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AISH

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Re: AISH

Post  Admin on Wed 13 Apr 2016, 4:22 pm

PASSOVER Passover, Pesach, Passover 2016 - What is Passover? Passover is April 23 - April 30, 2016.
Commemorating the Exodus from Egypt; the key to our own personal liberation.
What is Passover?  Passover Crash Course  Easy Cleaning  Games for the Seder
Passover Themes Videos+ The Haggadah Family Recipes Laws
The Adele/Bieber Passover Mashup
Featuring Charlton Heston as Moses and Yul Brynner as Pharaoh. You have to see it to believe it.
by aish.com

https://youtu.be/QwKBIzzlzvY
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Re: AISH

Post  Admin on Thu 07 Apr 2016, 3:25 pm

Way #20: The Art of Conversation
People today are busier than ever, "conversation time" is diminishing. Is anyone out there listening?
by Rabbi Noah Weinberg
Joe is walking down a darkened alley, when suddenly a man jumps out, brandishing a pistol.
"Don't shoot," Joe pleads, "I'll give you all my money."
"I don't want your money," says the man with the gun. "My whole life I've been trying to get someone to sit down and talk with me. Now I'm going to make you listen for one hour."
This story reflects a sorry aspect of the human condition. People today are busier than ever – commuting, flying, buying. All in all, conversation time is diminishing. Who has time to talk?
Reflect back to yourself. You want to be understood. But is anyone listening?

B'miyut sichah literally means "minimize conversation." In other words, use conversation effectively. Conversation is our tool to be in contact with other human beings. Unless we communicate, we're all alone.
Building Connections
The Torah says that God created man as a "speaking creature" (see Targum Onkelos – Genesis 2:7). Speech is therefore what distinguishes human beings from other species. Too often people are self-centered and closed up. Conversation is a way out of that self-absorption.
Too many friendships never get beyond the superficial stage. It's possible to talk endlessly about recipes, football and fashion. But that's not enough. We need people with whom we can share our innermost thoughts.

Even family members can live in communicative isolation. Living room furniture used to be designed so that people sat facing one another. Today, living rooms are set up so that everyone faces the TV. You watch a football game and mutter in between munches, "That was a good play." What conversation can compete with the "raza-a-ma-tazz" of multi-media?!
Today, everyone is in his own little corner and struggles by himself. We need to be with others, not to watch television, but to be together and communicate. Without it, you are stifling in your own self-contained envelope. Isolated in your own opinion. Isolated in your own home.
Set aside time specifically for talking. Schedule a block of time to talk to your spouse, your child, your parents, your friends. Speech conveys the deepest soul-thoughts. Words that emit from the heart, enter the heart. Something the other person says may touch a deep chord in us. Conversations build deep connections and expand our world. Without it, we emotionally whither and die.
Great conversation is your chance to explore entire worlds. Unlike a movie, this world is real, not imagined. And the resulting relationship is infinitely more rewarding.
Practice the Art
As accustomed as people are to "speaking," very few actually "communicate." Speaking is natural and automatic. But communication is an art which must be learned and practiced.

Start by changing your attitude. Did you ever sit for hours on an airplane? You read all the magazines, and watch the in-flight movie. There is nothing else to do. Try speaking to the person next to you.
You have to warm up. Begin by saying "hello." Then ask simple, non-threatening questions: "Where are you from? What's your name?" This is just credential exchange. No harm, no weapons.

Yes, it is painful, because you don't know where it will go from there. But what are you worried about – that he'll stand up and announce to all the passengers: "I'm seated next to a boring person!"
It's a shame to sit silently through the entire flight, and then "accidentally" get into a fascinating conversation just as you're parting ways.

Don't be afraid of being rejected or that you won't have anything intelligent to say. It won't kill you. You will learn how. Good conversations have to be cultivated and produced.
Don't Mistake "Discussion" for "Conversation"
A "discussion" is an issue of right or wrong, a cerebral exchange of facts and opinions.
A "conversation" is a personal exploration of another person. The point of conversation is not to impress others or to enhance your popularity, but to learn about others.
That is our most common mistake. When you talk to the guy in the plane, don't let him know by the end of the trip how many trophies you've won and what investments you've made. Nor are you interested in information like who won the ball game and the current market price of gold. That is not conversation. That is the information shop.
The point of conversation is to connect with someone and explore his experiences, thoughts, feelings, and inner appreciations. What does he think about life, about love, about meaning? For example, while a "discussion" might focus on the question, "Is the president effectively dealing with the economy?", a "conversation" would ask, "How is the economic situation affecting you personally?"

Aim to bring the topic around to a more emotional realm. Ask the other person how he is dealing with issues that bother him. Just like when you talk to your spouse after a long day, the conversation should be: "How are you feeling, what upset you about the day, what gave you joy?"
If you're having difficulty getting the other person to talk, build trust by talking about your own experiences and feelings. Don't be "Mr. Know-It-All." When presenting an idea, say, "Balancing career and family has been difficult for me. I look at the situation this way. I would really like to know your experience and how you feel about it." When you report your reaction, he will report his reaction.
The Fascinating World of a Human Being
How do you maintain an interesting conversation? Be fascinated. If you have an eager curiosity about life and people, you'll be an excellent conversationalist. People will talk to you freely, because your interest will draw them like a magnet.
If you find that "fascination" does not come easily to you, do some self-analysis. Figure out why. Often the problem is basic indifference – i.e. "Why should I care about this person?"

To get focused, realize that every human being is a wonderful mystery, created in the image of God. We might make mistakes, but each person is unique and holy, full of ideas, experiences, and special wisdom.
Don't be misled. Most people don't immediately reveal what is especially interesting and significant about themselves.
To discover the wonderful person behind the facade, try interviewing them as a journalist pursuing an important story. "Wow! You're from Buffalo? How do you deal with all that snow?!"

Everybody wants to get to know themselves, but introspection is too painful. So realize that when you ask questions, you are helping people learn about themselves. Imagine someone asks you, "What do you think about life? Is life beautiful? Is it boring, a struggle?" The conversation prompts you to reach inside, examine, and engage in self-discovery. The same questions you'd like to be asked about yourself, ask someone else.
Especially when planning a major step in life – like marriage, career, spirituality – use conversation as a tool. Interview others: What was your experience? Was it interesting? What are the problems? What are the pleasures? How did you overcome your fears? What did you gain? What are the possibilities?
When you are fascinated, people will start talking and they won't stop. Explore life. Talk! See this is a tool for living – it is ridiculous not to use it!

What's Your Name?
A primary way to connect with someone's uniqueness is to learn his name. A name is an intrinsic aspect of human identity. By using his name, you establish a connection and communicate an interest in who he is. And you can't have a good conversation with someone to whom you are indifferent.
A human being is only real when you know his name. Frequently we lose a name in the introduction and then we are talking to someone faceless. We feel uncomfortable. The vibes are no good and it ruins the whole conversation.

Do you tend to forget names? The key is to pay attention at the time of the introduction, and repeat the name to yourself a few times after. One memory technique is to conjure up a mental association. For instance, if the person's name is George Brown, imagine George Washington wearing a big brown suit. (The more silly the image, the easier it is to remember.)
Be a Good Listener
A good friend is a good listener.
In dealing with others, the Torah says: "Do not harden your heart or close your hand" (Dev. 15:7). "Closing your hand" refers to be being generous with money, while "harden your heart" refers to giving to others emotionally. Don't underestimate the value of this. Patiently listening to someone tell his troubles is often worth more than giving money.
In conversation, never interrupt. Don't anxiously anticipate the end of a sentence so you can jump back with your own opinion. If someone makes a statement you disagree with, bite your tongue and keep on listening. A sharp reply is likely to make the other person defensive, in which case he'll either get angry or end the conversation completely. Just calm down and give your undivided attention. Don't look around. Don't think of other things. Pay attention.
Ask for points of clarification. Really try to understand. You will build an atmosphere of trust – which will enable you to voice your own opinion later.

Don't fight with people. No criticism. No confrontation. Just discuss. Exchange feelings. That's conversation.
Constantly emit "listening signals" to demonstrate interest. Use eye contact or add a nod of acknowledgement. Use simple words of feedback, like, "Yes, interesting," or "That must have felt incredible." A skilled conversationalist can say few words ... and build a deep bond.

Make Your Words Count
Sometimes we get bored with living. So we make a phone call and chatter to pass the time.
Don't use conversation as an escape from reality. It's a waste of energy and words. And when the conversation is over, we feel empty.
Make every word count. Consider your words as precious jewels, to be used sparingly. Speak to the point, with clarity and pur­pose. Think before you speak. Make sure to say what you intended to say, in the best way you could say it. Frame your words. Connect your words with your mind, rather than letting your mouth run away and then having to catch up with your mouth.
Unnecessary talk dulls your mind. Efficient use of words puts you in control of your mind.
There's an old saying: "Small people speak about people. Medium people speak about places and things. Big people speak about ideas." The words you choose determine the type of person you'll be.
Don't talk without a purpose. In any conversation, ask yourself: "Is there a point to this conversation? Am I learning anything about life? Am I growing? Are we making contact?" If you can't identify the point, there probably is none.
There is an ancient Jewish tradition called ta'anit dibur – a "speech fast." When people find themselves talking too much, they refrain from all conversation except for Torah study. Likewise, in the House of Prayer, there should be no outside conversations – just God and yourself.
Try experimenting for one hour without talking. It's a healthy exercise in self-control, and can help you focus on your inner self. Don't worry, people will just assume you've got laryngitis.

Avoid Negative Talk
The Torah says that God used the medium of speech to create the world. ("And God said: Let there be light.")
For us as well, speech is a tool of creation – through it we can build the world. A word of praise will encourage others and build confidence. Making someone feel important is to say, "Your existence is necessary." This is life-giving and life-affirming.
On the other hand, speech can also be used to destroy. Words like "You're worthless, that's terrible," wipe out a person's self-esteem. It is untrue to believe that "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me."
Did you ever find yourself in the middle of gossip or a distasteful joke? It's insidious. All of a sudden you find yourself dragged into a discussion that's taken a turn for the worse.
Never say anything negative or derogatory about another person – even if it's true. Gossip causes quarrel and tears apart relationships, families, even entire communities. As King Solomon said: "Life and death are in the hands of the tongue" (Proverbs 18:21).
Learn to switch tracks. Monitor your conversation, and when you notice it slipping off track, pull it back, gently and subtly.
If this doesn't work, bow out of the conversation. Have some graceful exit lines ready to go. Of course, don't ever embarrass another person ... but don't hang around and sully yourself either!

Why is "Artful Conversation" a Way to Wisdom?
Be fascinated with human beings and you'll be an excellent conversationalist.
Talk to people in the office, neighbors, even strangers.
Human beings have wisdom. Get them to share it.
Negative speech will make you a negative person.
Use speech wisely. It's one of the greatest gifts we have.
Have a conversation, not a confrontation.
Conversation is a tool of creation; it pulls us out of isolation, builds connections and expands our world.
Fulfilling our needs depends on how well we communicate those needs to others.


http://www.aish.com/sp/48w/48958891.html
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Re: AISH

Post  Admin on Wed 30 Mar 2016, 10:10 pm

http://www.aish.com/ci/s/Brussels--the-Israeli-Occupation.html?s=mm
Brussels & the Israeli Occupation
by Rabbi Benjamin Blech
When will the world realize that Islamic terror has nothing to do with Israel?
In the aftermath of the horrific events in Brussels, as Islamist terror attacks struck at the heart of the European Union with a triple bombing in the Belgian capitol, the world surely needs to wonder. After all, comparable acts of terrorism always had an explanation when they were perpetrated in Israel. The media were quick to shed light on them and the United Nations didn’t hesitate to express their understanding: Jihad and the murder of innocent Israelis were the result of the occupation and the settlements.

But why are there the same cruel and brutal acts of indiscriminate killings in Brussels? Why the same shouts of Allah Akbar preceding suicide bombings and mass murders in Paris, in San Bernardino, and so many other places which seemingly have no connection to the occupation and settlements? How are we to explain, as Sohrab Ahmari pointed out in the Wall Street Journal, that “not a single day now goes by without an Islamist suicide bombing, rocket attack, shooting spree, kidnapping or stabbing somewhere in the world”?

Not a single day now goes by without an Islamist suicide bombing, rocket attack, shooting spree, kidnapping or stabbing somewhere in the world.
It is the height of foolishness and naïveté to divorce the events presently threatening European civilization from their parallel expression in the past decades in the Middle East, masquerading as merely a battle against a Zionist regime occupying a land to which they have no historical or legal claim.


What the West seemingly refuses to understand is that the Islamic slander against Israel and upon which it bases its entire justification for all of its brutal and ongoing attacks is the very selfsame idea it sees as rationale for world domination: It not just Jews who occupy a land that isn’t really theirs – it’s all the non-Muslim infidels who occupy countries which have lost the right to independent national existence as a result of their lack of faith.

It is the global occupation by those who do not believe in Allah, of Brussels, of Paris, of Europe and of the United States, and the “illegal settlements” of those countries by those refusing to live by sharia law – which justify the daily acts of worldwide terrorism.

For some strange reason, Western obsession with political correctness refuses to acknowledge what Muslim theologians have no difficulty in expressing. Sheik Ahmad Al-Dweik declared in an address at the Al-Aqsa mosque that the “Caliphate” promised by Allah “will be the number one country in the world. It will fight the U.S. and will bring it down. [The Caliphate] will eliminate the West in its entirety. Allah promised that there would be an Islamic state, and that we would prepare for the West whatever strength and steeds of war we can, in order to strike terror in the hearts of the enemies of Islam and of Allah, until we become those who command and Islam rules [the world].”
Syed Abul Ala Mawdudi, a world-renowned Islamic scholar who traced his paternal ancestry to Mohammed, didn’t hesitate to explain it clearly:

“Islam is a revolutionary faith that comes to destroy any government made by man. The goal of Islam is to rule the entire world and submit all of mankind to the faith of Islam. Any nation or power that gets in the way of that goal, Islam will fight and destroy. In order to fulfill that goal, Islam can use every power available every way it can be used to bring worldwide revolution. This is jihad.” (Resurgent Islam and America, David Goldman, Pg.105)

Maulana Abul Ala Maududi, known as “the Godfather of Islam”, summed it up this way: “Muslim nations are very special because they have a command from Allah to rule the entire world and to be over every nation in the world.” (Ibid)
The terrorism experienced by Israel has been a preview of coming attractions for the entire world.

These are truths the media continues to refuse to publish. If they appear at all, they are invariably brushed aside as the lunatic ravings of an extremely small substrata of Islam, in no way representative of the majority who represent “a religion of peace.” And yet they clearly are the truths which guide the actions of the suicide bombers and the mass murderers who have now moved their focus from Israel to all of Western civilization.

Western leadership needs at long last to recognize that the Islamic code words of “the occupation and the settlements” were never meant simply to strike out at the Jewish people. In the eyes of a faith that is bent on world domination, they refer just as much to the sins of all infidels, be they in the capitols of Europe or the major cities of America. And for that reason it is long past time to recognize that the terrorism experienced by Israel since its founding has been nothing less than a preview of coming attractions for the entire world.
Watch: Joel Rubinfeld, founder of the Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism, on the future of Europe, by J-TV
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Re: AISH

Post  Admin on Tue 29 Mar 2016, 10:24 pm

Shoes on the Danube
by Laura Deutsch
A moving sculpture memorializes Jews who were murdered in broad daylight along the river.
 My husband and I recently took a trip to Budapest and visited a variety of Jewish sights. We were overwhelmed by the magnificence of the Dohany Synagogue, the largest in Europe. We wept outside the synagogue where monuments mark the bodies of several thousand Jews shot in the courtyard. The Holocaust Memorial Center recreated the rich culture and history of Hungarian Jews. Then the shadows of Jews marching to their deaths along the Memorial Center's long, dark hallways made us feel as if we, too, were headed for death. Ominous music played in the background and the effect was chilling.
But the Budapest sight which moved us the most was the smallest: "The Shoes on the Danube Promenade."
READ MORE
http://www.aish.com/ho/i/Shoes-on-the-Danube.html?s=mm


The Mourning After
by Terry Friedman Wine My year of saying Kaddish for my father.
I am a mourner. A stranger in a strange land, with a blurry map and a tattered phrasebook.
When my father passed away, early on a quiet, sunny June day, I suddenly became a mourner. A new persona, a darkened mirror image of the daughter.
Judaism has been here before, of course. In the last few months, I have learned more about the rules, regulations, and customs than I ever knew, or wanted to. And yet, there is safety in having a guidebook, annotated over thousands of years by wise and learned observers.
These ancient rules and regulations serve as boundaries to surround me – and I have come to realize that these structures are there to support, not oppress me. When I falter, I have on what to lean. When I stumble, I notice that someone before me has left crumbs and clues, though I can’t always decipher or even recognize them at first.
READ MORE
http://www.aish.com/f/hotm/The-Mourning-After.html?s=mm

Breeding Ground for Islamic Extremists
by Jeff Jacoby
Why are there Muslim ghettos in Belgium but not in the United States?
Long before Tuesday's terror attacks in Brussels, it was clear that Belgium had become a breeding ground for Islamist extremists. Hundreds of Belgian Muslims – as many as 500, according to one estimate – have gone to Syria and Iraq to fight for ISIS, making Belgium by far Europe's leading supplier of foreign jihadists. Last November's horrific slaughter in Paris was masterminded by a Belgian radical, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, and at least four of the men who carried out those attacks were from the Brussels district of Molenbeek. One of them was Salah Abdeslam, who was captured in Molenbeek, after an intense manhunt, on March 19.
READ MORE
http://www.aish.com/ci/s/Breeding-Ground-for-Islamic-Extremists.html?s=mm


    
Brussels & the Israeli Occupation
by Rabbi Benjamin Blech
When will the world realize that Islamic terror has nothing to do with Israel?
In the aftermath of the horrific events in Brussels, as Islamist terror attacks struck at the heart of the European Union with a triple bombing in the Belgian capitol, the world surely needs to wonder. After all, comparable acts of terrorism always had an explanation when they were perpetrated in Israel. The media were quick to shed light on them and the United Nations didn’t hesitate to express their understanding: Jihad and the murder of innocent Israelis were the result of the occupation and the settlements.
But why are there the same cruel and brutal acts of indiscriminate killings in Brussels? Why the same shouts of Allah Akbar preceding suicide bombings and mass murders in Paris, in San Bernardino, and so many other places which seemingly have no connection to the occupation and settlements? How are we to explain, as Sohrab Ahmari pointed out in the Wall Street Journal, that “not a single day now goes by without an Islamist suicide bombing, rocket attack, shooting spree, kidnapping or stabbing somewhere in the world”?
READ MORE
http://www.aish.com/ci/s/Brussels--the-Israeli-Occupation.html?s=mm
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Re: AISH

Post  Admin on Fri 25 Mar 2016, 9:33 pm

http://www.aish.com/jw/s/373180111.html?s=mm
Dark Days for Jews in Brussels
The terror attacks and subsequent lockdown are having a devastating effect on the community of 15,000 Jews.
by Dr. Yvette Alt Miller

The normally busy morning rush hour turned deadly in Brussels on Tuesday, March 22, 2016, when a series of bombings at Brussels’ Zaventem International Airport and the busy Maelbeek metro train station killed 34 and injured hundreds of commuters, many seriously.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the carnage.
Brussels immediately went into a lockdown, with residents warned to stay indoors. It was a familiar echo of the aftermath of the Paris attacks four months earlier, when Belgian officials also asked Brussels residents to stay indoors while police searched for the terrorists, who were thought to have been based in the Belgian capital.
Jewish residents increasingly see little future for Jewish life in their city.
For Brussels’ 15,000-strong Jewish community, the terror attacks and subsequent lockdown are having a devastating effect. In exclusive Aish.com interviews, Jewish residents of Brussels speak of a community that is subdued and fearful, and which increasingly sees little future for Jewish life in their city.

Ever since the May 24, 2014 attack on the Jewish Museum of Belgium in Brussels in which a gunman opened fire, killing four, the Jewish community has been on high alert. “We have a lot of military guards the past few months in front of our Jewish places,” recounts Isabelle Steinkalik to Aish.com. Originally from Paris, Mrs. Steinkalik has lived in Brussels since her marriage 28 years ago, and has seen the community change from being relatively secure to feeling under siege. “It’s sad but If the guards are here, we feel their protection. It's secured,” she explains.
Shimon Bretholz, a Jewish community worker, describes the massive security presence that always accompanies Jewish activities in Brussels differently. “It...massively destroys us all.” The never-ending fear and feeling of always being on high alert are exhausting.
The week of the attack was meant to be a light moment when Brussels Jewish community would come together to celebrate Purim with some high profile communal events. Residents were planning a major Purim party for the whole city and expected a thousand attendees, all hearing the Book of Esther together and celebrating the holiday.

Instead, all public events have been cancelled. In the hours after the attacks, Brussels’ Jewish communal leaders set up a situation room, monitoring the security in their city. "They fear there will be more attacks and (warn against) taking any unnecessary risks,” Rabbi Menachem Margolin, CEO of the Brussels-based European Jewish Association, explained to Israeli newspapers.
Rabbi Margolin, whose office is located next to the bombed Maelbeek metro station, says, “The Jewish community here in Brussels and in Europe in general is not surprised… We’ve been receiving alerts for a long time now. Despite the shock the city experienced, we were not surprised. Of course, we feel the concern and the pressure, but we were really not surprised by everything that’s going on in the city. It was only a matter of time before such an attack happened.”

“Today was awful, unbelievable, such darkness…” Isabelle Steinkalik recounted to Aish.com. Brussels looked like a “death city. People are afraid. When it was just terrorism against Jewish people they didn’t so deeply care. Now it’s changed. People are realizing terrorists can kill anybody.”
Brussels’ main Jewish school dismissed its students at 12:30, asking parents to pick up their children one at a time to avoid having a crowd in front of the building. Brussels resident and community activist Shimon Bretholz was one of the terrified parents picking up their children. “There is no future for Jews in Brussels,” he adamantly told Aish.com. “There is also not a future for Jews in Europe.” He would like to move to Israel, he explained, but first needs to find a job.
Isabelle Steinkalik concurs; Brussels’ Jews are leaving, moving to Israel and other places. Rates of aliyah increased 25% in 2015 for Belgian Jews; overall about 200 Belgian Jews relocate to Israel each year.
sed in the Belgian capital.
Jewish residents increasingly see little future for Jewish life in their city.
For Brussels’ 15,000-strong Jewish community, the terror attacks and subsequent lockdown are having a devastating effect. In exclusive Aish.com interviews, Jewish residents of Brussels speak of a community that is subdued and fearful, and which increasingly sees little future for Jewish life in their city.
Ever since the May 24, 2014 attack on the Jewish Museum of Belgium in Brussels in which a gunman opened fire, killing four, the Jewish community has been on high alert. “We have a lot of military guards the past few months in front of our Jewish places,” recounts Isabelle Steinkalik to Aish.com. Originally from Paris, Mrs. Steinkalik has lived in Brussels since her marriage 28 years ago, and has seen the community change from being relatively secure to feeling under siege. “It’s sad but If the guards are here, we feel their protection. It's secured,” she explains.
Shimon Bretholz, a Jewish community worker, describes the massive security presence that always accompanies Jewish activities in Brussels differently. “It...massively destroys us all.” The never-ending fear and feeling of always being on high alert are exhausting.
The week of the attack was meant to be a light moment when Brussels Jewish community would come together to celebrate Purim with some high profile communal events. Residents were planning a major Purim party for the whole city and expected a thousand attendees, all hearing the Book of Esther together and celebrating the holiday.
Instead, all public events have been cancelled. In the hours after the attacks, Brussels’ Jewish communal leaders set up a situation room, monitoring the security in their city. "They fear there will be more attacks and (warn against) taking any unnecessary risks,” Rabbi Menachem Margolin, CEO of the Brussels-based European Jewish Association, explained to Israeli newspapers.
Rabbi Margolin, whose office is located next to the bombed Maelbeek metro station, says, “The Jewish community here in Brussels and in Europe in general is not surprised… We’ve been receiving alerts for a long time now. Despite the shock the city experienced, we were not surprised. Of course, we feel the concern and the pressure, but we were really not surprised by everything that’s going on in the city. It was only a matter of time before such an attack happened.”
“Today was awful, unbelievable, such darkness…” Isabelle Steinkalik recounted to Aish.com. Brussels looked like a “death city. People are afraid. When it was just terrorism against Jewish people they didn’t so deeply care. Now it’s changed. People are realizing terrorists can kill anybody.”

Brussels’ main Jewish school dismissed its students at 12:30, asking parents to pick up their children one at a time to avoid having a crowd in front of the building. Brussels resident and community activist Shimon Bretholz was one of the terrified parents picking up their children. “There is no future for Jews in Brussels,” he adamantly told Aish.com. “There is also not a future for Jews in Europe.” He would like to move to Israel, he explained, but first needs to find a job.
Isabelle Steinkalik concurs; Brussels’ Jews are leaving, moving to Israel and other places. Rates of aliyah increased 25% in 2015 for Belgian Jews; overall about 200 Belgian Jews relocate to Israel each year.
According to Mrs. Steinkalik, it’s mostly the young who are better equipped to start over who are moving. “They believe in the future and can work everywhere. It's more difficult for the ‘older’ people; not everybody has so much money they can build another life in a foreign country.”
“Purim is cancelled,” one Jewish resident sadly explained. "We are going to have sad days of Purim. No celebrations. These certainly are dark days for us and there is great concern in the streets. We will make made modest celebrations in the house," Shimon Bretholz told an Israeli newspaper soon after the attacks.
Later in the day, speaking with Aish.com, his attitude had evolved. “Of course I will go to synagogue to hear the Megilla,” he declared. Brussels’ public Purim celebrations may have been cancelled, but the Jewish community is quietly resolved. Purim celebrations will continue in people’s homes and in synagogues, as residents question the long-term future of Brussels Jewish community.
  Published: March 23, 2016
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Re: AISH

Post  Admin on Thu 17 Mar 2016, 10:11 pm

Jewish People are Connected: An Amazing True Story
How a baby-naming united hearts and transcended borders.
by Rabbi Yoel Gold
[VIDEO] 
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Re: AISH

Post  Admin on Thu 17 Mar 2016, 10:07 pm

http://www.aish.com/jw/s/Oldest-Man-Alive-is-a-Jewish-Holocaust-Survivor.html?s=mm
Oldest Man Alive is a Jewish Holocaust Survivor
by Ronda Robinson  Published: March 12, 2016
Yisrael Kristal is 112 years old and views his life as a miracle.
The oldest man in the world is Yisrael Kristal, a 112-year-old Israeli Holocaust survivor whose daughter attributes his extreme longevity to a mind-body connection. “He’s happy. This is the most important thing to be in every situation,” says Shula Kuperstoch of Haifa.

Her father attributes his longevity to God. He always called his life a miracle. Born Sept. 15, 1903, in Tarnow, Poland, as the son of a Torah scholar, he attended religious primary school until age 11. He remained religious throughout his life.
Kristal recalls the outbreak of World War I in 1914 when he was 11. Also etched in his memory for a century was the sight of Franz Josef I, the longest-reigning emperor of Austria and the last significant Habsburg monarch, passing through town in a car. Onlookers threw candy – which ironically has remained a motif in Kristal’s life ever since.
His younger years were bittersweet. Kristal’s mother passed away before the start of World War I. The Russian army captured his father who died soon after.

As a 17-year-old orphan, Kristal made his way to Lodz, Poland, one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe. He recreated his life first as a metalworker, then as a candy factory employee. The grueling physical labor of the latter job involved schlepping heavy bags of sugar. The experience foreshadowed events to come in adulthood.
Kristal would later own a sweets and chocolate factory in Lodz. After the Nazis invaded Poland, he and his wife and two children were ordered to move into the Lodz ghetto with 230,000 other Jews. The Nazis wanted Jews concentrated in ghettos to easily maneuver them. With that many people living in close quarters, adequate supplies of food and fuel became a problem.

His two children died in the Lodz ghetto and his wife perished in Auschwitz.

By then an expert candy-maker, Kristal was able to continue his craft in the ghetto. His family’s fate was heartbreaking; the children died there, and Kristal and his wife were deported to Auschwitz when the ghetto was liquidated in 1944. His wife perished. Kristal survived doing forced labor in Auschwitz and other concentration camps. At the end of World War II, he weighed just 37 kilos, or 81 pounds.

As his daughter told Aish.com, he then started to live. Protected by the Russian army, he was taken to a hospital to begin to heal. When he recovered, he returned to Lodz, re-established and worked at his business, and married again.
“The body was listening to his mind. His mind was strong. His beliefs were strong. His body also became strong,” Kuperstoch says.
Kristal rebuilt his factory destroyed in the war and returned to a sweeter life as a candy-maker once again.
In 1950, he and his wife made aliya and settled in Haifa with their infant son, Haim. They also became parents to daughter Shula. Kristal’s brood would extend to more than 20 great-grandchildren.
In Israel, Kristal first worked at a candy factory. He taught the owners, also from Poland, how to shape an entire production line of sweets. Later he parlayed that acumen into his own business, making yummy sweets at home and selling them at a kiosk in Haifa. His signature temptations included little chocolate bottles of liqueur gaily wrapped in colored foil and carob jam fashioned with chocolate-covered orange peels.

An optimist, he enjoyed making people happy. “The Holocaust did not affect his beliefs,” said Kuperstoch. “He believes he was saved because that’s what God wanted. He is not an angry person, he is not someone who seeks an accounting, he believes everything has a reason in the world.”
Kuperstoch says she doesn’t need a world record; she’s just happy to have her father alive.

After surviving without much food in the concentration camps, one of his philosophies concerned eating to live, not living to eat. He reasoned, “You don’t need too much” in life.
Kristal’s daughter echoes his sentiments. Kuperstoch says she doesn’t need a world record; she’s just happy to have her father alive. This past Friday Guinness World Records confirmed Kristal as the world’s oldest man.

Susannah Mushatt Jones of New York, 116, is the oldest validated living supercentenarian. The top 60 on the Gerontology Research Group’s list are all women. As Robert Young, director of the group's Supercentenarian Research & Database Divison in the United States notes, “Women tend to live three to four years longer than men.” The group is a consultant to Guiness. 
He added that longevity isn’t limited to a particular area of the world. “The maximum human life span is the same the wherever you go. Everyone has the potential to reach the same age.” His list includes supercentenarians from Argentina, Brazil, England, France, Germany, Italy, Jamaica, Mexico, Russia and Spain…and now Israel.
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Re: AISH

Post  Admin on Thu 17 Mar 2016, 9:56 pm

http://www.aish.com/sp/so/You-Killed-Jesus.html?s=mm
    The recent Boston incident reminded me when I first discovered a deep contempt for me as a Jew that I hadn’t realized was there.
by Dr. Yvette Alt Miller 
When Catholic Memorial School, an all-boys high school in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood, played Newton North High School in a closely-fought basketball game last Friday, tensions were running high among the crowd.
Fans of Newton North High, which serves the suburb of Newton, a leafy suburb known for its high academic performance and its sizeable Jewish population, teased the Catholic Memorial School for its all-boy makeup, chanting, “Where are your girls?”

As the crowd got rowdy, a group of between 50 and 75 supporters of Catholic Memorial started a chant of their own. “You killed Jesus!” they yelled at Newton’s team and supporters, repeating the slur over and over through the gym.
The Newton students fell silent, shocked and upset.

Newton’s Superintendent David Fleishman arrived about twenty minutes after the offensive chant took place, and was immediately approached by a distraught, visibly shaken Newton parent. "She could not believe this was happening in 2016,” he explained, adding that he found the incident chilling.
The slur that Jews killed Jesus has been responsible for anti-Semitism for millennia.

Yet for many Jewish residents in Newton – and beyond – the hurt has lingered.
The slur that Jews killed Jesus has been responsible for anti-Semitism for millennia. It is the slander that fired up the Crusades, that paved the way for pogroms in Eastern Europe, that helped deter many public figures from speaking up against the Holocaust. In its virulence and poisonous associations, it seems to come from a different, darker era, and to have no place, as the shocked Newton mom said, in America today.

You Jews

Hearing about the offensive chant at the Newton game took me back to an evening when I was shocked at hearing a vicious piece of anti-Semitic hatred. The incident shook up all my core assumptions about being accepted by the people in my community, exposing a deep anger and contempt for me as a Jew that I hadn’t realized was there.

I was 21, starting a Master’s degree abroad. I’d only been at my new school for a few days, enough time to meet my fellow-students and start to pick what classes I planned on taking.

On one my first evenings I went out to dinner with new acquaintances, feeling the thrill of getting to know new, bright and exciting people. We talked for hours. The conversation eventually wound around to American politics. “The problem is,” a new friend intoned, “there are so many Jews controlling politicians in America.” I was so shocked that my heart pounded and I could hardly catch my breath to speak.

“That isn’t true!” I finally said, and my dinner companion looked at me, bemused. I tried to explain that that the slander that Jews somehow control politics is an oft-repeated lie that’s fueled anti-Semitic conspiracy theories for generations but has no basis in fact. The more I spoke, the more ridiculous the argument seemed to me. But nothing I could say would change their mind and I realized that some of their disdain for “the Jews” means they disliked me personally as well.
Catholic Memorial issued an apology the next day, saying they were “deeply disturbed by the behavior of a group of student spectators who made an unacceptable chant Friday night while playing Newton North High School."
Yet for many Jewish residents in Newton – and beyond – the hurt has lingered.

Just how many people around me had negative opinions about Jews – and about me?
The next day I confided in some classmates what I'd heard.  They were somewhat sympathetic but hardly seemed to grasp the shock and hurt I was feeling. It seemed that the anti-Jewish ideas that had so disturbed me were nothing special. Shocked, I confided in a professor and was greeted with the same indifference. I wondered, just how many people around me had negative opinions about Jews – and about me?
I couldn’t bring myself to make eye contact with anyone in class, let alone answer questions. I knew I had to make a change.

First I made an appointment with the head of a different department. I poured out all my concerns and worries and asked if I could please switch to his department. It was against all the rules but somehow he let me transfer over to do my Master’s in his department. It was a different atmosphere there, free of the taint of intense anti-Semitism I’d just left behind, and I embraced my new field of study wholeheartedly.

Later, I wrote down the details of a new society that advertised on campus. It was called Aish HaTorah. I’d never heard of it, but feeling raw and vulnerable after learning some of my classmates’ feelings about Jews, I craved a connection with other Jews who might be feeling the same way. The people I met there were fantastic: bright, interesting and dynamic.

Knowing that I could connect with other Jews gave me the confidence to deal with the rest of the world a little bit better
I remember sitting at a Shabbat dinner with dozens of other young people and telling them about my disastrous dinner when I’d first arrived. Yes, they reassured me, they too had sometimes encountered anti-Semitism, but they didn’t let it shake their self-confidence. “How?” I asked, explaining that I’d been shaken to the core, realizing that some people might dislike me simply because I was Jewish.

“Well, we’re here for you,” someone replied. I looked around with a smile.
It didn’t erase the anti-Semitism, but somehow knowing that I could connect with other Jews gave me the confidence to deal with the rest of the world a little bit better. Even though there might be times I’d feel unwelcomed, shocked, or even upset, for the first time in my new city, I didn’t feel alone.
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Re: AISH

Post  Admin on Thu 10 Mar 2016, 7:08 pm

http://www.aish.com/sp/so/Dustin-Hoffmans-Jewish-Moment.html?s=mm

Dustin Hoffman's Jewish Moment
by Rabbi Shraga Simmons
Watch a moving clip of the actor declaring, “I am a Jew."
Dustin Hoffman's parents chose to make a clean break with their Jewish heritage, raising him without knowledge of either Judaism or his ancestors. When Hoffman found out he was Jewish at age 10, he "went to the delicatessen and ordered bagels, and draped them around the holiday tree.”
Hoffman's Jewish identity came to the fore this month, when the PBS genealogy series, “Finding Your Roots,” unearthed some incredible history about Hoffman's Jewish ancestors that brought the 78-year-old Oscar-winning actor to tears.
The background:

In 1917, Hoffman's grandfather, Frank Hoffman, was killed during the Soviet Civil War, when he risked a trip into Ukraine to rescue his parents from anti-Semitic pogroms. Though Frank's father was also killed, the mother – Liba Hoffman – was arrested and sent to a hard-labor camp.

As People magazine reported:
Liba Hoffman, who was already middle aged by 1921, managed to survive the hard labor and harsh conditions of the Soviet concentration camp. Almost a decade later, she arranged to leave the USSR for Argentina. After some time in South America, she managed to obtain an immigration visa for the US, where she arrived in the early 1930s at the age of 64.
Liba Hoffman went to live with relatives in Chicago and presumably never met her great-grandson who was by then living with his parents in Los Angeles.

Dustin Hoffman broke down upon seeing the photograph of his great-grandmother on her Argentinian visa application and reading the medical report of US immigration authorities stating that she had dementia, extremely poor vision, and a prosthetic arm due to an amputation.
The actor called his great-grandmother a “hero” for her resilience in the face of the anti-Semitic violence perpetrated against her and her family. He also expressed regret that it is only now, as he nears 80, that he is finally learning about the brave and persistent people who have passed their genes on to him. His tears were clearly coming from not only sadness, but also deep disappointment for having been robbed of this heritage for his entire life.

When asked how this genealogical journey had changed him, Hoffman answered:
“I am a Jew. Wear that on your sleeve."
Watch the very moving moment in the video below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jguJPEyJ6Pg
“What are you? I’m a Jew.”
Like Dustin Hoffman, we are all here today because of family heroes who fought to preserve our Jewish identity, as the next link in this remarkable chain stretching back thousands of years.
  Published: March 9, 2016
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Re: AISH

Post  Admin on Wed 09 Mar 2016, 2:13 pm

Syrian Refugee Thanks Israel by Dr. Yvette Alt Miller
Aboud Dandachi wants the world to know how remarkable Israel is.
Aboud Dandachi, a 39-year-old Syrian refugee currently living in Istanbul, is telling the world, “Thank you Am Yisrael.” He’s blogging, Tweeting and posting his thanks to Israeli and Jewish organizations and individuals for helping Syrian refugees, and the world is beginning to listen.
“There is nothing remarkable about saying thank you,” Dandachi explained in an Aish.com exclusive interview. “The Israelis and Jews who are risking everything to help my people are remarkable. They had every reason to keep well away from the refugee crisis created by the war in my country, but all over the world Jews have shown a tremendous compassion and generous spirit towards Syrians. Saying thank you is the least a person can do.”
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http://www.aish.com/jw/me/Syrian-Refugee-Thanks-Israel.html?s=mm


Israel: A Nation of Heroes by Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein

Since September there have been 307 attacks or attempted attacks in 170 days, in which 33 people have been killed and 360 injured.
The Israeli people are heroes. They have endured an onslaught of terrorist attacks that would have crippled any other nation on earth. Since September there have been 307 attacks or attempted attacks in 170 days, in which 33 people have been killed and 360 injured. There have been 192 stabbings, 76 shootings and 39 vehicular attacks.

An extended onslaught of this nature would break the morale and ability to function of any society. And yet Israelis go about their daily lives in fortitude and bravery. Children go to school, people go to work and society continues to function at a very high level, shaking off the constant threat of danger with remarkable resilience.
Jews in the Diaspora watch from afar in awe and admiration, and in unwavering support. The words of King David from the Book of Psalms come to mind: “May God bless His angels, mighty heroes who listen to the call of His word.”
The people of Israel are the brave angels of God Himself. The Talmud says that this verse refers to those farmers who observe the Sabbatical year, when farmers do not cultivate or harvest their fields: “It is the normal way of the world for a person to be able to do a mitzvah for one day, one week or one month, but for an entire year?! And this farmer sees his field lying desolate and he sits silently. Is there any greater hero than this?” The Talmud sees such personal discipline and commitment to doing the right thing, as heroic and brave, indeed, even angelic and super-human.
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http://www.aish.com/jw/id/Israel-A-Nation-of-Heroes.html?s=mm

    
[INFOGRAPHIC] Jews in Early American Politics

by Dr. Yvette Alt Miller and aish.com
Little-known facts about Jews in American politics.
SEE MORE HERE
http://www.aish.com/jw/s/Jews-in-Early-American-Politics.html?s=mm 
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http://media.aish.com/documents/Jews+and+US+Politics.pdf
Jews in Early American Politics
By Yvette Miller and Aish.com
Little-known facts about Jews in American politics.
First Jew to hold elected office: Francis Salvador, South Carolina representative to the
Revolutionary Provincial Congresses of 1775 and 1776.
First Jew killed in the War of Independence: Francis Salvador, captured, scalped and killed
by Cherokee Indians aligned with British forces in 1776.
Jewish financer of much of the American Revolutionary War: Haym Salomon, a Polish
immigrant in colonial New York who lent George Washington over $200,000 - a vast fortune
in today’s money. Salomon was never repaid and died in poverty in 1785.
1790, George Washington’s letter to the Touro Synagogue in Rhode Island affirming the
security of Jews: “May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue
to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants, while every one shall sit in safety
under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid.”
First Jewish congressman: Lewis Charles Levin, elected to the U.S. House of
Representatives in 1844 representing Pennsylvania's 1st District.
First Jewish senator: David Levy Yulee, elected when Florida became a state in 1845.
General Order No. 11: In 1862, General Ulysses S. Grant expels all Jews from the state of
Tennessee within 24 hours for war profiteering. Three days later President Abraham Lincoln
revokes the baseless decree.
7,000: the number of Jews who fought with the Union Army during America’s Civil War
3,000: the number of Jews who fought on the Confederate side
1861: the year Rabbi Dr. Arnold Fischel convinced President Lincoln to accept Jewish
chaplains in the army
1862: Rev. Jacob Frankel of Philadelphia becomes first Jewish chaplain of the US Army. 
The first Jewish United States Cabinet Secretary: Oscar Straus, from 1906 to 1909,
appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt.
First Jewish Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court: Louis Brandeis, in 1916. His appointment by
President Woodrow unleashed a flood of anti-Semitism. “Isn’t it a shame, Mr. President, that
a man as great as Mr. Justice Brandeis should be a Jew?” someone once commented.
President Wilson replied, “But he would not be Mr. Brandeis if he were not a Jew!”
First Jewish female member of the U.S. Congress: Florence Prag Kahn, in 1925; she was
only the fifth woman to serve in Congress 
28: The present number of Jewish members (out of 535) of the United States Congress, just
over 5%.
7%: The number of Americans who would not vote for a Jew as President. 
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Re: AISH

Post  Admin on Wed 09 Mar 2016, 12:43 pm

http://www.aish.com/jw/me/Israels-Highest-Ranking-Muslim-Soldier.html?s=mm

Israel’s Highest Ranking Muslim Soldier
There’s only one country in the Middle East that could produce a soldier like me.
by Major Alaa Waheeb 
In the last few weeks, students across the UK have been involved in Israeli Apartheid Week.  Some have supported it. Others have opposed it. Invited by the Zionist Federation UK, last week I was able to attend campuses up and down the country specifically to address and counter some of the claims involved.

These fall into roughly three categories. First, that Israel is an inherently racist and therefore unacceptable country, comparable to Apartheid South Africa. Second, that its army defends this racist status with acts of illegal and immoral violence. And third, that the only solution to this problem is through the isolation tactics of boycotts.
Like many I met during my visit, I oppose these views. But perhaps more than most people on either side of the debate, I am better placed to argue against them. Because I am an Israeli, an Arab, and the highest ranked Muslim in the IDF.

Is Israel inherently racist, an apartheid state? Well, do you think that such a country would tolerate a person like myself getting to the position I am today? Forget for a second (BDS supporters would like you to forget permanently!) that 20 percent of Israelis are non-Jewish, have full rights, and are represented throughout society. It’s one thing, after all, to have Arab politicians, Christian voters, and Muslim doctors – although we do have them, and quite a few at that.
But a non-Jewish army Major? Someone who has not only fought alongside Jewish soldiers, but now trains them too? Would a truly racist state allow me to play such an integral role in our nation’s defenses?


And while we’re on the subject of those defenses, let me tackle accusation two: that the Israel army is a particularly immoral one. I am not particularly religious, but as the Quran says, “if anyone killed a person, it would be as if he killed the whole of mankind; and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole of mankind.”
I do not serve in the army to kill people – I serve in it to save people.
I do not serve in the army to kill people – I serve in it to save people. When Hamas fires rockets, or Fatah encourages stabbings, we are here to protect the lives of all Israeli citizens, Jewish and non-Jewish.

And so on to the last point – that the best way to resolve violence and conflict is through the kind of tactics advocated by the Boycotts movement. Namely, isolation and intimidation. For me, this is the most important issue, and the one which makes me shake my head with anger and sadness the most.

Like I said, I visited the UK to combat Israeli Apartheid Week, to challenge the lies and mistruths hurled at the country I am proud to call home. But what hurts me the most is not how unbelievable they are. The opposite, in fact. They are all too believable, and I should know – because I once believed them too.
I was raised to believe the worst things about Jews, and had I not eventually met and worked alongside them, I might still believe those things today.

The reality is that the town I grew up in did not recognize the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state. While Arabic is an official language, I did not learn Hebrew until I was 17. I was raised to believe the worst things about Jews, and had I not eventually met and worked alongside them, I might still believe those things today.
In my role as a soldier, I have met all kinds of people both in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Jews, Arabs, Religious, Secular, Left-wing and Right-wing. I have met Israelis who were prejudiced against me. But I have also met Palestinians who appreciate the work that I do to maintain some sort of peace and stability in the most dangerous part of the world.
Forget slogans and shouting. Peace – real peace – will only come when people talk to each other. Not necessarily agree – just agree to listen. But the irony of Israeli Apartheid Week is that it wants individuals to focus on differences, not similarities. Instead of building bridges between communities, it wants to build walls.

During my time in the UK, I spoke alongside a fellow soldier, a medic who has treated both Israeli soldiers and Palestinian terrorists without distinction. We were the Muslim who protects Jewish lives, and the Jew who saves Muslim lives. There’s only one country in the Middle East that could produce a couple like that – and it sure as hell isn’t an apartheid state.
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Re: AISH

Post  Admin on Sat 05 Mar 2016, 1:33 pm

The Jewish Hero of the Ukrainian Uprising
by Isaac Horovitz
An exclusive interview with a most unlikely rebel, chasidic freedom fighter Asher Yoseph Cherkassy.
This article originally appeared in Ami magazine.
For over two years the media have been reporting on a bloody war going on between Russia and Ukraine. The scenes are often grisly and violent. But amid the thundering tanks and artillery inflicting death on both sides, a surprising figure emerges: a Jewish man, a Lubavitcher chasid, complete with a long beard and twinkling eyes. He is praying Shacharis, enwrapped in tallis and tefillin, and smiles for the camera.
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http://www.aish.com/sp/so/The-Jewish-Hero-of-the-Ukrainian-Uprising.html?s=mm





Just Say No If Roy kicked the habit, you can too.
by Rabbi Yaakov Salomon
Home   »  Current Issues   »  Society
Just Say NoJust Say No
If Roy kicked the habit, you can too.
by Rabbi Yaakov Salomon 
"Ecstasy, coke, LSD, mushrooms, Special K, Disco Biscuits, Love Doves – you name it, I tried it. I was an addict. I knew it and so did everyone around me. But in the mad world of addictions, awareness is not nearly enough. And I knew that too."

I listened to Roy tell his story. He was short and gentle, with a trace of a lisp that he had obviously worked on. He was smart – very smart – and put together too. No one would have chosen him out of a lineup of drug addicts.
He spoke matter-of-factly, without crescendo of mood or affect. But his background is inconsequential. Suffice it to say, he grew up without love, without boundaries, and with questions that he couldn't ask, nor anyone to ask them to. As is so often the case, he dropped out of high school, ran with the wrong crowd and the downward slope was slick and swift. In retrospect, his drug dependence should really have surprised no one.


Although addictions experts agree that "cure" is a four letter word, Roy has been "clean" for more than a dozen years.
Roy's story is not over, but already it has a happy ending. Although addictions experts agree that "cure" is a four letter word in this dreadful and frightening labyrinth of pain and confusion, Roy, incredibly, has been "clean" for more than a dozen years. Today he spends a hefty portion of his time counseling kids who find solace in the same sordid dens of hallucinogens and amphetamines that Roy called "home" when he had no other. They call it payback.
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http://www.aish.com/ci/s/Just-Say-No.html?s=mm





Hardwired to Give
by Karin Terebessy
My work in social services has shown me that no matter how destitute and troubled people are, they have a burning desire to give.
Hardwired to GiveHardwired to Give
My work in social services has shown me that no matter how destitute and troubled people are, they have a burning desire to give. by Karin Terebessy 
One cold morning in Upstate New York, I pulled my car up next to a dilapidated curb in front of a dilapidated apartment building. I was a case manager for high risk teens, and most of my clients lived in places like this. I commonly side stepped rats and roaches (and sometimes sleeping bodies) as I made my way through dark hallways on my way to an apartment door.
But this morning, my client came bounding out of her building to meet me. Her excitement was palpable, even through the frozen car window
She bounced into the passenger seat and started talking right away. “Can we go to the food pantry?” she asked.
I was confused. We had gone to the food pantry a few weeks ago, and she was only allowed one visit a month. This was the week after Thanksgiving and she'd been the recipient of a donated Thanksgiving food basket – a turkey and all the fixings.
“Oh, you misunderstand,” she continued brightly, “I don't want to get food, I want to give food.
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http://www.aish.com/ci/s/Hardwired-to-Give.html?s=mm

A Black South African’s Visit to Israel
I went to Israel expecting to witness an apartheid state, but I immediately understood that I had been misled.
by Lesiba Bapela
There is a difference between somebody who is exposed and someone who is informed. I recently took part in an educational tour to Israel and Palestine. This was a remarkable exposure trip, coordinated by South African Israel Forum.
I am now in a good space to distinguish between the Israeli and Palestinian narratives and I realize that the aim was not to make me (and fellow young leaders) pro-Israel, but rather for us to be more exposed to a narrative that is not often heard in South Africa.
Like many other colonized countries, Israel was liberated in 1948 from the British system. However, from the year of liberation onwards, there have been severe conflicts between Israel and its neighboring countries, and in later years, between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. I was surprised to find that Israel has made peace with most of its former adversaries; however, the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations have proven to be very challenging and complex for both parties.
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http://www.aish.com/jw/me/A-Black-South-Africans-Visit-to-Israel.html?s=mm    
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Re: AISH

Post  Admin on Tue 01 Mar 2016, 7:09 pm

http://www.aish.com/jw/s/A-Jew-in-Tehran.html?s=mm
A Jew in Tehran
The Jewish community shared their lives and homes as if I was family -- because to them, I was.
by Annika Hernroth-Rothstein, Israel Hayom and JNS.org

I'm the only religious person in my family, and that can sometimes be a very lonely state. I returned to Orthodox Judaism and chose to live my life according to a certain set of rules.

By doing that I put a distance between my life now and the life I once knew. Nothing dramatic, not even almost a feud, just many tiny things that make a bigger difference than most people would ever imagine.
I remember walking into synagogue for the first time after becoming Orthodox, and more than anything I can recall the fear – fear of not being accepted and of not knowing quite what to do. But the scariest thing of all was the feeling of walking in on someone else's private party. It's not that they didn't know me; it was the feeling that perhaps they didn't want to, and I struggled with that feeling for quite some time until I felt I had earned my keep.

We are all guilty of it, of closing ranks and watching newcomers with silent suspicion, and in a larger sense I believe this reaction reflects the overall Jewish experience. I must confess that once I found my place I started doing it, too. Once I was one of them, I started seeing the "other," and perhaps forgot that fluttery feeling of not having a seat at the Shabbat table.

Last Friday, just after sunset, I walked into the Abrishami Synagogue on Palestine Street in North Tehran, eyeing the room for an empty seat. Their community of 7,000 Jews is closed to the outside world, so all I had were images and fantasies of what I expected them to be.
It turns out they were nothing like I imagined.

Within a minute, they had spotted me, and a tiny dark-haired woman pulled me by the hand from my seat in the back, insisting I come join them. The old women in the front, obviously the original crew, spared no time getting into my business: my parents, my siblings, my lack of a wedding ring – soon they knew more about me than most of my daily acquaintances do, and I knew that I had come home.

I had five dinner invitations before the Amidah prayer, and three elderly ladies insisted I come for breakfast. There were no tests, no huddling in a corner at Kiddush and no feeling of intrusion or lack of pedigree. This community had every right to be suspicious, to keep to themselves with a stranger in their midst, yet they opened up to me and share their lives and homes as if I was family – because to them, I was.

And that's the thing, right? We are all dispersed in the Diaspora, after all, and like metals drawn to a magnet we should be in search of each other and celebrate the moment we are found. But we don't, because we somehow misinterpreted what a community is. We need to remind ourselves that our community is not the people in our shul, not the peer in the pew, but the children of Israel, wherever we are.
The pressure of the Galut has changed us, I think, and made us fearful of inclusion. Some of that is survival instinct, whereas some is quite honestly snobbery, and in order to not lose sight of what we once were we must quickly make that distinction.

I still feel it, sometimes, the loneliness and the isolation. Walking into shul and seeing that everyone goes way back, whereas I just got back, all the way from assimilation. It's a hard thing to do, saying you wish to be included. What I learned from Tehran is that I should not make anyone say that ever again. Instead, I will go get them from the seat in the back and get into their business, being as annoyingly forward as only family can be.
This article originally appeared in Israelhayom.com
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Re: AISH

Post  Admin on Tue 01 Mar 2016, 6:59 pm

://www.aish.com/jw/s/The-Nazis-Table.html?s=mm
Norman Eisen met Barack Obama as law school classmates at Harvard University, where they became friends, remaining in touch even after their school days ended. When Obama eventually won the US Presidency, he appointed Eisen, in 2009, to serve as his Special Counsel for Ethics and Government Reform. Only a couple of years later, in 2011, the president tapped Eisen to be the US ambassador to the Czechs.
It was no coincidence that Obama chose Eisen to be ambassador in Prague of all places: “The president thought it would be a remarkable thing for the son of a Czechoslovak Holocaust survivor to return and represent the US… No one from my immediate family had returned since my mother fled Communism in 1949, and the symbolism of [returning there] was just too unique an opportunity to pass up.”
In 1944, Frieda – along with her parents, siblings, and other family members – was sent to Auschwitz. Although she and two siblings miraculously survived, their parents and other relatives weren’t as fortunate.

On his first day as ambassador, following all of the formal greetings and arrival ceremonies, Eisen sat alone in the library of his new home reflecting on the events of the day. The head of the ambassador’s household, Miroslav Cernik, came into the room and informed the ambassador that there was something Cernik wanted to show him. Cernik led Eisen to a small, ornate table and asked Eisen to look underneath the table. The ambassador, who thought it a rather unusual request, complied nonetheless, and got down on his hands and knees, crawling under the table. Nothing could have prepared Eisen for what he found there: a sticker with the clearly discernable image of an eagle and a swastika, the formal symbol of the Nazi party, emblazoned upon it, thus marking the table as former Nazi property.
Cernik explained that he had not wanted Eisen to make the upsetting discovery for himself by chance. Eisen, who had envisioned carrying out the many responsibilities of his office, was unprepared for such a thing and described seeing the sticker as “a punch in the gut”, hitting him on an emotional, as well as a physical, level.
In an ironic twist, Eisen would later use that very table during his tenure as ambassador as the stand for his Chanukah menorah.
The Nazis were not the original owners of that table or that house. The US ambassador’s residence in Prague, named Petschek Villa, was originally built by a wealthy Jewish industrialist by the name of Otto Petschek in the late 1920s. Petschek, who made his money from coal mine holdings as well as banking, was one of the wealthiest men in Czechoslovakia, before his untimely death in 1934. With Germany’s designs for Czechoslovakia clear and the threat of an invasion on the horizon, Petschek’s family fled the country in 1938. The property was subsequently seized by the Germans and commandeered for use as the headquarters of the Wehrmacht (German armed forces) commander of Prague, General Toussaint, his staff, and other Nazi officials and aides during their seven-year occupation of Prague.

Occupied afterwards briefly by the Russians and then the Czechoslovak General Staff, the US leased the property in 1945 before eventually buying it from the Czechoslovak government in 1948.
On his arrival at the Petschek Villa, Eisen had the home returned to its Jewish roots and made suitable for a Torah-observant Jewish family to live in, kashering the kitchens and affixing mezuzos to the doorposts of the residence where he and his family would be staying. The kitchen staff “went into overdrive mastering the Jewish dietary laws”, learning to make traditional Jewish foods like challah and matzah ball soup, and sourcing kosher products, especially a variety of kosher meats, which were unavailable in Prague and had to be ordered from either Berlin or Vienna.

Eisen and his family kept Shabbos in their new Czech home each week, sometimes in the company of various dignitaries and dining in a room and at a table that were once in the hands of the Nazis. As Eisen describes it, “It [was] mind-blowing, eating on kosher State Department china where the commander of the Nazi Wehrmacht used to live.”
The Nazis deported us in cattle cars and my son flew back on Air Force One.
Frieda opted not to return to her homeland, even when her son was there serving as the ambassador. She passed away in 2012, during her son’s tenure in Prague, but not without a “tremendous sense of triumph” at the fact that her son had returned to the country of her birth 

 Frieda opted not to return to her homeland, even when her son was there serving as the ambassador. She passed away in 2012, during her son’s tenure in Prague, but not without a “tremendous sense of triumph” at the fact that her son had returned to the country of her birth as the representative of the most powerful nation on earth. Frieda was fond of telling people, “The Nazis deported us in cattle cars and my son flew back on Air Force One,” a reference to a trip that Eisen made to Prague with Obama in 2010 for an international treaty signing ceremony.

Joe Lieberman testified regarding Eisen’s appointment in the US Senate: “It is indeed a profound historical justice…that the ambassador's residence in Prague, which was originally built by a Jewish family that was forced to flee Prague by the Nazis, [which], in turn, the Nazis took over…as their headquarters, now 70 years later, is occupied by Norman and his family. And I might, on a point of personal privilege, add that they observe the Sabbath there every Friday night and Saturday. So if you need any evidence that there is a God, I offer that to you.”
Eisen ended up serving in Prague for almost four years, one of the longest tenures of any recent US ambassador there.
Reprinted from Jewish Life magazine, www.jewishlife.co.za
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Re: AISH

Post  Admin on Tue 23 Feb 2016, 10:08 pm

Poland, Guilt and the Holocaust
by Dr. Yvette Alt Miller
Poland, Guilt and the HolocaustPoland, Guilt and the Holocaust
Making it a crime to imply any Polish culpability for Nazi crimes denies the historical record.
by Dr. Yvette Alt Miller
Poland is soon to unveil plans to make it illegal to refer to “Polish Death Camps”.
Many of the Nazis’ most brutal death camps – including Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka and Sobibor – were located in Poland. But according to Zbigniew Ziobro, Poland’s Justice Minister, calling them Polish death camps “blasphemes” Poles.
His government’s new bill “will be a project that meets the expectations of many Poles, who are routinely blasphemed in the world, in Europe, even in Germany, saying that they are the perpetrators of the Holocaust and that in Poland were Polish concentration camps, Polish gas chambers. Enough with this lie, there must be accountability,” Minister Ziobro told Polish radio on Saturday, February 13, 2016.
There is evidence of both Polish heroism and Polish complicity for the Holocaust.
At issue is more than semantics. Poles are rightly very sensitive to depictions of their country; its wartime history is complex. Poland suffered greatly during World War II, and there were many heroic instances of individual Poles risking their 
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Mein Kampf and Anne Frank's Diary by Rabbi Benjamin Blech
It’s no accident that the two books, epitomes of the depth of evil and the heights of virtue, are now in the public domain.
Home   »  Current Issues   »  Society
Mein Kampf and Anne Frank's DiaryMein Kampf and Anne Frank's Diary
It’s no accident that the two books, epitomes of the depth of evil and the heights of virtue, are now in the public domain.
by Rabbi Benjamin Blech
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In a stunning illustration of synchronicity, two books which almost certainly serve as the most powerful reminders of the Holocaust have simultaneously entered the public domain in Europe this year.
Under European copyright law, a book enters the public domain on the first day of January 70 years after its author's death, with no further permission needed from this date to reprint it.
In a bizarre meeting of polar opposites, Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf," which inspired the Nazis' horrific program of genocide through its racist rantings, and Anne Frank's "The Diary of a Young Girl," which moved the world like nothing else to compassion for Holocaust victims, both find the opportunity at the same time to spread their respective messages once again to a new and larger body of readership. (The Anne Frank Foundation, the organization established by Ms. Frank's father, disputes that the book is in the public domain but while this situation plays out, the diary has been now made freely available by two online publishers.)
And that, in light of current reality, is frightening.
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Britain’s BDS Ban by Melanie Phillips
New government guidance will prevent any public body from imposing a boycott on a member of the World Trade Organization to which Israel belongs.
The British government has done something in support of Israel, and the progressive intelligentsia is in shock. Prime Minister David Cameron is taking action against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
New government guidance will prevent any public body from imposing a boycott on a member of the World Trade Organization to which Israel belongs.
Local boycotts breach the WTO Government Procurement Agreement, which demands that all suppliers are treated equally.
The guidance aims at preventing publicly funded bodies such as municipal councils or National Health Service trusts from boycotting goods produced by what they believe to be “unethical companies,” such as firms involved in arms trading, fossil fuels or tobacco products as well as companies based in Israel.
Matthew Hancock, the British government’s Cabinet Office minister, revealed the development on a visit to Israel this week. Such boycotts, he said, were divisive, potentially damaging to the UK’s relationship with Israel and risked fueling anti-Semitism.
The enemies of Israel are beside themselves in fury.
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Heroic Soviet Prisoner of Zion by Beth Sarafraz
The valiant courage of Sylva Zalmanson
Today Sylva Zalmanson is one of Israel’s most successful artists. 45 years ago she made headlines as a Soviet refusenik, a Prisoner of Zion, whose unwavering courage, decisiveness, defiance and dignity, even while in captivity, made her a symbol of freedom and faith.
The Soviet Union was collapsing under the weight of their self-constructed Iron Curtain; only a trade deal with the West could save them from their flat-lined economy.
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The Royal Jew From Swaziland by Rabbi Yisrael Rutman
An accidental encounter with Hebrew alters the destiny of an African prince.
Home   »  Spirituality   »  Spiritual Odysseys
The Royal Jew From SwazilandThe Royal Jew From Swaziland
An accidental encounter with Hebrew alters the destiny of an African prince.
by Rabbi Yisrael Rutman
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The story of every convert to Judaism is a gripping tale of spiritual discovery. In the case of Natan Gamedze, that journey began 40 years ago in Swaziland, where he was born into a royal family.
Gamedze casts an imposing royal figure, but it is his intellectual capacity that makes the biggest impression. Graduated with honors from Oxford, he received a master's in translation from South Africa's Wits University, and served as translator in the Supreme Court of South Africa.
Gamedze's gift for language -- he is fluent in 13 languages -- played a central role in his discovery of Judaism. After many years of study, Gamedze is now a rabbi and teaches Jewish studies in the northern Israeli city of Tzfat where he lives with his wife and son .
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Solitary Confinement in Iranian Prison
by Ronda Robinson
In his cell, Josh Fattal embraced his Jewish identity and turned to Jewish practice for comfort and sustenance.
Solitary confinement in an Iranian prison was the worst experience of Josh Fattal’s life. It lasted the first four of 26 months he spent in captivity after mistakenly straying dangerously close to an unmarked border into Iran while hiking with two friends in Iraqi Kurdistan in July 2009.
He revisited the horror during a guest appearance at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival in conjunction with a screening of “The Three Hikers,” a documentary that recounts the trio’s story.
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Believing Palestinian Lies
by Khaled Abu Toameh
Palestinian leaders are twisting reality to rally the world against Israel and to advance their own political goals.
It is a puzzle: are the leaders of the Palestinian Authority (PA) playing dumb, or do they believe their own ridiculous rhetoric?
As the current wave of stabbings, car-rammings and shooting attacks, which began in October 2015, continues and even seems to be intensifying, PA President Mahmoud Abbas and top Palestinian officials insist that we are witnessing nothing but a "popular peaceful uprising."
Abbas said precisely this to a group of Arab Israeli journalists he invited to his office last week. Abbas voiced his full backing for the "popular and peaceful uprising." He further explained that Palestinians were using "all peaceful means" to "resist Israeli occupation."
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Re: AISH

Post  Admin on Fri 19 Feb 2016, 11:18 pm

http://www.aish.com/jw/s/Heroic-Soviet-Prisoner-of-Zion.html?s=mm
Heroic Soviet Prisoner of Zion
by Beth Sarafraz
The valiant courage of Sylva Zalmanson.
Today Sylva Zalmanson is one of Israel’s most successful artists. 45 years ago she made headlines as a Soviet refusenik, a Prisoner of Zion, whose unwavering courage, decisiveness, defiance and dignity, even while in captivity, made her a symbol of freedom and faith.
The Soviet Union was collapsing under the weight of their self-constructed Iron Curtain; only a trade deal with the West could save them from their flat-lined economy.

The Americans said no deal, unless you let those Jews go. Faced with an offer they couldn’t refuse, the Kremlin let 163,000 souls depart the Soviet “paradise” for Israel. The price of freedom was paid by newlyweds Sylva and Edward Kuznetsov, Mark Dymshits, Yosef Mendelevich and the other activists forced to stay behind, locked in prison camps.

It is astonishing that she never gave up hope. Born in 1944 to a middle-class Jewish family in Riga, she graduated Riga Polytechnic University in 1968, worked as an engineer-designer and dreamed of living a Jewish life. Repeatedly requesting and being denied an exit visa to leave the USSR for Israel, Sylva and her husband Edward Kuznetsov became members of a group of dissident activists who came up with a plan to escape.

The plan was called the Dymshits-Kuznetsov Hijacking Affair or “Operation Wedding,” the latter a code name for the pretext that the hijackers – who had purchased every seat on a chartered domestic aircraft – were planning to attend a family wedding elsewhere in Russia. Once on board, they would take over the controls of the “borrowed” government plane and Major Mark Dymshits, a former Soviet military pilot and Jewish refusenik, would fly the aircraft over the Russian border, over Finland, into Sweden, bound for Israel. Aware that the KGB was watching and waiting, on June 15, 1970, they nevertheless decided to go through with the plan. They never made it onto the plane. Some were arrested at Leningrad’s airport and others were caught in the nearby woods.

In December, 1970, the group of refuseniks, (two of them non-Jews) were put on trial for high treason. In the Leningrad courtroom, confronted by a panel of Communist judges, the verdicts were a foregone conclusion, but the play-by-play drama was told to the world media by sympathetic observers.
Young, fearless, and the only woman in the dock, Sylva was ordered to stand and state her case. She proclaimed: “If you would not deny us our right to leave Russia, this group wouldn’t exist. We would just leave to Israel with no desire of hijacking a plane or any other thing that’s illegal. Even here, on trial, I still believe I’ll make it someday to Israel. This dream, illuminated by 2,000 years of hope, will never leave me. Next year in Jerusalem!”

The Communist court was infuriated when Sylva went on to recite, in Hebrew, Psalm 137: “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand lose its cunning.”
In a story for Studio Magazine, Israeli visual artist Pesach Slabosky wrote, “The prosecutors called her first, thinking that they could break her, and then the men would follow suit, but when she took a defiant posture, the men could do no less.” Two of those men, her husband Edward Kuznetsov and Mark Dymshits, were sentenced to death by firing squad.
Edward KuznetsovEdward Kuznetsov
Today many young people do not realize how difficult it was for Jews in the USSR. It was essentially illegal to practice Judaism; violators would be visited by the KGB and punished. “Unofficial” illegal activities included: attending synagogue, learning Hebrew, studying Torah, celebrating Jewish holidays, eating kosher food, circumcising baby boys, reading or owning “Jewish” books – even fictional ones such as Leon Uris’s Exodus. Jews who objected to being national scapegoats, targets for beatings and worse, were denied exit visas to leave the country. Jews who merely applied for such permissions were considered traitors, enemies of the state, put under KGB surveillance, harassed, ridiculed, not accepted into universities and fired from their jobs. Many were arrested, put on “show” trials and imprisoned in the Gulag network of Soviet forced labor camps.

PHOTOS

The Operation Wedding trial was broadcast around the world, creating furious street protests in America, Europe, and Israel, triggering an international outcry from 24 governments, the Vatican, the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry, 35s Women’s Campaign for Soviet Jewry, the National Conference on Soviet Jewry and world leaders such as Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir – resulting in the two death sentences being commuted to prison terms and other prison terms shortened. This was a defining moment, a pivotal event for Russian Jewry, seeing the free Western world fighting for them. In the 1960s, only 3,000 Jews were permitted to leave Russia for other destinations. After the Leningrad Trial, from 1971 through 1980, a total of 347,100 Jews emigrated (163,000 going to Israel), according to the Cambridge Survey of World Migration.

Sylva was sentenced to ten years in the Gulag (including six months in solitary confinement). Only 26, she was wearing a thin cotton dress to survive a decade of life in central Mordovia’s brutal Potma prison/forced labor camp.

In 1971, her first year of captivity at Potma, Moses I. Feuerstein, former president of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, reported Sylva was “deteriorating physically” and had a life expectancy of “only a few years at the most.” Feuerstein’s best efforts failed to secure her release.
In 1972, her second year of imprisonment, Amnesty International stated: “The health of Sylva Zalmanson has deteriorated sharply… At present, she is in the camp hospital.” She had seriously burned her foot with hot water and couldn’t walk.

Actress Ingrid Bergman traveled to London in March 1973 to participate in a protest held by the 35s Women’s Campaign for Soviet Jewry. Bergman refused all food except that served to Sylva in the labor camp – one spoon of watery cabbage soup, one mouthful of dry black bread, one small potato, one slither of dried cod, and one quarter ounce of sugar and butter. “Sylva,” according to Bergman, “was an innocent victim of extreme deprivation of human rights and freedoms – the policy of her country’s leaders.”

Nothing helped. Finally, Sylva’s Israeli Uncle Avraham contacted Jewish Defense League founder Rabbi Meir Kahane, begging for help to save his niece. At Potma, said Avraham, she was refused medical care for ulcers and tuberculosis and was dying.

Asked how she survived all of that, Sylva replies philosophically: “A wise man once said: ‘God forbids us to find out how strong we are.’ For me, the idea of freedom became a goal in life which was more important than anything else, for which I was willing to do anything. I moved toward this goal without looking back, no matter what. My freedom was connected to my homeland, Israel.”
On August 22, 1974, Sylva was exchanged in a Russian spy swap and flown immediately to Israel. She spent her days campaigning for the release of her husband Edward, her two brothers Wolf and Israel, and the others – enduring a 16-day hunger strike in 1976 in front of the United Nations. She befriended and stood by Avital Scharansky who was pleading for the release of her husband, Anatoly.

Veteran Jewish newspaper editor and HarperCollins author Esther Gordon remembers Sylva from those days: “I met Sylva at a conference of Jewish Federations. She stopped at my table and I asked about her bracelet. I knew it was for a Prisoner of Zion and wanted to know which one. Tears came to her eyes and ran down her face. Wiping them with her fingers, she partially covered her mouth, but I did hear the whisper, ‘My husband.’ I asked her to please sit down with me and we talked till she composed herself. I did not realize then that she was ‘the star’ of the convention – brought to show us in person why we were protesting and raising money. She was always surrounded by crowds during the several times our paths crossed at many meetings that weekend. But each time our eyes met, we acknowledged each other with understanding looks and nods. I never forgot those eyes.”

Sylva’s daughter, Anat Zalmanson-Kuznetsov, comments: “During her whole life in the USSR and especially in prison, she had to stay strong; she would never show them her weakness. Once she arrived in Israel and traveled to help promote awareness, once she was surrounded with love and respect – after four years of being alone in a hostile environment – she couldn’t stop crying. Her emotions were overwhelming. She could only cry around good people – like Esther Gordon.”

On April 27, 1979, Edward Kuznetsov and five other refuseniks were released in exchange for three Soviet spies. Sylva and Edward, married for only five months at the time of their arrest, had been imprisoned and separated for nine years. Finally reunited, they started a family and had their daughter Anat. However, soon after the couple divorced. It seems it was the fight for freedom which drew them together, and once achieved, there was no second act for them – unlike the Scharanskys who had a fairytale reunion and are together as a married couple, to this very day.

Sylva worked in Israel as an engineer, raised her daughter Anat, “the light of my life,” and painted in her spare time. Today, retired, she devotes her time to helping Anat make her documentary film “Operation Wedding” (it will premiere in 2016) about the 1970 hijacking attempt, which opened the doors for Jews to escape the USSR.

And she paints her heart out. There is not a trace of despair or bitterness in Sylva, nor in the worlds she creates on canvas. “In my work, there is no prison theme. But I remember in the beginning. My first portraits were marked by a deep sadness with a fair share of suffering. Later, the feeling of freedom, love of life in all its expressions – which I had been deprived of in prison – poured onto the canvas. That is why my favorite topics are portraits, flamenco, the animal world…”
She is grateful to be living in Israel. “I thank God for every day that I live in this beautiful and amazing country that is a miracle on its own, with people I am proud of. This is the reward for all my suffering.”
A version of this article originally appeared in the Jewish Press.
[NOTE: Some parts of this story were translated from Russian to English by Mr. Igor Limonik who is originally from Zhitomir, Ukraine – once a center of Jewish life and culture. Igor is an aspiring artist and professional Russian-English translator, who now lives and works in Brooklyn.]
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Re: AISH

Post  Admin on Thu 18 Feb 2016, 7:23 pm

http://www.aish.com/ci/s/Oversharing.html?s=mm
In Judaism, the more valuable and treasured something is, the more private and protected we keep it.
by Rabbi Efrem Goldberg

Sharing is not always caring.
We are living in a transparent generation where the trend is towards sharing in the extreme. Over coffee with friends, at the water cooler with co-workers, and on social media, people are revealing more and more about their personal lives, their innermost thoughts and feelings, and their most private experiences.

In theory, the movement towards greater sharing should yield better relationships, closer connections, and improved capacity for emotional intimacy. After all, being open with a person is a fundamental part of connecting with that person. And yet, more and more research confirms that in fact it is doing the opposite. An obsession with sharing and a proclivity for being revealing actually damages relationships, hurts self-esteem, increases anxiety, lowers self-control, and breeds narcissism.

In Judaism, the more valuable and treasured something is, the more private and protected we keep it. The more it is accessible, revealed, and exposed, the cheaper it becomes. Indeed, the Torah’s perspective is that genuine intimacy is achieved when something is private, exclusive, and inaccessible to others. This is true physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The less we practice privacy and modesty in each of these arenas, the greater the challenge we have achieving authentic intimacy in them.

A New York Times article on privacy and sharing on the Internet began, “Imagine a world suddenly devoid of doors. None in your home, on dressing rooms, on the entrance to the local pub or even on restroom stalls at concert halls. The controlling authorities say if you aren’t doing anything wrong, then you shouldn’t mind. Well, that’s essentially the state of affairs on the Internet. There is no privacy.”

The article continues by quoting research that confirms what the Torah has known all along: “The problem is that if you reveal everything about yourself or it’s discoverable with a Google search, you may be diminished in your capacity for intimacy. This goes back to social penetration theory, one of the most cited and experimentally validated explanations of human connection. Developed by Irwin Altman and Dalmas A. Taylor in the 1970s, the theory holds that relationships develop through gradual and mutual self-disclosure of increasingly private and sensitive personal information.

‘Building and maintaining an enduring, intimate relationship is a process of privacy regulation,’ said Dr. Altman, now an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Utah. ‘It’s about opening and closing boundaries to maintain individual identity but also demonstrate unity with another, and if there are violations then the relationship is threatened.’”

The layout of the Mishkan, the holy Tabernacle, consisted of the outer courtyard that hosted the altar where sacrifices were offered, the Kodesh, or the holy section, that housed the menorah and the table, and the last section was the Kodesh Ha’Kadoshim, the Holy of Holies that housed the Aron (Ark) and was only entered by the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur. Our sacred ark, which held our sacred tablets of the Ten Commandments and the original Torah scroll, was in the most private and inaccessible part of the Mishkan.

Rabbi Soloveitchik suggested that we model our personal lives after the structure and layout of the Mishkan:

From the time I was young, I learned to restrain my feelings and not to demonstrate what was happening in my emotional world. My father would say that the holier and more intimate the feeling, the more it should be concealed. There is a hidden curtain that separates between one’s interior and the exterior: “and the dividing curtain shall separate for you between the Holy and the Holy of Holies.” What location is more sanctified than the inner sanctum of one’s emotional life?

In this world “devoid of doors” we need to be all the more mindful to keep our curtain up and protect the Holy of Holies of our lives. This is not to suggest that one should not share his or her emotions and feelings at all and keep them bottled up; obviously that is unhealthy and potentially dangerous. But the Holy of Holies was seen by a selective audience, only the Kohen Gadol.

Share your strong feelings, innermost thoughts and personal emotions with your spouse, or a family member you trust, or a close friend or confidant. But, not every thought or feeling needs to be made public. Not every personal experience or event merits sharing. Not every moment of frustration or point of pride with your job, with your children, or with your experience at a restaurant needs to be fodder for Facebook or with friends.

Failing to be judicious and thoughtful in what and how we share profanes our lives and makes achieving intimate relationships difficult. Maintaining the capacity for privacy and mystery ultimately protects our Holy of Holies and elevates all the relationships in our lives.
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Re: AISH

Post  Admin on Wed 10 Feb 2016, 10:51 pm

http://www.aish.com/jw/s/My-Grandfather-Patriot--Traitor.html?s=mm
My Grandfather: Patriot & Traitor
There’s a time to uphold the law and there’s a time to outright break it.

My maternal grandfather, JA Samuels, was a successful trader in precious metals, who helped to found the commodities exchange in New York City. Because of his wealth and influence, he was also very involved with trying to save Jewish lives during the Holocaust, including travelling with esteemed rabbis on Shabbos in an effort to raise money for this purpose.
My grandfather’s business, like most, was disrupted by the depression years, and later, the outbreak of World War II. On 9 December 1941, my grandfather unexpectedly received a call from the Japanese Consulate in New York. They wanted to place a huge order for various precious metals that they urgently required, an order which would have brought a very large profit to my grandfather in those difficult financial times.

What made the call rather unusual was its timing. Just two days earlier, on 7 December 1941, “a date that will live in infamy”, in a stunning surprise attack, the Japanese Navy had bombed Pearl Harbor, the United States naval base located in Hawaii, causing massive destruction of both life and property and thrusting the United States into World War II. Over 2 400 Americans were killed and close to 1 200 were wounded as a result of the attack. The very next day, 8 December 1941, the United States declared war on Japan.

In spite of the much needed income, without any hesitation my grandfather told the Japanese Consulate that he was unwilling to do business with them, querying how, after President Franklin D Roosevelt had declared war on Japan, he, a citizen of the United States, could do business with the enemy. The Consulate responded that the US government had given them 30 days to leave, thus making such a deal entirely legal. My grandfather, in turn, responded that, even if this was technically the case, it was almost certainly not what the government had intended by providing such a generous grace period, which was likely only done in order for them to conclude their outstanding business and move things out – not for them to start up new business. Accordingly, he reiterated his position, firmly stating he would not do any business with them, and proceeded to hang up the phone.
I can only imagine the thoughts that went through my grandfather’s mind after he put down the receiver. After all, with the country now at war and only beginning to emerge from the many difficult years of economic depression, money was already very tight and he no doubt thought hard about the many Jewish lives that such a sum could have helped save.

A Call from the White House
And that was the end of it. Or so my grandfather thought. Unbeknownst to him, the US government had started listening to all of the calls going in and out of the Japanese Consulate and had overheard his entire conversation. Imagine his surprise when, only a few hours later, he received a call informing him of this and instructing him to come to the White House for an urgent, private meeting with President Roosevelt, who wanted to thank him personally, as well as formally recognise his exemplary actions.
Although he was an observant Jew, like many religious Jews of that era, my grandfather never wore a yarmulke at work. For his meeting with the president, however, he felt he needed to make an exception, as he wasn’t just representing himself, but every Jew – so he purposely donned his yarmulke for the meeting. In appreciation for my grandfather’s unwavering patriotism, President Roosevelt promised that, henceforth, any platinum which the government might need during the war would be purchased exclusively from him. My grandfather may have lost out on some material reward from the deal he had refused to make with the Japanese, but he more than made up for it with the spiritual reward he reaped from the tremendous Kiddush Hashem (sanctification of God’s name) that he created

Saving Jewish Lives
As much as my grandfather’s patriotism couldn’t be bought, it was eventually trumped by his loyalty to his people. When it came to saving Jewish lives, he didn’t let any laws stand in his way and was even willing to give up his life if necessary. When the danger to the Jews in Europe became clear, he channelled all of his efforts into getting them to America. My grandfather worked hand-in-hand, from a private office in his house, with Rabbi Michoel Ber Weissmandl, z”l, who desperately tried to save Hungarian Jewry, including, at one point, begging the Allies to bomb the train tracks leading to Auschwitz.

Anyone who wanted to immigrate to America not only needed money and means to get there, but, in order to secure a visa, required a sponsor, who was required to complete an affidavit stating that he accepted financial responsibility for the applicant. My grandfather spent an enormous amount of time and money obtaining the proper documentation for each person he sponsored, and he sponsored hundreds of individuals, including my father’s family. Unfortunately, not every person wanted to, or could, come.
Eventually though, the immigration office decided that, after having completed the forms to sponsor several hundred applicants, my grandfather could not be allowed to sponsor anyone further. Left without any other option, my grandfather made the extremely difficult decision to hire someone to make a forged stamp and letterhead for him. With these tools in hand, he started sending out thousands of forged affidavits to those who needed them, knowing full well that this was an act of treason that could earn him the death penalty.

It wasn’t until people actually started trying to enter into the country using these forged documents that the government took note of what was happening and began to investigate. My grandfather was subsequently arrested and put on trial. The day of the trial came and my grandfather braced himself for the worst. As the prosecutor began presenting his case, family legend has it that the judge interjected and said to the prosecutor, “If you had seen today’s papers you would know that that they just reported all of the horrific things that the Nazis have been doing to the Jews in the concentration camps. How can you call what this man did treason? This was an incredibly brave and humanitarian act!” With that, the judge dismissed the trial and my grandfather was released.

Close to a decade later, my grandfather travelled by ship to bury his father in England next to his mother, who had died and been buried there many years earlier. News of his trip made the local papers and, when the ship he was travelling on arrived at the dock, he was quite surprised to be greeted by a crowd numbering in the hundreds. They had all come out to meet him and to thank him for saving their lives. Although they hadn’t made it quite as far as America, the affidavits he had sent to them had made it possible for them to escape from the death sentence they surely faced in Europe.
JA Samuels with his wife, MadalineJA Samuels with his wife, Madaline

Although we knew some of the details of the work that my grandfather had done, the real scope and impact of his actions didn’t really sink in until after he had passed away. From what seemed to be out of nowhere, hundreds upon hundreds of people turned up at the funeral and then at the shiva house to pay their respects to this man who had saved their lives and the lives of their families. Shortly after, my brother discovered among our grandfather’s papers some of the lists of the many names to which he had sent affidavits, both real and forged.

My grandfather taught us by his living example that sometimes circumstances require us to behave in a way that upholds the spirit of the law, even if our actions wouldn’t really be in violation of the letter of the law. But he also taught us that sometimes, circumstances require us to recognise there’s a higher law than the one written by man, and we have to do everything in our power to uphold it. My grandfather knew the difference and was willing to pay the ultimate price if it came to it.
Reprinted from Jewish Life magazine, www.jewishlife.co.za
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Re: AISH

Post  Admin on Thu 04 Feb 2016, 11:16 pm

The Eichmann Letter and Ban Ki-Moon
by Rabbi Benjamin Blech
Excusing evil, again.
Two stories made the headlines this past week – and to my mind there is an ironic connection between them.
The first is a revelation about one of the chief architects of the Holocaust. It was never disclosed until now but it serves as a remarkable and fascinating footnote to Israel’s execution of Adolf Eichmann for his unspeakable crimes against humanity and the Jewish people. In the aftermath of Eichmann’s trial which found him guilty of a major role in the death of 6 million, we now learn that he sent a letter pleading for his life and a pardon on the grounds that “I was not a responsible leader, and as such do not feel myself guilty.” He was only, as he went on to say, “acting under orders” – the very same justification used by his codefendants at the Nuremberg trials.
No guilt, no remorse, no repentance – because Eichmann was able to rationalize the most barbaric acts perpetrated by the Nazi regime under his direction. In his evil mind, an excuse was sufficient for self-justification; a reason warranted absolution and forgiveness.
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Ban Ki-Moon Gets it Wrong Again
by Rabbi Benjamin Blech
A response to his NYT's op-ed.
Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, found himself deluged with an unexpected and overwhelming negative press from countless sources upset by his seemingly cavalier sanction of barbaric acts of terrorism as understandable and excusable expressions of basic “human nature.” This week he wrote an op-ed in the New York Times to address the criticism and “explain himself.”
In an essay with the ominous title “Don’t Shoot The Messenger,” Ban Ki-Moon tries to paint himself as a misunderstood statesman and spokesman for peace whose message was simply misinterpreted. He would have us believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu as well as Israeli officials who were outraged by his remarks did him an injustice and shot the messenger instead of being grateful for the message.
On the positive side, the Secretary-General did something that we’ve been waiting for a very long time. He said he categorically condemns terrorism. We are profoundly gratified to learn that he agrees stabbings, vehicle rammings and other attacks by Palestinians targeting Israeli civilians are reprehensible. Some of the censure hit its mark.
But what remains perplexing is why any of this awareness has never until now gained any foothold in the votes and the deliberations of the organization he represents.
UN's Obsession with Israel
It is a certifiable fact that the UN’s Human Rights Council has issued more condemnations of Israel than of all other countries combined
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http://www.aish.com/jw/me/Ban-Ki-Moon-Gets-it-Wrong-Again.html?s=mm

The Oil Crash and Israel
by Rabbi Benjamin Blech
It's no accident that Israel has not been blessed with huge oil reserves.
Who would believe it? The price of gas in the United States has descended to levels not seen in decades. Oil prices keep plunging – a 20% decline since the start of this year alone. Global markets now offer oil below $30 per barrel. According to estimates from the International Energy Agency, “Unless something changes soon, the oil market could drown in oversupply.”
There is so much excess oil that there’s even talk of having to store the overabundance at sea. Most incredible of all, in a bizarre turn of events Bloomberg reported that Flint Hill Resources, a refining unit owned by the Koch brothers, said that they would purchase sour crude from North Dakota for $-0.50 per barrel. That’s right: a negative price. Oil has become so depressed that producers are paying buyers to take certain kinds of lesser quality oil off of their hands.
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Re: AISH

Post  Admin on Sun 31 Jan 2016, 8:35 pm

The Eichmann Letter and Ban Ki-Moon
Excusing evil, again.
by Rabbi Benjamin Blech

Two stories made the headlines this past week – and to my mind there is an ironic connection between them.
The first is a revelation about one of the chief architects of the Holocaust. It was never disclosed until now but it serves as a remarkable and fascinating footnote to Israel’s execution of Adolf Eichmann for his unspeakable crimes against humanity and the Jewish people. In the aftermath of Eichmann’s trial which found him guilty of a major role in the death of 6 million, we now learn that he sent a letter pleading for his life and a pardon on the grounds that “I was not a responsible leader, and as such do not feel myself guilty.” He was only, as he went on to say, “acting under orders” – the very same justification used by his codefendants at the Nuremberg trials.
No guilt, no remorse, no repentance – because Eichmann was able to rationalize the most barbaric acts perpetrated by the Nazi regime under his direction. In his evil mind, an excuse was sufficient for self-justification; a reason warranted absolution and forgiveness.
The letter, handwritten by Eichmann in German, and other original documents from the case, were made public for the first time last Wednesday by Israel’s current president, Reuven Rivlin, during an event to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day

The then Israeli president, Yitzhak Ben-Zvi rejected Eichmann’s plea. The hanging of Adolf Eichmann, the only time Israel ever carried out capital punishment, was meant to send a clear message to the world and to future generations that unmitigated evil dare not seek to be pardoned by rationalizations and that no explanations may ever be considered cause for justification.
In a handwritten note attached by Ben-Zvi to the telegram rejecting Eichmann’s appeal, the president wrote a biblical quotation: “But Samuel said, ‘As your sword has made women childless, so will your mother be childless among women” (Samuel 115:33).
Absolute evil requires condemnation, without explanation or qualification.
The revelation of Eichmann’s letter, especially as it coincided with International Holocaust Remembrance Day, was a stark reminder of a truth the world needs desperately to recognize if it hopes to avoid a repetition of the tragedy which blackens the memory of the twentieth century: Absolute evil requires condemnation, without explanation or qualification.

And then, in an unparalleled irony which brings into question the very legitimacy of the United Nations, the Secretary-General of the UN, Ban Ki-Moon made clear that it is precisely this very idea that he neither accepts nor comprehends.
In response to the contemporary violence and terrorism plaguing Israel – terrorism of almost unimaginable cruelty – Ban Ki-Moon expressed his reaction to these horrific acts as events which need to be understood as “only human nature in response to the occupation.” They may on the surface seem wrong, he explains, but we can’t forget that Palestinian terrorism has a reason. It is no less than a response to Israeli provocation – and the meaning of its response, in all of its manifold perorations, according to Ban Ki-Moon, is nothing less than “human nature.”
Let’s try to absorb the full meaning of the Secretary-General’s slander against our supposedly human – and God given – nature. Webster’s dictionary is a good place to start. Human nature, Webster’s tells us, is “the ways of thinking, feeling and acting that are common to most people.”

So “common to most people” would be some of these recent Palestinian expressions of politically motivated response to grievances:
Stabbing a mother to death in front of her six children
critically wounding thirteen-year-old boy by stabbing him while on his bicycle
murdering Jews whose only crime aside from their identity as Jews was to gather together for prayer in a synagogue
randomly shooting to death people enjoying a coffee in a Tel Aviv café
The list goes on in gruesome and horrifying detail. It is a story of ceaseless cruelty which ought to shock the civilized mind by its depravity.

But this is what the Secretary-General of the United Nations, an organization ostensibly created to bring about the best of human kind, really believes is the truth of human nature – a truth which can then explain the prevalence of evil as nothing more than an expression of our innate and unalterable state of being.
For anyone who shares the biblical belief that human kind was created in the image of God, we dare not excuse evil behavior with the rationalization that we are really no better. Human nature at its source is rooted in our spiritual essence. Our souls seek to do good. True, free will allows the possibility of evil. But it can only sicken us when we see how people pervert their spiritual essence and ignore their divinely granted real “human nature”.
The Holocaust was made possible by people who felt their evil could be excused, that their crimes could be justified. How sad that 70 years later, the spokesman for the nations of the world repeats the same canard camouflaged only by slightly different verbiage. It would be tragic if we didn’t react with well-deserved outrage at the suggestion that by our “human nature” we could readily commit cruel acts of violence and murder – because a world which agrees with that obscene proposition would be but a step away from making it a reality.
Published: January 30, 2016
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Re: AISH

Post  Admin on Fri 29 Jan 2016, 8:47 pm

Justifying Terror, Obsessed with Israel
Ban Ki Moon gets it wrong on many counts.
Justifying Terror, Obsessed with IsraelJustifying Terror, Obsessed with Israel
Ban Ki Moon gets it wrong on many counts.
by The Elder of Ziyon


Yes, it is outrageous that Ban Ki Moon essentially called terror attacks a natural result of “occupation,” and Netanyahu was right in slamming him for it.
But that wasn’t the strangest part of the speech.
The title of Ban Ki-Moon’s talk was “Secretary-General’s remarks to the Security Council on the Situation in the Middle East.”
There were 52 paragraphs in the speech according to the official UN record.
Of those 52, three were about Lebanon. Two referred to Syria – one about refugees and one about the Golan.
The entire rest of the speech was about Israel and the Palestinians.
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http://www.aish.com/jw/me/Justifying-Terror-Obsessed-with-Israel.html?s=mm



The Amazing Life of Rabbi Ronnie Greenwald
by Suri Cohen
Community activist, international spy swapper and hostage mediator, political mastermind, mentor for troubled teens, beloved camp director and dedicated Jew.
The last text we got from Rabbi Ronnie Greenwald, two days before his death on Wednesday, January 20th, was a photo of him and a friend, up to their necks in the sunny blue waters of a Miami swimming pool. Rabbi Greenwald was radiating his trademark ebullience, and the picture was cheekily captioned, "It's 16 degrees in Monsey."
It was to that photo that my mind inevitably drifted when we received the shocking news of his untimely passing. For it encapsulates so much of what made him unique and so very beloved – the slightly rakish insouciance, the unwillingness, or even inability, to stay within the neatly defined borders of convention, the sense of fun that made his chronological age of 82 appear like part of the joke, and the infectious joie de vivre that seemed to include the entire world in its orbit.
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http://www.aish.com/jw/s/The-Amazing-Life-of-Rabbi-Ronnie-Greenwald.html?s=mm


Lola Lieber: Faithful Holocaust Heroine
by Beth Sarafraz
A glimpse into the eventful, fearless life of an indomitable survivor.
When Lola Lieber’s husband, Mechel, was arrested by the Nazis during the Holocaust, she did the unthinkable. Pretending to be a gentile, she walked into Gestapo Headquarters and asked to speak to whoever was in charge. She was taken to the office of SS Lieutenant-Colonel Adolf Eichmann, Gestapo Chief and overseer of Hitler’s “Final Solution” – the extermination of European Jewry.
She told Eichmann her husband wasn’t a Jew, had been picked up by accident, arrested by mistake. When Eichmann picked up the phone to call the jail where Mechel was being held, it became obvious the ploy wouldn’t work. All the jailers would have to do to determine if a man was Jewish, was check if he was circumcised. Understanding how badly things would play out, Lola turned and as calmly as possible, strolled out. Miraculously, no one stopped her. Mechel escaped later and reunited with his beloved bride.
Lola Lieber was a fearless woman who survived the Holocaust. At the time of her death at 91, she was the mother of three, grandmother of 12, great-grandmother of 50, great-great grandmother of four, a successful artist and author of A World After This: A Memoir of Loss and Redemption
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http://www.aish.com/ho/p/Lola-Lieber-Faithful-Holocaust-Heroine.html?s=mm

Tablets for Living
by Rabbi Noson Weisz
Exploring the depth of the Ten Commandments.
Yitro(Exodus 18-20)
Tablets for Living
The Torah contains 613 commandments. But, on Mount Sinai -- the only occasion in history when the entire Jewish people had a face-to-face meeting with God -- God chose to emphasize ten.
The first two of the Ten Commandments we heard from the mouth of God directly without Moses as an intermediary, whereas the other eight we heard through Moses.
According to many commentators the first one isn't really a commandment at all, but more in the nature of an introductory statement to all the commandments. But there is a special common denominator that unifies these ten and sets them apart from all the others; they are the only commandments that appear on the "Tablets of the Law."
The significance of being inscribed on the tablets is explained thus by Moses:
"He (God) told you His covenant that He commanded you to observe, the ten declarations, and he inscribed them on two stone tablets." (Deut. 4:13)
These ten declarations have a dual aspect. Aside from being commandments in their own right like the rest of the 613, they constitute a special covenant between God and Israel. We refer to them in the Passover Haggadah as the "Two Tablets of the Covenant." It is this covenantal aspect that we propose to explore in this essay.
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http://www.aish.com/tp/i/m/48956041.html?s=mm
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Re: AISH

Post  Admin on Fri 08 Jan 2016, 3:38 pm

http://www.aish.com/jl/l/dam/Giving-Comfort-The-Ring-Theory.html?s=mm
Giving Comfort: The Ring Theory
How to best interact with someone going through a crisis.
by Rabbi Efrem Goldberg
         
Over the last few years, a few YouTube videos were made mocking the sometimes stupid and foolish things that people say when visiting the sick or comforting the mourner. Things like, "I know someone who had the same sickness as you. They suffered terribly and died after a short time. I hope that doesn't happen to you." Or, "sorry for the loss of your child; at least you have other healthy children that you should be grateful for." I know of one woman who shared with her family and friends a list she had compiled of the top ten moronic things people said to her when she was sitting shiva.
the Ring theoryClearly, the people who uttered those imprudent and thoughtless expressions meant no harm and indeed would be horrified to learn that they had compounded pain rather than relieved it. Rather than stemming from malice, I suspect that these comments are the result of an earnest desire to be comforting and yet feeling at a loss for the right thing to say.
Susan Silk, a clinical psychologist, recently wrote an op-ed for the LA Times in which she shared her fantastic "Ring Theory" for helping people in crisis:
Draw a circle. This is the center ring. In it, put the name of the person at the center of the current trauma. Now draw a larger circle around the first one. In that ring put the name of the person next closest to the trauma. Repeat the process as many times as you need to. In each larger ring put the next closest people. Parents and children before more distant relatives. Intimate friends in smaller rings, less intimate friends in larger ones. When you are done you have a Kvetching Order. One of [my] patients found it useful to tape it to her refrigerator.
Here are the rules. The person in the center ring can say anything she wants to anyone, anywhere. She can kvetch and complain and whine and moan and curse the heavens and say, "Life is unfair" and "Why me?" That's the one payoff for being in the center ring.
Everyone else can say those things too, but only to people in larger rings. When you are talking to a person in a ring smaller than yours, someone closer to the center of the crisis, the goal is to help. Listening is often more helpful than talking. But if you're going to open your mouth, ask yourself if what you are about to say is likely to provide comfort and support. If it isn't, don't say it. Don't, for example, give advice. People who are suffering from trauma don't need advice. They need comfort and support. So say, "I'm sorry" or "This must really be hard for you" or "Can I bring you a pot roast?" Don't say, "You should hear what happened to me" or "Here's what I would do if I were you." And don't say, "This is really bringing me down."
If you want to scream or cry or complain, if you want to tell someone how shocked you are or how icky you feel, or whine about how it reminds you of all the terrible things that have happened to you lately, that's fine. It's a perfectly normal response. Just do it to someone in a bigger ring.
Comfort IN, dump OUT.
The Ring Theory is a brilliant prescription for how best to interact with someone going through a crisis. It captures something we intuitively know yet too often fail to practice. In fact, it probably should be posted on hospital room doors and entrances to shiva homes.
However, for all of its brilliance, the Ring Theory takes something for granted that, unfortunately, is not a given at all. The theory provides guidance for those choosing to engage. But ask anyone who has gone through a crisis and he will tell you, the majority of people in his life didn't comfort or dump, neither in nor out. They simply disappeared.
Yes, at the moment of crisis, family, friends and community often rise to the occasion. True, funerals and shivas are often well-attended, hospital rooms and ICU's get lots of visitors, and parties to divorce get invitations the first few weeks following the separation. But what happens when the acute crises passes? How present are we in the lives of those we claim to care deeply about when the urgency subsides and the catastrophe dissipates?
As time goes on, without consciously intending to, many take an "out of sight, out of mind" approach, leaving the afflicted person feeling forgotten, neglected, insignificant and alone. What the "Ring Theory" doesn't account for is that doing nothing and staying silent towards someone struggling with illness, loss, divorce or unemployment can be more painful than saying or doing the wrong thing. An insensitive comment is hurtful, but at least it communicates an attempt to connect and comfort. Silence and neglect, however, leave a person feeling invisible, that she doesn't matter, and that friends think that her problems are contagious and transmittable.
Sometimes our silent presence is the greatest comfort of all.
Nobody suffered more than Job. The response of his friends is very instructive and in fact is codified in Jewish law. The book of Job describes that as he suffered profoundly, his friends silently comforted him. Isn't that an oxymoron? If they remained silent, where was the comfort? The answer is simple: their mere presence communicated much more at a louder decibel level than anything they could have possibly said. In fact, Job’s suffering was so inexplicable and incomprehensible that there was nothing meaningful to offer at all. Had they opened their mouths, they likely would have provided great material for a YouTube video.
It is for this reason that Jewish law requires us to remain silent until the mourner speaks first. Moreover, even once we speak, the Rambam cautions us not to be talkative or loquacious lest we say the wrong thing or set the wrong tone with our words.
Sadly, there are many in our community suffering from illness, loss and other sources of pain. Simply put -- they rely on us, their friends and community to care enough to enter the Ring. Perhaps we will be towards the center of the circle, or maybe we will be in one of the outside concentric rings. But the worst thing we could do is to disappear from the picture all together.
Reach out, visit, send a text, spontaneously drop off flowers or a Challah, invite for a meal, or just let them know that you pray for them, think about them, and empathize with them. Find the important balance between showing up and providing them necessary space.
Let's do all we can to make sure that these videos have no sequel because we have learned how to comfort IN, dump OUT and that sometimes our silent presence is the greatest comfort of all.
Published: May 11, 2013
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Re: AISH

Post  Admin on Fri 08 Jan 2016, 3:30 pm


The Difference between Jews and Palestinians
A whopping 67 percent of Palestinians support stabbing attacks against Israelis.
by Michael Freund
         
Every once in a while, a news item comes along that captures the essence of an issue, encapsulating a point so crucial and fundamental that it manages to convey just about all one needs to know about a given subject. Such was the case with a press release issued last month by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research regarding the findings of a poll conducted among 
Palestinians in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
The document, which should be required reading by anyone who professes to offer an informed opinion about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, underlines the profound moral chasm that exists between the two sides. Indeed, it serves as a potent reminder that the clash in which Israel finds itself is nothing less than a showdown between good and evil.
The survey, which was carried out by Dr. Khalil Shikaki among a random sampling of some 1,270 Palestinians adults, firmly puts to rest the assertion that only a small fraction of our foes support violence and terrorism against innocent civilians.
The numbers speak for themselves: A whopping 67 percent of Palestinians – two out of every three! – support stabbing attacks against Israelis.
Think about that for a moment. It means that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians see absolutely nothing wrong with the act of picking up a knife and plunging it into another human being simply because he or she is an Israeli Jew.
This is not a matter of moral cowardice; it is a collective descent into depravity.
Carnage and bloodshed are viewed as being legitimate tools of political expression by Palestinian society.
Of course, every society has its fringes, those who embrace immoral or destructive behavior. But when such immorality becomes the norm, when tormenting the innocent is considered a socially acceptable path, then how can one possibly even consider making peace with such people? The study also revealed that 60% of Palestinians support a return to an armed intifada and that 66% believe that such a violent uprising would "serve Palestinian national interests."
This data indicates the extent to which carnage and bloodshed are viewed as being legitimate tools of political expression by Palestinian society.
There are those, especially on the Israeli Left, who will seek to explain away such statistics, asserting that they merely reflect mounting frustration on the part of Palestinians with the failure of the peace process.
But that is nothing more than a flimsy excuse garnished with flawed reasoning. After all, since when does personal or political frustration justify a resort to random violence? Amid the backdrop of the indictments that were issued against the alleged Israeli perpetrators of the Duma attack, in which a Palestinian family was murdered when a fire bomb was tossed into their home, the question takes on added resonance.
For however frustrated the Duma suspects might have been with Israeli policy, no Israeli leader and certainly no majority of the public would rationalize their actions or attempt to exonerate them on the basis that they were "driven by a sense of exasperation."
So why should pretexts be invented when it comes to "explaining" or "understanding" Palestinians who embrace terrorism? The fact of the matter is that in Israel, there are a variety of organizations spanning the spectrum, with some calling for annexation of Judea, Samaria and Gaza and others demanding that the territories be handed over to the Arabs.
But you won't find a similar diversity among Palestinians.
Last time I checked, organizations such as "Gaza Friends of Israel" or "Palestinians for Peace and Settlements" had yet to be established.
When was the last time you heard about Palestinian relief groups offering to help Israeli victims of terrorism?
While Israel has a vocal, sizable and active Left, there is no corresponding Palestinian movement pressing for reconciliation. And if Palestinian society were truly longing for peace, as some claim, then its political arena would presumably look very different than it does today.
When was the last time you heard about Palestinian relief groups offering to help Israeli victims of terrorism? When have Palestinian human rights organizations pressed Palestinian officials to make concessions to Israel? How many Palestinian clerics have issued rulings forbidding suicide bombing attacks? We all know the answer to these questions.
The popular support for violence among Palestinians, and the absence of a similar trend in Israel, is not a coincidence. It is a telling testimony which speaks volumes about the two societies, their values, goals and objectives.
The Jewish state may have a few rotten apples here and there, but in the case of the Palestinians, surveys indicate that much of the orchard has gone bad, and therein lies the overwhelming moral disparity between the two.
This op-ed originally appeared in the Jerusalem Post.
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Re: AISH

Post  Admin on Sun 03 Jan 2016, 7:28 pm

http://www.aish.com/jw/me/Tel-Aviv-Shooting-Attack.html?s=mm
Tel Aviv Shooting Attack
by Dr. Yvette Alt Miller
The world should learn from the terrorist’s father how to properly respond to terror.

In Israel the new year began with a terror attack in the heart of Tel Aviv.

On Friday, January 1, the cafes and shops along Dizengoff Street were packed. One of the many passersby was Nashat Melhem, a 31 Arab-Israeli, with emotional problems and a criminal history.

After he wandered into a health food store and sampled the merchandise, Melhem calmly stepped outside, pulled an automatic weapon from his backpack, and sprayed bullets at a group of Israelis celebrating a friend’s birthday at a pub across the street. “We dropped to the floor and I remember the smile on his face,” one witness, who gave his name as Noah, described afterwards. When the carnage was over, seven people lay wounded in the street (four seriously) and two men – Alon Bakal, the pub’s 26 year old manager, and 30-year-old Shimon Ruimi – were dead.

The attack was the latest in a line of horrible murders in the Jewish state in recent months, and was even more violent in its scope, featuring the mass shooting of innocent civilians in the center of a major city. Melhem remains at large, the subject of a huge manhunt in Israel – and creating major fear for Israelis that they might, God forbid, be his next victims. Israeli police suspect Melhem is behind the murder of an Arab taxi driver in Tel Aviv soon after the shooting.

Instead of condemning the murders, some figures and media outlets around the world seemed to try to justify the attack.

“Tel Aviv shooting: suspect 'wanted to avenge cousin's death'” Britain’s influential Guardian newspaper announced in a headline, creating the impression that the attack was somehow reasonable.
That sentiment was echoed by MK Ayman Odeh, who heads a coalition in Israel’s Knesset of Arab parties. Appearing on Israeli TV in the aftermath of the attack, MK Odeh asserted that the root cause of Melhem’s attack was Israel’s occupation of Arab lands – before criticizing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “a human being that just incites”.
In the United States, many media outlets http://www.cbsnews.com/news/israel-ids-suspected-shooter-in-deadly-tel-aviv-attack/ emphasized that some relatives had said Melhem was sad after the death of his cousin in 2006 in a police confrontation. CBS news was typical in describing Melhem as “traumatized” by his cousin’s death in 2006, implying that his decision to open fire on the crowd in Tel Aviv was somehow reasonable or even justified.

In reporting on the terrorism sweeping Israel, in October 2015, Time Magazine was typical in headlining its report “The Desperation Driving Young Palestinians to Violence”. Rather than condemning attacks on Israelis, the very fact that Israelis were being murdered was perversely offered as proof of the legitimacy of their attackers’ grievances. Instead of portraying Arabs as free agents who are capable of choosing their actions like other people, it peddled an offensive old stereotype: of Arabs as somehow (unlike other people) unable to refrain from violence.

Yet after the Tel Aviv attack, it was those closest to Nashat Milhem – relatives and friends who might have been expected to share in his sense of desperation or trauma – who didn’t try to explain away his murderous rampage, but who worked with the police to help apprehend him and head off further violence, instead. It was Nashat’s own father, Muhammad – a security guard and volunteer with the Israeli police – who recognized his son from media reports and contacted the police to alert them of the attacker’s identity.

“It's important to me now that they reach my son and arrest him, because he's still armed, and just like he murdered two people he could murder more," Muhammad Milhem explained. "I'm worried and I want to hear that he's in the police's hands." After coming home from work at 6 AM, he was inundated with calls from concerned friends and relatives who thought they’d recognized Nashat from surveillance footage being shown on TV. He turned right around and returned to the police station to help them in their search.

Muhammad Milhem told reporters that “I am an Israeli citizen, a law-abiding citizen. I heard what my son has done, and I am sorry. I did not educate him to act in that way. I went to the police and helped the security forces. I did not expect that my son would do such a thing.”

Mahmad Masri, a member of the local council in the town of Ar'ara, where Milhem lives, echoed Muhammad Milhem’s sentiments. "We are in shock. The shooter is my neighbor. The entire village is surprised and condemns the event."

As Israeli police work to track down Milhem and prevent further carnage, the world should learn from the actions of his family and community how to respond to terror: not by trying to explain away or vindicate evil – but by condemning it, forcefully and fully. Violence is neither inevitable nor justifiable.
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http://www.aish.com/sp/so/One-Town-7-Churches-No-Synagogue--My-Sons-Kippah.html?s=mm
One Town, 7 Churches, No Synagogue & My Son’s Kippah
My son wore his new kippah publicly, like a billboard announcing his heritage. I didn’t want him to stick out.
by Mara Campbell
         
My eldest son tore open the package, his excitement palpable. He pulled out his new yarmulke and immediately asked me to help him pin it. A navy blue number with a silver Magen David, my son had picked this kippah out to be his “formal” one. I watched him dash off to the mirror to admire himself with a mixture of pride and amusement.
I was surprised, however, when he elected to wear it while accompanying me to work that evening. I was on a photojournalism assignment to cover the dress rehearsal of a local dinner theatre. The rehearsal was in a church we’d been to many times and which many of his friends attend. As we walked in the door, I realized that my son had never worn a yarmulke publicly in our town. A familiar feeling of uneasiness settled around me.
In our small town of seven churches and no synagogue, sticking out is always a little uncomfortable. We are open about our Judaism to those who are interested, but we certainly don’t advertise it. For us, faith is a private and exquisite thing centered on our relationship with God. And as I watched my son walk into the rehearsal space, I realized he was practically wearing a billboard announcing his heritage. I’ll admit for a moment, I wished he hadn’t worn his kippah. I didn’t want him to stick out.
My son’s friends greeted him and I settled into the task of simultaneously photographing and documenting the rehearsal. The play took place in an imaginary Middle Eastern town and was loosely based on the birth of Jesus. With the semi-exotic setting, most of the kids and adults were wearing costumes including headscarves and robes, as well as fake beards, stiff as steel wool and (judging by the itching) just as comfortable. I felt relief as I realized that my son and his yarmulke were among the less noticeable sartorial choices in the whole room.
Then it happened. A younger brother of one of my son’s close friends saw the yarmulke. This boy, only eight years old, was naturally very curious about it. He walked up, tapped my son on the shoulder, and said “Hey, what’s that on your head?”
As my son turned around to answer him, a woman appeared at the boy’s side and pulled him away so quickly, it was like watching a magician remove a tablecloth from underneath a fully set table. I was surprised not to see a puff of smoke follow the movement. I watched her from my seat near the front. I was surprised overhear the following, related sotto voce, “You shouldn’t ask people things like that! He’s wearing it because he is a Jew,” and then her voice became inaudible.
I watched, feeling saddened, both by the choice she made and the opportunity she denied my son. Her pulling the boy away so aggressively for asking a question made being Jewish and wearing a kippah seem shameful and secretive. If my son had been allowed to answer, it would have been a learning opportunity both for him and for his friend’s brother. I was half tempted to discuss the matter with her after the rehearsal or perhaps to reassure the boy that his asking my son was actually a sign of respect and interest. But, like most mothers of many children, I let it go and headed for home, the demands of my household intruding on my inclination to educate.
What a missed opportunity. What a chance that passed by. Imagine if we were all like that eight year old boy, interested and questioning, fascinated and open to the explanation of what makes others unique? And then I realized: I was no better than that woman, with my fears about the reactions of the town.
My son is due to get another new yarmulke this week, his “casual” one. It is as vibrant and colorful as a Rastafarian cap and he can’t wait for it to arrive. I am no less eager. I hope he wants to wear it around. And I hope people ask him about it.
He will stick out, yes. But he already sticks out due to his warmth and his spectacular personality. His kippah is just the proverbial icing on the cake.
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