Wednesday, March 30, 2011

what's wrong with the USCJ new plan

The USCJ Vision Might be Shortsighted
The USCJ Vision Might be Shortsighted
–Susan Kardos

For those of us who care deeply about Schechter schools and about the strength of Conservative Judaism, the USCJ’s (United Synagogues of Conservative Judaism) recently publicized, new strategic plan is likely a disappointment.

The USCJ’s freshly articulated vision begins, “The USCJ is a community of kehillot—sacred communities—committed to a dynamic Judaism that is learned and passionate, authentic and pluralistic, joyful and accessible, egalitarian or traditional.” One core element in its newly stated mission is, “to ensure educational excellence true to the vision of Conservative Judaism for children and adults in our kehillot.” So far so good.

As someone who is passionately committed both to Conservative Judaism and to intensive and immersive Jewish education for children, the disconnect for me is the gap between USCJ’s educational mission and the stated strategies to achieve it: (1) Re-organizing educational programs by type of consumer rather than by type of service, (2) Improving programs through access to external expertise, networked learning, and best practice, (3) Partnering with mission-aligned education organizations, (4) Convening a blue ribbon panel, and (5) Creating a staffed, central force around the vision and its implementation.

Yes, I understand that the plan is a plan for the USCJ (and thus, primarily, synagogue schools) and not for the greater Conservative Movement (although I frankly can’t see how the two can be uncoupled). What is nonetheless troubling is the plan’s lack of focus on Schechter schools and their centrality to strong synagogues, even in those sections of the plan that set forth a vision for education. While the USCJ envisions a “dynamic Judaism that is learned and passionate,” it virtually ignores the deep and rich value that Schechter schools and the Schechter Association add to synagogue life and to Conservative Judaism overall.

At present, the committed core of the Conservative Movement comes from Schechter schools. Dr. Jack Wertheimer’s survey research about young leaders in their 20s and 30s (funded by The AVI CHAI Foundation) showed that over 40% of respondents are products of the Conservative Movement. Of that group, 40% are products of day schools. I believe it is safe to assume that a healthy number of that disproportionate percentage are Schechter graduates. An informal survey of JTS deans indicates that at least 40-50% of JTS students are day school graduates. Considering that day school students make up perhaps 15% of school-aged children in the Conservative Movement, one would think United Synagogues would be more interested in making Schechter education an integral part of its plan.

Furthermore, the educational effort of the strategic plan focuses on “an integrated system of experiential and formal education” for each age group (“by type of consumer rather than by type of service or product”). The truth is, Schechter schools have specific educational characteristics, such as a commitment to the study of biblical, rabbinic, and prayer texts in the original, that are unique among the educational providers for each age group. These unique characteristics position Schechter schools to make a distinctive contribution to educating young people in the Conservative Movement. Including all educational providers together with Schechter schools runs the risk of missing, or diluting, this important facet. Because of the different contribution they make to the education of young people, Schechter schools have gifts to bring and needs to meet that differ from those of other education providers that would require special attention in an integrated educational system.

A focus on strengthening synagogue schools ought to remain a central piece of USCJ’s strategic plan. But what a missed opportunity that Schechter schools don’t occupy a more prominent place than they do, especially given USCJ’s vision and mission. Ironically, it is USCJ, more than any other institution, which should understand the powerful and vital role that Schechter schools play in vibrant synagogues, animated Jewish institutions and communities, and a glorious Jewish People with an energized and elevated center. I wonder what colleagues and friends from across the denominational and post-denominational spectrum think?

Susan Kardos is the Senior Director of Strategy and Education Planning at the AVI CHAI Foundation. The comments expressed above are taken from discussions in which she participated as an ex-officio member of the Solomon Schechter Day School Association Board. Follow her on Twitter @susankardos.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Conservative Judaism?

At Conservative rabbis’ confab, it’s not about the organization, but the future
By Sue Fishkoff · March 29, 2011

1 out of 1Other Media
Rabbi Howard Hoffman, left, of North Shore Jewish Center in Port Jefferson Station, N.Y. and Rabbi Arthur Rulnick of Rockville, Md., at the Rabbinical Assembly convention in Las Vegas, March 28, 2011. (Courtesy Rabbinical Assembly)
LAS VEGAS (JTA) – Listening to Conservative rabbis talk about their movement is like witnessing an intervention.

They talk of “saving” Conservative Judaism – and sometimes they blame the parents when things go wrong.

“Reform rabbis speak positively about their movement and less positively about their synagogue, while Conservative rabbis speak positively about their synagogue and less positively about their movement,” said Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt of B’nai Tzedek in Potomac, Md., paraphrasing a refrain he says he has heard often from Reform and Conservative colleagues.

Weinblatt was one of nearly 300 Conservative rabbis who came to Las Vegas this week for the annual convention of the Rabbinical Assembly, the movement’s rabbinic group. On the agenda, as usual, was the future of Conservative Judaism – what it is, where it’s headed, and how rabbis can get that message out to the world.

“The Conservative movement belongs to us, and we’ll either fix it or bury it,” said Rabbi Edward Feinstein of Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, Calif., during a panel Monday on what Conservative Judaism will look like in 20 years. “We’re the rabbis. We need to get together, stop the bulls--t, and get it done, or we’ll become a shrinking, dwindling, heteronomous movement with very little to say.”

At this gathering, there was little of the grumbling by key Conservative synagogue leaders that reportedly prompted the development and release last month of a new strategic plan to restructure the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. Instead, there was energy, even a little bravado, at the Rabbinical Assembly conference, and criticism was tempered by concern for the Conservative movement’s future.

“We need a new financial model,” said Rabbi Steven Wernick, executive vice president and CEO of United Synagogue and the man in charge of overseeing the restructuring of the congregational umbrella group. “Less edifice and more personnel. Multiple minyanim in the same building -- the Hillel model.“

What will the new strategic plan, a year and a half in the making, mean to members of Conservative congregations? Not much, said Wernick -- at least, not for a while. “It’s navigational. The implementation plan – how do we get there – is what we’re working on now.”

At any rate, institutions do not a movement make, rabbis at this convention reiterated. That’s particularly the case in the Conservative movement, whose three main institutions – the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Rabbinical Assembly and the United Synagogue – are modeled on the separation of powers within the U.S. government rather than on anyone’s notion of the most effective way to deliver religious services and build Jewish community. Those are two of the main interests on rabbis’ minds today.

“The Conservative movement is not these institutions,” said Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly. “These institutions are more than 100 years old and in urgent need of rethinking.”

The ideas and values of Conservative Judaism, on the other hand, are as relevant and compelling today as ever, she said.

“People get hung up on the Conservative institutions -- are they good or bad. That’s beside the point,” she said. “They’re only good or bad in terms of how they help us get out our message of building a sustainable, joyful community that finds meaning in Jewish tradition and is committed to making the world a better place.”

The convention featured formal discussions among the United Synagogue leadership and key figures among a group of about 50 rabbis who have been pushing for completely overhauling United Synagogue. They call themselves Hayom: Coalition for the Transformation of Conservative Judaism. Those discussions took place behind closed doors, but their message is no secret, nor is the rabbis’ dissatisfaction with the new strategic plan.

“The clock has started moving faster, and it’s up to the chancellor and the R.A. to determine the fate of the North American Conservative movement,” said Rabbi Menachem Creditor of Netivot Shalom in Berkeley, Calif., a leader of Hayom. Creditor helped craft the strategic plan, which, he says, “left some of the most dissatisfied communities dissatisfied,” despite his and his colleagues’ best efforts.

Some of the Hayom congregations, including Netivot Shalom, have refused to pay the full dues assessed them by the United Synagogue. Those dues can run upward of $80,000 a year for the largest shuls. It doesn’t pay, said one rabbi who preferred to remain anonymous, “because we don’t get anything for that money.”

That’s what Wernick is trying to deal with by rebuilding his board, bringing together educators, rabbis and lay leaders in a new leadership development program, and re-imagining the old synagogue model of dues-paying membership. The changes won’t come quickly or easily, he said.

But this was a rabbinic conference, not a United Synagogue gathering, which meant less interest in strategic plans and more intellectualizing about what Conservative Judaism is supposed to be -- and how its rabbis can best serve their congregations.

“I’m not sure the organizational structure matters to people in my pews,” said Rabbi Howard Lifshitz of Congregation Beth Judea in Long Grove, Ill. “The institutions of the Conservative movement are unknown to them. Most people who come into my synagogue want to know how their participation will touch them, what it will add to their lives.”

At Monday’s morning plenary, Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky of Ansche Chesed in Manhattan locked horns with Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles over solutions to the movement’s malaise.

Kalmanofsky championed a Judaism of purpose and complexity, one that moves beyond the 20th-century emphasis on helping Jews fit into American society and concentrates instead on helping them “find moral and spiritual purpose” -- a “passionate authenticity” that will “seed, nurture and harvest opportunities for people to find depth.”

Wolpe argued, on the other hand, for a coherent ideology that “could be put on a bumper sticker,” to let Jews know what the movement stands for.

“Intellectual complexity is not the way to bring people into your synagogue,” he said. “You have to pray to something expressible. You can’t beseech a nuance.”

While that big picture conversation was going on in the main plenary, rabbis of congregations outside the major metropolitan centers opined that although they found the discussion fascinating, those weren’t their day-to-day concerns.

“I’m not that much into the politics,” said Rabbi Michael Werbow of Congregation Beth Shalom in Pittsburgh. “Our shul is 80,000 square feet. The sanctuary seats 1,800, and we get maybe 100 people on Shabbat.”

With a $150,000 deficit and less than one-quarter of his membership paying full dues, Werbow says the future of his synagogue doesn’t depend on how the movement is reorganized.

“Our deficit isn’t going away if we don’t pay our dues to the United Synagogue,” he said.

“I don’t think the work I’m doing is ‘saving’ the movement,” added Ita Paskind, assistant rabbi of Congregation Olam Tikvah in Fairfax, Va. “In my daily work I try to touch Jews and help them connect to their tradition. I get a fair amount of questions about what the movement says about certain things, but that’s an opportunity for me to explain what Judaism says about it.”

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funny skit on the Sabbath eruv

Friday, March 25, 2011

don't see mandy patinkin at ravinia

Mandy Patinkin is coming to Ravinia on August 31 and I think we should give him the welcome he deserves-our absence. Patinkin, who has made his living off of being Jewish and playing Jewish roles, threw in his Jewish credentials with the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement to deligitimize the State of Israel when he joined “Hollywood, Broadway Stars Israeli Cultural Boycott” last September.

The boycott was condemned by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “The State of Israel is under an attack of delegitimization by elements in the international community. The last thing we need at this time is to be under such an attack -- I mean this attempt at a boycott -- from within.”

Patinkin, who must have recently acquired credentials in international law, proclaimed “The settlements are in direct violation of the Green Line and of international law…It is now the artists who are standing up and saying, we refuse to play in a new theater that you have built in an illegal settlement, and we are asking the world to pay attention.”

Well, I am paying attention and therefore not paying to hear a man who sings with the international chorus of Israel bashers.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Richard Baehr Reform movement chooses far leftist on Israel as new head

The Reform movement appears to have decided that it needs to move further left with its new leader , choosing a Rabbi in the J Street Rabbinical Cabinet, a supporter of the New Israel Fund, and a demonstrator with the Sheikh Jarrah group. This last group of lovelies, an award recipient at the recent J Street conference, are Israeli Jews who want Palestinians to have a state of their own in which they can throw out all Jews, but oppose Israel giving a preferred right of return to Jews from abroad. That after all is Zionism and racist.

richard baehr on the bombing in Jerusalem

You may have heard that there was a terrorist attack in Jerusalem yesterday. But actually, not if you relied on the New York Times or the Washington Post. A bomb exploded (just happened I guess). Violence breaks out (did it escape from jail?). I think we are on our way to the third intifada. Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria, the P.A., Turkey, all are concerned that Israel has slipped from public view with all that is going on in the region. Even worse, some people may conclude that the Israeli Palestinian conflict is not central to everything that happens in the region. . The way to restore the natural order is for Palestinians to slaughter Jews. Get a response from the IDF. Get some dead Palestinians (generally a result of their use as human shields) and the Arab world will start to refocus on the real evil- a nation of Jews in their midst. . Facebook has 230,000 friends for a third intifada page. Mark Zuckerberg has been asked to take it down. So far he is not responding. He has a lot of money to count.
Leo Rennert on the major media and the T word:
Facebook and the Third Intifada:

video explanation of Shabbat Parah this shabbat

Pesah kashrut guide

by Rabbi Barry Starr and the CJLS Kashrut Subcommittee

Sunday, March 20, 2011

world tells Israel to surrender

World to Israel: Surrender before it's too late
By Caroline B. Glick

The international community -- including some Israeli pols, American Jews and the media -- are pushing hard. The Obama administration isn't making things any easier.
A penetrating analysis that considers claims against Israel's legitimacy | Over the past several years, a growing number of patriotic Israelis have begun to despair. We can't stand up to the whole world, they say. At the end of the day we will have to give in and surrender most of the land or all of the land we took control over in the 1967 Six Day War. The world won't accept anything less.
These statements have grown more strident in the wake of the slaughter of the Fogel family last Friday night in Itamar. For example on Thursday Ari Shavit , a columnist for Israel's equivalent of the New York Times, Ha'aretz, called Israeli communities built beyond the 1949 armistice line the local equivalent of Japan's nuclear reactors. Like the reactors, he wrote, they seemed like a good idea at the time. But they have become our undoing.
The international community's response to the Palestinian atrocity in Itamar is pointed to as proof of that Israel must surrender. Instead of considering what the savage murder of an Israeli family tells us about the nature of Palestinian society, the world media have turned the massacre of the Fogel family into a story about "settlements."
Take the Los Angeles Times' for example From the Times' perspective the Fogels were not Israeli civilians. They were "Jewish settlers."
They weren't murdered in their home. They were killed in their "tightly guarded compound."
And, in the end, the Times effectively justified the murder of the Fogel children when it helpfully added, "Most of the international community… views Israel's settlements as illegal."
The Times' report was actually comparatively sympathetic. At least it mentioned the murders. Most European papers began their coverage with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's announcement that the government will permit Israelis to build 400 homes in Judea and Samaria.
As for the governments of the world, most were far swifter and more aggressive in their condemnation of Netanyahu's announcement of the building permits than they were in their condemnation of the murders.
Then there is the US Jewish community.
According to New York's Jewish Week, there is a new consensus in the American Jewish community that imposing an economic boycott on Israeli communities outside the 1949 armistice lines is a legitimate position. The paper interviewed Martin Raffel, the head of the new Israel Action Network, a multimillion dollar effort by the Jewish Federations of North America and other major Jewish groups to counter the delegitimization of Israel.
Raffel called the boycott movement misguided, rather than wrong. Then he justified it by arguing, "Being misguided in one's policies doesn't mean one necessarily has become part of the ranks of the delegitimizers."
If that wasn't enough, Ron Kampeas, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency's Washington bureau chief wrote Tuesday that we shouldn't rush to conclude that Palestinians carried out the attack. Kampeas wrote, "We do not yet know who committed the awful butchery in Itamar over the weekend."
With American Jews taking a lead role in delegitimizing Israel and flacking for Palestinian terrorists; with the international media ignoring the massacre of the Fogel family and attacking Israel for its response to the event they didn't cover; and with the US government united with the nations of the world in condemning the government's decision to allow Israelis who are Jewish to build on land they own, the despair of a growing chorus of Israelis is understandable.
But while understandable, the notion that Israel has no choice but to surrender Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem to the Palestinians is wrong and dangerous.
Like his fellow defeatists, Shavit argues that Jewish communities in these areas are the cause of international moves to delegitimize Israel. If they were gone, so the argument goes, then neither the Palestinians nor the international community would have a problem with Israel.
The first problem with this view is that it confuses the focus of Palestinian and international attacks on Israel with the rationale behind those attacks. This is a mistake Israelis have made repeatedly since the establishment of the Fatah-led PA in 1994. Immediately after the PA was set up and IDF forces transferred security control over Palestinian cities and towns in Judea and Samaria to Yassir Arafat's armies, Palestinian terrorists began attacking Israeli motorists driving through PA-controlled areas with rocks, pipe bombs and bullets.
Then prime minister and defense minister Yitzhak Rabin blamed the attacks on "friction." If the Palestinians didn't have contact with Israeli motorists then they wouldn't attack them. So Israel built the bypass roads around the Palestinian towns and cities to prevent friction.
For its efforts, the Palestinians and the international community accused Israel of building "Jews-only, apartheid roads." Moreover, Palestinian terrorists left their towns and cities and stoned, bombed and shot at Israeli motorists on the bypass roads.
Then there was Gaza. When in 2001 Palestinians first began shelling the Israeli communities in Gaza and the Western Negev with mortars and rockets, we were told they were attacking because of Israel's presence in Gaza. When the IDF took action to defend the country from mortar and rocket attacks, Israel was accused of committing war crimes.

The likes of Shavit said then that if Israel left Gaza the Palestinian attacks would stop. They said that if they didn't stop and the IDF was forced to take action, the world would support Israel.
Shavit himself engaged in shocking demonization of the Israelis living in Gaza. In May 2004 he wrote that they were undeserving of IDF protection and that no soldier should defend them because they weren't real Israelis.
But then the Palestinians and the international community threw Shavit and his friends yet another curveball. After Israel expelled every last so-called settler and removed every last soldier from Gaza in August 2005, Palestinian rocket attacks increased tenfold. The first Katyusha was fired at Ashkelon seven months after Israel withdrew. Hamas won the elections and Gaza became an Iranian proxy. Now it has missiles capable of reaching Tel Aviv.
As for the international community, not only did it continue blaming Israel for Palestinian terrorism. It refused to accept that Israel ended its so-called occupation of Gaza. It has condemned every step Israel has taken to defend itself from Palestinian aggression since the withdrawal as a war crime.
The lessons of these experiences prove is that Israeli towns and villages in Judea and Samaria and Israeli are not castigated as "illegitimate" because there is anything inherently illegitimate about them. Like the bypass roads and the Israeli presence in Gaza, they are singled out because those interested in attacking Israel militarily or politically think are an easy target.
The Arabs, the UN, the Obama administration, the EU, anti-Israel American and Israeli Jews, university professors and the legions of self-proclaimed human rights organizations in Israel and throughout the world allege these Israeli communities are illegitimate because by doing so they weaken Israel as a whole.
If Israel is convinced that it has no choice but to bow to these people's demands, they will not be appeased. They will simply move on to the next easy target. Israeli Jewish communities in the Galilee and the Negev, Jaffa and Lod will be deemed illegitimate. In a bid to pretend that the communities in Judea and Samaria are somehow different from communities in the Galilee, proponents of surrender point to the non-binding 2004 International Court of Justice opinion that the communities in Judea and Samaria are illegal.
But Israelis who accept the non-binding opinion as a binding ruling for Judea and Samaria ignore that the opinion also asserted that Israel has no right to self defense.
The same people who think that so-called settlements are illegal also believe that opposition leader Tzipi Livni is a war criminal. The same people who think the so-called settlements are illegal would condemn as a war crime any attempt to enforce the law against irredentist Israeli Arabs.
Israel's bitter experience proves incontrovertibly that bowing to international pressure just invites more pressure.
So what can Israel do?
The first thing we must do is recognize that legitimacy is indivisible. In the eyes of Israel's enemies there is no difference between Itamar and Maaleh Adumim on the one hand and Ramle and Tel Aviv on the other hand. And so we must make no distinction between them.
Just as law abiding citizens are permitted to build homes in Ramle and Tel Aviv so they must be permitted to build in Itamar and Maaleh Adumim. If Israel's assertion of its sovereignty is legitimate in Tel Aviv, then it is legitimate in Judea and Samaria. We cannot accept that one has a different status from the other.
Likewise, it is an act of economic warfare to boycott Israeli products whether they are made in Haifa or Mishor Adumim. Anyone who says it is permissible to boycott Mishor Adumim is engaging in economic warfare against Haifa.
Once we understand that Israel's legitimacy is indivisible we need to take actions that will put the Palestinians and their international supporters on the defensive. There are any number of moves Israel can make in this vein.
For example, following the Palestinian massacre of the Fogel family, Netanyahu highlighted the fact that the PA routinely glorifies terrorist murderers and pays them and their families handsome pensions for their illegal acts of war. He also highlighted the genocidal anti-Jewish incitement endemic in Palestinian society.
While all of this is useful, talk is cheap. It is time to make the Palestinians pay a price for their depravity and to put their international supporters on the defensive.
Specifically, Netanyahu should ask the US to cut off all US economic and military assistance to the PA. Two PA intelligence officers were arrested as part of the Fogel murder investigation.
The US is training and equipping the Palestinian intelligence services. This should stop.
Two days after the massacre in Itamar, the PA dedicated a public square in el Bireh to terror commander Dalal Mughrabi. Mughrabi commanded the 1978 bus attack on the coastal highway in which 37 Israelis - including 12 children were murdered. The PA previously named a street, a dormitory, a summer camp and a sports tournament after her. Several popular songs have been written to glorify her crimes.
The US is underwriting the PA's budget. This should stop.
Were the government to go after international aid to the PA, not only would it begin a debate in the US and perhaps Europe about the nature of Fatah specifically and Palestinian society generally, it would force the Palestinians' myriad supporters to justify their support for a society that is defined by its goal of annihilating Israel.
It is hard to stand up to the massive pressure being brought to bear against Israel every day. But it is possible.
And whether defying our foes is hard or easy, it is our only chance at survival. Either all of Israel is legitimate or none of it is.

JWR contributor Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East Fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, DC and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where her column appears.

© 2009, Caroline B. Glick

The Other tsunami

The Other Tsunami
By Dennis Prager
March 15, 2011

It is very difficult to hate babies.

It takes a special person.

> As morally wrong as it is to murder innocent adults, mankind seems to
> have a built-in revulsion against killing babies. If a baby does not
> evoke any tenderness, if a baby is regarded as worthy of being
> deliberately hurt or murdered, we know that we have encountered a
> degree of evil that few humans -- even among murderers -- can relate
> to.
> That is why what Palestinian terrorists did to a Jewish family on the
> West Bank this past weekend deserves far more attention than it
> received.
> Normally, Palestinian atrocities get little attention -- certainly far
> less attention than Israeli apartment-building on the West Bank
> receives. But this particular atrocity got even less attention than
> usual because the world was focused on the terrible tsunami that hit
> Japan.
> On Friday night, Palestinian terrorists slipped into a Jewish
> settlement, entered a home and stabbed the father, the mother and
> three of their children to death: an 11-year-old, a 4-year-old, and a
> three-month-old baby.
> In order to understand what those actions mean, a seemingly separate
> incident needs to be recalled: the prolonged sexual attack by up to
> 200 Egyptian men on Lara Logan, chief foreign affairs correspondent
> for CBS News, in Tahrir Square, Cairo a few weeks ago. It was reported
> that after stripping her naked and then molesting and beating her, the
> men kept shouting, "Jew, Jew!"
> The two incidents tell the same tale. In much of the Arab Muslim and
> some of the non-Arab Muslim world today (such as Iran), "Jew" is not a
> person. "Jew" is not even merely the enemy. In fact, there is no
> parallel on Earth to what "Jew" means to a hundred million, perhaps
> hundreds of millions of Muslims.
> Think of any conflict in the world -- Pakistan-India, China-Tibet,
> North Korea-South Korea, Tamil-Sinhalese. There are some deep hatreds
> there, and atrocities have been committed on one or both sides of
> those conflicts. But in none of those conflicts nor anywhere else is
> there something equivalent to what "Jew" means to millions of Muslims.
> There really is only one historical parallel, and it, too, involved
> the word "Jew." The Nazis also succeeded in fully dehumanizing the
> word "Jew." Thus, for Nazism, it was as important (if not more so) to
> murder Jewish babies and children -- often through as cruel a means as
> possible (being burned alive, buried alive or thrown up in the air and
> impaled on bayonets) -- as it was to murder Jewish adults.
> The human being does not have to learn to hate. It seems to come
> pretty naturally. Nor does the human being have to learn to murder,
> steal or rape. These, too, seem to be in the natural human repertoire
> of evils.
> But the human being does have to learn to hate children and babies,
> and to regard the torture and murder of them as morally desirable
> acts. It takes years of work to undo normal protective human attitudes
> toward children.
> That is precisely what the Nazis did and what significant parts of the
> Muslim world have done to the word "Jew." To them, the Jew is not just
> sub-human; the Jew -- and his or her children -- is sub-animal.
> Palestinian and other Muslim spokesmen and their supporters on the
> left argue that this unique hatred is the fruit of Israeli policies,
> not decades of Nazi-like Jew-hatred saturating Islamic education,
> television, radio and the mosque. But for this to be true, unique
> hatred would have to be matched by unique evil on the Israelis' part.
> Yet, among the injustices of the world, what the Israelis have done to
> the Palestinians would not even register on a moral Richter scale. The
> creation of Israel engendered about 750,000 Palestinian refugees (and
> an equal number of Jewish refugees from Arab countries) and the death
> of perhaps 10 thousand Palestinian Arabs. And all of that came about
> solely because Arab armies invaded Israel in order to destroy it at
> birth. Yet, when Pakistan was yanked from India and established as a
> Muslim state at the very same time Israel was established, that act
> engendered 12.5 million Muslim refugees and about a million dead
> Muslims (and similar numbers of Hindu refugees and deaths). Why then
> doesn't "Hindu" equal "Jew" in the Muslim lexicon of hate?
> Here are some answers in brief:
> First, many groups have been hated, but none have been hated as deeply
> as the Jews.
> Second, Jew-hatred is often exterminationist, which is why Jew-hatred
> has little in common with ethnic bigotry, religious intolerance or
> even racism. Rarely, if ever, do any of them seek the extermination of
> the disliked or hated group.
> Third, exterminationist Jew-haters are particularly dangerous people.
> Non-Jews who do not recognize Jew-hatred as the moral cancer it is are
> fools. Nazism was born in Jew-hatred and led to the death of more than
> 40 million non-Jews. Islamic terror started against Israeli Jews but
> has spread around the world. More fellow Muslims have now been
> murdered by Islamic terror than Jews have.
> That is why the tsunami the world ignored this weekend -- the
> Palestinian-Arab-Muslim flood of Jew-hatred -- is the one that will
> prove far more dangerous to it than the Japanese one it understandably
> focused on.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Soros, Nazis and Israel

Nevertheless, the description by 400 rabbis of George Soros as a Holocaust
survivor is, to say the least, astounding. Soros has publicly admitted
collaborating with the Nazis at age 14 to stay alive, an understandable
motive. Nevertheless, Soros was no Holocaust survivor. If readers wish to
get a glimpse of what it was like to be a Holocaust survivor, I suggest they
reread Elie Wiesel's harrowing memoir, Night.

Although one can possibly understand Soros's behavior in Nazi-occupied,
Jew-hunting Budapest, Soros himself has described those years as "the most
exciting time of my life."[i] He has also reported that, "The early stages
of the Russian occupation were as exciting and interesting-in many ways even
more interesting and adventurous-than the German occupation."[ii] Can
anyone imagine Elie Wiesel, a genuine Holocaust survivor, uttering such
sentiments? One might also ask why 400 rabbis would offer even an implicit
defense of Soros against Glenn Beck's attack, given Soros's lifelong
hostility to Israel and his publicly stated disdain for the Jewish religion.
A multi-billionaire financier, during one period, 1994 to 2000, Soros
contributed no less than $2.4 billion to, among others, institutions and
causes in China, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, the Czech Republic,
and the Republic of Georgia. At the same time, his attitude toward the State
of Israel has been consistently negative. He told New Yorker writer, Connie
Bruck, "'I don't deny the Jews their right to a national existence -- but I
don't want to be part of it." [iii] Clearly, Glenn Beck, Roger Ailes, and
Rupert Murdoch, publisher of the Wall Street Journal, have given more
support to Israel than Soros. Moreover, Soros recently accused Israel of
being "the main stumbling block" to American attempts to foster Egypt's
"public demand for dignity and democracy" which he suggested was embodied in
the partnership of Mohamad El-Baradei and the newly moderate Muslim

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Shabbat and Sunday internet broadcasts

Upcoming Esynagogue Broadcasts

Live broadcast on Introduction to Judaism class next March 20 Sunday 9:30 am CDT Esynagogue channel

Shabbat morning live broadcast Esynagogue. Live too far from a synagogue to attend? Housebound? Lazy?
Feel intimidated by the services and want to prep first?
one hour service including shaharit, Torah reading, haftarah, sermonette. 10-11 AM
Siddur is the Learner's Minyon Siddur=I can email a digital copy to you for free or you can order it for $25- email me at and I'll email or mail it and you can follow along. You may also want to have a Chumash-Five books of Moses and Haftarah handy. If you don't have one, order Etz Hayim travel edition from Amazon,

this week in shull

My Video on Tsav
Cohenim Priests In Judaism-also parashat tzav ...

Shabbat Zachor video one of 5 special shabbatot

Monday, March 14, 2011

Palestinian incitement

Israel: Palestinian Incitement Led to Terror Attack - Attila Somfalvi (Ynet News)

•Palestinian incitement against Israel led to the brutal murder in Itamar. According to Yossi Kuperwasser, director general of Israel's Ministry of Strategic Affairs, the Palestinian Authority depicts Israelis "in caricatures like eastern European Jews in Der Sturmer (a Nazi propaganda newspaper), that you can justifiably attack."
•"The events of Friday night are, in a way, an expression of the way the Palestinian Authority presents an attitude of hatred and demonization towards Israelis in general and especially towards settlers. These phenomena create a situation where it occurs to someone to carry out an attack like the appalling events in Itamar."
•"Even today the Palestinian Authority clearly states that an armed struggle is the preferable method to 'liberating' Palestine. This was approved by the last Fatah convention which was held in Bethlehem; there has been no change on that issue."

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Palestinians murder Jewish family in their sleep

Sleeping in Samaria on Shabbat

Rick Richman 03.13.2011 - 6:55 AM
Daled Amos has a must-read post about the Palestinian Authority foreign minister’s initial response to the Shabbat stabbings of Udi Fogel (36), Ruth Fogel (35), and three of their five children (Yoav, 11; Elad, 4; and Hadas, 2 months) while they were sleeping in their home in Itamar in Samaria.
The foreign minister described the murders as “unprecedented.” The post includes pictures of the 123 Israeli children murdered by Palestinians since the offer of a state in 2000 (a total of about 1,200 Israelis have been murdered by terrorists since then). The Boker tov, Boulder! “trip down memory lane” is also worth reading.
The New York Times report seems to imply that the “proximity” of a settlement “overlooking” a Palestinian village caused a “visceral” response:
The killers appeared to have randomly picked the house, one of a neat row of identical one-story homes at the edge of the settlement, on a rocky incline overlooking the nearby Palestinian village of Awarta — the proximity underlining the visceral nature of the contest in this area between Jewish settlers and Palestinians over the land.
The report is datelined Itamar but included no picture of the community; a picture might have been useful to readers seeking to evaluate the implicit suggestion that 150 Jewish families living in an area with biblical significance was a provocation.
The headline of the Times report is “Suspecting Palestinians, Israeli Military Hunts for Killers of 5 West Bank Settlers.” Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren released a statement expressing his “profound disappointment with … the NY Times, which describes the victims, including a two month old baby, as ‘settlers,’ thereby dehumanizing them.” In my view, the report did something even worse.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

fight apartheid week with knowledge


youtube videos
Efforts to weaken Israel
BDS Boycott Divest Sanction Israel vs Bracha, Din-Defeat, Shalom jewu 554
Top 10 lies about Israel lies 1-3 Jewu Rabbi Jonathan Ginsbrg jewu 556
Lies about Israel 4-10 Jewu Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg jewu 557
Disconnecting Jews from Israel via Khazars Jewu 521

Media,academic bias vs Israel
Tom Friedman Arabist lies in New York Times Jewu
Helen Thomas Resigns over "send Israeli Jews "back" to Poland and Germany Jewu 551
Times shows bias against Jewish tie to Jerusalem jewu 539 Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg
Refuting Kristof's March 17 NYT piece on Israel JewU 25
Mearsheimer/Walt -shoddy and anti-semitic? JewU 239

Israel light to the nations/Israel's rights
Israel will save world: water Jewu 559 Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg
The Israel Test Gilder A Must read Jewu 529
Cases for Israel Jewu 558 Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg
Zionism-The Jewish people's right to Israel JewU 243

Israel's 59th birthday Happy birthday JewU 75
Israel: the greatest country JewU 32
What can we personally do to help Israel JewU 78

Bond to Israel with Israel Bonds JewU 266
Travel with us to Israel JewU 138

Turkish Terrorist flotilla bloodbath Jewu 548
Trading 1000 terrorists for Shalit? Jewu 546 Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg
Apartheid week? Promote Arab terrorism week Jewu 535
40 seconds for al jazeera on Hamas Terrorist killed
Purim and the right of Jewish self-defense Jewu 530
Responding to those protesting Israel Jewu 522
Israel settlements obstacles to peace? Jewu 498
Palestine/Israel peace challenge Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg Jewu 487
Gaza Aftermath Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg Jewu 476
Gaza Hamas trying to kill Jews Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg jewu 462
Palestinian refugees "return" wrong JewU 86
It's Not Israel's Fault JewU 19

UN Goldstone report on Gaza predictably biased vs Israel Jewu 513
Pope's disappointing visit to Israel Jewu 489
Shameful British Boycott JewU 99

Rotem Knesset bill on conversion update Jewu 538
Rabbinate hurts Israel by thwarting converts aliyah jewu 509

US-Israel relations
Disgusting Obama administration tilt to murderers Jewu 537
Obama's Cairo speech good and bad Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg jewu 493

What's Wrong with Jimmy Carter's Book? JewU 97
AIPAC Crucial for America and the World JewU 81

Key issue of the time:Iran Iran Iran JewU 212 Rabbi Jonathan
ancient egypt modern iran Jewu 540 Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg

Jewish/leftist anti-Israel forces
J Street exposed- new "pro" Israel group? Jewu 517
Has the American Rabbinate abandoned Israel? JewU 515
Leftist bizarre anti_Israel views Jewu 495
My report from the AIPAC proIsrael conference Jewu 418

Israel songs Jewish songs #7 Jewu 417
Intro to Judaism terms #14 Israel JewU 233

disgusting Israel apartheid week

disgusting israel aprtheid week
Share Email PrintAnti-Israel, pro-Israel weeks competing on U.S. campuses
February 28, 2011

BERKELEY, Calif. (JTA) -- Competing anti-Israel and pro-Israel weeks are getting under way on more than two dozen North American college campuses.

The seventh annual Israel Apartheid Week officially launched Tuesday and continues through the end of March. Campuses in 12 U.S. and six Canadian cities are planning events and hosting speakers protesting Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Some campuses have scheduled similar events at other times during the school year.

To counter those efforts, Israel Peace Week will highlight the positive contributions Israel has made to the world at approximately the equivalent number of North American campuses.

The first Israel Apartheid Week was held in Toronto in 2005. Events this month are planned on campuses in California, New York, Massachusetts, Ohio, Colorado, Florida, Texas and Missouri, and in four Canadian provinces.

The internationally coordinated campaign, which has close ties to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, is meant to draw comparisons between Israel and apartheid-era South Africa, and to harness the same protest mechanisms against Israel that brought down the former South African regime two decades ago.

Along with speakers and conferences, activities often include political street theater, such as setting up mock Israeli “checkpoints” on campus or constructing a model of the security fence, deemed the “apartheid wall.”

In many of those same campuses, pro-Israel students hand out information near the Israel Apartheid Week events, and host their own conferences and speakers to present Israel’s case. Last year, Israel Peace Week was held on 28 campuses, but pro-Israel students conducted individual efforts at several other colleges and universities as well.

Great Evanston (lakeshore suburb just north of Chicago) for sale

Monday, March 7, 2011

It is not about Israel!

In Arab World, It's Not Just about Israel Anymore - Joel Brinkley
For more than half a century, ever since the day Israel was founded, Arab leaders have used one consistent strategy to keep their people in line. Our life's goal, they would say over and over, is to take back "Palestine." Nothing else matters. For many years that seemed to work. Then came satellite television, the Internet, and over time, ordinary Arabs began to realize that Israel had nothing to do with their own circumscribed lives. All of it was the fault of their corrupt, implacable dictators.
Even after decades of indoctrination, the protesters, in state after state, have nothing to say about Israel. That conflict is not even a tertiary concern. Few Arabs hold warm feelings toward Israel. But for nearly all of them now, Israel is just an unfortunate fact of life, not an obsession. These people now know that their dictators' alarmist warnings about Israel were cynical distractions. (San Francisco Chronicle)
See also The New Mideast No Longer Revolves around Israel - Aner Shalev (Ha'aretz

egypt and Israel going forward

Issacharoff and Amos Harel
The new Egyptian prime minister, Essam Sharaf, was never a great fan of the peace agreement with Israel. He opposed normalization between the countries so long as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict prevails. The leading candidate for presidency seems to be the secretary-general of the Arab League, Amr Moussa. Like Sharaf, Moussa is not seen as a friend of Israel's, and Israel needs to resign itself to the fact that any new regime in Egypt will likely be less friendly than Mubarak's. Nevertheless, Moussa is not expected to damage ties with Israel.
The sense of national pride created by the revolution in Egypt is overwhelming. Egypt sees itself as a great nation able once again to lead the way for the entire Arab world. (Ha'aretz)
See also Egypt's New Foreign Minister Accused Israel of Genocide
Nabil Elaraby, a former judge in the International Court of Justice, accepted the post of Egypt's foreign minister on Sunday. During an August 2001 interview with an Egyptian newspaper, Elaraby was quoted as saying, "I personally support an Arab Muslim claim against Israeli crimes." Two months later he was appointed as a judge at the ICJ, where he was a member of the panel that issued the advisory opinion on the construction of Israel's security barrier. (Ynet News

The intransigent Palestinians

Netanyahu Blames Palestinians for Avoiding Peace Process - Barak Ravid
"We are prepared to sit down and negotiate peace," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told visiting Chilean President Sebastian Pinera on Sunday. "And the Palestinians have found a variety of excuses not to do so." Netanyahu said the Palestinians were avoiding talks because they are hoping to persuade the international community to impose a solution to the conflict. "Basically, they say, we don't have to negotiate, we can sit back, we can teach our children to idolize mass killers - they named a public square in Ramallah 10 minutes from here for a terrorist who murdered 400 innocent Israelis. They can do that and get away with it," Netanyahu said.
After listing Israeli gestures aimed at advancing the peace process, including the 10-month freeze on settlement construction and the removal of numerous checkpoints and roadblocks, he added, "Unfortunately, everything that we did...[was] met with no response by the Palestinian Authority." (Ha'aretz

Sunday, March 6, 2011

ESYNAGOGUE Shabbat Morning Service

ESYNAGOGUE Shabbat Morning Service

Shabbat Morning Live Streaming Learn’s Minyon Service on www.USTREAM.TV
Esynagogue channel

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Need to brush up on your praying skills or develop them?

Esynagogue will offer a Shabbat Morning Learner’s service live on
At 10 AM CST (and CDT) each Shabbat morning 10-11 AM, unless posted otherwise on www.esynagogue home page. Torah reading, haftorah selections and Sermonette included each week.

Siddur-Esynagogue will send you digital Learner’s Minyon Prayer Book free if you send an email. Hard copies will be mailed for $25 payable through paypal or credit card.
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Friday, March 4, 2011

Buy Israeli and big moment for Conservative Judaism

Buy Israeli
Buy Israeli Goods on March 30 - Because the movement to boycott Israel has declared March 30 as Global BDS day (BDS is boycott, divestment, and sanctions), the pro-Israel pro-peace community has chosen March 30 as Buy Israeli Goods day. Do what you can – buy goods from Israel.


Posted by Esynagogue JewU at 11:45 AM 0 comments
Crucial moment for Conservative Judaism
United Synagogue’s Strategic Plan
by Joanne Palmer
MARCH 2011 – It sounds melodramatic to say that the fate of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism hangs on the vote that will be taken at its board meeting on March 13, but is it melodrama if it’s true?
In a process that began two years ago, an ad hoc commission made up, for much of its existence, of six United Synagogue representatives (five lay leaders plus the executive vice president) and six rabbis and lay leaders representing HaYom, an organization created to counter what its members saw as United Synagogue’s inadequacies, hired consultants and met to craft a strategic plan that would map out United Synagogue’s future.
To be fair, as United Synagogue representatives point out, the problems that United Synagogue has encountered are not unique to it or all of its own making. The Conservative movement as a whole is often reported to be in trouble, the result of a still-to-be-fully-disentangled conflation of changes in demographics, economics, and cultural assumptions. It remains the center and anchor of the Jewish world; when it is true to itself it is committed to acknowledge and work to balance the tension between tradition and change, to live both in the world of our ancestors and the one that surrounds us now. But that’s a taut and narrow rope to walk, and sometimes we shake and it looks like we might fall over. (We haven’t yet.)
The world has changed, and United Synagogue, like many other institutions, both inside and outside the Jewish world, or for that matter the religious world, has not kept pace with that change. But the forces that gave birth to it in the first place – the need for a central institution to provide support and guidance and knit members together – remain, even as the goals and the means at our disposal to meet them have changed.
So, in response to dissatisfaction with United Synagogue but guided as well by a belief in the necessity of the existence of either United Synagogue or an organization much like it, HaYom formed itself and presented United Synagogue with its demands. The two groups began to work together. From the beginning, everyone agreed that a plan would be devised and presented to United Synagogue’s board, which would have to vote it either up or down, with no chance for amendments. If it is voted in, the hard work of implementing it will begin. If it is voted down, HaYom has said that it will take the plan directly to the congregations and implement it itself.
The commission, now grown to include representatives of other Conservative movement bodies and shepherded by consultants Dr. Jacob Ukeles and Dr. Steven M. Cohen, came out with the first draft of the plan late in January. Since then, United Synagogue’s executive vice president and CEO, Rabbi Steven Wernick, has been touring the continent, presenting the plan to Conservative Jews, both in person and through webinars, often joined by other United Synagogue or HaYom representatives. His goal is to explain the plan and the needs it meets. The commission has been soliciting responses to the plan, both by email and as publicly readable comments on our website. One of the webinars was recorded and anyone who is interested is invited to watch it.
By design, the strategic plan focuses on large, abstract ideas. For the most part, implementation planning has been left for the next stage of the process. “For now, we’re flying at 300,000 feet, mapping out the contours of the landscape,” says one of its two co-chairs, United Synagogue representative Dr. Jacob Finkelstein. Dr. Finkelstein, who is a professor of pediatrics, environmental medicine, and radiation oncology at the University of Rochester’s school of medicine and dentistry, is a member of United Synagogue’s board. He has been encouraged by the way the members of the commission, who began by distrusting each other, have grown into a team. This, he hopes, provides a model for the rest of the movement.
According to the plan, the new United Synagogue must restructure itself to work toward four main goals. It must focus on its core functions; build new models of membership, participation, leadership, and governance; create an effective regional presence, and expand its financial base and use the funds it earns or raises in different ways than it does now. The plan expands on those four goals, but there is room for much more expansion, definition, and detail in the implementation plan to come.
The details that we do know show a new emphasis on the importance of strengthening individual synagogues, and redefines United Synagogue membership to go beyond the traditional congregational model. The plan revises the language United Synagogue uses; it now calls synagogues and other centers of Jewish prayer and life “kehillot,” saying that the Hebrew term makes clear that each is a sacred community. It reaches out to independent minyanim, arguing that most tend to be Conservative in all but name, the spiritual home of many of our most Jewishly educated grown children, offering them a renewed relationship with the movement. It stresses the primacy of education and envisions a seamless system that takes Conservative Jews at least from early childhood through young adulthood, and eventually through the rest of their lives, and does so with the active help of the rest of the Conservative movement. It talks about new ways to finance itself that rely less on dues and more on philanthropists; the plans for its new board include people who have the means and the inclination to make large donations as well as people labeled “thought leaders.” It redefines the work of staffers in United Synagogue’s district offices and of the lay leaders with whom they work.
The plan still is fluid, at least to some extent, and its creators continue to welcome responses and insight from anyone interested enough to offer them. But on March 13, the board of trustees has the responsibility of voting on it. A great deal of thought, emotion, good will, and hope has gone into it; we all hope that once it is thoroughly fleshed out it will become the blueprint to a newly flourishing future.

Time for integrity

This is worth reading!
A successful business man was growing old and knew it was time
To choose a successor to take over the business.

Instead of choosing one of his Directors or his children, he
Decided to do something different. He called all the young
Executives in his company together.

He said, "It is time for me to step down and choose the next
CEO. I have decided to choose one of you. "The young executives
Were Shocked, but the boss continued. "I am going to give each
One of you a SEED today - one very special SEED. I want you to
Plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year from
Today with what you have grown from the seed I have given you.
I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one
I choose will be the next CEO."

One man, named Jim, was there that day and he, like the
Others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly, told his
Wife the story. She helped him get a pot, soil and compost and
He planted the seed. Everyday, he would water it and watch to see
If it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other executives began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow.

Jim kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew.

Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still

By now, others were talking about their plants, but Jim didn't have a plant and he felt like a failure.

Six months went by -- still nothing in Jim's pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Jim didn't say anything to his colleagues, however, he just kept watering and fertilizing the soil - He so wanted the seed to grow.

A year finally went by and all the young executives of the company brought their plants to the CEO for inspection.

Jim told his wife that he wasn't going to take an empty pot. But she asked him to be honest about what happened. Jim felt sick to his stomach, it was going to be the most embarrassing moment of his life, but he knew his wife was right. He took his empty pot to the board room. When Jim arrived, he was amazed at
The variety of plants grown by the other executives. They were beautiful -- in all shapes and sizes. Jim put his empty pot on the floor and many of his colleagues laughed, a few felt sorry for him!

When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his youngexecutives.

Jim just tried to hide in the back. "My, what great plants, trees and flowers you have grown," said the CEO. "Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO!"

All of a sudden, the CEO spotted Jim at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered the Financial Director to bring him to the front. Jim was terrified. He thought, "The CEO knows I'm a failure! Maybe he will have me fired!"

When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what had happened to his seed - Jim told him the story.

The CEO asked everyone to sit down except Jim. He looked at Jim, and then announced to the young executives, "Behold your next Chief Executive Officer!

His name is Jim!" Jim couldn't believe it. Jim couldn't even grow his seed.

"How could he be the new CEO?" the others said.

Then the CEO said, "One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds; they were dead - it was not possible for them to grow.

All of you, except Jim, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Jim was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new
Chief Executive Officer!"

* If you plant honesty, you will reap trust

* If you plant goodness, you will reap friends

* If you plant humility, you will reap greatness

* If you plant perseverance, you will reap contentment

* If you plant consideration, you will reap perspective

* If you plant hard work, you will reap success

* If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation

So, be careful what you plant now; it will determine what you will reap later.
Think about this for a minute....
If I happened to show up on your door step crying, would you care?

If I called you and asked you to pick me up because something happened, would you come?

If I had one day left to live my life, would you be part of that last day?

If I needed a shoulder to cry on, would you give me yours?

This is a test to see who your real
friends are or if you are just someone to talk to you when they are bored.

Do you know what the relationship is between your two eyes?

They blink together,
they move together,
they cry together,
they see things together,
and they sleep together,
but they never see each other;
....that's what friendship is..
Your aspiration is your motivation, your
motivation is your belief,
your belief is your peace,
your peace is your target,
your target is heaven, and life is like hard core torture without it!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I didn't kill Jesus

By Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press Wed Mar 2 2011Be the first to Comment 0 Recommend Pope says Jews as a whole not responsible for Christ’s death

VATICAN CIT Y — Pope Benedict XVI has made a sweeping exoneration of the Jewish people for the death of Jesus Christ, tackling one of the most controversial issues in Christianity in a new book.

In Jesus of Nazareth-Part II excerpts released Wednesday, Benedict explains biblically and theologically why there is no basis in Scripture for the argument that the Jewish people as a whole were responsible for Jesus’ death.

Interpretations to the contrary have been used for centuries to justify the persecution of Jews.

While the Catholic Church has for five decades taught that Jews weren’t collectively responsible, Jewish scholars said Wednesday the argument laid out by the German-born pontiff, who has had his share of mishaps with Jews, was a landmark statement from a pope that would help fight anti-Semitism today.

“Holocaust survivors know only too well how the centuries-long charge of ‘Christ killer’ against the Jews created a poisonous climate of hate that was the foundation of anti-Semitic persecution whose ultimate expression was realized in the Holocaust,” said Elan Steinberg of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants.

The pope’s book, he said, not only confirms church teaching refuting the deicide charge “but seals it for a new generation of Catholics.”

The Catholic Church issued its most authoritative teaching on the issue in its 1965 Second Vatican Council document Nostra Aetate, which revolutionized the church’s relations with Jews by saying Christ’s death could not be attributed to Jews as a whole at the time or today.

Benedict comes to the same conclusion, but he explains how with a thorough, Gospel-by-Gospel analysis that leaves little doubt that he deeply and personally believes it to be the case: That only a few Temple leaders and a small group of supporters were primarily responsible for Christ’s crucifixion.

That Benedict is a theologian makes “this statement from the Holy See that much more significant for now and for future generations,” said Anti-Defamation League national director, Abraham H. Foxman.

Foxman in a statement hailed Benedict for rejecting “the previous teachings and perversions that have helped to foster and reinforce anti-Semitism through the centuries.”

The book is the second installment to Benedict’s 2007 Jesus of Nazareth, his first book as pope, which offered a very personal meditation on the early years of Christ’s life and teachings. This second book, set to be released March 10, concerns the final part of Christ’s life, his death and resurrection.

The Vatican’s publishers provided a few excerpts Wednesday.

In the book, Benedict re-enacts Jesus’ final hours, including his death sentence for blasphemy, then analyzes each Gospel account to explain why Jews as a whole cannot be blamed for it. Rather, Benedict concludes, it was the “Temple aristocracy” and a few supporters of the figure Barabbas who were responsible.

“How could the whole people have been present at this moment to clamour for Jesus’ death?” Benedict asks.

He deconstructs one particular biblical account which has the crowd saying, “His blood be on us and on our children” — a phrase frequently cited as evidence of the collective guilt Jews bore and the curse that they carried as a result.

The phrase, from the Gospel of Matthew, has been so incendiary that director Mel Gibson was reportedly forced to drop it from the subtitles of his 2004 film The Passion of the Christ, although it remained in the spoken Aramaic.

But Benedict said Jesus’ death wasn’t about punishment, but rather salvation. Jesus’ blood, he said, “does not cry out for vengeance and punishment, it brings reconciliation. It is not poured out against anyone, it is poured out for many, for all.”

Benedict, who was forced to join the Hitler Youth as a child in Nazi Germany, has made improving relations with Jews a priority of his pontificate. He has visited the Auschwitz Nazi death camp in Poland and Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.

But he also has had a few missteps that have drawn the ire of Jewish groups, most notably when, in 2009, he lifted the excommunication of a traditionalist Catholic bishop who had denied the extent of the Holocaust by saying no Jews were gassed during the Second World War.

Benedict has said that had he known Bishop Richard Williamson’s views about Jews he never would have lifted the excommunication, which was imposed in 1988 because Williamson was consecrated without papal consent. Williamson is a member of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, which has rejected many Vatican II teachings, including the outreach to Jews contained in Nostra Aetate.

Separately, Jewish groups have been outraged that Benedict is moving Pope Pius XII closer to beatification, the first main hurdle to possible sainthood. Some Jews and historians have argued the Second World War-era pope should have done more to prevent the Holocaust.

The Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit who writes frequently about spirituality, said the pope’s new book was a “ringing reaffirmation” of Nostra Aetate, which was passed during the Second Vatican Council, with the pope putting his “personal stamp on it in a way that’s irrefutable.”

“A Vatican Council is the highest teaching authority of the church,” Martin said. “Now that you have the pope’s reflections underlining it, I don’t know how much more authoritative you can get.”

Rabbi David Rosen, head of interreligious affairs at the American Jewish Committee and a leader of Vatican-Jewish dialogue, said the pope’s book may make a bigger, more lasting mark than Nostra Aetate because the faithful tend to read Scripture and commentary more than church documents, particularly old church documents.

“It may be an obvious thing for Jews to present texts with commentaries, but normally with church magisterium, they present a document,” he said. “This is a pedagogical tool that he’s providing, so people will be able to interpret the text in keeping with orthodox Vatican teaching.”

Foxman put it another way, saying the pontiff’s book translates Nostra Aetate “down to the pews.”

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Obama and Israel to Jewish leadership

Obama: Israelis should soul-search about seriousness on peace
By Ben Harris · March 2, 2011
NEW YORK (JTA) – President Obama reportedly urged Jewish communal leaders to speak to their friends and colleagues in Israel and to “search your souls” over Israel's seriousness about making peace.
In an hour-long meeting Tuesday with about 50 representatives from the Jewish community’s chief foreign policy umbrella group, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Obama reiterated the U.S. commitment to Israel, according to statements from both the White House and Conference of Presidents.
But several participants at the meeting told JTA that the president also implied that Israel bears primary responsibility for advancing the peace process. They interpreted the president’s comments either as hostile, naive or unsurprising.
Obama said Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is eager to secure his legacy by establishing a Palestinian state and would accept a decent offer if one were on the table, according to participants.
“The Palestinians don't feel confident that the Netanyahu government is serious about territorial concessions,” the president reportedly said.
Obama reportedly said that the Jewish sections of Jerusalem would remain in Israeli hands as part of any peace deal, but that the Arab sections would not.
Participants uniformly declined to speak on the record about the meeting in keeping with admonitions from Conference of Presidents leaders that specifics should not be discussed publicly. While there was general consistency in the reports about Obama's comments, interpretation of them varied widely.
“Many people felt that their worst fears about Obama were confirmed with respect to Israel,” one participant said. “They felt an enormous hostility towards Israel.”
Other participants disagreed, calling such views ridiculous. They said the meeting was a positive one, described the president as “thoughtful” and “forthcoming” in his remarks, and said no new ground was broken.
“The people who loved Obama probably still love him, the people who had big reservations about Obama probably have more reservations than they had before,” one longtime Jewish organizational official told JTA.
The atmosphere, most agreed, was cordial and gracious.
“I thought he reaffirmed his support of Israel, and I thought he did it quite well,” one participant said. “Nothing that he said would I interpret in any way as being anti-Israel or opposed to Israel.”
Others suggested that the president wasn't hostile so much as naive about Palestinian intentions and his belief about Israel's supposed lack of commitment to peacemaking. Still others suggested both interpretations were flawed.
“I think the president showed a deep understanding, in great depth, of the issues that have arisen in the Middle East, including the Palestinian-Israeli peace process as well as the broader regional issues,” a participant told JTA. “I would be very surprised for anybody in the room who listened to the detailed and thoughtful way in which he responded to questions to characterize them as naive or unknowledgeable.” (my guess—David Harris of the NJDC or perhaps his predecessor, Ira Forman)

My comment about the lecture and the patronizing:

Is it always Israel at fault? Israel has given up vast swaths of land in search of peace, has done quite a bit of “soul-searching” regarding the peace process, had paid a great price when it took risks for peace, etc.

The Palestinians—none. Just in the last day they have opposed UN efforts to teach Palestinian children about the Holocaust. Yes-the UN actually proposed doing this (thank you Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chairwoman of the House Foreign Relations Committee for your vocal opinions regarding funding and the United Nations).

Let us open up the time capsule.

This is what Senator Obama said in 2007 regarding building the road to peace between Israel and the Palestinians:

Some of those stones will be heavy and tough for the
United States to carry. Others with be heavy and tough for Israel to
carry. And even more will be difficult for the world. But together, we
will begin again.

(The Palestinians apparently had no stones that they would have to carry--he did not mention any for them to carry)

This is what he said in 2008 in Cleveland

Frankly some of the commentary that I've seen which suggests guilt by association or the notion that unless we are never ever going to ask any difficult questions about how we move peace forward or secure Israel that is non military or non belligerent or doesn't talk about just crushing the opposition that that somehow is being soft or anti-Israel, I think we're going to have problems moving forward.

Senator Obama apparently viewed Israel as a "belligerent".

Has much changed?

understanding the upheaval in the MEast

Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

* Cairo Viewed from Gaza: Too Soon to Celebrate - Mark A. Heller
Under Mubarak, Egypt actively repressed its own Islamists and cooperated with Israel in trying to enforce tight controls over movement of people, goods, weapons, and money into and out of Gaza, while simultaneously serving as a patron for Hamas' Fatah rivals in the West Bank. An Islamist takeover in Egypt is not the only scenario that could work to Hamas' advantage. It might also benefit indirectly from general Egyptian sympathy for the Palestinians, which a post-Mubarak government, regardless of its ideological complexion, might feel obliged to accommodate.
Finally, there is the possibility of continuing political disorder, exacerbated by the economic demands of newly-empowered labor and professional organizations. Weak government control, particularly in eastern Sinai where there is traditional Bedouin resentment of domination by Cairo, would facilitate large-scale smuggling of weapons and the provision of training and other support from Iran and elsewhere. The writer is Principal Research Fellow at INSS. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
* Arab Democracy and the Return of the Mediterranean World - Robert D. Kaplan
Some have euphorically announced the arrival of democracy in the Middle East. But something more subtle may develop. The regimes that emerge may call themselves democracies and the world may go along with the lie, but the test of a system is how the power relationships work behind the scenes. Young people, while savvy in the ways of social media and willing to defy bullets, can bring down a system, but they cannot necessarily govern.
America's influence is likely to be maintained less by the emergence of democracy than by continued military assistance to many Arab states and by the threat of a nuclearized, Shiite Iran. Mitigating the loss of American power will be the geopolitical weakening of the Arab world itself. As Arab societies turn inward to rectify long-ignored social and economic grievances and their leaders battle each other to consolidate power domestically, they will have less energy for foreign policy concerns. The writer is a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. (Washington Post)
* My Optimism on the New Arab Revolt - Daniel Pipes
The revolts over the past two months have been largely constructive, patriotic, and open in spirit. Political extremism has been largely absent. Conspiracy theories have been the refuge of decayed rulers, not exuberant crowds. One has the sense that the past century's extremism has run its course, that populations seek something more mundane and consumable than rhetoric, rejectionism, and backwardness. With due hesitation, I see changes that could augur a new era, one in which infantilized Arabic speakers mature into adults. The time has come to discard the soft bigotry of low expectations. The writer is director of the Middle East Forum and a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. (National Review)

Sin and Yetzer

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