe Conservative making strides

European Conservatives, the new kids on the block, making strides
By Sue Fishkoff · September 12, 2010

(JTA) -- A recent survey of British Jewry showed a decline in every Jewish denomination since 1990 except for two groups: the strictly Orthodox haredi and the Masorti, or Conservative movement.

Over those 20 years, both have nearly doubled.

Researchers behind the report, published in May by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, understood the haredi growth: Strictly Orthodox Jews have large families, and almost all of them join synagogues. But why were the British Masorti numbers up?

They’re up across Europe. Over the last three years, the number of Masorti communities on the continent has increased by 50 percent, from 20 to 30 congregations. It’s still the smallest Jewish denomination in Europe, but it’s growing the fastest.

Masorti leaders say it’s because they’re the new kids on the block.

“Unlike the Conservative movement in the United States, where they are the establishment, the mainstream, in Europe we are young, exciting, the new thing, experimental,” said Rabbi Chaim Weiner, the London-based president of Masorti Europe, the umbrella body for Conservative communities in Europe. “Each of our communities grows from year to year.”

There are 12 Masorti communities in Britain, six in France, and one each in Brussels, Stockholm, Lisbon, Bern, Prague, Budapest and the Dutch city of Almeer. Spain has a few, as does Germany.

Despite the growth, the overall Masorti numbers pale compared to the Orthodox movement, which dominates religious life across the continent. Masorti is also much smaller than the Progressive, or Reform movement, which claims 150 affiliated congregations in Europe, including 80 in Britain.

Masorti draws from both those movements, Weiner says, attracting disaffected Orthodox Jews as well as Reform Jews interested in more tradition.

Rabbi Andrew Goldstein, chairman of the European Union for Progressive Judaism, says that at least in Britain, Masorti growth comes primarily from the Modern Orthodox community, which has declined by a third since 1990, according to the study.

In fact, the first British Masorti congregation, New London Synagogue, broke away from an Orthodox congregation in 1964 and the third, Edgware Masorti, broke away from a Reform congregation in 1980.

Masorti Judaism in Europe is closer to the Canadian or Israeli model of Conservative practice, although some of the communities -- like in Prague, which is led by an American rabbi -- look more like their U.S. counterparts. This affects everything from egalitarianism to attitudes toward intermarriage.

About half the British Masorti synagogues maintain gender-separate seating during worship, but most European Masorti communities do not. Four of the movement's 15 or 16 European rabbis are women.

By the same token, attitudes toward intermarriage are more lenient on the continent but less so in Britain, according to Michael Gluckman, executive director of the British Assembly of Masorti Synagogues.

“We’re still a bit more traditional than in America,” Gluckman said.

Bernard Weil of Adath Shalom, the oldest Masorti congregation in Paris, says that while he and other congregants drive to synagogue on Shabbat, they would never think of offering a Shabbat parking space to new members -- a membership incentive he said he heard about from American Conservative Jews.

Conversely, even those communities like Adath Shalom that are not made up primarily of English speakers try to cater to them.

“Especially at Yom Kippur, some of the service is in English,” Weil said. “Religiously we’re closer to the Orthodox; socially we’re closer to the Liberals,” or Reform Jews.

Potential converts to Judaism, as well as Jews involved in mixed marriages, are among those most often drawn to Masorti communities in Europe, Gluckman said.

Five years ago, a European-wide Masorti beit din, or rabbinic court, was established to standardize conversions and other Jewish legal procedures. It’s all part of the movement’s struggle to parlay its recent growth into permanent strength.

“For the movement to thrive in Europe, each small community has to be able to provide the full range of rabbinic services, from conversion to divorce,” said Weiner, who heads the new Masorti rabbinic court.

“Even a few years ago, people didn’t believe it was worth making a commitment to us,” he said. “Now our profile has crossed the threshold, and communities are coming to us wanting to join.”

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Don't use chickens in Kapporos

Senior rabbi speaks out against using fowl in kapparot
09/14/2010 23:04

Rabbi Aviner sends SPCA Israel letter, video explaining why according to halacha it is wrong to use chickens in pre-Kippur atonement rite.
The Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Israel has received a significant halachic backing for this year’s annual campaign against the cruel use of chickens in the kapparot (atonement) ritual.

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, head of the capital’s Yeshivat Ateret Cohanim and rabbi of Beit El, not only provided SPCA Israel with a letter last week showing the faultiness of the rite, basing his arguments on some of the greatest arbitrators, but went on video to expound on the halachic traditions proving why it’s wrong to inflict such cruelty on God’s creations, especially when the underlying motivation is absolution of one’s sins before the same God, as Aviner quotes former Tel Aviv Rabbi Chaim David Halevi.

Chicken ritual is foul, animal rights groups say
Fowl accusations

Since the sixth century, the ceremony of transubstantiating one’s sins into the body of a chicken and then slaughtering it, which traditionally is acted out in the days leading up to Yom Kippur, has prevailed among Jewish communities.

Over the centuries, halachic disputes emerged around the rite, with Rabbi Yosef Karo (who wrote the Shulhan Aruch), the Rashba and Nahmanides among those objecting it for various reasons, including the potentially problematic slaughtering, the non- Jewish superstitious character of it, and the unnecessary cruelty inflicted on the animals at a time of year that ought to be marked by mercy and benevolence.

Alternatives to the fowl were put forth, such as the use of grain or giving charity to the poor.

Before the actual slaughtering, which at times leaves the birds floundering for long minutes in a bloody near-death, the chickens are cooped up in small cages, many times out in the sun for long hours.

The kapparot rite involves swinging the bird over the atoning one’s head, much to the discontent of the animal.

To encourage observant people to choose a non-fowl object of atonement, SPCA Israel sent out requests to many of the country’s leading rabbis, and was happy to receive a clear voice of support from Aviner, one of the most influential rabbis and educators in the national-religious sector.

Under the headline beginning with a pertinent citation from Psalms, “and His mercy is over all his works,” Aviner leads the reader through the halachic discontent over the use of chickens in the kapparot, beginning with Rabbi Karo, the ultimate halachic source for Sephardi Jewry, who called it “the custom of the Amorite – simply put, a superstition.”

Aviner cited the late kabbalist Rabbi Yitzchak Kadourie, who said that you should abstain from using chickens due to “the cruelty to animals, which is prohibited by the Torah, and kashrut problems.”

He also mentions Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (1910- 1995), who over the years stopped using animals for kapparot, giving charity instead.

“Since this is not a clear duty but rather a tradition, and in the light of the kashrut problems and cruelty to animals, and in the light of all of what our aforementioned rabbis said, it is recommended that one should prefer to conduct the atonement ceremony with money, thus also fulfilling the great mitzva of helping poor people,” Aviner summarized.

Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger also responded to SPCA Israel’s request for rabbinic support, and issued orders to ensure that the chickens facing the ceremony will be treated in a way that would reduce the unnecessary suffering to a minimum, in accordance to the Jewish tradition that stresses the need to show compassion to animals.

“We must treat these animals with the same mercy we hope our Creator would treat us,” Metzger said.

Richard Schwartz, president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America, said on Monday that he was “very happy about Rabbi Shlomo Aviner’s statement.

Using and donating money for the kapparot ritual rather than using chickens is consistent with our mission to be rachmanim b’nei rachmanim (compassionate children of compassionate ancestors) and with the Torah mitzva of tsa’ar ba’alei chaim (the prohibition against causing unnecessary harm to animals). It is also consistent with the Jewish teachings that ‘God’s compassion is over all of His works’ (Psalms 145:9) and ‘the righteous person considers the life of his animals’ (Proverbs 12:10).”

Schwartz also said that “substituting money for chickens supports the urgent need to make dietary changes at a time when the production and consumption of meat and other animal products is causing an epidemic of diseases and contributing substantially to climate change and many environmental problems that threaten all of humanity. Animal- based diets are arguably inconsistent with Jewish mandates to preserve our health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources and help hungry people.”

SPCA Israel members toured Shuk Hatikva in south Tel Aviv on Tuesday dressed in blood-red shirts and bearing harsh pictures of slaughtered chickens, to try to encourage a change of heart among those planning to use fowl in the kapparot ritual with the help of explanatory pamphlets and Aviner's letter, which might bring some to substitute the bird with charitable money.

The chicken slaughterers in the market did not appreciate the initiative, and harsh words were exchanged between the sides. There was, however, more receptiveness to SPCA Israel's agenda among some of the market-goers, while others maintained it was a religious ceremony to be adhered to, regardless of the halachic content of Aviner's letter.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010

My Rosh Hashanah sermons
My erev Rosh Hashanah sermon
First day Rosh sermon

Second day

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

be a bad jew

Today’s column was written by Rami Kaminski, MD, founder and director of the Institute for Integrative Psychiatry in New York City. I have never met him or communicated with him in any way.

His column is entitled “Why I Am a Bad Jew.”

With that, I present the heartfelt and important words of Dr. Kaminski.

“For centuries, we lived in Berdichev. In the brutal Ukrainian winter of
1941, SS soldiers arrived there and rounded up eighty-seven members of my family - babies, young adults, octogenarians - stripped them naked, marched them to a nearby ditch, and executed them. Their lifeless bodies fell silently into a mass grave.

Like most Jews in Europe, my family ‘cooperated’ with the Final
Solution. They did not resist or fight back. Six million Jews were
slaughtered in a period of four years. They received little sympathy
while they were still alive and hunted down like animals. There was no
public outcry because the Holocaust fit the world’s narrative for Jews
during the past 2000 years: a people destined to be persecuted and

During their two millennia in the Diaspora, Jews were not known to
resist. There are few recorded instances in which Jews turned against
their host nations or retaliated against their murderers. Instead, the
survivors - if there were any - were expelled or left for another place.
The murdered were regarded as ‘good’ Jews They accepted their fate
helplessly, without resistance.
This narrative of the Jews has played out on the historical stage with
boring monotony: Jews get killed because they are Jews. Nothing novel
about it. After the Holocaust, however, the world, disgusted by this
particularly ghoulish period of history, accorded some sympathy for the

Media commentary about the ongoing Gaza War reveals the world has now reverted to its pre-Holocaust perspective. Today, the only good Jew is a powerless Jew willing to become a dead one. The Zionist Revolution is to blame. It changed everything. Jews re-created their own country. The Arabs attacked the new Jewish state the day after independence and promised to complete Hitler’s genocide. In succeeding decades, the Arabs attacked again and again. Strangely, the Jews, many of them refugees from Arab nations, adopted a surprising, new tactic: they fought back.

With Zionism, the Jews stubbornly refused to follow the centuries-old
script. They refuse to be killed without resistance. As a result, the
world has become increasingly enraged at their impertinence.

The recent events in Gaza and Mumbai make this plain. In 2005, Israel
eliminated all Jewish presence in Gaza making it ‘Judenrein,’ and handed it over to the Palestinians. Left behind were synagogues and thriving green houses. The Arabs looted and destroyed them literally the day after Israel’s withdrawal was complete. Where these structures once stood, the Palestinians built military bases and installed rocket
launchers to shell Israeli civilians. To date, some 7,000 missiles have
fallen on Israeli cities and towns, killing and maiming dozens, and
sowing widespread terror. Medical studies reveal nearly all Jewish
children in the communities bordering Gaza suffer from serious,
trauma-induced illness.

The Gazan Palestinians then elected Hamas to lead them. Hamas proceeded to kill or imprison their political rivals, and its leaders, true to the Hamas charter, were unabashed in clearly stating their aims: they will not stop until they achieve their Final Solution, kill all the Jews,
take over the land of Israel, and establish a theocracy governed by
Islamic law.

As killing Jews for being Jews has been a national sport for centuries,
Islamic militants are justified in believing they are merely fulfilling
historical tradition in Argentina, India and Gaza. Surely the Jews in
Mumbai did not occupy Gaza. They were tortured and killed just for being Jews. And predictably, in the eyes of the world, they immediately became good Jews, just like my murdered family in Bertishev.

Good Jews would wait until Hamas has weapons enabling its members to
achieve their ultimate goal of absolute mass murder. Those enraged by
Israel’s defensive military action insist Hamas uses only ‘crude’
rockets, as if Qassams were BB guns, and military inferiority were
somehow equivalent with moral superiority. In fact, Hamas now has
Iranian-supplied Grad missiles which have landed on Be’er Sheva and the outskirts of Tel Aviv.

Westerners have had only sporadic exposure to the indiscriminant killing
in the name of ‘holy war’ which Israel has lived with for years.
Memories of 9-11, Madrid, and London have dimmed. This is not because
the Islamic militants made a careful choice of weapons. They simply have not yet acquired nuclear bombs. Once they do, the West will develop a less detached view about the Islamists’ professed intentions for the ‘infidels.’

The only enlightened people in the civilized world who actually get it
are the Israelis. They’ve not had time for detached philosophical
ponderings. They’ve been too busy confronting the reality of Islamic

Soon, Iran will have nuclear weapons. It will give them to Hezbollah and
Hamas. Today, Jews must take a position: either be ‘good’ Jews willing
to be slaughtered without resistance, or be “bad” Jews who defend
themselves at the cost of being pariahs of our enlightened world. Good
Jews would wait for another six million to be murdered, and pick up to
leave for another country to start the cycle again. The bad ones refuse
to go calmly into the ditch.

I confess: I’m a bad Jew.”

Rami Kaminski, MD, is Director and Founder of the Institute for
Integrative Psychiatry in New York, a not-for-profit organization aimed
at evaluating current psychiatric services and how they integrate with
medicine, such as the mutual effects between medical and psychiatric
conditions. Prior to that, Dr. Kaminkski was the Commissioner’s Liaison
to Families and Community and Medical Director of Operations at the New
York State Office of Mental Health. Dr. Kaminski also holds an academic
position as Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University. He
earned recognition in 1990 from Mt. Sinai Hospital as Physician of the
Year, and received the Exemplary Psychiatrist Awards from the National
Alliance for the Mentally Ill. Dr. Kaminski’s research explores
neuropsychiatric aspects of brain disorders, such as Alzheimer and
Parkinson’s disease and movement disorders, as well as
psychopharmacology of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. He
was for many years Director of The Schizophrenia research Unit at Mount
Sinai Hospital in NYC. Dr. Kaminiski also served as the Medical Director
of the PMHP and consultant to the committee in charge of developing the
Special Needs Program.

As a poem says, I will absolutely not go calmly into that good night.

My family did not survive the Holocaust and bring me into this world so my Jewish generation could be complacent and allow us to be exterminated like rats again.

When people say they want to wipe you off the face of the Earth, do not take the gamble that they are bluffing.

Iran must never…ever…ever…be allowed to have the bomb. Anything and everything must be done to prevent this.

May every Jew heed Dr. Kaminski’s words.

To those who oppose the right of Jews to exist, this Rosh Hashanah I offer only two simple words.

Never again.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Huge Arab lobby

The Arab Lobby
A new book explores the ‘petrodiplomatic complex’ and Saudi influence on U.S. foreign policy
BY LEE SMITH | Sep 1, 2010 7:00 AM | Print | Email |

A meeting of Arab foreign ministers at the Saudi embassy in Washington, D.C., 2007.
Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images
One of the characteristic laments of the Arab intelligentsia in both Washington and the Middle East concerns the inability of Arab nations to make their cases to the U.S. public. If only the Arabs weren’t so divided, the refrain goes; if only they better explained themselves and the plight of the Palestinians; if only the Arabs were as clever as the Jews; if only there was an Arab lobby as powerful as the Israel lobby.

But there is an Arab lobby in the United States—one as old as, if not older than, the Israel lobby, and it has helped to shape U.S. foreign policy and economic life since the end of World War II. Mitchell Bard’s The Arab Lobby: The Invisible Alliance That Undermines America’s Interests in the Middle East describes how this Arab lobby—from U.S. foreign service officers, oil companies, Christian anti-Zionists, and Ivy League universities to Gulf Arab states, Arab-American activists and Islamist ideologues—exercises its influence in U.S. politics. The book is already being dismissed by critics as a slapdash attempt by a former AIPAC employee to answer Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer’s 2007 book, The Israel Lobby. But those who actually read the new book will find a serious and timely look at a powerful and remarkably under-studied influence on U.S. foreign policy.

“Unlike Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, I don’t think it’s illegitimate to lobby for one’s interests,” Bard told me on the phone last week. The executive director of the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, Bard wrote his dissertation at UCLA on the limits to domestic influence on U.S. Middle East Policy. “I’ve been writing for more than 20 years about this issue,” he said. “The point of my book is to inform the American public that an Arab lobby exists despite the claims of others that it does not and to explain what its interests are.”

In describing AIPAC’s Arab cousin, Bard draws some useful comparisons between the two lobbies, which are not as similar as one might imagine from his book’s title. AIPAC is a grassroots organization funded by U.S. citizens that represents the broad sentiment of Christians and Jews who are interested in one issue—protecting and promoting the U.S.-Israel relationship. The Arab lobby, by comparison, has little organic U.S. backing and divides its efforts between two causes—oil and Palestine. The former is managed in Washington by what Bard calls the “petrodiplomatic complex” of former U.S. diplomats and intelligence officers, politicians, and defense executives. Funded by oil companies, the weapons industry, and Arab energy producers, mainly Saudi Arabia, it enjoys virtually unlimited financial resources. For instance, AIPAC’s annual operating budget is $60 million a year—pocket change to a Saudi prince, like Alwaleed Bin Talal, who in 2005 gave $20 million apiece to Georgetown and Harvard.

The Palestinian issue is paramount to the Arab-American sector of the Arab lobby. However, just as the Palestinians are divided against themselves—between Hamas and Fatah, among contending Fatah factions, as well as among competing clans—it is not the Palestinian cause that unites the Arabs or Arab-Americans but anti-Israel sentiment. The same goes for many of the Arab lobby’s domestic anti-Zionist partners, some of whom are motivated by religious conviction, especially the Presbyterians, and others by political ideology, but all of whom can agree on disliking first the idea and then the reality of a Jewish state.

The Arab lobby’s Palestine agenda, then, tends to be negative and, as Bard writes, “aimed at undermining the US-Israel relationship,” only rarely promoting a positive vision of a Palestinian state as a regional beacon of social justice or economic development, or defending the rights of Palestinian journalists, Christians, or other endangered social groups against the threats of the Palestinian political leadership. This part of the Arab lobby, writes Bard, “is small and mostly impotent.”

The real power is in the hands of the Arab lobby’s oil sector, the role of which is to keep the Arab oil producers happy by ensuring that Americans stay addicted to oil, that the defense industry keeps its production lines open, and that the image of Arab states stays polished, even for state sponsors of terror, like Saudi Arabia, and states whose rule is founded on flagrant social inequalities, the torture of dissidents and unbelievers, and other practices that most Americans rightly find abhorrent.

Surely the most depressing aspect of Bard’s book is his depiction of the craven subservience of so many U.S. diplomats and officials to the Saudi royal family. “Even when the Saudis had no money, and they only started to pump oil,” Bard told me, “a fear permeated the State Department that if we didn’t give in to them, we would lose our interest there. And the Saudis were clever about exploiting our fear. First they said they’d go with the British instead of us, then they threatened that they’d go with the Soviet Union, even as they portrayed themselves as anti-Communist and said they needed U.S. weapons to defend themselves against Moscow.”

Bard says that the Saudis are using the Iran threat now in similar ways. “The U.S. knows that in the end we have to defend the royal family,” he said. “The Saudis just want the latest toys and act like petulant children until they get them. Then the U.S. tells the Israelis not to worry when they sell the Saudis weapons because they can’t use them, but we go to Congress and say Riyadh needs these arms for their defense.”

With all the demands for U.S. presidents to pressure Israel, it’s worth noting that U.S. officials have rarely done anything but accommodate the Saudis. The one striking exception, as Bard notes, was John F. Kennedy’s demand that Saudi Arabia abolish slavery. Typically, U.S.-Saudi relations have been conducted in the dark, a trend that started in July 1945, when President Harry Truman approved construction of the Dhahran air base using existing War Department funds to evade congressional oversight. This became a precedent for keeping most of the U.S.-Saudi relationship secret, or at least beyond public scrutiny. For years, the U.S. government acceded to the wishes of the Saudis and other Gulf states to conceal information about Arab investments in the United States, and even U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia were classified between 1950 and 1972.

Today the unspoken issue is Saudi support for terror. Were U.S. officials to complain about how the kingdom funds jihad against the United States and its allies, “there’s a fear,” says Bard, “that the Saudis may punish us by withdrawing some of their billions of dollars in investments, cut U.S. companies out of deals to explore for gas or oil, or take other measures to damage our interests.”

Nor are the Saudis shy about promising to unleash jihad against those who cross their path, as when they threatened the British government when it was investigating the unsavory details of a Saudi arms purchase from a British weapons maker.

Given the nature of the Saudi regime, it is little wonder that the oil lobby prefers to work in the shadows. As one publicist explained in laying out his PR strategy for Riyadh: “Saudi Arabia has a need to influence the few that influence the many, rather than the need to influence the many to whom the few must respond.”

“This is a fairly smart lobbying tactic,” Bard told me. “It is very difficult to take a democratic approach, when most people don’t take your position.”

The story of the Arab lobby is also a story about Washington, more specifically an influential segment of the U.S. political elite that has contempt for the rubes who don’t understand that it is in the U.S. national interest to lean on the Zionists in order to make the Middle East’s Muslim Arab majority happy.

Bard believes that the Arabs and their Washington handlers were spitting in the wind of a post-World War II history that had turned in favor of the Jews. The Arabs, Bard writes, were “convinced that the United States supported the Zionists because of their propaganda. … Consequently, [the Arabs] never understood the depth of Americans’ feeling for the justness of the Zionist cause.”

Perhaps that is true, but it’s worth remembering that at the same time the Zionists succeeded in lobbying the Truman Administration to support a Jewish state, there was still widespread anti-Semitism throughout America, even as the horrors of the Final Solution were becoming known to the general public. It is comforting to believe that the 63 percent of Americans, according to a recent Gallup poll, who side with Israel rather than the Palestinians are now and will always be stalwart friends of the Jews. But in the end all we know for certain about Americans is that they can smell what stinks. The Saudi lobby pays Washington power-brokers to talk over the heads of ordinary Americans because the latter have enough horse sense to know that a regime that withholds the rights of women as well as those of its Shia minority, outlaws the practice of Christianity and Judaism, and promotes anti-American causes is not in any meaningful sense of the term a U.S. ally.

As Bard’s book documents, the Saudis’ well-paid American agents have been making the same arguments for 60 years. The reason their message is not getting through is not that Americans are stupid and susceptible to Zionist propaganda or that the Jews who “control” Congress and the media are blocking access to the truth. The majority of Americans haven’t yet joined in the chorus led by Walt, Mearsheimer, and their cohort because Americans simply do not like to be threatened by extortionists who warn that if you don’t do what we say we will turn off your lights and shut down your car engines, and if you don’t change your position on Israel, we will kill you.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Nation of Islam congressman in Indy opposed

The most important & least known House Race in America

America and indeed the world, anxiously awaits the outcome of the 2010 midterm elections. The political and social direction of the Republic is on the line. Republican versus Democrat, Conservative versus Liberal, RINO versus Tea Party and the beat goes on. Millions of dollars are flowing into campaign chests; miles of print espousing opinions grace the pages of newspapers, magazines and blogs; thousands of hours of programming on radio and television debate the issues, from the ridiculous to the sublime. Volunteers and professionals are burning up the phone lines and the postal delivery folks are bent over with the weight of direct mail appeals.

Meanwhile, the most important House race in the whole country is being totally ignored. A race which exemplifies the ying and the yang. A race which incorporates every exciting and essential element on the political radar screen. A race which will separate hacks from heroes, principle from pragmatism, love of country from lust for power. A race between the power of politicians and the power of the people.

Populist Republican, Dr. Marvin Scott is attempting to wrest the Indiana 7th District from the clutches of a liberal Democrat dynasty. Julia Carson was elected in 1996 and served until her death in 2007. Andre Carson, her grandson, was elected to serve the remainder of her term in a special election and was overwhelmingly reelected in 2008, thanks to the Barack Obama landslide.

Dr. Scott, a tenured professor of Sociology at Butler University, was the Republican nominee for Senate in 2004. He is an extraordinary example of the American Dream. Born to proud, but not formally educated parents in the segregated south, Dr. Scott learned to be a proud American. Robert and Gertrude Scott taught their seven children to appreciate what you have and strive to earn what you want. Three of their children earned PHd’s or finished all the requirements and one of their grandchildren was Flo-Jo, the Olympic champion.

Andre Carson voted 98.9% of the time with Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He has earned high marks from Organized Labor, Pro Choice organizations, Gun Control Groups, Muslim groups (he is one of two Muslims in the House), Homosexual support groups, Tax Increase lobbies, Arab & Anti Israel groups (Carson earned a 100% rating from the Arab American League) and the NAACP. Andre Carson is a proud member of the Progressive Caucus in Congress.

Marvin Scott is a Constitutional Conservative. He passionately believes that America is the land of opportunity. He is a fiscal and social conservative. He has never been embraced by the Republican power people but is loved by the Tea Party folks. Dr. Scott is a true gentleman, but not a coward. He gets standing ovations from the everyday folk and deafening silence from the DC insiders. His motto is “It is never right to do wrong, and it is never wrong to do right”. He publically commits to term limits and is an unabashed supporter of Israel.

This race is very winnable by Dr. Scott, because of his huge name recognition, the frustration with Andre Carson (he is the one who lied when he claimed the “N” word was used 15 times at a Tea Party rally in DC), the mood of the country, the unpopularity of President Obama, the changes in the District (only 25% black, only 53% Democrat), the fact that Marvin Scott is a black man so the “race” card is eliminated, the high unemployment rate (60+%) among black youth, the strong 2nd Amendment sentiment, the fact that Andre Carson voted for the Health Care Bill with its unconstitutional personal mandates and the publically funded abortion provisions, and Andre Carson’s condemnation of Israel in a letter signed by him and 53 other anti-Israel members of Congress. Andre Carson‘s personal relationship with the hateful Louis Farrakhan and Farrakhan’s endorsement of him, plus Carson’s sponsorship of the J Street Gala Dinner are very troubling for most citizens. 2010 brings with it photo ID requirements which will cut down on the aggressive cheating carried out in the past in this District. Andre Carson supports open borders, a path to citizenship for illegals and a weakened national defense. Dr. Marvin Scott believes in securing our borders, enforcing our laws and strengthening our National Defense.

The “Power” Republicans have done their best to discourage donors to Dr. Marvin Scott’s campaign. Congressmen Mike Pence and Dan Burton have been the notable exceptions. Insiders claim the district cannot be won, but ignore the fact that no Democrat has won the 7th in an off year election by more than 10,000 votes. The reality is, that Power Republicans don’t want to encourage Democrat turnout by backing a vigorous campaign. They have been cowed by the possibility of being called racists and they want a Republican who is a ring kisser. Dr. Scott is a happily married man with 4 children and he is allergic to chapstick.

Will this, the year of the people, end this progressive liberal dynasty?
Will the people’s frustration with RINO like positions and politicians explode at the ballot box? That is the question, you are the answer. Get informed, get involved, get Andre Carson out and Dr. Marvin Scott & the Constitution back in the United States House of Representatives.