Thursday, October 31, 2013

Jewish Spirituality-Five models ways of being Jewish JewU 44 5 minutes of Torah

Cong. Brad Schneider appeases Iran D Ill-10

f you live on Chicago's North shore, you should be disgusted by our first (and last) term Congressman Schneider who is a lackey for Iran. Read this and weep as Iran gets closer and closer to a bomb and our president and his stooge Schneider delay delay delay getting tough. Shameful
New Democratic Plan on Iran: Wait Four Months

New proposal suggests lawmakers stall on new sanctions

BY: Adam Kredo
October 30, 2013 3:42 pm
Democrats in Congress are seeking to delay a new round of Iran sanctions by up to four months as they assess the impact of U.S. policies towards Tehran, according to draft legislation circulating on Capitol Hill.
A bill sponsored by Democrats in Congress seeks to establish a panel to “review, assess, and make recommendations with respect to the current United States strategy toward the threats posed by the Government of Iran,” according to a draft copy of the bill obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
The bill is being offered as many lawmakers push to tighten sanctions following warnings that Iran could be anywhere from two weeks to one month away from building a bomb.
However, the White House has asked lawmakers to hold off on new sanctions as Western nations engage in nuclear negotiations with Iran. Obama administration officials recently enlisted Jewish leaders to help ward off new sanctions.
The Iran Strategy Assessment Panel would have 120 days to travel, discuss, and investigate the prospect of passing new sanctions on Iran, according to the bill.
Congressional insiders and experts say that the proposal unnecessarily duplicates Iran legislation already passed in the House and that it would give the regime more than enough time to achieve an undetectable nuclear breakout capability.
The strategy panel would be composed of five experts who will be appointed by the president no later than 30 days after the bill’s passage. Officials from the Defense Department, Department of State, and Obama administration would be included in the process.
The panel will then have up to 120 days to examine current U.S. policy towards Iran and “provide the president and Congress with recommendations for changes to the sanctions regime that will increase the likelihood of a peaceful resolution to Iran’s nuclear activities,” according to the bill.
The panel will also review U.S. strategy “toward the threats posed by the Government of Iran and make recommendations,” the bill states.
President Barack Obama will then have 30 days to review and respond to any report and recommendations issued by the panel, according to the bill.
The bill’s main sponsor is Rep. Brad Schneider (D., Ill.), whose office has been petitioning members to cosponsor the measure.
Schneider has expressed support for tough sanctions on Iran in the past and considers (Preview) himself an ally of the liberal lobbying group J Street, which is currently advocating against new sanctions.
“Moving forward with new sanctions now could severely undermine prospects for a diplomatic solution,” J Street said in a statement on Wednesday. “It will create cracks in the international coalition the United States has built to enforce the sanctions. It will provide an excuse for those in Iran who want to resist any deal. And it is unnecessary now, since the sanctions we are implementing have led to extraordinary pressure and remain strongly in place.”
Schneider’s strategy panel is a waste of time and would only delay the passage of critical sanctions, according to critical Capitol Hill insiders, Jewish officials, and Iran experts.
“This bill could not come at a worst time,” said one senior GOP House aide involved in the sanctions issue. “As we seek to increase pressure on Iran in order to extract meaningful nuclear concessions, this legislation advocates a redundant bureaucratic review of an already-established and effective sanctions policy.”
“Rather than quibble over sanctions everybody believes are working, we should instead focus on urging the Senate to immediately pass additional sanctions for which the White House is advocating an indefinite delay,” added the aide. “We’ve established that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable. Now let’s show we actually mean it.”
Others say that Schneider’s bill duplicates key provisions of the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act, which passed the House in July and is awaiting action in the Senate.
One section of the bill, for instance, requires that the president develop a “national strategy on Iran,” while another section calls for an evaluation of how U.S. sanctions are impacting Tehran.
The Nuclear Iran Prevention Act also requires the creation of a report discussing the viability of expanding sanctions on Iran’s oil sector as well as another study examining ways Iran has evaded sanctions.
“This is either the dumbest piece of legislation I’ve ever seen or it’s the most devious, framing the White House push against new sanctions as a four-month period to wait on a report,” said one Jewish official involved in Iran sanctions discussions with the White House and senior congressional Democrats.
“If members of Congress need a report to tell them what to do next on Iran, then God help the United States of America,” said the official.
Former Pentagon adviser Michael Rubin said that the Iran Strategy Assessment Panel is redundant.
“There already is an Iran Strategy Assessment Panel; it is called the United States Congress, and it has 535 voting members,” said Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser on Iran and Iraq.
Assessments of Iran nuclear program and efforts to evade sanctions have been thoroughly covered by U.S. government agencies and by outside experts, Rubin said.
“The only metrics that matter are Iran’s uranium stockpiles and how quickly those can be enriched to weapons grade,” he said.
“That Iran might be able to produce enough highly-enriched uranium for a bomb in a month, and this bill’s sponsors want to give them four is the ultimate irresponsibility,” Rubin said. “If Congress passes this bill, sponsors might as well change the ISAP acronym to read “I Stupidly Accept Proliferation.”

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

step 1 how islamists will destroy us

Here's step 1 how Islam will destroy us. Criminalize free speech exposing jihadists.

Obama supports it

Europe is moving that way
EU Proposal to Monitor "Intolerant" Citizens
by Soeren Kern
October 28, 2013 at 5:00 am

"There is no need to be tolerant to the intolerant" — European Framework National Statute for the Promotion of Tolerance, Article 4
"The supra-national surveillance that it would imply would certainly be a dark day for European democracy." — European Dignity Watch
While European leaders are busy expressing public indignation over reports of American espionage operations in the European Union, the European Parliament is quietly considering a proposal that calls for the direct surveillance of any EU citizen suspected of being "intolerant."
Critics say the measure -- which seeks to force the national governments of all 28 EU member states to establish "special administrative units" to monitor any individual or group expressing views that the self-appointed guardians of European multiculturalism deem to be "intolerant" -- represents an unparalleled threat to free speech in a Europe where citizens are alreadyregularly punished for expressing the "wrong" opinions, especially about Islam.
The proposed European Framework National Statute for the Promotion of Tolerance was recently presented to members of the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, the only directly-elected body of the European Union.
The policy proposal was drafted by the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation(ECTR), a non-governmental organization established in Paris in 2008 by the former president of Poland, Aleksander Kwasniewski, and the president of the European Jewish Congress, Moshe Kantor.
The ECTR -- which describes itself as a "tolerance watchdog" that "prepares practical recommendations to governments and international organizations on improving interreligious and interethnic relations on the continent" -- includes on its board more than a dozen prominent European politicians, including former Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar.
The ECTR first presented its proposal for a Europe-wide Law on Tolerance to the European Parliament in November 2008 as part of the European Week of Tolerance that marked the 70th anniversary of the Kristallnacht, a night of anti-Semitic violence that began the Jewish Holocaust in Germany.
After five years of lobbying in Europe's halls of power, the ECTR proposal appears to be making headway, as evidenced by the European Parliament's recent decision to give the group a prominent 45-minute time slot to present its proposal to the Civil Liberties committee on September 17.
Also known as the "Model Statute for Tolerance," the ECTR's proposal was presented as part of the EU's ongoing work towards a new "Equal Treatment Directive" (ETD) that would vastly expand the scope of discrimination to all sectors of life in both the public and private spheres.
Critics of the ETD, currently being negotiated within the Council of the European Union, say the directive seeks to establish an ill-conceived concept of "equal treatment" as a horizontal principle governing the relationships between all and everyone, thus interfering with the right of self-determination of all citizens.
According to European Dignity Watch, a civil rights watchdog based in Brussels,
The principles of freedom of contract and the freedom to live according to one's personal moral views are in danger of being superseded by a newly developed concept of 'equality.' It would undermine freedom and self-determination for all Europeans and subject the private life of citizens to legal uncertainty and the control of bureaucrats. It is about governmental control of social behavior of citizens. These tendencies begin to give the impression of long-passed totalitarian ideas and constitute an unprecedented attack on citizens' rights.
When viewed in the broader context of the ETD, the ECTR document is so audacious in scope, while at the same time so vague in defining its terminology, that critics say the proposal, if implemented, would open a Pandora's Box of abuse, thereby effectively shutting down the right to free speech in Europe.
According to Section 1 (d), for example, the term "tolerance" is broadly defined as "respect for and acceptance of the expression, preservation and development of the distinct identity of a group." Section 2 (d) states that the purpose of the statute is to "condemn all manifestations of intolerance based on bias, bigotry and prejudice."
An explanatory note to Section 2 states: "Religious intolerance is understood to cover Islamophobia" but it provides no definition at all of "Islamophobia," a term invented by the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1990s. If taken to its logical conclusion, Section 2 would presumably ban all critical scrutiny of Islam and Islamic Sharia law, a key objective of Muslim activist groups for more than two decades.
The document also declares that "tolerance must be practiced not only by governmental bodies but equally by individuals." Section 3 (iv) elaborates on this: "Guarantee of tolerance must be understood not only as a vertical relationship (government-to-individuals) but also as a horizontal relationship (group-to-group and person-to-person). It is the obligation of the government to ensure that intolerance is not practiced either in vertical or in horizontal relationships."
According to Section 4 (f) (i) of the document: "There is no need to be tolerant to the intolerant. This is especially important as far as freedom of expression is concerned." Section 5 (a) states: "Tolerance (as defined in Section 1(d)) must be guaranteed to any group, whether it has long-standing societal roots or it is recently formed, especially as a result of migration from abroad."
Section 6 states: "It goes without saying that enactment of a Statute for the Promotion of Tolerance does not suffice by itself. There must be a mechanism in place ensuring that the Statute does not remain on paper and is actually implemented in the world of reality."
An explanatory note to Section 6 (a) states: "Members of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups are entitled to a special protection, additional to the general protection that has to be provided by the Government to every person within the State." Another note adds: "The special protection afforded to members of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups may imply a preferential treatment. Strictly speaking, this preferential treatment goes beyond mere respect and acceptance lying at the root of tolerance."
Section 6 (b) demands that every one of the 28 member states of the EU "set up a special administrative unit in order to supervise the implementation of this Statute." An explanatory note adds: "The special administrative unit should preferably operate within the Ministry of Justice (although the Ministry of the Interior is another reasonable possibility)."
Section 6 (c) calls for the establishment of a "National Tolerance Monitoring Commission as an independent body -- composed of eminent persons from outside the civil service -- vested with the authority to promote tolerance." An explanatory note adds: "The independent Commission will be empowered to express its views regarding implementation of the Statute by all concerned. Implementation in this context includes (but is not limited to) the imposition of penal sanctions."
Section 7 (a) states: "The following acts will be regarded as criminal offences punishable as aggravated crimes: Incitement to violence against a group and group libel. "Group libel" is broadly defined as: "defamatory comments made in public and aimed against a group or members thereof with a view to inciting to violence, slandering the group, holding it to ridicule or subjecting it to false charges."
Section 7 (b) states that "Juveniles convicted of committing crimes listed in paragraph (a) will be required to undergo a rehabilitation program designed to instill in them a culture of tolerance." Paragraph 7 (e) states that "victims of crimes listed in paragraph (a) will have a legal standing to bring a case against the perpetrators, as well as a right to redress." Paragraph 7 (f) states that "free legal aid will be offered to victims of crimes listed in paragraph (a), irrespective of qualification in terms of impecuniosity."
Section 8 states that "the government shall ensure that (a) Schools, from the primary level upwards, will introduce courses encouraging students to accept diversity and promoting a climate of tolerance as regards the qualities and cultures of others." An explanatory note adds: "It is very important to start such courses as early as possible in the educational program, i.e. in elementary school. Yet, these courses must be offered also at higher levels of education, up to and including universities."
Section 9 (a) states: "The government shall ensure that public broadcasting (television and radio) stations will devote a prescribed percentage of their program to promoting a climate of tolerance." Section 9 (b) adds: "The government shall encourage all privately owned mass media (including the printed press) to promote a climate of tolerance." Section 9 (c) states: "The government shall encourage all the mass media (public as well as private) to adopt an ethical code of conduct, which will prevent the spreading of intolerance and will be supervised by a mass media complaints commission."
The document, if adopted by the European Parliament in its current form, would -- among other problems -- establish a right to a freedom from hurt feelings at the expense of the freedom of speech and expression. In practical terms, critics say, the highly subjective definition of terms and concepts such as "tolerance," "discrimination," "vulnerable," and "disadvantaged," amounts to a legal straitjacket that would encourage frivolous litigation aimed at silencing individuals and groups, or at finding circumlocutions that appear to avoid violating these principles.
"Faith-based groups and schools, adherents of a particular religion or even just parents who want to teach their children certain moral values would all be put under general suspicion of being intolerant," according to European Dignity Watch.
"Even worse, if enshrined as EU policy, such language also could lead to the possibility that charges are brought on unclear or even without legal grounds. The chilling result of this would be the dramatic diminution (and possible disappearance) of the fundamental freedom of expression -- individuals and groups would censor themselves, afraid that they might be prosecuted for expressing their own personal moral views," the NGO argues in a statement.
"The authors of this proposed statute -- under the aegis of an international NGO for tolerance and reconciliation -- have invited the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee to endorse it as a legal project. But not only would an adoption of this statute at the national level of the European states be a significant step backward," the statement concludes, "but the supra-national surveillance that it would imply would certainly be a dark day for European democracy."
Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tunnels, Balfour, Kristallnacht, Nazis, Hamas Jewu 280 Parashat Toldot

Parsha Toldot Isaac Genesis 25 jewu 277

past the point of no return with iran-how did we get here?

  • Obama has talked us past the point o no return with Iran. Its too late. Now we live with an Iranian bomb they can make in 2 weeks. Hope Israel lives. We lost 6 million 60 years ago. Now Obama, who promised Iran would never get a bomb, is as trustworthy on this as his false promises about obamacare. This lie though has nightmarish consequences.
    Commentary Magazine
    Iran Passes the Point of Nuclear No Return
    Jonathan S. Tobin | @tobincommentary 10.29.2013 - 4:00 PM

    Good news comes from Vienna today. Or at least that’s what we’re supposed to think. The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency met with representatives of Iran sent by its new President Hassan Rouhani, and the result was a “very productive meeting” according to a joint statement issued by the two parties. In contrast to their usual contempt for the IAEA, the Iranians made “constructive” noises about resuming the nuclear inspections they have been thwarting for years even though no details about what their new proposals might be were revealed. Though a slender reed upon which to base a policy of faith in Iran’s good intentions, it will likely strengthen the resolve of the United States to push ahead with the latest round of the P5+1 talks that will resume next week. Indeed, in defending the decision to allow the U.S. to be drawn into another lengthy negotiation with Iran, Secretary of State John Kerry said in a speech to a dinner for the Ploughshares Fund that he had no patience for those warning about the dangers of such a policy. As the Times of Israel reports:

    “Some have suggested that somehow there’s something wrong with even putting that to the test,” the secretary of state continued. “I suggest that the idea that the United States of America as a responsible nation to all of humankind would not explore that possibility would be the height of irresponsibility and dangerous in itself, and we will not succumb to those fear tactics and forces that suggest otherwise.”

    But lost amid the enthusiasm for diplomacy was yet another troubling statement that ought to chill those hopes for a quick resolution of the nuclear dispute with Iran. Also speaking yesterday in Washington, Olli Heinonen, a former deputy director of the IAEA, said that Iran has, “in a certain way,” already reached the point of no return in its nuclear program. Heinonen confirmed the report released last week by the Institute for Science and International Security that said Iran could enrich enough weapons-grade uranium for a single bomb in about a month. That finding renders moot most of what is being discussed by Western diplomats with the Iranians. If the Iranians have reduced the “breakout time” needed to convert their vast stockpile of low-enriched uranium into nuclear fuel, then even if Tehran agreed to proposals about limiting their enrichment capacity, their path to a weapon is clear. If this is true, the administration’s arguments against tightening sanctions on Iran must be seen as a sign that it is, despite Kerry’s protestations that “no deal is better than a bad deal,” determined to reach an agreement with the ayatollahs that will not remove the threat of an Iranian bomb.

    Throughout the debate about the nuclear threat from Iran, we have been assured by the administration that any danger of the Islamist regime cheating on a deal in order to procure a weapon that they had theoretically renounced was slim because of the lengthy “breakout” period that would be needed before they could complete the construction of a weapon. This is especially crucial since the terms of a proposed agreement seem to center on limiting the Iranians to uranium enrichment below the 20 percent that is required for a bomb. Should they break their word, the U.S. has believed that it would take so long for them to amass the required uranium that it would surely be discovered in the meantime. But if the Iranians only need two weeks to do the trick, those calculations go right out the window.

    Given the vast number of centrifuges already enriching uranium in their facilities, this calculus may mean that anything short of Iran’s destruction of their nuclear plants and the export of all of their stockpile would not stop them from building a bomb. But since the Iranians have already stated that their “red line” in the talks is protection of their “right” to enrich and a refusal to give up any of their uranium, it’s difficult to understand what Kerry is talking about when he speaks so enthusiastically about the talks and makes veiled references to Israeli fear-mongering about Iran.

    It also means that Iran’s willingness to talk about talking further about letting the IAEA monitor some of its facilities tells us nothing about their behavior or their intentions.

    Even more important, this means that Congress should ignore administration pleading not to pass new sanctions against Iran. As even former Obama administration staffer Dennis Ross wrote today in a Los Angeles Times op-ed with Eric Edelman and Michael Makovsky, if the U.S. is really serious about stopping Iran via diplomacy rather than force, it must, among other things:

    Intensify sanctions and incentivize other countries to do the same, issue more forceful and credible statements that all options are on the table, initiate new military deployments and make clear the support for Israeli military action if conducted.

    The time for eyewash from the administration about the “window of diplomacy” with Iran is over. Having wasted five years on feckless engagement and dead-end diplomacy, the recent information about Iran’s breakout capacity may mean it is already too late to stop them by means short of force. But if the president and Kerry allow themselves to be sucked into another Iranian attempt to run out the clock on nuclear talks, no one should be deceived as to the meaning of such a decision or the potentially lethal consequences for Israel, the Arab nations of the Middle East (that are just as worried about the Iranian threat as the Israelis), and the entire world.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Arabs/Israel vs Obama

Posted: 24 Oct 2013 08:35 AM PDT
(Paul Mirengoff)
President Obama and John Kerry finally have enabled Israel and key Arab states to reach accord. Both sides agree that current U.S. efforts to negotiate a deal with Iran over it nuclear program are dismaying. The Washington Post reports:
The Obama administration on Wednesday acknowledged a widening gulf with key Middle Eastern allies over nuclear talks with Iran, as Israeli and Persian Gulf Arab leaders pressed for drastic cuts to Iran’s atomic infrastructure that Tehran has insisted it will never accept.
The differences came into stark relief as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to lecture Secretary of State John F. Kerry at a joint news conference, warning against a “bad deal” that would allow Iran to retain any capability to make enriched uranium. . . .
Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf monarchies have joined Israelis in expressing growing dismay over U.S. suggestions that Iran could be allowed to retain a limited capability to enrich uranium as part of a comprehensive agreement ending the decade-old nuclear dispute.
The underlying reason for the Arab-Israeli consensus against the Obama-Kerry approach is straightforward — American interests do not align with the interests of Israel and the Arabs. The overriding interest of Israel and the Gulf Arabs (a life-and-death interest in Israel’s case) is preventing Iran from possessing nuclear weapons. The overriding interest of Obama and Kerry is “conflict resolution” — i.e., producing an agreement.
To be sure, Obama and Kerry would prefer that Iran not obtain nuclear weapons, just as Jimmy Carter preferred that North Korea not obtain them. But Iranian nukes would not pose a direct threat to the U.S., as they would to Israel and others in the Middle East.
Accordingly, while Israel and the Gulf Arabs need a failproof deal — one that effectively guarantees a non-nuclear Iran — the U.S. needs only a deal that it can portray as preventing Iran from getting nukes.
Iran has an overriding interest in being able to get nukes, which means that the deal Israel and the Arabs want isn’t available. Thus, the Obama-Kerry can satisfy their craving for a deal only by negotiating one that leaves Iran able to develop nukes.
The deal Obama-Kerry are pushing would do so. It would leave Iran free to enrich uranium, supposedly for non-nuclear purposes only. It would not require, as a condition for lifting sanctions, the complete dismantling of Iran’s uranium enrichment program.
Iran, therefore, would still be able to produce a bomb using the enriched uranium that purportedly would be used only for non-nuclear purposes.
The administration can’t this. Instead, its argument is that restrictions contained in an agreement would force Iran to operate clandestinely if it wanted a bomb. This, in turn, would stretch out the time needed to produce one(assuming, I take it, that Iran didn’t just renounce the deal and its restrictions).
Current estimates are that Iran could build a bomb in less than six weeks using equipment and know-how it already possesses. Independent nuclear experts say that, operating in secret to circumvent restrictions in an agreement, would extend this period to three to six months (or conceivably more).
Thus, Obama and Kerry apparently are willing to lift crippling economic sanctions in exchange for increasing the amount of time it would take Iran to develop nuclear weapons from a month-and-half to as little as three months. Even Neville Chamberlain might be reluctant to bite on that one.
Regime change in Iran provides the long-term solution to the threat Iran poses to Israel and Arab states. It is also the way out for the oppressed people of Iran. Sanctions may well help produce regime change, which of course is why Iran is now desperate for a deal that will see them lifted.
Given this reality, it would be all the more unconscionable to lift sanctions in exchange for delaying Iran’s ability to produce nukes by a few months.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Reversing the slide

4 Things To Do About Pew Survey Findings on #JewishAmerica

We Have Power To Reshape the Jewish Future

By Jerry Silverman and Michael Siegal

Published October 24, 2013, issue of November 01, 2013.
The Pew Research Center’s “Portrait of Jewish Americans” has triggered much debate in the Jewish community. Its key findings — that younger Jews are not only less connected to, but are also less interested in, Jewish life — puts in sharp relief the challenge before us. If we go by numbers alone, the non-Orthodox American Jewish community is facing an existential crisis. The study clearly demonstrates that we stand at an urgent crossroads for American Jewry, and presents us with a major opportunity. Our communal leadership must seize upon it with renewed vigor and focus.
Click for more on the survey.
It is time to intensify — and make affordable — the most effective vehicles for engaging people in Jewish life. Our vast communal system has the capacity to address these issues by leveraging proven, effective programs that create Jewish community, and devising new models that sustain Jewish American life. We recognize the awesome task this presents, and we are ready to meet this challenge, but we must do this together. Inclusion of the broad diversity of Jews in America — Orthodox and non-Orthodox, Russians and Israelis, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, et cetera — is essential to our success.
With an abundance of expertise and resources in several areas, we could certainly continue to debate where to focus our energies and dollars in the short term. However, we must act now, and we need to start where we have already seen extraordinarily powerful results for the widest profile of Jews. Here are four examples of where we can begin:
Free Early Childhood Programs
Many communities have demonstrated the power of engaging families through superb Jewish preschool and day care programs and the innovative PJ Library program, which delivers 100,000 Jewish children’s books to families across the country. We must go farther. We must commit to offering free Jewish preschool to every Jewish family, a “Jewish Head Start.” This will dramatically widen the pipeline of families entering Jewish life through this critical early gateway. And it will place many more people on a path to further Jewish connection and Jewish education — day school, religious school and informal and alternative Jewish education.
Jewish Camping
Do we really need another study saying overnight camp is one of the most successful ways to connect young Jews? Camp not only engages the child; it engages the entire family. Research shows that most non-Orthodox, engaged participants in Jewish community were inspired by one of three things: Jewish camp, day school or youth trips to Israel. Let’s address one of them right away.
We need to quickly and decisively increase the percentage of children attending Jewish camps from 10% to 30%. We need more camps of excellence with greater capacity. The best Jewish camps today are turning away Jewish families.
Birthright Alumni
There are over 350,000 alumni of the Birthright Israel experience. We haven’t effectively followed up with most of them. We haven’t sufficiently welcomed them back from their transformative experience in Israel and connected them to further transformative experiences in our community, nor have we given them meaningful opportunities for leadership. It has happened successfully in a few places, but we have barely scratched the surface.
We need to function as a true continental community, because these young people are continental and mobile. We need employ technologies for interaction and connection to keep pace with this mobility. Particularly, we are imploring the gatekeepers to share this vast database of alumni contacts with us so that we have a mechanism to engage them in Jewish life.
Jewish Development Zones
We also have to strategically address those places where we are strong in numbers but weak in connection. Ironically, some of the areas of highest Jewish density in the country also have the lowest proportion of Jewish engagement. We need to think of these areas as “Jewish Development Zones” — areas in which we should invest in programs and experiences that will connect Jews in a communal structure at vital stages of life.
This will mean mobilizing our strongest and most effective funding institutions and philanthropists in order to target five of these areas immediately. In each of these zones, develop the “Jewish Head Start” model, build at least one new Jewish summer camp of excellence, inject support into the existing Jewish youth programs and develop magnetic Jewish engagement programs for unmarried young adults and Birthright alumni.
Clearly, these are not the only pathways to the Jewish future, but they are data-driven, measurable and immediate steps that we as a community can and should take. At the upcoming 2013 Jewish Federations of North America’s General Assembly in Jerusalem, in the forums, programs and hallways, we will begin unpacking the Pew study, tackling the difficult issues and processing new solutions. We propose these steps for action.
Furthermore, we must rise above institutional parochial agendas and interests. We do not work together as well as we should. The waste of time and resources that results from repetition in programs and services is overwhelmingly frustrating.
All of these initiatives will also require dedicated and long-term resources. Our collective history has proven that when faced with pivotal challenges, we rallied with bold solutions and we prevailed.
We will be steadfast in driving this agenda, changing the direction in which we are heading, and ensuring that we not merely survive, but also thrive and grow as a vibrant and meaningful American Jewish community.
Gerrald (Jerry) Silverman is president and CEO and Michael Siegal is chair of the board of trustees, respectively, of the Jewish Federations of North America.

Read more:

The way to stop Iran

Sheldon Adelson: Nuke Iran's Desert as Warning, Then Nuke Tehran
Wednesday, 23 Oct 2013 04:01 PM
By Melissa Clyne

 harmless warning shot to the desert — in the form of a nuclear missile — is the United States' only hope of persuading Iran to halt its nuclear program, says billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson.

If that doesn't work, he said, another missile should be sent to annihilate Tehran.

During a panel discussion Tuesday at Yeshiva University entitled "Will Jews Exist? Iran, Assimilation and the Threat to Israel and Jewish Survival," Adelson, a staunch conservative and supporter of Israel, said there is no negotiating with Iran. The country needs to know the United States has a zero-tolerance policy.

Currently, he said, the United States is showing weakness in its ongoing diplomatic efforts concerning economic sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach hosted the panel, which included Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens and Yeshiva University President Richard Joel. Adelson’s remarks elicited applause from the audience.

Adelson advised the United States to be clear with Iran about what will happen if the Iranians stay on their current course:

"We mean business. You want to be wiped out? Go ahead and take a tough position and continue with nuclear development."

If Iran stops its nuclear development program, the United States could guarantee the country would be permitted to have a nuclear power plant for energy purposes, he said.

Until then, Adelson said, the United States' diplomatic negotiations are nothing but a "game of chicken" tantamount to trying to negotiate a peace treaty with the Palestinians.

Editor's Note: Iran Will Have Nuclear Weapon By 2014 — Watch Urgent Briefing Now!

Forbes lists Adelson, 80, as the world’s 15th-richest person, with a net worth of $28.5 billion.

The largest donor to the Republican party, Adelson is chairman and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation. His numerous holdings include an Israeli daily newspaper

Read Latest Breaking News from

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Ultra Orthodox singers

Ultra-Orthodox singers defy stereotypes in Israel

Associated Press

In this photo taken Oct. 22, 2013, Ultra-Orthodox Jewish singers Arie Gat, right, and his brother Gil, perform as they participate in an Israeli tv show in Neve Ilan, Jerusalem. For most Israelis, the common perception of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish minority is that of an insulated, segregated society devoted to studying ancient biblical texts and rejecting the ills of secular life. But the pair of devout, soft-spoken brothers in skullcaps and sidecurls are now breaking down some stereotypes by emerging as the most unlikely of media darlings _ reality rock stars. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)
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JERUSALEM (AP) — For most Israelis, the common perception of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish minority is that of an insulated, segregated society devoted to studying ancient biblical texts and rejecting the ills of secular life.
But a pair of devout, soft-spoken brothers in skullcaps and sidecurls are now breaking down some stereotypes by emerging as the most unlikely of media darlings — reality rock stars.
Arie and Gil Gat are Israel's latest national sweethearts after dominating the audition stage of Israel's top-rated reality talent show, "Rising Star," drawing tens of thousands of votes and rave reviews from secular fans.
By day, the duo pray only with men in their synagogues. By night, women give them standing ovations for harmonic renditions of classic hits by The Eagles and Simon and Garfunkel.
"The power of music is above everything," said Arie Gat, 48, who lives in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Beit Shemesh, near Jerusalem. "I'm not a man of lights, flashes and sparkles. I am ready to stand — I say that in the spiritual sense — with what I have, without external outfits. There is no need for that. And I believe that if it's good it will sell and if not then not."
So far, they've been a hit. Appearing in traditional ultra-Orthodox garb, including long beards and long black overcoats, with a guitar hanging gently across their chests, they've swept the votes of the show's four judges while raking in more than 80 percent of the interactive fan votes for performing "Hotel California" and "The Sound of Silence."
"Think about how many people in the world of entrainment, started with a weird look and became the biggest stars," said Tzvika Hadar, one of the show's judges. "These are not people with agents, and a story, and someone who pushed them, and photographed them for a photo-book, and you know what, even caused some provocation. You are taking people from the periphery, from their lives, their surroundings, their beliefs and they come and sing."
"Rising Star" claims to be the first program to feature real-time voting by viewers through a mobile app that is integrated into the show — familiar to anyone who has strummed away on video games like "Guitar Hero." The format, which is being adopted worldwide, has performers on a stage behind a screen that's lifted if 70 percent of viewers running the app vote for them. The studio audience of about 1,000 people wildly cheered as the screen rose during Tuesday night's performance.
Success on the show indicates wide support from an audience that includes few ultra-Orthodox Jews, who typically shun television. Neither brother owns a TV.
Ultra-Orthodox Jews, who make up about 10 percent of Israel's population of 8 million, have at times become aggressive in their efforts to impose their norms in public spaces. Most reject modern media and technology, and they are largely absent from the melting pots of the military and the secular workplace. Instead, they tend to stay in their cloistered communities and maintain a simple, pious way of life that has been adhered to over centuries.
The issue also has seeped into music. Religious soldiers have walked out of military events in which women were singing — which extremely devout Jews believe is contrary to Jewish law.
However, Arie Gat said there was no prohibition preventing him and his brother from performing before women, saying it is all right for women to cheer for them but not to dance.
"We checked out the whole issue of participating in the show in Jewish law," he said. "It's not like we jumped into rumbling waters without checking the temperature. ... From the perspective of Jewish law, there's no problem with what we are doing."
Still, neither of the brothers has informed any of their six children what they are doing. They say few friends or neighbors are aware.
The brothers perform regularly in the streets of Jerusalem, and claim to make their living from it. They have developed a small following and were recruited to the show after producers heard about their act.
The Gat brothers grew up secular in the southern city of Eilat, where they developed their love for modern music. Before becoming religious 16 years ago, Arie learned to play the guitar and later became a professional drummer. Gil, 37, spent some time in New York playing gigs at jazz clubs and blues bars.
Israeli reality shows are no strangers to minorities. Arabs, Ethiopians immigrants, converts to Judaism and newly secular people who have abandoned religion have all won competitions, in part because of emotional stories that have touched the public. Now, the Gat brothers have brought the ultra-Orthodox in with their passion as well.
"There's much love," said Gil Gat. "Music brings down all barriers between secular people, religious people. There is this kind of love."

Obama facilitating destruction of hundreds of Torahs

Anyone with connections to Obama-can you please help save hundreds of Torahs he will have destroyed by Iraqs? You know if these were Korans he's move mountains to save them.

Military discovered trove of antiquities confiscated by Saddam Hussein

 author-image BOB UNRUH About | Email | Archive
Jews worldwide are mobilizing to fight a plan by the U.S. National Archives under the Obama administration to hand over to the Muslim government in Iraq thousands of mostly priceless treasures, including ancient Torahs, that had been stolen by Saddam Hussein.

The historical items, labeled the Iraqi Jewish Archives, were taken from the soggy basements of dictator Saddam Hussein’s secret police headquarters when U.S. troops arrived there in 2003.

The Jews argue the items – including books, school records and rare editions of the Talmud – are their heritage, and there are no Jews left in Iraq.

The U.S. took custody, promising to return the items later.

The JWeekly, a newspaper serving the Jewish community in Northern California since 1896, reports that the Iraqi government at that time only had the Jewish artifacts because, “over several decades, successive regimes in Iraq systematically destroyed the country’s 2,500-year-old Jewish community and expropriated its property – right down to the last ancient prayerbook and Torah scroll.”

Iraq is the land where it is believed Abraham of Ur wandered, Jonah prophesied to Nineveh and Nebuchadnezzar ruled with an iron fist. But the New York Times reported only a few years ago that while 50 years ago Iraq’s Jewish population numbered 130,000, today there are virtually none.

“They cannot muster even a minyan, the 10 Jewish men required to perform some of the most important rituals of their faith. They are scared even to publicize their exact number, which was recently estimated at seven by the Jewish Agency for Israel and at eight by one Christian cleric.”

The Gatestone Institute reported not even a year ago on a conference for minority religions in Iraq. The institute expressed surprise “that there was not a single representative of Iraqi Jews to relate their glorious history, so full of great accomplishments for the glory of Iraq and its Constitution.”

The report, by Nabil Al-Hadairi, continued: “In their absence, they could not tell of the calamity that befell them when their citizenship was withdrawn, their money and property confiscated, their rights denied, and when they were subjected to being imprisoned or murdered while ethnic cleansing was committed by forcing the best of my Jewish friends to emigrate.”

He said Iraqi Jews “had been genuine citizens for thousands of years – even before Muslims and Christians.”

Jews made up a huge part of Baghdad’s population, he said, and by the 1920s they were 40 percent of the city’s people.

At, a report explains it was on May 6, 2003, just days after coalition forces took over Baghdad, “16 American soldiers entered Saddam Hussein’s flooded intelligence building. In the basement, under four feet of water, they found 2,700 books and tens of thousands of documents, in Hebrew, Arabic, Judeo-Arabic, and English relating to the Jewish community of Iraq – materials that had belonged to synagogues and Jewish organizations in Baghdad. The Iraqi Jewish Archive was shipped to the United States for preservation and exhibition, under the agreement that the U.S. State Department would ship the trove back to Iraq after an exhibition.”

The report said the U.S. spent $3 million restoring selected documents, including a 1568 Hebrew Bible with Commentaries, a Babylonian Talmud from 1793, a Torah scroll fragment from Genesis (one of 48 Torah scroll fragments found), and a Zohar from 1815. Those and others were scheduled to be displayed starting Oct. 11 in Washington.

The actual display was delayed by the partial government shutdown, but Jewish leaders are alarmed that after the exhibit, the items are scheduled to be handed over to the Islamic government in Iraq, even though “there is no Jewish community remaining in Iraq.”

An online petition is working to derail that plan.

It explains:

The archive does not belong to Iraq, but was stolen from private homes, schools and synagogues in the 1970s. It is the cultural property of the Iraqi-Jewish community. According to Jewish law, sacred objects such as Torah scrolls must be entrusted to a living Jewish community. The Jewish community in Iraq is virtually extinct. Jews of Iraqi origin and their descendants now live outside Iraq – in Israel and the West.

When there were Jews in Iraq, the modern Iraqi state showed only contempt for them and their heritage. It did its utmost to persecute and destroy its ancient, pre-Islamic Jewish community. From 140,000, the community has dwindled to five people. To return the archive to Iraq will be to compound a crime: returning stolen property to those who stole it. Iraq itself does not have the resources to conserve and store the archive safely. Iraq’s Jews and their descendants, 90 percent of whom are in Israel, will be debarred from access to original documents and history if the archive returns to Iraq. The memorandum drawn up between the US CPA interim government and Iraq in 2003 was signed on a flawed premise: that the archive is part of Iraq’s national heritage.

JWeekly reports Justice for Jews from Arab Countries and Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and Africa are running a campaign to regain control of the historical treasures.

Gina Waldman, executive director of JIMENA, told the weekly: “We hope the U.S. government will bar the return of the archives to Iraq, and do everything possible to [reach] a mutually agreeable, fair and just agreement so that the Iraqis are encouraged to hand the archives to the rightful Jewish owners.”

The weekly cited the sentiments of Stanley Urman, executive vice president of JJAC.

“[The artifacts] were seized from Jewish institutions, schools and the community. There is no justification or logic in sending these Jewish archives back to Iraq, a place that has virtually no Jews, no interest in Jewish heritage and no accessibility to Jewish scholars,” he said.

JIMENA board member Joseph Dabby told the weekly he believes he could be among the rightful owners. He was born in Baghdad in 1946 and suggested his school records may be among the archive’s documents.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Terrorists Hamas won't allow peace

Even Weakened Hamas Retains Peace Veto

It’s open season on mocking Hamas lately. Israel’s discovery of a tunnel the terrorist movement had dug along the border is widely seen as an example of the impotence of a group that seems to be running out of credibility as fast as they are running out of cash. The millions of foreign aid money expended as well as the concrete intended for civilian use employed in building a structure aimed at executing a terrorist attack across the Israeli border is a symbol of the group’s priorities. But the fact that Israel’s military reportedly had been aware of the project and let Hamas go ahead and finish it before exposing the scheme makes it look as if there’s no doubt about which side of the struggle has the upper hand. Combine that with the fact that Hamas is still reeling from the fall from power of their Muslim Brotherhood allies in Egypt and the closing of the border and smuggling tunnels that linked Gaza to the Sinai and there’s little question that the Islamists are in genuine trouble.
So it’s little wonder that Hamas chose this weekend to make a big deal out of the anniversary of their last victory over Israel: the ransoming of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit with the release of more than a thousand Arab terrorists. Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh spoke yesterday to remind Palestinians of this feat and to speak of the latest surge in violence against Jews in the West Bank as evidence that his movement is by no means as isolated as its critics believe. As beleaguered as they may be, the Islamists clearly seem to think they are just one kidnapping of an Israeli away from being back in the catbird seat in Palestinian politics. But whether they are able pull such a crime off in the near future or not, those discounting Hamas’ impact on the future of Israeli-Arab coexistence need to take a deep breath. The pressure being exerted on it in the West Bank by Fatah security cooperation with Israel is a real blow to the Islamists and their cash shortfall is harming their ability to keep a lid on their Gaza stronghold. But anyone who thinks this gives Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas the leeway he needs to cut any sort of a peace deal with Israel in the talks currently being conducted under the aegis of the United States is forgetting the realities of Palestinian politics.
Most observers assume the negotiations going on in private between Israel and the PA are stalled. Indeed, given the Palestinians’ stated unwillingness to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn, it is hard to imagine how there could be hope for an accord that would truly end the conflict. But that has not stopped the Obama administration to continue to push the talks. Nor has it stopped those groups seeking to promote more pressure on Israel to make concessions in the vain hope that the PA will ever make peace on any terms that would allow Israel to survive as a Jewish state.
That’s why Hamas’ efforts to remain relevant should not be ignored or dismissed as a last gasp for a group that is struggling to hold onto power. Though Hamas is in serious trouble, Abbas knows all too well that the one way to revive its fortunes is for him to make a genuine effort to make peace with Israel. While Israelis and Westerners would hope that the people of the West Bank and even many in Gaza would prefer peace to another generation or two of conflict, Abbas knows that the legitimacy of his Fatah Party rests on bolstering its reputation as furthering “resistance” against the Jewish presence in the land, not cooperating with Israel. That’s why his official media continues to foment hatred of Israel and honors terrorists in a manner that is not that much than that of Hamas. He is also aware that for all of its troubles, another coup like a kidnapping would once again raise Hamas’ stock among Palestinians.
Until a sea change in Palestinian culture occurs that would enable a Palestinian leader to make peace, Israel will remain powerless, no matter what it gives up, to change this equation.
The bottom line is that for all of the ridicule now being heaped on Hamas’ boasting; it retains a veto over peace. That means even if Abbas and Fatah were to transcend their origins in terrorism, something that highly unlikely, the Islamist tyrants of Gaza are still capable of overturning any movement toward a solution. That’s why Israel would do well to ignore any American pressure to make concessions on borders, Jerusalem or refugees that would be pocketed by Abbas but never reciprocated. Nor, given the recent developments in the P5+1 negotiations, should the Israelis assume that they could trade a Palestinian state for an American guarantee against a nuclear Iran. So long as Hamas remains in power in Gaza, no matter how bankrupt or precarious they might be, they are the guarantee that peace is not in the offing.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Life not death from parashat Chaye sarah

Chaye Sarah parasha this week

Chaye Sarah parasha this week

Obama betrays all of us with Iran

Obama's continuing betrayal of all that's good
Previously I've shown how Obama is so twisted he undermines pro western pro Israel forces and supports the Muslim brotherhood terrorists in the Arab's largest country Egypt. Now and much worse, after promising over and over that Iran will not get nuclear arms, and "talking" with them to try and stop them the first 18 months of his administration, he's at it again, fooled by them again, weakening or removing sanctions and letting them off the hook on bankruptcy as they continue to move closer and closer. Obama's not an idiot. he knows exactly what he is doing. betraying all of us.

Todays World Jewish digest
Perhaps sensing an opportunity in the West's newly conciliatory stance on Iran's nuclear program, prominent politicians in the Islamic republic are demanding a total end to Western sanctions.

According to media reports published on Sunday, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, one of Iran's most powerful parliamentarians, publicly stated that "Only the removal of all sanctions can be a sign of a practical step," toward an agreement with the great powers. "Otherwise," he continued, "we cannot be hopeful about the results of the talks."

Boroujerdi's statement indicates an escalation in Iranian demands, which have previously concentrated on incremental steps that would provide short-term economic relief from severe Western sanctions.

Obama Considers Giving Iran Access to Billions in Frozen Assets
Friday, 18 Oct 2013 04:18 PM

The Obama administration is weighing whether to offer Iran the chance to recoup billions of dollars in frozen overseas assets if it takes steps to scale back its nuclear program, U.S. officials and congressional aides said Friday. The proposal would face a skeptical Congress determined to make the end of Tehran's uranium enrichment activity the condition for any sanctions relief.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Halloween and vayera

binding of Isaac

parashat vayera

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fun Chicago wedding-2 Russian Jewish folks

Hi Rabbi,

I just wanted to thank you for officiating our ketubah and huppah ceremonies, we loved it, it was wonderful. We gave your information to our family friends who really enjoyed the ceremony and whose children are getting married soon as well 

Again, thank you for sharing our happy day with us!

Mariya and Roman

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Egypt and the USA: Obama supports terrorists over pro Western forces again

Egypt and the USA: Obama supports terrorists over pro Western forces again A quick history of Egypt. 1250 BCE God frees Israel from Egyptian bondage 1967 Abdul Nassar threatens to drown Israel in the sea. Israel wins 67 war. Sadat takes over, fights 73 war with Israel and loses, goes to Jerusalem and makes peace Sadat killed by Moslem Brotherhood Mubarak takes over and quashes Moslem Brotherhood for all his years 2008 Obama wins election, first foreign speech is in Cairo, invited illegal Moslem Brotherhood to come 2011 Mubarak overthrown by Moslem Brotherhood with Obama’s help, Moslem Brotherhood wins rigged “election”, Obama sends billions in domestic and MILITARY aid to them. 2013 Moslem Brotherhood overthrown, declared illegal, pro western and pro Israel military Obama mad October 10, 2013 Obama cuts off aid to pro western, pro Israel government. Israel, already feeling betrayed by Obama’s ineptness regarding Syria and back to “talking to Iran”, is frightened. What I don’t get is, latest AP poll has Obama at 37%. There are still 37% of Americans who don’t realize we have a pro terrorist as president?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Desmond Tutu

Its Desmond Tuto's birthday. before anyone lights a candle, reflect on the deep seated anti-Semitism of this man. Tutu and the Jews December 24, 2010 By Alan M. Dershowitz 58 Comments Among the world’s most respected figures is South Africa’s Bishop Desmond. His recognizable face—with its ever present grin—has become a symbol of reconciliation and goodness. But it masks a long history of ugly hatred toward the Jewish people, the Jewish religion and the Jewish state. Bishop Desmond Tutu is no mere anti-Zionist (though Martin Luther King long ago recognized that anti- Zionism often serves as a cover for deeper anti-Jewish bigotry). He has minimized the suffering of those killed in the Holocaust. He has attacked the “Jewish”–not Israeli–”lobby” as too “powerful” and “scar[y].” He has invoked classic anti-Semitic stereotypes and tropes about Jewish “arrogance”, “power” and money. He has characterized Jews a “peculiar people,” and has accused “the Jews” of causing many of the world’s problems. He once even accused the Jewish state of acting in an “unChristian” way. Were he not a Nobel laureate, his long history of bigotry against the Jewish people would have landed him in the dustbin of history, along with a dishonor roll of otherwise successful people, whose reputations have been tainted by their anti-Semitism such as Henry Ford, Charles Lindberg, Patrick Buchanan and Mel Gibson. But his Nobel Prize should not shield him from accountability for his long history of anti-Jewish bigotry, any more than it should for Yassir Arafat, Jimmy Carter and Jose Saramago. Let the record speak for itself, so that history may judge Tutu on the basis of his own words—words that he has often repeated and that others repeat, because Tutu is a role model for so many people around the world. Here are some of Tutu’s hateful words, most of them carefully documented in a recent petition by prominent South Africans to terminate him as a “patron” of the two South African Holocaust Centers, because he uses his status with these fine institutions as legitimization for his anti-Jewish rhetoric. He has minimized the suffering of those murdered in the Holocaust by asserting that “the gas chambers” made for “a neater death” than did Apartheid. In other words, the Palestinians, who in his view are the victims of “Israeli Apartheid,” have suffered more than the victims of the Nazi Holocaust. He has complained of “the Jewish Monopoly of the Holocaust,” and has demanded that its victims must “forgive the Nazis for the Holocaust,” while refusing to forgive the “Jewish people” for “persecute[ing] others.” Tutu has asserted that Zionism has “very many parallels with racism,” thus echoing the notorious and discredited “Zionism equals racism” resolution passed by the General Assembly of the United Nations and subsequently rescinded. He has accused the Jews of Israel of doing “things that even Apartheid South Africa had not done.” He has said that “the Jews thought they had a monopoly of God: Jesus was angry that they could shut out other human beings.” He has said that Jews have been “fighting against” and being “opposed to” his God. He has “compared the features of the ancient Holy Temple in Jerusalem to the features of the apartheid system in South Africa.” He has complained that “the Jewish people with their traditions, religion and long history of persecution sometimes appear to have caused a refugee problem among others.” He has implied that Israel might someday consider as an option “to perpetrate genocide and exterminate all Palestinians.” He has complained that Americans “are scared…to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful—very powerful.” He has accused Jews—not Israelis—of exhibiting “an arrogance—the arrogance of power because Jews are a powerful lobby in this land and all kinds of people woo their support.” “You know as well as I do that, somehow, the Israeli government is placed on a pedestal [in the U.S.] and to criticize it is to be immediately dubbed anti-Semitic, as if Palestinians were not Semitic.”

Tower of Babel vs Abraham's Call parashat Lech lecha jewu 440

spirtual journeys and lecha lecha

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Want to train for Jewish spiritual leadership

Train for spiritual leadership-learn the skills necessary to help lead a Jewish spiritual community

Reflections on the study

The Bell Tolls for American Jewry: Thoughts on the Pew report
OCTOBER 2, 2013,
Jeffrey Woolf is a Senior Lecturer in the Talmud Department at Bar Ilan University. He is a Medieval Historian, a … [More]

If the media and social media are any indication, the Pew report on the state of American Jewry and Judaism has sent the Jewish Community into a tailspin. The response is more than appropriate. The Jewish Community, in both the United States and abroad, will long be pondering the implications of the report’s findings. [The full report is available here. Fairly full summaries are posted here and here.]

The major conclusion, masked by some of the headlines (and perhaps not), is that American Jewry (with the exception of Orthodoxy, and the more traditional wing of the Conservative and post-denominational world) is gently committing mass suicide through assimilation. Intermarriage among the non-Orthodox has topped 71% (and is close to 90+% in many places), and the proportion of children that are raised with any sense of Jewish identity is inversely related to the intermarriage rate.

However, as borne out in a fascinating discussion in last month’s Mosaic Magazine, intermarriage is as much a symptom as a cause. It is a symptom of the dissolution of basic Jewish ethnic and religious allegiances, in favor of absolute loyalty to oneself as a sovereign individual. It is a symptom of the stunning trivialization of what being Jewish means. For how else can one explain the fact that 41% of American Jews think that having a sense of humor is more important to Jewish identity than Jewish observance (a mere 19%)?

On the other hand, there is something profoundly authentic in this statistic. Humor is a universal gift, and homogenized universalism (together with the beatification of the individual) is the hallmark of contemporary Western Culture. Jewish Law and Lore, History and Collective Memory appear to be the polar opposite. Judaism protects and values the individual, yet it also makes demands upon him. It demands that the individual contribute and sacrifice for his or her people, beliefs and, yes, for God. Its vision is simultaneously particularistic, narrow and parochial (on the one hand) and universalist, broad and encompassing, on the other. The two are so enmeshed as to be inseparable, much as Jewish national and religious identity have always been. American Jews have attempted to effect that separation by totally recasting and denuding Jewish Tradition, in order to align it with contemporary mores. [The process is brilliantly described by Professor Barry Rubin in his classic book: Assimilation and Its Discontents (available free for download here).]

In the end, that is precisely what assimilation is; the substitution of one set of values (usually, that of a minority), in favor of another set (usually, that of the majority). It’s a perfectly natural process. It has affected every minority group throughout history; every group, that is, except the Jews (at least since the massive assimilation of the Jews of the Western Roman Empire during the first Christian centuries). Jews have refused to go that way. Our continued existence has been, as my friend and colleague, Dr. Simcha Goldin of Tel Aviv University put it, an elusive enigma. That enigma, though, has been predicated upon precisely those values that American Jews have decided (consciously or unconsciously) to abjure: belief in God, immersion in Jewish Law and Lore, dedication to the Jewish People before others, a deep and abiding sense of Jewish collective memory (that far transcends the kind of ostensible Holocaust awareness that the Pew study identifies), and a readiness to sacrifice of oneself for the whole. The Pew study shows, beyond any reasonable doubt, that no more that 15% +/- of American Jews subscribe to any of these values. The result is a foregone conclusion.

I am, at the same time, thunderstruck by the stark contrast between the Pew Study, and the most recent Guttman/IDI Study of Israeli Jewry. The findings are almost symmetrical opposites. Israeli Jews believe in God (over 80%). There is a Jewish Renaissance (in Study, Culture, and Observance) in Israel that literally boggles the imagination (even as it confounds the usual definitions of Religious and Secular). And, while individualism and individual expression are certainly not absent, the sense of national cohesion, what we call bayachad, is movingly strong. Anyone, who lived here through the Second Intifada, or the various wars and campaigns since then will readily attest to this fact. All that my American brothers and sisters have so readily jettisoned, is held sacred by the Jews of Israel. No wonder that we speak so often at cross purposes. The two communities organize themselves around different value systems.

I write this column with a significant measure of pain. I am a fourth generation Bostonian. America has been incredibly generous to my family, and to me. The education and upbringing that I received was uniquely Jewish and uniquely American. I am very much part of both countries, as are my peers here. I cannot, will not, express any type of cheap triumphalism. At the same time, every year when I visit the graves of my forbears on the Mount of Olives, Hovevei Tziyyon who trekked from Volkovisk Lithuania to Jerusalem in 1882, I am painfully reminded that of their hundreds of descendants, no more than fifteen in my children’s generation can be identified as Jews.

So, I was really not surprised at the report’s findings. As an historian, as a Zionist, as a committed Jew of faith I knew this was coming. As with the tolling of every bell, it came much too soon. Hopefully, the tolling will galvanize the American Jewish remnant to sacrifice (but really sacrifice) in order to save what it can.