Tag Archives: Jewish History

אש –Thoughts on Tisha B’Av

The 9th of Av this year was observed on Tuesday, the saddest day of the year, with plenty of reason. The following is from Chabad.

The 9th Day of Av (the 11th Jewish month) is first mentioned in the book of Zechariah 7:3.  One of four Jewish fast days, it commemorates dramatic national catastrophes (related to the destruction of Jerusalem), in an attempt to benefit from history by avoiding – rather than repeating1 – critical, moral and strategic missteps.  It concludes the 21 days of predicament and lamentation, which began when the walls of Jerusalem were breached by Nebuchadnezzar (1st Temple) and Titus (2nd Temple), launching a seven-week period of consolation, ingathering and renewal.

There are many major Jewish calamities are commemorated on the 9th Day of Av:

* Unlike Joshua & Caleb, the other “ten spies/tribal presidents” slandered the Land of Israel, preferring immediate convenience and conventional “wisdom” over faith and long term vision, thus prolonging the wandering in the desert for 40 years, before settling the Promised Land;

*The destruction of the First Temple and Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (586 BCE) resulted in the massacre of 100,000 Jews and a massive national exile;

*The destruction of the Second Temple and Jerusalem by Titus of Rome (70 CE) triggered the massacre of 1-2 million Jews and another massive national exile, aiming to annihilate Judaism and the Jewish people;

*The Ten Martyrs – ten leading rabbis – executed by the Roman Empire;

*The Bar Kokhbah Revolt was crushed with the killing of Bar Kokhbah, the fall of his Beitar headquarters south of Jerusalem in Judea and Samaria (135 CE) by Hadrian, who still afflicts us to this day by having changed the name of the land to “Falestine” as a poke in the eye to the Jews referencing their ancient enemy the Philistines. The plowing of Jerusalem, and the killing of 600,000 Jews by the Roman Empire;

*The pogroms of the First Crusade (1096-1099) massacred tens of thousands of Jews in Germany, France, Italy and Britain;

*The Jewish expulsion from Britain (1290);

*The Jewish expulsion from Spain (1492);

*The eruption of the First World War (1914);

*The beginning of the 1942 deportation of Warsaw Ghetto Jews to the Treblinka extermination camp.

This year was in some ways a more horrible than usual observance. It was just a few short days ago that the Knesset voted to take down the magnetometers. I touched on that in Neve Tzuf, but Caroline Glick does an excellent job of explaining how that decision was made. Turns out Bibi caved to….wait for it….the IDF and Shin Bet. No, I’m not kidding. This column is well worth reading. Losing and winning the Temple Mount. It actually makes a lot of sense if you remember the column Moshe Feiglin of the Zehut party wrote last year about “The Soldier Who Fired A Defense Minister”. It appears some of the people at the top levels in the IDF attended the John Kerry school of military studies. School motto “The quickest way of ending a war is to lose it.”~~George Orwell

So let’s take a quick look at that “sacred” tenet often referred to “Status Quo”. This data comes from this week’s episode of Walter’s World with Walter Bingham. This episode he had two security experts on, one of them is Alan Baker, the former Israeli Ambassador to Canada. The topic of the show is what is the status quo? Meaning what does the term itself mean.

Originally, the status quo began in the 19th century with the Turkish Ottoman Sultan who issued a decree that involved seven holy places in Jerusalem and Bethlehem and affected only Christians. It gave priority to the Orthodox. Then in 1967 when Israel won control of Jerusalem in a war it did not start a new status quo arrangement was made. Israel decided to remove the Israeli flag, army units and Rabbi Shlomo Goren from the Temple Mount and give control back to the wafq-kos. Because administering the site brings in income for them, it’s another reason they want it. Then the Chief Temple Rabbi approved Jews being sent to the Kotel to pray instead.

So about this sovereignty, Abu Mazen claims they have sovereignty, Israel claims they do. No one has had sovereignty since the Ottoman rule ended in 1922. The Jordanians didn’t have sovereignty when they took control of it by hostile take over either. Only Pakistan recognized Jordanian control, the international courts and the U.N. never did. The status quo was an informal, non-binding arrangement to enable the day to day functioning. Israel was in control after it took over control from Jordan and extended it’s laws and administration over all of Jerusalem. While it guarantees freedom of access and worship, issues of sovereignty were never mentioned. The same laws apply in Jerusalem as do Tel Aviv and Be’er Sheva. The peace treaty with Jordan made no mention of the status quo, and Jordan did not ask. Israel has FULL responsibility for security. The status quo NEVER regulated security, it regulates day to day events, like prayers. Even if you take the lowest U.N. (necessary) opinion of Israel, that they are “occupiers”, that Jerusalem is occupied territory, according to the laws of occupation, and the Hague rules of 1907 it would be Israel’s duty to maintain the public order and security. That is the opinion of International law as well.

So, how did Tisha B’Av go this year on the Temple Mount? Well, according to another one of my favorite programs, Temple Talk, it was…amazing. Rabbi Chaim said he arrived at 0610 and there were already hundreds of Jews lined up waiting to visit through the one gate non-Muslims are allowed to use. There had been speculation and trepidation that after the shameful caving of the Knesset and Prime Minister Netanyahu that the pieceful Falestinians would riot or incite violence because when they’ve done that in the past, the police reward them by shutting down the Temple Mount to……the Jews. But this year, this year was different. Very different. There is speculation that it’s the new Police Commissioner. The TT show said the police now greet you, it tends to be the same crew and they are polite and encouraging. They want everyone that comes to get to go up on the Temple Mount. The TT hosts said they were expecting the wafq-kos to really be following everyone closely and up in their faces, but it didn’t happen. The police kept the wafq-kos at a distance, there were very few muslims on the Temple Mount and the ones that were there were not allowed to cause problems. While no open prayer was allowed, the police did an outstanding job of maintaining order. The hosts of the show said that there is a Spiritual upheaval and renewal afoot, and everyone knows it, that it’s been building for decades. As it turns out, 1,263 Jews, an unprecedented number visited the Temple Mount this Tisha B’Av this year. I saw in another report the wafq-kos also said it was unprecedented, as well as unacceptable. The Israeli police have shown the way. It is possible to maintain principles, order on the Temple Mount and not cave in to terrorist demands.

I saw a movie recently, in a theater. A real one. I don’t go to many/any movies usually. I don’t think they make very good movies any more, and I’m not inclined to give my money to actors/actresses that will use it to further their bully pulpit and denigrate my values, culture and self-defense rights.

But there was a good reason I went to this one. It was made in 1977, so not a new movie. It’s called מבצה יונתן or Mivtza Yonatan. It’s about the raid on Entebbe that happened on 4th July 1976. An Air France plane was hijacked by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Falestine. There are some interesting points I’d like to bring out. One, the movie was made only a year after the event. Two, the movie was pro-Israel and pro-IDF. While it was an Israeli made movie, do you think such a thing would happen today? I don’t. Then there were some of the lines that were said in it that struck me. One was when the doctor that was on board asks one of the German female terrorists “Why? Haven’t we done enough to the Jews?” She answers they are fighting for world freedom, they aren’t fighting the Jews, they are fighting the Imperial Zionist. Another line is when Sayeret Metkal begins to plan the potential rescue options. After Yoni comes back from a meeting with the powers that be, Yitzak Rabin was P.M. at the time, his staff asks him what happened and the remark is made nothing will happen because their government will never go for it because of world opinion. After the Jews have been separated out from the other passengers one of them asks a male German terrorist what he hopes to accomplish with all this. He says the world is dirty and it needs to be destroyed and rebuilt. That the Israelis stole Falestinian land and used German money to do it. And the last line is two newspaper reporters that are waiting in Israel reporting the events. One says to the other that if the Jews give in, no one will be safe, there will be an epidemic of sky-jacking. Now, I know these are all lines in a movie, but the female German Terrorist sounds like a modern day spokesperson for the Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement. I think the male German terrorist is a bit confused, if German money was used, what was “stolen”? Not all the terrorists were German, some were pieceful Arabs. And despite this, Rabin signed the Oslo accords. He didn’t learn, and things have been worse since. And despite knowing that was the Falestinians and their supporters have been doing for a very long time, Bibi still caved. He didn’t learn either.

And what was the fallout from the “world”?

From Wikipedia

The United Nations Security Council convened on 9 July 1976, to consider a complaint from the Chairman of the Organization of African Unity charging Israel with an “act of aggression”. The Council allowed Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Chaim Herzog, and Uganda’s foreign minister, Juma Oris Abdalla, to participate without voting rights. UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim told the Security Council that the raid was “a serious violation of the sovereignty of a Member State of the United Nations” though he was “fully aware that this is not the only element involved … when the world community is now required to deal with unprecedented problems arising from international terrorism.” Abdalla, the representative of Uganda, alleged that the affair was close to a peaceful resolution when Israel intervened while Herzog, the representative of Israel, accused Uganda of direct complicity in the hijacking. The US and UK sponsored a resolution which condemned hijacking and similar acts, deplored the loss of life arising from the hijacking (without condemning either Israel or Uganda), reaffirmed the need to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States, and called on the international community to enhance the safety of civil aviation. However, the resolution failed to receive the required number of affirmative votes due to 2 abstentions and 7 absences. A second resolution sponsored by Benin, Libya and Tanzania, that condemned Israel, was not put to the vote.

Western nations spoke in support of the raid. West Germany called the raid “an act of self-defence”. Switzerland and France praised the operation. Representatives of the United Kingdom and United States offered significant praise, calling the Entebbe raid “an impossible operation”. Some in the United States noted that the hostages were freed on 4 July 1976, 200 years after the signing of the US declaration of independence. In private conversation with Israeli Ambassador Dinitz, Henry Kissinger sounded criticism for Israeli use of US equipment during the operation, but that criticism was not made public at the time. In mid-July 1976, the supercarrier USS Ranger and her escorts entered the Indian Ocean and operated off the Kenyan coast in response to a threat of military action by forces from Uganda.

I never did like Kissinger. But the point is, not much has changed has it? The Falestinians are terrorist, a majority of Israeli Jews believe at least half of the F.A. residents are terrorists or support terrorism a new study shows. Israeli/Jewish life appears to be cheap to the world. The world gets it’s panties in a twist when Jews defend themselves be it in Entebbe or the Temple Mount.

But while the Temple still has not been, I hope and pray Rabbi Chaim and Yitzchk Reuven are correct and there is a spiritual awakening afoot, that the Temple Mount really will stay “In our hands”.

At the start of the movie Operation Yonatan, Yoni is training “The Unit” to rescue hostages from a skyjacked plane. The movie is in Hebrew, but it has subtitles. The command to enter the plane simultaneously through multiple windows was “אש” “esh”, meaning “fire” because they were going to commence firing upon gaining entry to the plane. Those men were willing and able to put boots to windows and boldly enter and take control for the safety and very lives of those held hostage by terrorists. That I think my friends, is the attitude we should have. We should be willing to put boots to the barriers that separate us from those people, places and things held hostage by old, timid, outdated, erroneous or terrorist beliefs or threats. Not necessarily with guns and RPGs, but with courage, knowledge and conviction in our hearts and our minds.

I will leave you with this beautiful, beautiful Tisha B’Av movie made by the Temple Institute in Jerusalem. It’s only a couple minutes long.

אש

1Rather than repeating? How many times have how many people given away the Temple Mount. Perhaps it should be apply, not just read.

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Pesach and the Haggadah

“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

פסח Pesach 2017 has concluded. I hope everyone’s was blessed. I learn things every year, and this year I did some deep reflecting and thinking, just sort of processing some of the things I read.

While I realize my life, and our lives in America today, have little if anything in common with the Israelites held captive in Egypt all those years ago, in the Haggadah, it says “In every generation each individual is bound to regard himself as if he personally had gone forth from Egypt”. Hmm, I’ve never been to Egypt, and I have no desire to go there now. But I have watched The Mummy movies several times. Even the old black and white one. But that’s not what it means. Turns out, we all have our own Egypt, Pharaoh and Moshe.

In each one of us there is an Egypt and a Pharaoh and a Moses and Freedom in a Promised Land. And every point in time is an opportunity for another Exodus.

Egypt is a place that chains you to who you are, constraining you from growth and change. And Pharaoh is that voice inside that mocks your gambit to escape, saying, “How could you attempt being today something you were not yesterday? Aren’t you good enough just as you are? Don’t you know who you are?”

Moses is the liberator, the infinite force deep within, an impetuous and all-powerful drive to break out from any bondage, to always transcend, to connect with that which has no bounds.

I wonder, how many of us are in chains of one sort or another? Work situations, relationship situations, health situations, financial situations? There are no limits to the things that can bind us. I might take a minute to mention that former Congressman Bob McEwen points out that when you look at the effect of taxes, working and not being allowed to keep the fruit of your labor is slavery. For those fans of Hillary and Bernie.

How could I make such a statement in the middle of talking about Pesach? Well, because Rabbi Tsvi says

Tell it in first person, in the now. Don’t say, “Long ago, the ancient Hebrews…” Say, “When we were slaves in Egypt, the perverse socio-bureaucratic system thoroughly crushed every individual’s sense of self-worth!” Everything that happened there parallels something in each of our lives. We are truly living it now. We are simply examining our own lives in the dress of ancient Egypt.

See? It’s relevant!

There is a point during the Seder where the youngest child present asks four questions. Hmm, would this present a problem? Cowgirl kitty refused to ask the right questions. No problem, Rabbi had the answer.

No children? Let an adult ask. There’s just you? You be the child, and G‑d will be the father. While you’re at it, ask Him a few other difficult questions for us all.

Oh, I’m good with this! I’m so good with this! What’s more? We’re not limited to four!

Part of the Seder is eating Matzah. My Kosher for Pesach Matzah came from Israel. I’ve been eating Matzah since last Monday night, the 10th. This is a mitzvah, a commandment. Yep, until there is another Holy Temple, this is the only mitzvah we can eat. And according to Rabbi, this is an incredibly powerful thing. An amazing thing. Matzah has been called the bread of faith or Emunah.

Emunah is when you touch that place where your soul and the essence of the Infinite Light are one. It’s a point that nothing can describe. Where there are no words, no doubts, no uncertainty, no confusion—nothing else but a magnificent oneness before which all the challenges of life vanish like a puff of vapor.

I should have ordered like a gazillion cartons (5 boxes to a carton) of this!

We too began buried in Egypt, all but losing our identity. But that furnace of oppression became for us a firing kiln, a baker’s oven, the womb from whence we were born in the month of spring. In our liberation from there, we brought our fruits of freedom to the world.

http://www.chabad.org/library/howto/wizard_cdo/aid/117118/jewish/7-Bread.htm

Miracles happen when Divine energy from beyond the cosmos enters within. Why did miracles happen in Egypt? Because we believed they would. Those who didn’t believe in miracles saw only plagues. To see a miracle, you need an open heart and mind, open enough to receive the Infinite. That is the opening we make when we thank G‑d for the miracle of our food.

http://www.chabad.org/library/howto/wizard_cdo/aid/117124/jewish/13-Bless.htm

Aren’t these amazing thoughts to ponder and ruminate on?

And then, there’s the miracle of the parting of the Sea of Reeds, the obstacle.

But the greatest of barriers turned into the greatest of miracles. Not only did the sea become an ambush for the enemy, but also a path that led the children of Israel to their ultimate freedom.

So it is with every obstacle. When you’re out to do the right thing, the entire world is there to assist you—including the most formidable threats, the most impossible challenges. The bigger they are, the more impossible to traverse, the greater the miracle they will provide.

That is the true reality of everything in this world: to serve you on your mission. What is your mission? To make this world miraculous.

And obstacles are miracles waiting to happen.

So,  I think we all struggle with slavery of some sort, perhaps this will give you some hope, and maybe a different perspective. The children of Israel went into Egypt as 12 different tribes, and came out a nation. These are just some of the things that really struck me this year, and I’m still chewing on some of them. Unlike the matzah which I am now loading with my leftover yummy charoset which I munch right down.

I’ll leave you with one final Pesach thought, because A) it’s a really good one, and B) it has a picture of a camel.

Leaving Egypt and slavery

Got the popcorn?

Here’s a song I learned in school, I love this version. I know it’s by a group called Tractor’s Revenge, but the words are wonderful. I have it on my phone, so I sang it at the end of my Seder.

Echad Mi Yodea אחד מי יודע

It has the meanings in English, it’s wonderful!

 

Then there is this one, wonderful thoughts, Passover: I’m in Love with the Taste of You, this year’s Aish Pesach video.

 

And lastly, just for fun. Pesach Funk. “Freedom! Oh man! Gonna live my life the best way I can!” Boy can they dance!

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But HOW could this happen?

I thought it might be interesting to take a look back at gun control through Jewish history, so I did so for a research paper a couple of years ago, but I think it is all still relevant.

I often hear people say “Oh, but why did this happen?” I think we should look at the question of how things like this can happen, by examining the role of the victim disarmament laws in place during the time period.

As Dave Kopel points out in his paper To Your Tents Oh Israel i weapon control dates way back for a conquered people. From I Samuel 13:19-22: Now there was no blacksmith to be found throughout all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, “Lest the Hebrews make themselves swords or spears.” But every one of the Israelites went down to the Philistines to sharpen his plowshare, his mattock, his axe, or his sickle, and the charge was two-thirds of a shekel for the plowshares and for the mattocks, and a third of a shekel for sharpening the axes and for setting the goads. So on the day of the battle there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people with Saul and Jonathan, but Saul and Jonathan his son had them. Mr. Kopel points out that governments must control people’s ability to access weapons by also preventing them from making them. Therefore, there were no Israeli smiths.

Whenever Jews lived with Muslims, they lived as dhimmis. This meant they would be facing many restrictions of common rights. First they had to pay jizya, which is a tax any non-Muslim will have to pay to be allowed to live among the Muslims. In addition to that, the Jews living amongst the Muslims were forbidden to testify in court cases if the case involved a Muslim, nor were they allowed to bear arms.ii These restrictions enabled many attacks against the helpless Jews to succeed.

The May Laws in Russia carried many restrictions for the Jews. In some of the areas where pogroms took place some of the Jews attempted for form self-defense groups, but they would be disarmed by the government who appeared to have been involved in instigating some of the pogroms. Firearm registration for all was introduced on April 1, 1918, and in October of 1918 all firearms, ammunition and sabers were ordered to be turned in. The exception was Communists were allowed to keep their weapons. Pogroms in Russia occurred 1881-1884, 1903-1906 and 1917-1921 with each wave of pogrom being increasingly violent towards Jews.iii

Nazi Germany is the easy to use to illustrate how restrictive gun laws can be used to control a population or discriminate against or eradicate a segment of it’s citizens. The Nazi government kept good records. In 1928 the Weimer Republic enacted the “Laws on Firearms and Ammunition”. These laws stated that a person had to have a government permit to do each of the following: one to own or sell a firearms, one to carry firearms (including handguns), one to manufacture firearms, and professionally deal in firearms and a separate one to buy ammunition. Then the government decided who got them based on it’s decision if a person was “trustworthy” enough and if they could demonstrate what the government decided was a good need. This would be the 1928 German version of what is advocated by some in America currently as “Universal Background Checks”. If at some point the government decided they didn’t want someone to have a weapon or ammunition, they simply didn’t renew the permit. In September 1935 the “Nuremberg Laws” were enacted and the Jews lost their civil rights. On March 18th 1938 the “Nazi Weapons Law” was enacted. No Jew was allowed to own or work in a business involving firearms. Kristallnacht occurred on November 10th, 1938. On November 11, 1938 the Nazi Weapons Laws was broadened and no Jew was allowed to own a weapon, any weapon, not just a gun. Since the permitting system had been in place for some time the Nazi government knew who had what weapons, they were marked with serial numbers and where they could be found. This ensured that the Jews, who by now were not considered citizens of Germany could do little to resist the coming attacks.

An interesting note is that America’s “Gun Control Act of 1968” was based on the “Nazi Weapons Laws”. Senator Thomas Dodd was a prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials and brought back a copy of the Nazi Weapons Laws. He had it translated by the Library of Congress. He then pushed for similar legislation in the “Gun Control Act of 1968”, which was signed into legislation.iv

The results of these type of laws are made very clear as by the end of our class observance of Yom HaShoah and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising will both have occurred.

Some of the Jews trapped in the Warsaw ghetto formed defensive bands and attempted to fight back. They realized they would not succeed for long, but they fought for their honor, and for the chance that some of them might make it out alive. The Yad Vashem web site has interviews with the survivors of the uprising and they talk about the pitifully small amount of weaponry they had available and their lack of training or experience. But they wanted that chance, that chance to live.v

The British attempted to keep the Jews disarmed in the forming state of Israel

On more than one occasion the British soldiers retaliated against the Irgun by rioting and attacking Jews and Jewish owned businesses. The British also turned a blind eye to Arab guerillas sneaking into Israel, or even knowingly armed them by supplying arms to TransJordan. Indeed there is a long history of attacks upon Jews in their homeland by both Arabs and British. These attacks were either ignored by the British or they made attempts to cover them up, as in the Hebron massacre. Even after the Hebron massacre the British refused to allow the Jews to arm themselves for protection. vi

Israel would seem to be a country that would understand the need for a armed populace. They have not been that way to the extent it might be thought. On July 31, 2013 Public Security Minister MK Yitzchak Aharonovitch called for tighter restrictions on firearm ownership.vii A little over a year later after the massacre at a Jerusalem Synagogue he called for relaxing controls.viii

Moshe Feiglin former MK, also called for easing restrictions on firearm ownership for citizens. His sentiments were expressed with the statement “The answer

is that the State of Israel is not increasing our liberties; it is reducing them. Dictatorship confiscate citizens’ weapons. ‘The State alone will take care of all your security needs’.”ixIsrael does have soldiers throughout the country that ride public transport with their weapons. There has still been many attacks on unarmed citizens in Synagogues, streets, and shops when one was not close enough to stop the attack before casualties resulted.

Europe has seen a rise in antisemitism over the last few years. In 2014 the Metropolitan Police have recorded a 120% increase in antisemitic crimes, but hate crimes are generally under reported. A Human Rights Watch article reported “the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency found that three quarters of respondents living in Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Sweden, and the UK felt antisemitism had increased in the country where they lived over the previous five years.”x Both Europe and the United Kingdom have very restrictive firearms laws, and yet attacks appear to be increasing on the defenseless as evidenced by the above statistics.

The divide between the church and the synagogue, that certainly played into the role of the attacks on Jews in Russia, the Spanish Inquisition, Germany and the Muslim countries. In those instances there were attempts to force them to convert to either Christianity or Islam as an alternative to torture and death. In the case of Germany, conversion was not an option as the Nuremberg laws defined who was or was not a Jew. Conversion was not offered or relevant, it was based on heritage. In this case, the church played a role

in terms of helping the Nazis and spreading antisemitic thought. The recent attacks do not appear to be related to the divide between the church and synagogue, but are based solely on hatred of Jews, because they are Jews. But throughout time and country one thing has remained the same. The laws in place restricted Jews from being able to carry out the Torah commands of self-defense such as Exodus 22:2-3 and defense of others Leviticus 19:16. Finally there is the law of pikuach nefesh. In the case of saving a human life, it trumps all others. It’s hard to obey G-d’s law when you are prevented by man’s, to paraphrase Rabbi Dovid Bendory.xi

i(Kopel, 2007)

ii(Wikipedia, Muslim and Arab Antisemitism)

iii(Isseroff, 2009) (Kopel, 1995)

iv(Simkin and Zelman, 1993)

v(Ochayon, Undated)

vi(Hollander, 2009) (Jewish Virtual Library) (Lapidot, 1999)

vii(Ya’ar, 2013)

viii(Dvorin, 2014)

ix(Gold, 2015)

x(Leghtas, 2015)

xi(Bendory, 2009)

Kopel,D (April, 2007). To Your Tents Oh Israel! Retrieved 15 April, 2015 from http://davekopel.com/Religion/To-your-tents-o-israel.pdf

Wikipedia. Persecution of Jews, Muslim and Arab Antisemitism. Retrieved 15 April, 2015 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persecution_of_Jews

Jewish Virtual Library (2013). CHMIELNICKI (Khmelnitski), BOGDAN. Retrieved 20 April, 2015 from http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0004_0_04259.html

Kopel,D (24 March, 1995). Lethal Laws. Retrieved 20, April 2015 from http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1272846

Issaroff,A. (2009). Zionism and Israel – Encyclopedic Dictionary: Pogrom Retrieved 21 April, 2015 from http://zionism-israel.com/dic/pogrom.htm

Zelman,A. And Simkin,J. Gun Control-Gateway To Tyranny (1993). Jews For The Preservation of Firearm Ownership Publishers, p. 1-14.

Wikipedia. Kristallnacht Retrieved 15 April, 2015 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kristallnacht

Ochayon,S. The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Retrieved 20 April, 2015 from http://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/education/newsletter/30/warsaw_ghetto_uprising.asp

Yad Vashem. Fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto. Retrieved 20 April, 2015 from http://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/exhibitions/warsaw_ghetto_testimonies/fighters.asp

Jewish Virtual Library. Jewish Defense Organizations: The Role of Jewish Defense Organizations in Palestine. Retrieved 20 April, 2015 from http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/defense.html

Lapidot,Y. Chapters in the History of the Irgun. Retrieved 22 April, 2015 from http://www.etzel.org.il/english/ac03.htm

Hollander,R. Anti-Jewish Violence in Pre-State Palestine/1929 Massacres (23 August, 2009) Retrieved 15 April, 2015 from http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=2&x_outlet=118&x_article=1691

Ya’ar,C. Israel To Consider Stricter Gun Control Laws. (31 July 2013) Retrieved 15 April, 2015 from http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/170453#.VToMABdVFX8

Dvorin,T. Aharonovich to Ease Restrictions on Weapons Permits (18 November, 2014) Retrieved 15 April, 2015 from http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/187597#.VToMxBdVFX8

Feiglin,M. Citizens Carrying Firearms Prevent Terror. (22 January, 2015) Retrieved 25 January, 2015 from http://jewishleadership.blogspot.com/2015/01/mk-moshe-feiglin-citizens-carrying.html

Leghtas, I. In 2015, Anti-Semitism Should No Longer Be a Reality in Europe (18 February, 2015) Retrieved 20 April, 2015 from http://www.hrw.org/news/2015/02/18/2015-anti-semitism-should-no-longer-be-reality-europe

Bendory,D. Man’s Law Kills Again – The Sin of Gun Free Zones. (12 November, 2009) Retrieved 20 April, 2015 from http://www.ammoland.com/2009/11/mans-law-kills-again-the-sin-of-gun-free-zones/#axzz3YDa9BUi8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dear World

I’ve decided to try to be creative. I made ya’ll a movie. The reading was part of a radio program and then I spent time collecting pictures I thought would go well with each part and tried to make the timing on the photo and the reading come out right. Yeah, I love ya’ll that much. So this is my first, and possibly only, multimedia video column.

Not long after I heard this recitation as part of Walter Bingham’s radio show I heard about some Jewish leaders in Rhode Island who are lobbying some of the pro-self defense legislators in the state to make it easier for criminals to attack defenseless people. They felt that if good, law-abiding citizens did not have the means to defend themselves and criminals were aware of that, then crime rates would surely drop. That children would be safer as they watched their parents attacked, unable to have the means to mount an effective defense of themselves and their children. Well, perhaps I’m paraphrasing a bit, a little.

But I was sad to hear this. Like I said, after having heard the recitation, and hearing the cries for more defenseless victims I can only shake my head. There are those that think they can find logic in why some are attacked. Dafna Meir was attacked because she lived in Otniel. No, she was attacked because she was Jew living in Israel. The horrible photos are from the Har Nof Synagogue massacre. Not to mention Hevron. There have been attacks on Churches, Synagogues and Jewish Community Centers in the U.S. And law enforcement have managed to stop some before they happen. I read a column that says ISIS now has a hit list of 15,000 people in the U.S. One entire church is on it. Some of the people have been notified by the FIB FBI that they are targets, many have not and the list is not publicly available. I guess what with covering for Hillary and all, it takes away from the time available to let people know they are targeted by ISIS. In the article it talks about an attack that was recently thwarted at a large church in Detroit.

But as I listened to the speaker, and thought about the images I could put with the reading I can’t help but wonder if those community leaders calling for defenseless victims shouldn’t do a brief review of history, at the least a brief review of Israeli history. Seems like there is an old saying. Something about “Those who ignore the past….”

So, without further ado, your movie….סרת

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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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73 years ago today, Warsaw

Today, 73 years ago began the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. Some say it ended on May 16th, but there are other sources that say that it lasted on until fall. But the Jews in the ghetto held out longer than the nation of Poland.

The thing was, everything had been fine in Poland. Until it wasn’t.

Weapons of survival
Weapons of survival
Photo from the Ghetto Fighters House in Acco, Israel

As candidates debate how best to get America disarmed, this is worth remembering.

Not only were there precious few weapons available, most of the Jews in the ghetto didn’t know how to use them.

But I will leave you with something strong, proud and brave.

Zog nit kein mol- Jewish partisan song, but that’s Yiddish.

THIS, is Hebrew!

NEVER.AGAIN.

 

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Purim Reflections

If you are unfamiliar with Purim, why and what is being celebrated, there is a helpful video at the end. The story of Purim comes from the Book of Esther in the Tanakh, or First Testament. The name “Purim” comes from the word “Pur” which means “Lots” as Haman, the villain of the story cast lots to determine which day he would destroy the Jews. Haman became miffed at the Jews because Mordechai, Esther’s Uncle, would not bow down before him. Haman was quite impressed with himself. So this year’s Purim is very interesting to me, being a patterns person and all. So under the “The More Things Change The More They Stay The Same” banner let’s have a look.

One of the things one does on Purim is hear the reading of the story of Esther, usually in a Synagogue. Let’s contrast that with the Temple Mount, the one that is the holiest sight in Judaism. For sometime now muslims have been attempting to prevent Jews from going to visit the temple mount. They are already forbidden to pray there. The muslims have rioted near the area where the Jews are allowed to gain entrance to prevent them from entering. When they do enter, they are attacked verbally and lately, physically. Some of the muslims attempting to stop the Jewish visitors from seeing the temple mount are now children who shout “Allahu Akbar” Luckily the police were right there to stop it. Oh, wait, my bad. They were right there, they just didn’t stop it. Nor did they intervene when a member of the waqf guard assaulted a Jewish visitor. Physically, not just verbally. But, hey, good luck, because the Israeli police were right there this time and they sprang into action, and they.. oops, my bad again. They were right there, they just didn’t do anything. Ok, so this year reading the story of Esther on the Temple Mount was not a promising proposition.

Another part of Purim is a lovely meal, traditional food would include Oznei Haman or Hamantaschen filled with poppyseed filling. Although I have now seen a huge variety of filling choices I want to try. So let’s see what is of interest this year in the food category. Ahh, back to the Temple Mount. I see they are having a delightful FREE, yes FREE Al Aqsa Buffet. But wait, that can’t be, because that would be illegal. And calculated to offend, much like their playing football on the Temple Mount. Think of it as carrying on a lively soccer game in the House of Worship of your denomination. Not on the athletic field behind the building. In the sanctuary. To Jews the entire Temple Mount is holy, to muslims, not so much. Just the al aqsa mosque, which is why they have destroyed Jewish artifacts trying to erase the Jewish presence.

So what else for Purim. Ah, costumes. I rethought my first choice, and came up with a better idea. I’m sure that’s common, thinking through the costume and what you want to do with it. Thankfully we’ve come many years from when a madman wanted to wipe every trace of Jews from the earth. Except we haven’t. A mere couple weeks ago a young man named Avraham Goldschmidt was attacked on his way to a wedding by a knife wielding manic. Avraham fought him off with his tefillin bag while shouting if someone had a weapon to “neutalize him”. It was Avraham’s good fortune that Nir Barkat is the mayor of Jerusalem and not someone like Bloomers, DeBlasio (is that still his name this week?) or any of the astroturf group Mayors Against Self-Defense. Nope Nir is cut from a different cloth. His bodyguards drew their guns and Nir rushed the terrorist after he dropped the knife. All this can be viewed on closed circuit TV. Which despite the videocams being right there did actual zip/nada to stop the crime. A thought for those that think those security cams are useful. Along with tefillin, Jews often wear a Kippah. Now that’s not part of a costume per se, but it is something that is part of Jewish dress. Unless you are a Jew in Ramallah Israel. NYC Councilor David Greenfield was asked by U.S. officials on his visit to Israel to remove his Kippah when he left the U.S consulate. To his credit, after first ascertaining he wasn’t placing the other members at risk, he refused to remove it. NYC Councilor David Greenfield is no shrinking violet, no he isn’t. That video is well worth watching too.

So, without giving away the end of the Purim story, let’s just say self-defense was involved. So, what is the application for today? Well, there certainly have been a plethora of attacks on Jews lately and antisemitism is on the rise all over the world. And the response from the leaders of the different countries has been a parade? Well, except from the U.S. In the U.S. the regime harfed that the correct response to terrorism is not to kill the terrorists, but to give them jobs instead. What a load of harf! Things are so bad, that as my colleague Y.B. has pointed out Rabbi Margolin suggested Jews at risk be granted a special permit to be armed. I would suggest that most people without a crystal ball are at risk, but that’s just me.

In the article Is it Just Fashionable to Hate the Jews? Rabbi Joseph Potasnik points out “It’s not a big deal to hate the Jews.” The author concludes “Jews are a nice easy nonviolent target”

But if Bibi Netanyahu is setting the tone for going forward, that could begin to change. From one of his speeches

And as Prime Minister of Israel I have a moral obligation to speak up in the face of these dangers while there is still time to avert them. For 2000 years, my people, the Jewish people, were stateless, defenseless, voiceless. We were utterly powerless against our enemies who swore to destroy us. We suffered relentless persecution and horrific attacks. We could never speak in our own behalf, and we could not defend ourselves. Well, no more! No more. The days when the Jewish people are passive in the face of threats to annihilate us, those days are over.

But hey, it’s not like Iran wants to destroy Israel or America! I don’t know what would ever make you think that! I mean Iranians love Israel and America, just look at this recent domino competition in which they prominently displayed American and Israeli flags. Nope, no hostility here!

 

Is it just me or does anyone else find the timing of Bibi’s speech to congress interesting. Not in terms of Israeli elections as the current regime has harfed, but in terms of Purim, when Ester spoke to the King on behalf of her people.

Purim celebrates the survival of the Jews against one of the attempts to wipe them off the face of the earth. There have already been many, there will be more. The attacks we’re seeing now are against Jews, Christians and other faiths, well, except for one. Wise people will be prepared, if they are someday there may be another holiday similar to Purim, because with Purim, none of the Jews died because Esther rose to the occasion, and so the Jews were allowed to defend themselves when the attackers came.

“They tried to kill us.  We won.  Let’s eat!”

 

Good deal. May we all do our best to rise to meet the occasions that come before us.

 

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