Category Archives: Inspiration

Hannah

“One – two – three… eight feet long
Two strides across, the rest is dark…
Life is a fleeting question mark
One – two – three… maybe another week.
Or the next month may still find me here,
But death, I feel is very near.
I could have been 23 next July
I gambled on what mattered most, the dice were cast. I lost.”

hannah-szenes-1

On November 7th 1944 a valiant young Jewsess stared down her Nazi executioners and returned to Heaven. Hannah Senesh was born in Hungary, and despite being raised in an assimilated household, felt compelled to ‘make aliya’ to the Land of Israel in 1939.  She worked in an agricultural settlement, rebuilding the dream of two-thousand years.

“My God, my God
May there be no end
To the sea, to the sand,
The splash of the water,
The glow of the sky,
The prayer of man”

When the extent of the Shoah of the Jews of Europe became evident, she volunteered to fight with the British Army, against the Axis. Soon, she volunteered again, to join other commandos and parachute back into Nazi-occupied Europe, in order to aid the underground in Hungary.

She fought for three months with Tito’s partisans, and then made her way to Hungary, only to be caught by the enemy.

Hannah was brutally, and repeatedly, tortured. Despite their best efforts, the Nazis failed to get any information from her.

“Blessed is the match, consumed in kindling flame.
Blessed is the flame that burns in the heart’s secret places.
Blessed is the heart that knows, for honors sake, to stop its beating.
Blessed is the match, consumed in kindling flame.”

When they put her before a firing squad, she refused a blindfold. A gifted poet, diarist, and writer… a brave and determined warrior against evil, lived, and resisted them, to the end.

hannah-szenes-2

“There are stars whose radiance is visible on Earth though they have long been extinct. There are people whose brilliance continues to light the world even though they are no longer among the living. These lights are particularly bright when the night is dark. They light the way for humankind.”

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Single-Handed, but with Angels at his side

On the 30th & 31’s of October, 1950, Tibor “Ted” Rubin was having a particularly crappy couple of days at work.

Having recently become a “GI Joe” for his new country,  Tibor found out that Jew Hatred was not merely a European phenomenon.  Sent as a rifleman to Korea, his sergeant simply delighted in “volunteering” “that Jew” repeatedly for the most dangerous of missions.

Now, Tibor was tasked with single-handedly covering the other soldiers’ retreat in the face of a massive enemy advance.

tibor-rubin-1

But, armed with not a small helping internal strength, remarkable bravery, and the help of Heaven, Tibor prevailed again and again.  On those two days, and on many other occasions both before and since, he not only survived, but heroically aided his fellow soldiers, with resolve, ingenuity, and good humor.

Tibor Rubin was born to a middle-class family in Paszto, Hungary, in 1929.  When the Nazi’s came, his parents tried to smuggle him to the relative safety of Switzerland.  He was caught in Italy and sent to Mauthausen.  His sister and stepmother were murdered in Auschwicz, and his father in Buchenwald.

When American troops liberated the prisoners at Mauthausen, Tibor sought a new live in America. He was determined to repay this “debt”, by joining the U.S. Army.  Due to his difficulty with English, it took three tries to be accepted.

In 2005, he receive the Medal of Honor from President George W. Bush.

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty: Corporal Tibor Rubin distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism during the period from July 23, 1950, to April 20, 1953, while serving as a rifleman with Company I, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division in the Republic of Korea. While his unit was retreating to the Pusan Perimeter, Corporal Rubin was assigned to stay behind to keep open the vital Taegu-Pusan Road link used by his withdrawing unit. During the ensuing battle, overwhelming numbers of North Korean troops assaulted a hill defended solely by Corporal Rubin. He inflicted a staggering number of casualties on the attacking force during his personal 24-hour battle, single-handedly slowing the enemy advance and allowing the 8th Cavalry Regiment to complete its withdrawal successfully. Following the breakout from the Pusan Perimeter, the 8th Cavalry Regiment proceeded northward and advanced into North Korea. During the advance, he helped capture several hundred North Korean soldiers. On October 30, 1950, Chinese forces attacked his unit at Unsan, North Korea, during a massive nighttime assault. That night and throughout the next day, he manned a .30 caliber machine gun at the south end of the unit’s line after three previous gunners became casualties. He continued to man his machine gun until his ammunition was exhausted. His determined stand slowed the pace of the enemy advance in his sector, permitting the remnants of his unit to retreat southward. As the battle raged, Corporal Rubin was severely wounded and captured by the Chinese. Choosing to remain in the prison camp despite offers from the Chinese to return him to his native Hungary, Corporal Rubin disregarded his own personal safety and immediately began sneaking out of the camp at night in search of food for his comrades. Breaking into enemy food storehouses and gardens, he risked certain torture or death if caught. Corporal Rubin provided not only food to the starving Soldiers, but also desperately needed medical care and moral support for the sick and wounded of the POW camp. His brave, selfless efforts were directly attributed to saving the lives of as many as forty of his fellow prisoners. Corporal Rubin’s gallant actions in close contact with the enemy and unyielding courage and bravery while a prisoner of war are in the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Army.”

FILE -In this Sept. 23, 2005 file photo, President Bush presents the Medal of Honor to Cpl. Tibor Rubin, in the East Room at the White House. Rubin, a Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor who joined the U.S. Army after his liberation from the Nazis and earned the Medal of Honor for heroism in the Korean War, has died in California. He was 86. (AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson, File)
 (AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson, File)

A new book on his story; Single Handed, by Daniel M. Cohen, came out this past summer

Here, also, is a brief oral history from the late Mr. Rubin himself, who passed away this past December.  May his memory be a blessing.

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Give me Land Lots of Land

I see a lot of stories daily about how carrying a concealed weapon has saved someone’s life, or the life of someone they love. These stories usually take place in a urban setting. It might be a fairly empty parking lot at 2200 or someone’s home, but most of the stories are more urban. I suppose that makes sense, more people.

But when many people think of the rural areas, they tend to think more of the tough, self-reliant type of folks, like Roy Rogers, the Cartwrights or Little House on the Prairie.

What set me down this thought path was a story I saw the other day and it reminded me of when I first moved to my current home, many, many years ago. I considered living places and found the pet deposit for two horses, a flock of chickens, four cats and three dogs was very spendy. I also am temperamentally unsuited to living in a city, so farm it was and I moved from a smaller farm to this one. When I would go to the barn to do chores I took all the dogs with me, family outing as it were. Not long after I had lived here I was coming back to the house from the barn and a man I had never seen was standing near the stock gate. Not a dog had barked, the wind must have been blowing the other direction. Nothing happened, he had heard from someone that I might be someone to talk to about training a horse. But it made me very aware of my vulnerability. No matter what else was going on in my life, this was something I needed to address. I didn’t really know any of my neighbors yet, so most people that stopped by would have been “strangers”. It was long before concealed carry laws or castle doctrine laws were in effect. It’s not that I didn’t have tools, I did. I needed to have them where they could be used. A .357 is dandy, unless it’s in the house, so I started doing things differently. But while laws weren’t in place to protect me, I could get access to the tools that would allow me to protect myself. Some states have laws protecting you only in your home or car, some, anyplace you legally have a right to be including any place on your property, not just your home.

So how did I get to thinking back all those years ago? I saw a story about yet another Jewish farmer in Israel who might be facing charges for shooting an Arab. I will never say farmers in America have it easy. I’ve known better since I was two. But farmers in Israel have a whole different set of dangers. The arabs and bedouins there cut fence, steal livestock, kill livestock, ruin orchards, poison guard dogs, attack the farmers and their families and sometimes kill them. Sadly, sometimes the government forces that are tasked with protecting the farmers seem to favor protecting the arab farmers. Whether it is yet another example of trying not to offend the world, or the police just don’t want to bother with it, I don’t know. Some farmers have been driven off their land, some have had to give up raising livestock, but it is most certain that many farmers in Israel face challenges and dangers that we over here do not face on a daily basis. The case that had been going on was of a farmer that had three arabs show up to steal his truck. He heard a noise and went outside, there they were with a metal bar and three to one odds. He fired in the air and was unaware that he had even hit one. When security forces finally showed up they found the body in a nearby field.

The mayor of the town defended the farmer, saying many such attacks occur during daily, and are repeated with no fear of reprisals. The mayor of the town thinks the U.S. has it right.

“Sunday’s shooting in Beit Elazri was justified,” Naim concludes. “It was an act of self-defense, and prevented innocent people from getting hurt. Every thief must know that he might die. It must be anchored in law, just as in the cradle of democracy, the United States, where every citizen has the right to self-defense of his body and his property, including the shooting of trespassers.”

I don’t know that we shoot trespassers all that much, but his point that we should have the right to defend ourselves, and criminals know we have the right and ability to defend ourselves, and that should slow them down some. Unless you live in a state with a lot of liberals where ever criminal life is sacred, yours not so much. This is made possible by electing liberal politicians because they think rights come from them, not G-d.

Farmers have gone to jail for defending themselves against four to one odds, for example Shai Dromi. While he was acquitted on manslaughter charges he was convicted of having an illegal weapon. It was his father’s. The good thing that came of the mess was it did start to make people aware of what the farmers face on a daily basis.

Now happily the farmer accused this time, has been cleared by the police of any wrong doing, so he won’t be spending time in jail.

Another good thing that came out of this is MKs Amir Ohana and Eitan Broshi submitted a petition that called for a emergency meeting to discuss the issue of self-defense in rural areas. Hopefully more than discussion will come of it. Since MK Ohana is involved, I am kind of thinking something more will.

Another thing I found very interesting was comments by Dr. Jodi Broder, Head of the Clinical Social Law program. I’m the one that put some of this in bold, not Dr. Broder.

Dr. Broder explained why, in his view, proactive self-defense is justified: “We, as citizens, gave the State all the rights over our defense and our property, under the assumption that it would uphold those values, but what happens when the State doesn’t defend its citizens?” he asked. In such a reality, he asserts, the right of a citizen to defend himself and his property returns to him.

Broder qualifies this assertion, however, noting, “not under every circumstance, but within the parameters of self-defense. You are allowed to defend yourself when there is an immediate danger to your life or property. In such a reality, when nobody else is around to defend you and you react in a proportional manner, not in order to punish but only to defend; when the burglar is endangering me or another or our property, I am allowed to defend as long as immediate action is required and the State is not present to supply this defense.”

In response to the question of whether there is an ethical problem with the fact that the same State that does not supply defense for citizens also limits citizens’ ability to defend themselves, Broder replied, “It is impossible to live in a situation in which there are no rules and each man is his own lawmaker. A burglar also has rights which we, as a state, choose to uphold. You may defend, but not punish.

“One of the problems in the State is that the government does not supply adequate defense of property in certain communities, and people feel existential danger and danger to their property; we may see reactions that seem disproportionate at first glance, but when you consider that the Police are probably not coming, and there’s nobody who’s going to help, and it’s my property and my life, the picture changes.”

First, I don’t think we should ever give over our rights to protect ourselves, I’m not suggesting we do so. I also find it interesting that the Israelis are allowed to use force when the criminal is stealing things. In America it’s usually only to defend life. Of course what they are stealing may well affect your livelihood, but I find this variance interesting as well. Second and I think this applies to any of us, the prosecutor in their nice warm, well lit office, reading over the police report as they thoughtfully sip their fresh cup of coffee is going decide someone’s future, or lack of one. They will decide if your response was proportional or not. Consider having someone like Kathleen Kane as the prosecutor. Kane was a Bloomberg backed anti-gun candidate. YESH! But I also see how his comments could apply to gun free zones, they chose to forbid us the ability to defend ourselves, then they have chosen that responsibility. An old discussion, I know. I’m not talking burger joints, I’m thinking more like hospitals, government buildings. Places of worship are targets as well, but I think their response to how they wish to handle these things has more autonomy, but I could be wrong. But back to the prosecutor, you have a person in their nice office, possibly who has never been in a rural area deciding what is going to happen to you based on what has already happened to you, when you were all alone at 0300 in the middle of a field.

And realistically? Whether a field in the middle of the night or supermarket parking lot during the day, it doesn’t matter much. If something bad happens, and you “need” someone else to come help you there is a good chance that may not happen in time.

Just some things to think about as election day looms and you might have a chance to ask your state candidates some questions.

Another thing that popped up as I was poking around to see how this particular farmer came out was that some of the farmers in 2008 began to band together forming modern versions of HaShomer. It was founded by Yoel Zilberman when his father told him he was going bankrupt and going to have to leave the farm. HaShomer HaChadash, The New Guardians, was formed to help protect the farmers and allow them to continue farming in a financially sound manner. It is now a big active program.

Founder Yoel Zilberman, can tell you about it. It’s a very interesting story. Subtitled, luckily.

So thinking back on when I first moved here, and looking at the dangers these farmers in Israel face daily I’ve had some thoughts. Urban or rural, we all face dangers. The dangers these Israeli farmers face are more like the things someone living in the gun free zone utopia of Chicago would face, with just about as much help from the system at times. But then any raw milk or organic farmer may have faced the same dangers in America. Only instead of from Bedouins, from a alphabet soup of state and federal agencies. The big difference is, when it’s the farmer rather than the Chicago resident that faces the danger it can affect a lot of people. The farmers produce food, and when that doesn’t happen it causes problems for a lot of people. The Israeli farmers are getting help now, not from the government so much, as regular people all pitching in to help. It’s sort of like a program we had in America for a while called “Ranch Rescue”. But the foundation of all these programs was the same as the old days of the Cartwrights and Roy Rogers. It was people pitching in to help each other to over come challenges and threats. People that weren’t relying on the system, but each other. As the weather changes and we prepare for storms knowing our neighbors and having plans and ways we could help each other might be a very good idea. We’ve had hurricanes in one part of the country, we will have snow and ice coming for other parts of the country, and then we move into tornado and rain and flood season. Sometimes you know there’s bad weather headed your way, and sometimes, it’s just there.

And because I like to end with something a little nice, here’s a short little scene from Eish Kodesh. It really is beautiful isn’t it?

https://www.facebook.com/398799110143354/videos/1192120390811218/

 

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Turning Around

 

teshuvah

Yesterday, Claire wrote a most inspiring post. It reminded me of a great, and true, story my rabbi told our congregation on the first day of Rosh Hashana services, this year.

Recently the rabbi received a phone call from someone in our town informing him that there was a survivor of the “camps”; a man in his 90’s, living not far away. They asked if the rabbi would mind making a visit.

Mind?! He jumped at the chance.

Going over, he envisioned a frail old man,… perhaps on his death-bed. Not at all. Old? Sure. But, alert, healthy, and mobile.

During their conversation, the man explained that since those dark days, for some seventy-five years, he had been angry… furious… with G-d.

Finally, his anger had abated. Once again, he wanted to grow closer to G-d, but did not know where, or how, to begin, after so much time had passed.

The rabbi immediately took out a pair of Tefillin, and helped the man remember how to put them on. He then guided the man through reciting the Shema, and a few other blessings and prayers.

Seventy-five years of estrangement, alienation and loss, had melted away in a few minutes of kindness and encouragement. Teshuvah at work

We all tend to focus on what appears wrong in this World. But, there is boundless good, everywhere we really look, as well.

sealed

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Catastrophes and second chances

Two wondrous news stories this week got me thinking about our upcoming — and disastrously non-wondrous — presidential election.

Neither of the stories had the slightest thing to do with electoral politics. Quite the opposite. They are rather amazing “feelgood” stories. Neither has anything to do with the U.S. or politics at all. But both are about the triumph of individuals or small groups over decades, or even millennia, of adversity.

First is the tale of Ysrael Kristal. He just celebrated his bar mitzvah.

He also just got named as the world’s oldest man by Guinness. Yes, he finally celebrated his bar mitzvah at the age of 113.

As a young boy, Polish-born Yisrael Kristal looked forward to turning 13 when he could celebrate his bar mitzvah, the Jewish coming-of-age ritual. But that was 1916 and World War I crushed that hope. Little did he know that he would wait a century for that ceremony.

Kristal barely survived the next world war as a prisoner in Auschwitz. After WWII, he rebuilt his life in Israel, raising a family and opening a business. Earlier this year, he was recognized by Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest man.

Some accomplishment, eh? And after so much tragedy and loss.

Then there are the Lemba people of Zimbabwe.

They are black Africans. Physically, they resemble other sub-Saharan tribespeople. But their own legends and traditions have told them they are Jews. Part of the Diaspora. From Israel. And what do you know? A few years ago, DNA analysis backed up those legends.

Lemba men carry the Cohen Modal Haplotype, a set of Y chromosome characteristics typical of the Jewish priesthood, at about the same rate as that of major Jewish populations. For many, the genetic findings validated the Lemba’s connection to Judaism, further inspiring their quest to reconnect with the faith. Their relationship with the larger Jewish community is now helping them preserve their culture and look out for vulnerable community members just as Lemba traditions once did.

And now they’re building their first synagogue with help from a U.S.-based group that serves isolated, emerging, or returning Jewish communities. This and other help come at a perfect time, when the tribe has been struggling to take care of itself and its members.

So after 100 years Ysrael Kristal celebrates his coming of age and after thousands of years, the Lemba discover their true identity and begin to build a spiritual base to match their cultural and genetic one.

—–

But why would their heartwarming stories bring me to think of the no-good-news election lying less than a month ahead of us?

I’ll get to that in a second, but first I have to say I’m speaking only for myself when I talk politics. The Zelman Partisans as an organization takes no position on the presidential race (or any other). A couple of our board members are Trump supporters. A few more of us here on the blog consider Trump to be, shall we say slightly untrustworthy on Second Amendment issues and all other issues of life, liberty, and the universe. No one hereabouts is insane enough to v*te for Hillary Clinton because even though she lies about everything else, we believe her 100% when she says she wants the “Australian option” on our guns and gun rights.

But I think it’s clear to most everybody that this election is a rolling catastrophe, and that — whoever wins, whatever happens — the catastrophe will continue to roll long beyond the inauguration of the next president of the U.S. We are in angry, desperate, perilous times — and may only be at the beginning of them.

Maybe these perils will pass and we’ll emerge safe and prosperous in a few years. But maybe we’ll end up in WWIII. Or a deeper-than-ever depression. Maybe we’ll end up with either “left-wing” or “right-wing” brownshirts in the streets. Curbs on free speech. Border walls that fence us in but fail to fence others out. Increasing surveillance, with increasing “security” breaches that leave us far less secure. No matter who wins, we’ll almost certainly end up with further restrictions on our gun rights (perhaps mild, perhaps draconian). We are already so polarized that it’s certain that the losing side will nurse grudges while the winning side gloats and tries to wield power by executive diktat. Faction will continue all-out-war with faction and any illusion of the rule of law or respect for the poor old battered Constitution will be shattered. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the indomitable bureaucracy will march on, controlling life more and more — as it always does, no matter what party imagines it’s in power.

You can argue all you want about which side is less bad. But you can’t credibly argue that our immediate political future looks good.

We are in for hard times. And our freedoms — any of them, probably all of them — are going to suffer.

Quite possibly in the next few years and beyond, we’ll have moments, and more than moments, years, maybe decades, in which we lose both freedom and hope. We’ll despair. Some of us will be tempted to surrender. Friends will betray friends. Causes will implode. Losses will pile up. Injustices will pierce us to the heart. Good people will be punished for harmless deeds. Innocent people will be forced to turn outlaw. Many will suffer. Many will break down in grief.

So for those moments, I point you back to Ysrael Kristal and the Lemba Jews of Zimbabwe. They were lost but now are found. They suffered but ultimately triumphed.

And so bloody damn well will the keepers of freedom and the defenders of individual life.

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Wearing Your Heart On Your Sleeve, Or Your Chest

Are you familiar with the old saying “So and so wears their heart on their sleeve”? It is supposed it originated when in the Middle Ages knights who fought at tournaments wore a token of their lady on their sleeves. Today if you make your feelings obvious to everybody you wear your heart on your sleeve.

That can be a bad thing, I’ll admit, it makes it easier for folks to know what you are thinking. But in this situation I’m thinking of now, it can be a good thing!

Have you ever wondered what you could do to help let people know about The Zelman Partisans? The no compromise, no surrender Jewish and friends Second Amendment rights group? Have you had trouble working that into a conversation? Say! How about the incredible weather, the price of corn futures and let me tell you about this great group I found! The one group that actually talked to Ted Nugent when he was accused of anti-semitism. The group that is having a contest for a historic Israeli Mauser, you have told your friends about that, right? Too much of a segue?

I have a far easier way for you to help TZP and a great conversation starter!

Others have listed their favorite items from the TZP store and products, I want to tell you about mine because it has been so helpful for me.

My favorite TZP gear is the items from the Queensboro store. I mean I really, really like Queensboro. They make it easy for me to look better. So here are a few of my favorite things (cue Julie Andrews here)

Warm weather choices
Warm weather choices

For summer, we have a buttercream yellow sleeveless polo and a peachy pink sleeveless polo. They are very professional looking. I can wear them either with jeans, capri pants for a slightly dressier look or slacks to look even nicer. There are also Tee shirts, the kiwi color is a very feminine cut with cute cap sleeves and the hunter green is a regular Tee shirt style. I’m sorry the pretty hunter green didn’t show up well, blame the photographer, me.

Sleeve Length Variety
Sleeve Length Variety

Tee shirts are always great, I have the three different lengths, the cap sleeve, the regular Tee shirt and the red is a long sleeve, for slightly cooler mornings or evenings. Also great as we move into fall!

Polo Shirts
Polo Shirts

Speaking of seasonal transitions, there are the most wonderful three quarter length sleeve polos! I have red and spring green. These really are very nice. Believe me when I say they are even suitable for interviewing politicians in foreign countries! And you will look nice and professional.

Cool Weather
Cool Weather

As we swing into fall and cooler weather we have you covered there too. I know, it’s a pretty miniscule joke. But we have lovely sweatshirts like the royal blue ladies cut that is adorable with a little cotton turtleneck shirt under it, and the pink zippy sweatshirt that has seen many races in cool weather and the two sweaters in gray and cerulean blue that when paired with slacks or even a skirt give a very put together appearance.

Baseball Cap
Baseball Cap

And last, but certainly not least if my hunter green and khaki baseball cap. This looks great with or without a ponytail hanging out the back. I wore it during Ethnic Festival. It was required. Well, sort of. It was required I have my hair covered. Most of the ladies wore a bandana, but our commissioner knowing where my heart lies had absolutely no problem with my wearing my TZP logo baseball cap. Considering that part of what I did was hand out the food orders, walk the grounds on various errands and occasionally interact with representatives from other countries a lot of people saw the logo.

I wear TZP logo wear almost anyplace I go. I’ve worn it to take my Mom to her doctor’s appointments. More than one doctor has said “Excuse me, I’m not staring at your chest, but I’m trying to read your shirt”. It’s so easy to smile back and reply “Awesome shirt isn’t it? It’s the Zelman Partisans, a Jewish and friends Second Amendment rights group”. “What do they do? Oh just LET ME TELL YOU!” And then I can tell them a bit about each of us and that we all write from different angles and cover a huge variety of topics. Most of the people I’ve talked to were very excited to find out there was such a group and where they could find us on the internet.

So if you’ve ever wondered how to start a conversation and tell people about TZP, let the Queen help you. No, not me, or the one in England, Queensboro. You too can get clothing from there and dress like a King or Queen. The quality of the items is EXCELLENT! I haven’t had colors fade and I line dry clothes, stitching is nice and everything holds up very well. The prices for the clothes I’ve purchased have been very reasonable. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Sizes for the things I have seem to run true to the charts as well.

I wear my heart on my sleeve, but sometimes on my chest too.

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We Are A Miracle

August 13, 2016 was the 9th of Av, or Tisha B’Av 5776. Since nothing is to mar the joy of Shabbat, it was observed on the 14th of August.

I realize, that’s yesterday, but I can’t let it go without sharing a couple things.

The first is something wonderful I got from my teammate, Y.B. a wonderful true story honoring the spirit and commitment of  Rabbi Yekusiel Yehudah Halberstam.

Rabbi Yekusiel Yehudah Halberstam
Rabbi Yekusiel Yehudah Halberstam

 Defiance on a Death March
The Klausenberger Rebbe z’tl on 9 Av

Rabbi Yekusiel Yehudah Halberstam became one of the youngest rebbes in Europe, leading thousands of followers in the town of Klausenburg, Romania, before World War II. His wife, eleven children and most of his followers were murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

In the summer of 1944 the Russian Army moved west and pushed the Nazis further and further back across Poland into Germany. The Germans, in an effort to cover their crimes forced thousands of slave labourers on death marches across Poland. The Rebbe had previously spent time in Auschwitz and on a work detail in Warsaw, sifting through the rubble of the now vacant Warsaw ghetto on his hands and knees, forced to look for anything that might be of value for the Nazi war effort.

As the Russians moved closer the Rebbe along with 6000 other prisoners were forced to march for twenty miles a day, in the scorching Polish summer. The death camp of Dachau in Germany was to be their final destination of which just 2000 made it.

On the march, the prisoners were starved of food and water and any stragglers were shot immediately. On the day of Tisha B’Av (9th of the Jewish month of Av), Jews mourn the destruction of the two Temples in Jerusalem as well as many other disasters that have happened on this painful day. One of the signs of mourning of Tisha B’Av is that Jews remove their leather shoes (leather shoes being an inappropriate sign of comfort and luxury on this solemn day).

On this day and on this march, the Rebbe removed his shoes. Despite all that had happened to him, he refused to give up on the Jewish observances that made him who he was. The Nazis saw this as a sign of rebellion and decided to have some fun at the Rebbe’s expense. They made him march alongside the column on broken stones and gravel. They joked as his feet became bloodied and bruised.

At one point they thought he was trying to escape down the embankment so they shot him. He was hit in the arm and tumbled down the embankment. In an effort to stem the bleeding, he took bark and leaves from a tree and wrapped it around the wound. It was at that point in his life, when faced with such unimaginable pain, hatred and adversity that the Rebbe demonstrated forever that there is no depth from which the human spirit cannot rise.

It was at that point that he swore to God that should he survive he would build an institution based on the Jewish values of love, peace, equality and tolerance, all of the values the Nazis despised. He swore that he would build a hospital in the land of Israel that would epitomise everything the Nazis tried to destroy.

Today, that hospital is Laniado in Netanya.The hospital was built in 1974. After the maternity unit was opened, the Rebbe asked the nurses and staff to call him immediately when the first baby was born. A few days later he received the call with the good news. Upon hearing, the Rebbe said in a broken voice, ‘zeh ha nekama sheli’, ‘this is my revenge’. This is my revenge – life will defeat death, hope will defeat pain, compassion will overcome hatred.

May this Tisha B’Av be the last before our mourning is turned into joy and celebration.

And this one I have for you.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I seem to have some dust in my eye.

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A Partisan Passes

nyberg-iii-flag

In the early morning hours of Wednesday, August 10, 2016, Mike Vanderboegh passed away. In recent years, he battled cancer as well as tyranny.

MikeVanderboegh

Longtime militia and ‘Patriot’ leader Mike Vanderboegh dies at 64
Mike Vanderboegh, a longtime leader in the “Patriot” movement, died Wednesday after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 64. Vanderboegh also was founder of the “Three Percenters,” who vow to use force if necessary to resist what they see as oppressive gun-control laws.

I say ‘partisan,’ although Mike was not formally associated with The Zelman Partisans. Nevertheless, we were fellow freedom travelers. He could be darned controversial, but he recognized the threat of gun owner control and victim disarmament. He backed up his words with actions. I believe that his smuggling of standard capacity magazines to states banning useful tools against tyrants was far more effective than many people realize: In terms of logistics support,the magazines meant little except to a few hard-pressed individual who benefitted, but it demonstrated — oh so well — how magazine bans are pointless. A lesson we should have learned from Prohibition and the War on (Some) Drugs. Even when he announced a smuggling run, the powers that would be failed to intercept a shipment.

As parent, Mike also performed well. He raised a son who not only stands up as his own man, but has stood up to continue his father’s work. That is a legacy of which any person should be proud.

לנצח לזכור, לנצח החמיץ.

Requiesce in pace, Mike.

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Battle of Athens

battle-of-athens
Sadly, I let this anniversary slip my mind. Happily, a friend reminded me of this, and that this was always popular with Aaron Zelman and his original crew.

Yes, people did exercise their Second Amendment rights to put down tyrannical government. In 1946, the Battle of Athens, Tennessee.

Is it any wonder that today’s wannabe tyrants want to dismiss the Second Amendment as “obsolete” and “archaic”?

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