Tuesday, May 31, 2005
And the JPost has a strange definition of "equal representation". I guess in their world 3=6.
"According to the compromise equal representation will be ensured for haredim and religious Zionists. A total of nine rabbinic judges will be elected, three from each camp. The Sephardi haredi Shas, the Ashkenazi haredi Aguda-Degel Hatorah and the National Religious Party will each choose three judges."
The real solution is to let the haredim have the corrupt chief rabbinate (oh, they have it already?) so we can get on with our lives.
Bloghead has the Ha'aretz story on deal that Labor MK Haim Ramon has cut with R. Ovadia Yosef and R. Elyashiv to appoint only haredim to the six vacancies on the
Although Ramon's office has stated that his anger at the opposition to the hitnatkut of much of the religious-Zionist community is his main motivating factor (and an absurd one at that) one has to wonder what deals he has cut with the good rabbis in his sellout of Israeli women. What is Ramon getting for his selling out of the women? Is the Labor Party doing some forward planning for an attempt to form the next government? Have there been promises about who gets what vote and for how much?
One also has to wonder what Chief Rabbi Amar, whose wife and son have been indicted for beating up a 17 year old boy, is still doing on the committee to appoint new dayanim.
The religious-Zionists are very close to being completely de-legitimized by the very monster they created – the chief rabbinate. Maybe its time to disengage, not from the state, but from the very institution that was at one point, the pride of religious-Zionism. The time has come to create our own privatized religious court system dealing with conversions, marriage and divorce. Its time that our rabbis shed their inferiority complexes and made a stand in favor of their own constituents. Its time they took the high road for once and ended their association with the corruption that is at the heart of state sponsored religion. Maybe its time they made their final break with the dishonesty and cynicism that is at the heart of Israeli-haredi Judaism.
Our shuls, Yeshivot and other institutions will certainly loose a few million shekel, but we will be stronger for it.
Just ask the next agunah you meet.
Monday, May 30, 2005
Yesterday evening I was at my son's high school listening to a presentation about their recent trip to
What was odd to me was that the one common theme running through most of the speeches as well as the music that accompanied the film was a praising of God. Sometimes, specifically the student that spoke, the theme changed a bit to thanking God that we are not in that situation.
But it seemed from the speeches of most adults in general and of the rabbis in particular that strengthening ones faith in God was one of the key goals of the trip. I am not denying that some survivors came through the Shoah with a stronger belief in God and none at all in people. I am not denying that it is possible to go through the trip to
But, to take the Shoah and to make it a showcase for belief in God seems to me an attempt to deny the reality of the situation. Learning about the Shoah ought not to bring someone to despair (although it certainly can), but neither should it axiomatically bring someone to blind faith.
It seems dishonest to manipulate the students into seeing blind faith in God as the specific (only?) religious response to the Shoah. You would think that a trip of such import would bring the rabbis to discuss faith more in depth. You would think that on such a trip the students would rise to challenge faith and to force the rabbis and the others into facing all possibilities. You would think that the "ani ma'amin" would be put aside for just one evening.
Is it an attempt to seperate themselves from the ever ignorant older generation? An attempt to copy the practice of holy man they have seen? A mystical attempt to amass concentrative powers? Or is it just one of those things teenage boys do?
Sunday, May 29, 2005
Friday, May 27, 2005
Thursday, May 26, 2005
"Organizations representing Holocaust survivors have rejected Bank Leumi's offer to pay NIS 35 million immediately, as an advance on funds which belonged to Jews who perished during WWII, a reversal of the bank's former policy.
The bank's decision, which was published yesterday in Haaretz, represented "a media spin on the part of the bank, which is doing whatever it can so it doesn't have to return all the funds," said the the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel, an umbrella group incorporating 28 organizations."
Minimum Price: $500,000.
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
From the JPost:
"The Protestant campaign of divestment, meant to punish Israel for its "occupation," is weakening.
The announcement by Massachusetts Episcopal Bishop M. Thomas Shaw – a staunch pro-Palestinian advocate – that he would oppose divestment efforts from within his church was the latest in a string of similar declarations by small member communities of America's large liberal-leaning churches.
Across the country, Protestants are reevaluating the wisdom, and even the justice, of the high-profile divestment campaign their leaders began a few years ago."
The wisdom and even the justice !!!!
Just anti-semitism, or just anti-semitism?
"Bank Leumi is prepared to pay some NIS 35 million as an advance on the funds of Jews who perished in the Holocaust, in a reversal of its former policy.
The bank said it was willing to pay the money immediately and without conditions. The sum constitutes the bank's basic liability, which was established by the Parliamentary Inquiry Committee in the report it published in January this year.
Bank officials say they are ready to pay this sum the moment they get an official request from the Knesset speaker, the Knesset or the cabinet. The bank's public relations chief Gideon Shor says the bank is willing to pay the money as humanitarian aid to Holocaust survivors or for any other public cause deemed fit by the official bodies that approach the bank."
Monday, May 23, 2005
The Israel Defense Forces is calling for new olim who are doctors to enlist for 18 months at an officer's salary in the IDF Medical Corp – call 03-737-9527 … The Israeli Ministry of Health is allowing hospitals to setup ethical committees to decide if parents can choose the gender of their child … The IDF is opening up its National Defense College to officers of foreign armies …Chabad bus advertisements encourage you to "write to the King Mashiach and see miracles happen" … Machon Rashbi in Bnei Brak, named after the tanna R. Shimon Bar Yochai, is offering for sale a drink that will help you find a partner, earn a good living, stay healthy and have powerfully performing sperm … The wife and son of the Sephardi Chief Rabbi were indicted for beating up a young haredi boy who was dating their daughter/sister …A thirteen year old Gazan, Anjad Abu Seedo gives sermons every Friday at 10am at the main Gaza city mosque. For directions, contact Hamas … Ma'ariv, one of Israel's most successful muckraking newspapers distributed bumper stickers in last Friday's issue stating "Where is the Shame?" … A lioness and her young daughter were recently transferred from the safari in
Sunday, May 22, 2005
Friday, May 20, 2005
" 'Tho' much is taken, much abides,' proclaimed Tennyson's Ulysses. That is, in our case, self-evident. With respect to the quality and the scope of yirat shamayim and talmud Torah, internally, there is never enough. Externally, much greater momentum needs to be generated with regard to our involvement with the broader community. In mid-century, modernists envisioned themselves as encamped at the center of Orthodoxy, and revelled in the flattering thought that they were both leading and communally connected, while haredim were confined within their cloisters. However, in short order, and before Y.U. circles took true notice, the latter seized the initiative and Y.U. found itself in arrears. We certainly ought not begrudge the haredi world its accomplishments, but we need to do much more on this front. The attitude cited in the name of a prominent administrator to the effect, that Y.U. was an institution and not a movement, is, in the long run, both spiritually and institutionally negative. It is reflected in the mindset of some talmidim who equate moving west of New Jersey with exile to the Antipodes. We need to regain ground lost in hinukh and rabbanut, and to break fresh ground in addition.
There are, however, internal issues (although, in a sense, outreach, too, is an internal issue) as well. Progress in the bet midrash has been purchased at a price - not, to my mind, inevitable, but real, nonetheless. Concentration has been accompanied by constriction. In part, it has manifested itself in insularity - the unwillingness or inability to imbibe from the reservoirs of Arnold's conception of culture, "the best that has been thought and said in the world," as constituting the hokhmah which can be found bagoyim, on the one hand, and obtuseness to many of the concerns, pragmatic and spiritual, which beset the Jewish and general world, on the other. In this connection, I am afraid we are witness to an erosion in religious Zionist fervor - admittedly, characteristic of American Orthodoxy, as a whole, but especially disturbing at a Torah center. In a very different vein, constriction is, concomitantly, occasionally reflected in intolerance bordering on demonization, with regard to spiritual opposition. And, contrary to the Rav's legacy, it is manifested in the benign neglect with which many regard the learning of Tanakh and mahshavah. In part, constriction finds expression in superficial and simplistic personality, in the inability to recognize the complexity of thought and experience, and even in the difficulty of some to cope with life and to make meaningful decisions. And there are some who find the Y.U. atmosphere to be disheartening - not quite depressing, but neither conducive to ivdu et Hashem b'simhah."
First, I would like to note the wonderful job the editors of the YU student newspaper "Commentator" did in their history of YU series. Many if not most of the articles were interesting and informative and not just nostalgic. It gave a great picture of YU throughout its 75 or so years. Kol HaKavod!
A short while ago we spoke about R. Yitz Greenberg's article in the series discussing YU in the '60's. Apparently, the article provoked much controversy and animosity. Hirhurim has links in this post to the original article, a response by R. Lichtenstein, and R. Greenberg's rejoinder. In addition, there is response by Hillel Goldberg who conducted the original Greenberg interview in the 1960's and R. Greenberg's response to that.
Maybe it is my naiveté, but the animosity in these letters is quite astounding. I don't know R. Greenberg personally - although I was a Bnei Akiva madrich to one of his daughters – and I understand that his views are on the fringe of modern Orthodoxy, but I didn't realize the personal nature of the disagreement. These letters are interesting but disappointing, too. Hirhurim suggests just reading Goldberg's letter to get a few facts of history, and to avoid the unpleasantness of the tones of the letters. He is right to a certain extent, but I think that would give a skewed view of things.
You need to read all of the letters in order to see that there not so much disagreement as to what happened. Much of the differences have to do with the perspective of ht authors and I would guess, the 40 years that have elapsed. What there is, is a longstanding personal and theological conflict that unfortunately has spilled over onto the pages of a student newspaper.
As we have stated in the past, these arguments over Judaism in general and modern-Orthodoxy in particular are part of the dynamic of modern Orthodoxy and Religious-Zionsim. Let's hope they never end. Let's also hope that we, at least, as Hirhurim as alluded, can keep the personalities out of it.
Thursday, May 19, 2005
"More than 280,000 Israeli citizens cannot marry or divorce in Israel because they do not belong to a legally recognized religious group, according to figures presented yesterday to the Knesset Immigration and Absorption Committee."
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
The FREE 10th annual Tel-Aviv Food Festival will take place from May29-June 2 at Ganei Yehoshua - starting time each day is 6pm.
There have been a lot of interesting comments (for exampleת the WSJ and Instapundit) being written on the Newsweek scandal where they falsely reported that the US Military flushed a Koran down the toilet at Guantanamo as a pressure tactic against captured terrorists.
Mostly though, the scandal shows how the western press in general still has no clue what religion is, let alone what it means to people. They have almost no understanding of fundamentalists and they have absolutely no understanding of believers who are not fundamentalists. Like too many people these days, everything is looked upon through the eyes of politics and ideology without recognizing that billions of people in the world have beliefs that transcend both politics and ideology.
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Various key intersections were blocked yesterday by a group of wayward youth working on the instructions of cowardly manipulators…. A classmate of my second son was sentenced to two weeks in prison for burning tires on a road a few weeks or months ago…. I regretfully participated in an email exchange where an American Jew from California referred to the IDF as the "Islamic Defense Forces" and then went on to ask about my son in the army, if he will "defend Jews of Gush Katif or just follow the orders to deport them by force?"…. The foreign minister's wife was instrumental in the (probable) firing of Israel's ambassador to the US because his aid neglected to arrange a photo-op with Madonna … The ambassador's wife was accused of verbally abusing the domestic staff … A YU ordained rabbi wrote that he thought it funny that people consider Yom Ha'atzmaut a religious holiday and was stunned when an acquaintance wished him a "chag sameach" … Although the literature bagrut (matriculation) for the state-religious school system has Agnon, it doesn't include Bialik … A good friend who just got back from a visit to the US said that American Jews have it too good …In order to prevent the entry of terrorists to the
Monday, May 16, 2005
Good thing we have the Jewish blogosphere.
"The resounding slogan of “liberty, equality, fraternity,” leaves no room for racism in the French state, in theory. In practice, over the two centuries since that slogan was coined, rulers of France have tried with varying success to fit two peoples—Arabs and Jews—into their grand design for the French nation and for its standing in the world. Today, as long-held but misconceived ambitions collide, racism with its hates and fears increasingly plagues France, calling into question the relationship that the country’s Arab and Jewish minorities have with each other, that each has with the state, and that the state has with Arab nations on the one hand and with Israel on the other."
Friday, May 13, 2005
After assigning a few pages of Hegel to read, a history professor of mine told the class not to feel stupid if we didn't understand a word of what he wrote, since German philosophers can't write. If you have tried, as I have on numerous occasions, to read the "Star of Redemption" by Franz Rosenzweig, only to be left without a clue as to why he was considered a genius, there is a new translation of The Star by Barbara Galli.
It is reviewed in the Forward and hopefully, it will be as readable as the reviewer claims. Then we can see with our own eyes what all the fuss is about.
A lack of decency is so sad to see.
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
21 Gun Salute
End of the Ceremony
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
As per tradition, the Artillery Corp is readying the Kfar Saba military cemetary for Yom Hazikaron.
Cemetary for refugees from Tel-Aviv: In 1917 the Turkish authorities expelled the Jewish residents of Tel-Aviv Yaffo. Many of the refugees reached Kfar Saba where they slept in close quarters and drank from a polluted well. Because of the hunger and filth that resulted, most of the refugees died and were buried in nameless graves in Kfar Saba. Later, this was turned into the military cemetery of the town.
The story of how a Lituanian named Sarunas Jasikevicius (Sharas) and two African-Americans named Derrick Sharp and Anthony Parker helped bring the messiah to the Jewish people.
Read about Macabbi Tel-Aviv's championship and how it will bring the 'moshiach' and possibly even cause the ressurection.
"Former residents of Chelm, perhaps the most famous town in Jewish folklore, are trying to buy the building that housed the yeshiva study hall from a local entrepreneur, to turn it into a museum."
The next line anyone?
Monday, May 09, 2005
"The zealous administering of quick and violent justice by the Amar family in reaction to revelations of forbidden love will glorify Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar in the eyes of the haredi public, haredi sources said Sunday."
Read the whole article.
Although we would have loved to have that out of step Jew be a guest blogger here, he turned down our gig to take a one at the Shalem Center (publishers of Azure). Although we would have given him part of the kitchen table to work on and the kids promised to give him at least an hour a day on the computer, his office space at Shalem is probably more conducive to his "researching and writing a book on Israel's role as the nation-state of the Jewish people". And it is closer to his home.
The government's loss is Shalem's gain. But Natan, if it doesn't work out ...
Sunday, May 08, 2005
The period after Pesach is a strange one in
Today, as I scan the news today I see a weekend where, instead of reflection and preparation for celebration, nearly all that is wrong with
Corruption and violence ruled as the wife, daughter and son of the Sephardi Chief Rabbi were arrested for allegedly hiring two Arab youths to abuse and beat up the boyfriend of the daughter. The couple met over an internet chat – both are haredi so the reaction seems to be to … ban not only the internet, which is ruining the children, but computers, too. Whatever was left of the integrity of the Chief Rabbinate – and of the rabbis who put the current Chief Rabbis in their offices – has blown away with the dust of the last sharav.
Eight boys aged 13-17 were accused of gang raping a 14 year old girl over the course of a few months. These types of cases are not new, especially in the upper middle class communities (although I am not sure the community of Nesher is upper middle class) There is no wonder that it happens again and again since in past cases the parent's of the boys (the ones that are convicted) have a history of threatening the girl and of supporting the actions of their sons. The judges too, have all too often giving light sentences so as not to "ruin the future of the boys" for just one offence. And the rape victim?
The government sent – or was about to send- dismissal notices to 4,500 teachers but was willing to rescind some of the dismissals if the union accepts the Dovrat Commission educational reforms. No debate, no reasoning. I am sure there is justification for all of this, but there is no debate, no discussion – just threats. And of course the threats are two sided as the teachers union threatened to strike (understandably in this case, I guess). But then the candidate for the chairmanship of the Labor Party (and hence for Prime Minister) and current chairman of the Histadrut Amir Peretz, has gleefully offered to "shut down the country" by striking anything and everything. He is most proud of the fact that one phone call from his cell phone can cost the country 100 million shekel a day.
And to top it all off, there is supposed to be a meeting in
Thursday, May 05, 2005
This is the true story of a woman very close to me who escaped from the Warsaw Ghetto as a child and survived the war to come to
H, came from a well to do
Suddenly, as September opened, the world was at war and communication from
H's original home was on
In 1943, H's father bribed a Wehrmacht officer to smuggle his daughter out of the ghetto. Their son, H's brother was just a baby and could not be saved. He was to be killed shortly thereafter with his mother. Dressed as German children on their way to school H was smuggled out and taken to a family friend who had a luggage store whose main customers were the wives of German officers. H quietly sat by a table and a Polish woman wearing a nun's habit came out and took her, ostensibly to a monastery.
She got into a taxi and told the driver to go to
After writing the note they got into a taxi and the woman told the driver to go to Alje Shovkha. H, all of seven recognized the address and asked the woman where they were going. She knew that this was Gestapo headquarters. H threatened the woman that if she was brought to the Gestapo she would tell them that the big nosed woman was also a Jew.
The woman was scared of young H and tried to get her to quiet down. Finally, she told the driver to go to Leshno 22 where a woman named Irena lived. This was not far from H's original home. Irena recognized H and agreed to take her in. She gave her delicacies – rolls, butter and sweet tea. Irena was a lapsed nun and showed compassion to H. However, she feared her neighbors who were close to Gestapo officers. H had to hide in a closet during the daytime only to come out for a short while at night.
H's family didn't know about the scam. So they paid the same Wehrmacht officer and woman more money so as to smuggle out H's young cousin. He was left on the steps of Gestapo headquarters but a Polish policeman noticed him and took him home. His wife didn't want to keep him, fearing for their lives. They gave him to a neighbor, known in the neighborhood as the "cat-woman" for she kept many cats. Once the cat-woman visited Irena and told her the story of H's cousin. H was listening in the closet and later told Irena that she thought that the boy was her cousin. The cousins were reunited and H took care of him until the end of the war.
H was also visited by a former business partner of her father who gave Irena a monthly stipend to help take care of H and her cousin.
After the Polish uprising of 1944-5 the Germans destroyed large swaths of
Fourteen year old H was not treated very well and decided to run away by the train which ran down May 1st Street in Waldenburg. Since she didn't have any money she was thrown off of the train. This was sometime in 1946 and a Russian-Jewish occupation soldier saw young H and took her to a "café" to get her a hot drink. He then took her to a friend who ran the Shomer Hatzair youth house in the town. It was a Friday. The person who ran the house was from
There was a decision that the children should go to
She found another relative who had survived the war by running away to and around
H made it to
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
In order to give Yom Hashoah v'Hagvurah some religious significance in our family, about 15 years ago we decided to create and recite a liturgy as we lit the ner zikaron (remembrance candle). We chose texts that were a bit difficult to understand and over the years we have added a bit, here and there. We wanted to create a Yom Hashoah liturgy for our family – one that would create interest and questions, sadness and hope.
If you are in Israel, you have until the end of the week to go to its Jerusalem offices at 1 Rechov Harav Maimon for their annual sale. Most books, individual or sets are half price. I went yesterday and nearly completed my Da'at Mikra set, picked up two volumes of the Sifre, the Goldschimidt Kinot for Tisha B'av and a two volume of the Maharal from Prague's writings: A small volume of piyutim and slichot of Rabbenu Gershom Meor Hagolah and a few other tidbits.
From the JPost:
"Dozens of Holocaust survivors demonstrated outside the headquarters of Bank Leumi on Tuesday, urging the Israeli bank to open its records about unclaimed assets of Holocaust victims and turn the money over to destitute survivors."
"... 200 Israeli families in the United States and Canada ... are returning to live on a kibbutz because they have been attracted by its lifestyle."
"But after all, capitalism is about surprises. As the writer and engineer Samuel Florman noted years ago, those who argue that Big Business dictates consumer tastes and purchases through advertising and market power have to explain the Edsel. Products that look good flop all the time. Products that look weak succeed beyond all expectations. New technologies come out of nowhere to disrupt settled markets, even as other long-expected innovations either fail to materialize (the flying car I expected to have by now is still missing in action) or fail to catch on (people don't much want PicturePhones because you have to comb your hair before answering). When you combine the unpredictability of technology with the unpredictability of consumers, you wind up with an environment that is, well, really unpredictable. And the results are often fatal (to companies) and fortuitous (to consumers and society)."
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
They have this quote on the site, from Alan Dershowitz:
"The president of Harvard University, in a speech delivered in Harvard's Memorial Church in 2002, included the singling out of Israel for divestment as the sort of 'actions that are anti-Semitic in their effect, if not in their intent.' The one-sided actions of the Presbyterian Church fit into this category."
True? Who knows. Interesting? Absolutely.
Monday, May 02, 2005
The JTA is reporting on a beginnings of a Jewish response. I don't think I practice reflexive anti-Christianity, but I don't see why we should treat these mainline Protestants other than we would treat any other anti-semites.
To this day, Jews, especially religious Jews find it difficult to assign theological import to the Jewish return to
But of course that did not happen. With a narrow look at the sources and a "masoret" of ignoring history many of the even modern-Orthodox rabbis (let alone haredi ones) still find it difficult to say "reshit tzmichat geulateinu" (the beginning of the flowering of the redemption) without swallowing their words.
In a well written and well thought out argument in First Things, Gary Anderson of Notre Dame makes the case for a Christian (Catholic?) case not only for the practical acceptance of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel, but for its theological significance to Christians:
"The return of the Jews to Israel has also posed a challenge to Christians. For ever since the days of Augustine, Israel’s landlessness was commonly thought to be a punishment for the death of Christ. Events of the previous century showed us where this type of thinking can lead. Happily, many thoughtful Christians have moved beyond this position. Certainly the visit of Pope John Paul II to the Holy Land—his walking the streets of the Jewish state and praying at the Western Wall—is a powerful expression of this. The question now is whether we can move from an attitude of toleration and acceptance to bold theological affirmation. Is the return to Zion part of God’s providential design and eternal promise to His people Israel? I believe that it is. Is Israel’s most recent return to this land final and permanent? No one can know for sure. That will depend, as Uriel Simon wisely argues, on the providential plan of our benevolent Creator and on the actions of Israel."
Sunday, May 01, 2005
Mittleman on Greenberg's theology, when ethics will do:
"What Greenberg offers is a theology of civility, but it is unclear that any such proposal can escape the relativism it claims to surmount. I would have thought that an ethic of civility alone would suffice. To live by an ethic of civility requires a respectful engagement with the other, whether as fellow person or as fellow citizen. Sometimes this might require the suspension of absolute claims for the sake of peace. Often it requires the commitment to discourse, persuasion, and rational intercourse in which absolute claims are not weakened but opened; one displays one’s humanity as a principled difference. This is a feature of civilized conduct inter homines. The absolute is not de-absolutized; it is held in tension with complex moral and political conditions of conduct. I would think that a strong but nonutopian ethic of civility is preferable to a problematic theology of reconciliation. But perhaps this scants heaven in favor of earth. Or, then again, perhaps Greenberg advances purely earthly goods in the name of heaven. Although his questions are more compelling than his answers, Greenberg deserves our gratitude for the important challenges he puts to us."