Ancient tradition: Torah commissioned for Chabad’s planned … – Toledo Blade

Published: Saturday, 3/11/2017 – Updated: 9 hours ago

BY TOM HENRY BLADE STAFF WRITER

Arare opportunity for northwest Ohios Jewish community to participate in the writing of a torah is set for March 26 at Chabad House of Greater Toledo, 2728 King Rd., in Sylvania Township.

From noon to 2 p.m. that day, attendees will learn how a torah is put together and can have a letter written into the scroll by an expert scribe for as little as a $1 donation.

While there is no charge to attend the event, cost for a buffet lunch being offered is $5 per person if ordered before March 20, and $10 per person after that. RSVP online at chabadtoledo.com/torah or call 419-843-9393.

The $40,000 project has been paid in advance by Stephen L. Goldman, a University of Toledo professor emeritus of biology and medicinal biochemistry who at one time was director of UTs Lake Erie research and Stranahan Arboretum.

Mr. Goldman taught and held various administrative positions at UT from 1971 to 2010, mostly in environmental sciences. He has commissioned an authentic writing of the torah on parchment.

He said he is having the torah done as a gift to the community center.

Donations will go to Chabad House, Mr. Goldman said.

The new torah to be painstakingly written by hand in the tradition of other torahs is commissioned for Chabad Houses planned expansion. Sylvania Townships zoning board of appeals recently approved a request for a 9,758-square-foot community center that will provide twice the space of the existing facility, which is to be demolished.

The next Chabad House will include space for Shabbat services and prayer. Being an orthodox institution, there will be a divider so men and women can sit separately. There also will be a special immersion pool, or mikvah, as well as space for holiday celebrations during Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, and for two-week-long religious camps held during the winter and summer.

The Chabad House describes itself on its website as the nerve center of educational, communal, and outreach activities serving the needs of the entire Jewish community, from youngsters to the elderly, and everyone in-between.

In an interview with The Blade inside his downtown Toledo town house, in a study where he surrounds himself with his desktop computer and stacks of classical music on compact discs, Mr. Goldman said he is offering the opportunity because the 613th mitzvah of the torah states it is the obligation of every Jew to write a torah scroll.

Institutions usually do it, Mr. Goldman said. In this case, its an individual. Its my gift to the community.

Rabbi Yossi Shemtov of Chabad House said followers of the Jewish faith can fulfill their requirement by participating in the creation of a torah with as few as one letter, because no torah is complete without all of its letters.

If you write one letter in a torah, it is also counted as if you have written a whole torah, Rabbi Shemtov said. Its a big fulfillment of a wish for many people.

He said torahs have more than 300,000 letters.

Once the local inscriptions are made at the March 26 event, the scroll will be sent to Israel, where scribes will fill in most of the other letters over the next seven to 10 months. Then, there will likely be another local inscription event to complete the project, Rabbi Shemtov said.

The plan is to have the torah done in about a year so it is ready when the new community center opens. It will be housed there, Mr. Goldman said.

According to Jewish tradition, the entire torah also known as the Law of Moses was given by Moses on Mount Sinai, not just the Ten Commandments.

Moses considered by Jews to be Gods servant is believed to have ascended the mountain to hear from God and receive the torah on behalf of Jewish people as they were gathered at the base.

For me, the torah is a civilizing document that teaches people how to behave, Mr. Goldman said.

The torah is the document, he said, that sets boundaries and teaches us what to do.

It teaches us [appropriate behavior] is not voluntary, Mr. Goldman said. Its a commandment.

The torah is about standards that transcend time, he added.

Now a 75-year-old survivor of lung and bone cancer, Mr. Goldman said he has been blessed with a good life.

He said he wanted donations to start at $1 to make the project affordable to as many people as possible.

Mr. Goldman said he is dedicating the upcoming torah in honor of Lubavitcher Rebbe Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the seventh leader in the Chabad-Lubavitch dynasty, who died in 1994 and is considered by many to be one of the most influential Jewish personalities of modern times.

He also said he is dedicating the project to the memory of his parents, Jonah and Evelyn Goldman, and his grandparents, Nathan and Yetta Gillman, and Joseph and Rachel Goldman.

Rabbi Shemtov called the project a great expression of unity made possible by Mr. Goldmans generosity.

Inclusion of many people is important to reinforce the belief that each one of us are indispensable to our community, indispensable to our people.

Its a great reason for celebration, Rabbi Shemtov said. We want everyone to be part of it.

Contact Tom Henry at: thenry@theblade.com, 419-724-6079, or via Twitter @ecowriterohio.

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Ancient tradition: Torah commissioned for Chabad’s planned … – Toledo Blade

The great anti-Semitism panic of 2017: A response to Rob Eshman – Washington Post

Writing in the Jewish Journal, editor-in-chief Rob Eshman accuses me of being an apologist for anti-Semitismbecause of the piece I wrote about Jewish panic over Trump. Lets go through his critique, shall we?

First, Eshman claims that American Jews arent panicking because they havent closed Jewish schools, turned Jewish institutions into armed camps or turned in their kippahs. True, but there are levels of panic. Many Jews have withdrawn their children from Jewish Community Center preschools, so much so that some JCCs are undertaking emergency fundraising campaignsto make up for the lost revenue. More generally and you can see several examples in the comments to my original piece its commonplace for Jewish liberals to analogize the current situation to 1933. Thats completely paranoid and insane, and a sign of panic.

Eshman continues, True, some Jewish leaders assertedthatanti-Semitic acts are at a level not seen in America since the 1930s, which is highly debatable. Thats not highly debatable, its obviously false and absurd, and the fact that Eshman considers it highly debatable is itself a sign of panic.

Next, Eshman contends that I attacka fakeJewish response in order to defend thereal Donald Trump. As regular readers know, I have long been a never-Trumper. My views on Trump havent changed. That doesnt mean I have lost my ability to spot a panic.

In my article, I pointed out that routine claims that Stephen K. Bannons Breitbart News is a white supremacist anti-Semitic site is belied by the articles Breitbart actually publishes about Jews, anti-Semitism and Israel. Eshman retorts that his own concerns about Breitbart had nothing to do with individual articles. Indeed, some of Breitbart.coms best friends and editors are Jewish. Rather, his concern is that Breitbart has fomented and reaffirmed through its coverage and commentsa deep antagonism toward Jews. No, it hasnt done so through its coverage; Eshman just acknowledged that Breitbarts articles are not anti-Jewish, and the articles more generally reflect mainstream conservative views.

The comments section, by contrast, is an unmoderated sewer that does contain a great deal of anti-Semitism. Is that a matter of concern? Sure. I more generally find Bannons ethno-nationalism and no enemies on the right mentality troubling, and not just because of how it might legitimize anti-Semitism. But none of that makes Bannon himself, or Breitbart News, anti-Semitic. Eshman invokes the authority of Ben Shapiro, so allow me to quote Mr. Shapiro:

Ive been as critical of Steve Bannon as anybody in the media. I was the first critic of Bannon because when I left Breitbart in March, I specifically named Bannon as a nefarious influence at Breitbart, by name. And yet, I was forced last week to defend Steve Bannon. I think that hes a terrible person. But because the left cant just say, This is a guy who made way for the alt-right, which is quite terrible, and hes doing a real disservice to the nature of the country by doing so. The left had to accuse him personally of racism and anti-Semitism, and they had to overstep. This is the big mistake.

You want to empower the alt-right? Keep overstepping. Again, its the overstepping by the left thats driving people into this almost white tribalism. Its really negative. I hate tribalism on all sidesI hate it on the left and I hate it on the rightand what Im seeing is that increase across the board.

Eshman acknowledges, as I noted, that there is no available data suggesting that Trumps supporters are more anti-Semitic than the voting public as a whole. His response? Data would be great, we all love data. In the meantime, the lack of numbers doesnt negate well-documented racist and anti-semitic acts perpetrated as Donald Trump ascended to nominee and then president. Yeah, but without data we have no idea how many of those acts were perpetrated by Trump supporters, or whether they represent a meaningful if any increase from the thousands of anti-Semitic acts perpetrated in the Unite States while Barack Obama was president.

Eshman next quotesa left-wing hate group, the Southern Poverty Law Center, for the proposition that Trump unleashed a wave of hatred against a wide variety of groups, including Jews. I dont take anything the SPLC says seriously, but in any event none of the specific acts listed have anything to do with Jews. Eshman asks, Is all this anti-Semitism? He answers: Not always. Actually, not at all. And I agree with Eshman, as I stated right at the beginning of my piece, that Jews are understandably concerned when ethno-nationalism rears its ugly head in general. But understandably concerned is a far cry from believing its 1933 all over again.

Eshman also rejects my criticism of Anti-Defamation League president Jonathan Greenblatt, challenging me to provide an example of when Greenblatt has been unduly partisan. My actual criticism of Greenblatt is that he has stirred panic about right-wing anti-Semitism through exaggerated rhetoric, such as the aforementioned claim that the level of anti-Semitic discourse in the United States today is the greatest since the 1930s. But since Eshman asked, one could write a whole paper about Greenblatts partisanship,starting with his announcement last March that the ADL was redirecting the money Donald Trump had donated over the years to the organization to specifically into anti-bias education programs that address exactly the kind of stereotyping and scapegoating he has injected into this political season.

Finally, Eshman claims that no one is the Jewish organizational world is concerned over the relatively minute amounts of Arab immigrants coming to America. (Bernstein uses Arab to mean Muslim, though of course not all Arabs are Muslims).

First, no, I meant Arab, and I linked to data about anti-Semitism in Arab countries. I dont know of any data that suggests that Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinian Christians are any less anti-Semitic than are their Muslim compatriots. Muslim extremism is a separate, though intertwined, topic.

Second, of course people in the Jewish organizational world are (privately) concerned about this. They would have to be fools not to be, given (a) that Arab migrants and their descendants in Western Europe are responsible for an overwhelming percentage of anti-Semitic violence there, including murders at Jewish schools and stores, and attacks on Jews on the street; (b) that many violent incidents against Jews in the United States have been undertaken by Arab immigrants, including the assassination of Rabbi Meir Kahane in 1990, the murder of a Hasidic boy on the Brooklyn Bridge in 1994, a shooting at the El Al terminal at LAX in 2002, and a plot to attack New York synagogues in 2011; and (c) the role that Students for Justice in Palestine, dominated by Arab students, has played in fomenting anti-Semitism on American college campuses. And the phrase changing demographics is used to refer to the threat of Arab (and Muslim) anti-Semitism, including by ADL director Abe Foxman here, and in a report by the American Jewish Congress in 2008, in which it notes that opponents of anti-Semitism in the United Stateswill have to deal with demographic changes, includingthe shrinkage of the American Jewish population and the growth of other groups (including Muslims and Arabs).

Eshman adds that various Jewish organizations are reaching out to Muslim organizations to cooperate on issues of mutual interest and create mutual goodwill. Thats great, I support such efforts and hope they are successful. I have nothing against either Arabs or Muslims and would like nothing better than for the Jewish American and Arab American communities to coexist in harmony. But its ridiculous to pretend that if one is concerned about anti-Semitism in the United States, one shouldnt beconcernedabout large-scale immigration to the United States from places where virulent anti-Semitism is nearly universal. Maybe that means that its Eshman who is the actual anti-Semitism apologist?

UPDATE: In a lovely irony, it turns out that Eshmans own Jewish Journal ran a piece just ten days ago with the headline Concern, Not Panic. The author wrote, Obviously, simply the fact that Jewish cemeteries and centers are the targets of threats and vandalism is, in itself, troubling. What is not clear is whether they reflect an increase in anti-Semitic sentiment in the body politic or isolated acts of some of societys losers. Bad acts and occasional reversals can and will happen, even if the flow of history is favorable. The thugs and vandals are not todays most serious problem. I guess that by Eshmans own lights his own Jewish Journal is an organ of apology for anti-Semitism.

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The great anti-Semitism panic of 2017: A response to Rob Eshman – Washington Post

Sakinah and Shekinah: spiritual tranquility in Judaism and Islam – MuslimVillage.com (press release) (blog)

By: Rabbi Maller

Source: MuslimVillage

The word Sakinah (Arabic)/Shekinah (Hebrew) is a very important concept in both Islamic and Jewish thought.

As the Quran says It is God who sent down tranquillity into the hearts of the believers, that they would increase in faith along with their (present) faith. (48:4)

Thus, the experience of Sakinah is both Gods gift of enhanced, confirming faith and the product of ones own faithfulness. (Quran 9:26 & 40)

This is clearly stated in the example given in the Quran about Prophet Samuels selection of Saul to be the first King of Israel:Their prophet (Samuel) said to them (The People of Israel), Indeed, a sign of his (Sauls) kingship is that the chest (ark of the covenant) will come to you in which is Sakinah- assurance (Ghali translates; serenity) from your Lord, and a remnant of what the family of Moses and the family of Aaron had left (the ten commandments stone tablets), carried by the angels. Indeed, in that is a sign for you, if you are (already) believers. (2:248)

All faithful Christians, Jews and Muslims, no matter how pious they are, will benefit from enhancing their trust in God due to a Sakinah experience. Even Usayd ibn Khudayr, who according to Aishah, the wife of the Prophet, was one of three men among the Ansar whom no one could excel in virtue, could still benefit from a Sakinah experience he had while reading the Quran.

In a similar way, Jewish tradition asserts that even Torah scholars may experience a Shekinah blessing during study, Rabbi Chananiah ben Teradion said . . when two sit together and words of Torah pass between them, the Shekinah dwells between them . . , (Mishnah Avot 3.3): and Rabbi Chalafta ben Dosa of Kefar Chanania used to say it can be said this applies to even one (Ibid 3:7)

Community prayer is also a place where one can experience Shekinah as Talmud Brachot 6a says: Whenever ten (or more) are gathered for prayer, there the Shekinah dwells-rests.

The Sakinah can also dwell in a sacred object like the ark of the covenant or in a lowly bush (Quran 2:248). Those who are truly Blessed by the Lordwith the best gifts of the earth and its fulness, and the favor of Him who dwells in the bush. (Deuteronomy 33:16)

The Sakinah can also dwell on or in a holy person; a saint, a sage. or a Prophet like Muhammad: Allah sent down His Sa Sakinah (tranquillity) upon His Messenger and upon the believers and imposed upon them the word of righteousness, and they were more deserving of it and worthy of it.(Quran 48: 26)

Prophet Musas blessing of the twelve tribes of Israel is recorded in Deuteronomy 33 with Shekinah used as a verb to indicate the Divinr human interaction.. In verse 12 Moses says, The beloved of the Lord Yishkon-dwells safely by Him; he encompasses him all day long, and He Shakain-dwells between his shoulders (in his mind and heart).

I believe the ambiguity of the pronouns in verse 12 is intentional. It is meant to stress the interactive reciprocity (Shekinah-Sakinah) between God, both as Lover and as Beloved, and Gods faithful human lovers who also receive Gods love .

However, the word/concept Shekinah in Jewish rabbinic thought is also a name for God that focuses mostly on the presence of God that may manifest itself during several types of ordinary religious activities such as the prayer and Torah study already referred to; and also when visiting the sick (Shabbat 12b). practicing hospitality (Shabbat 127a & Sanhedrin 103b), giving charity (Baba Batra 10a), practicing chastity before marriage (Derek Ere i.) and faithfulness within marriage (Soah 17a).

It is true that doing all these things frequently will help produce greater faith, confidence, and peace of mind. But the Jewish focus is more on the opportunity to personally experience Gods presence in a daily activity, than on an individuals personal spiritual growth.

This somewhat different emphasis between Sakinah and Shekinah are not opposites. They are simply two different perspectives: like seeing a lion from the front, or from the side. Sakinah and Shekinah thus compliment each other; and proclaim the interactive reciprocities between humans love of God and Gods love of humans.

From another perspective, Shekinah, a rabbinic name for God, shifts the view from the community to the individuals experience, just as Sakinah shifts the focus from Jihad (both military and personal effort) to calmness, serenity and effortless peace of mind. Both of these shifts are complementary; not contradictory,

The connection between our faithfulness and Gods Shekinah is described in Exodus 25; when God directs the People of Israel to build a sanctuary. But first God says, each person should make a voluntary offering: The Lord said to Moses Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive an offering for me, from everyone whose heart prompts them to give. (Exodus 25:1-2)

Six verses later God says,Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell (Shekanti) among them. (25:8) First humans choose to make a heart felt offering to God; then God chooses to dwell among, and within, faithful humans and their religious communities.

When God is well pleased by faithful people, Gods gift of inner peace and reassurance is sent down to them. As it is written: Certainly Allah was pleased with the believers when they pledged allegiance to you, (Muhammad), under the tree, and He knew what was in their hearts, so He sent down Sakinah (tranquillity) upon them and rewarded them with an imminent conquest. (Quran 48:18)

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of MuslimVillage.com.

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Sakinah and Shekinah: spiritual tranquility in Judaism and Islam – MuslimVillage.com (press release) (blog)

Not just prayers: synagogues are organizing to fight Trump’s agenda – Cleveland Jewish News

NEW YORK The day after the presidential election, as congregants gathered in her Brooklyn synagogue to air their feelings, Rabbi Rachel Timoner was already starting to organize against the incoming administration.

She called her local city councilman, Democrat Brad Lander, and together they organized an activists panel at her congregation, Beth Elohim, to discuss policy changes under President Donald Trump. More than 1,000 people packed the sanctuary for the event.

Four months later, Beth Elohim has been transformed into an activist hub in Brooklyns affluent and historically progressive Park Slope neighborhood. Together with Lander, the synagogue has set up 15 working groups on liberal causes ranging from combating anti-Semitism and Islamophobia to protecting reproductive rights. Ten thousand people are active in the groups, and seven mass meetings of the activists, educating them on issues and teaching organizing tactics, have drawn an average crowd of 1,000.

Our people are awakened, activated, determined, in some cases alarmed, and deeply wanting to be part of preventing harm and healing this country, Timoner said. I have literally hundreds of members who are in acute pain, who are seeing their country become distorted.

Beth Elohim is among several synagogues that have doubled down on political activism since Trumps election. Synagogues are taking on roles usually reserved for nonprofits hiring professional activists, organizing protests, mobilizing congregants to lobby and educating them on immigrant and refugee rights. Several synagogues sent delegations to the Womens March on Washington and its local offshoots in January.

Some of these synagogues dont see the work as partisan, aimed as they are directly at Trumps policies. (Trump himself has called for loosening federal laws that prevent houses of worship from endorsing political candidates.) Others, citing overwhelming demand among their congregants, are less concerned about appearing political. But they all say that regardless of the risks, this is the moment for synagogues to offer their members a chance to engage on issues that matter to them in a Jewish context.

We have Torah, and Torah is very clear that we do not oppress the stranger, that we love our fellow human beings as we love ourselves, Timoner said. What I think it offers to have things like this happen in a synagogue is it provides the moral framework.

Beth Elohim has received a grant to hire a community organizer, a step Manhattans Stephen Wise Free Synagogue is also taking, fueled by more than $100,000 in congregant donations. Stephen Wise is organizing its members into three activist groups on refugees and immigrants; anti-Semitism and Islamophobia; and protecting civil liberties.

Stephen Wise helped raise $20,000 for Jews in Whitefish, Montana, when they were threatened by white supremacists in January. In June, a delegation from the synagogue will travel to Greece and Germany to aid refugees, while educating kids at the synagogue about refugee rights. Ammiel Hirsch, the synagogues rabbi, expects groups to lobby legislators on a range of issues as well.

Judaism is a faith that believes in action, in making the world a better place through policy, Hirsch said. Theres got to be a force of legislation behind it. Otherwise, its just a question of localized humanitarian action, without regard to collective policies that ensure were on a higher moral plane.

Other synagogues have collaborated in interfaith initiatives or served as spaces for activist gatherings. Bnai Jeshurun in Manhattan was the site of a rally that drew thousands before the New York City womens march in January. The synagogue has also set up an action alert list with 200 subscribers to mobilize congregants for protests.

Bnai Jeshurun congregants at the HIAS rally for refugees in February. (Courtesy of Bnai Jeshurun)

For some of these synagogues, the current activism is just an intensification of a historical tilt toward political engagement. Bnai Jeshurun has a longstanding program to aid New York State farmworkers, while Temple Sinai in Washington, D.C., led two trips to aid undocumented immigrants in Texas in 2014 and 2016, before Trumps election.Synagogues nationwide have long been active on Israel policy, and in the 1970s and 1980s, on behalf ofSoviet Jewry.

But some congregants see synagogue-based political action as a step too far. David Horowich, a Reform Jewish businessman from Syracuse who voted for Trump, appreciates Reform Judaisms cultural and communal aspects. But he feels synagogues shouldnt be in the business of political advocacy, because its not always easy to judge whether policies are successful.

I havent been in favor of coming out with statements that are political, because sometimes they can come back and haunt you, Horowich said. Im open to people expressing their opinions, but you have to wait until it all plays out.

For those who oppose him, Trumps policies on refugees and immigration have become a particular focus of synagogue activism. All four religious denominations and several major organizations opposed the first iteration of his immigrationban in January.

In response to Trumps immigration policies, several synagogues have declared themselves sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants. For some synagogues, including Temple Sinai, that means setting aside rooms should undocumented immigrants need a place tolive. Others, like Philadelphias Congregation Beth Zion-Beth Israel, which is exploring becoming a sanctuary,are holding classes for immigrants and others on immigrant and refugee rights.

Our religious tradition teaches about not only welcoming the stranger but not oppressing the stranger, and making sure the most vulnerable in our midst has been protected and cared for, said Temple Sinai Rabbi Jonathan Roos. The level of fear is at a level unseen during the Obama years, even when the level of deportations was high.

The push for synagogue activism appears to be spreading. Timoner has held two conference calls with rabbis interested in Beth Elohims model. And Truah, the rabbinichuman rights group, drew 200 rabbis to a conference in February, called No Time for Neutrality, that ended with 19 rabbis getting arrested during a protest in front of a Trump hotel in New York City.

We have more power, privilege and social capital than weve ever had in this country, said Beth Zion-Beth Israel Rabbi Yosef Goldman.Its an opportunity for us to be vigilant about using our power to defend our own community, but [also] to defend those around us who are more vulnerable than we are.

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Not just prayers: synagogues are organizing to fight Trump’s agenda – Cleveland Jewish News

For Los Angeles Jews, Trump is a rallying cry the community hasn’t seen in decades – Los Angeles Times

The rise of President Trump has sparked a new streak of activism in Los Angeles Jewish community that many veteran leaders say they havent seem in decades.

Jewish leaders in the religious, political and cultural worlds have formed a coalition aimed at denouncing what they perceive to be threats to religious tolerance, democratic values, equal rights and a free press.

Trumps rhetoric and actions toward Muslim immigrants were the impetus for the coalition, known as Jews United for Democracy and Justice, said Rabbi Ken Chasen.

There a uniqueness to this moment, said Chasen, senior rabbi at Leo Baeck Temple in Bel-Air. Jews understand that an attack on any one of us is an attack on all of us. People who are at risk particularly immigrants that is a clarion call to Jews. Our concerns about the treatment of immigrants are not partisan or political, theyre Jewish. The single most frequently repeated command in the Torah is to care for the stranger, because Jews know what its like to be the stranger.

Not since the 1960s, when Jewish leaders embraced the civil rights movement and denounced the Vietnam War, has there been such a galvanizing issue as this one, Chasen said.

Jews United for Democracy and Justice has garnered the support of more than 2,000 Jewish people including prominent rabbis and elected leaders such as L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Atty. Mike Feuer who signed the groups organizing statement.

Jewish groups across the country have interpreted Trumps travel bans targeting migrants from Muslim-majority countries as a call to action. For many people, the policies have evoked painful memories of the countries that turned Jews away when they tried to flee Nazi persecution.

Some in the Jewish community fear Americas reputation as a welcoming place for refugees is being irreparably damaged as Trump has ordered a temporary ban on refugees from around the world.

The Iran-Iraq War forced Sam Yebris family to flee Iran and into exile in the United States when he was a child in the early 1980s.

Yebri, now a lawyer and president of 30 Years After, an Iranian Jewish nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles, said he understands that Americans are concerned over the Syrian refugee crisis. people seeking asylum in the U.S. should be vetted, but that doesnt warrant Trumps hard-line policies, he said.

It betrays our history and values as a country to shut our doors when there are innocent people who are being persecuted, Yebri said. I hope the administration will strive to find the right middle ground as opposed to closing our doors and closing our hearts to folks like my family just a generation ago.

The Jewish coalition gathered signatures recently from more than 110 clergy members, L.A. Countys entire Jewish state legislative delegation, seven current and former members of Congress, and 60 current and former elected and appointed officials, according to the coalition.

The group is focused on three guiding principles: The U.S. is a nation of laws, a nation of immigrants and aspires to equality, respect and justice for all people.

Zev Yaroslavsky, a former L.A. County supervisor and a member of the groups organizing committee, said he was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for the coalition. He said the group will stand by refugees fleeing oppression as well as immigrants in the United States who tonight as they go to sleep fear a knock on the door.

This is something the Jewish community wants to speak out on, Yaroslavsky said. It speaks to a thirst in our community to stand up and not be silent. We know what the costs are of remaining silent.

The vandalism of Jewish cemeteries and recent bomb threats to Jewish centers in L.A. and other cities have heightened anxieties in the faith community, said David Myers, professor of Jewish history and former chairman of the UCLA history department.

He said he fears the election of Trump has ushered in a wave of xenophobic populism not seen in decades.

Weve had that ilk before as candidates and prominent politicians, but not as president, said Myers, a member of the coalitions organizing committee. Its not just thats his rhetoric; a good number of the first actions taken seem to operationalize some of this exclusionary ethos of Trumps populism.

Trumps opening condemnation of anti-Semitic threats and hate crimes during his first address to a joint session of Congress in late February was welcomed, but long overdue, Rabbi Chasen said.

Its appreciated, he said. The reality, though, is that there is a mounting spate of threats to Jewish institutions all across the United States. The president needs to go beyond simply denouncing and demonstrate the desire to take action steps and send an absolute clarity of message to those who are doing this: Not in our America.

ben.poston@latimes.com

Follow @bposton on Twitter.

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For Los Angeles Jews, Trump is a rallying cry the community hasn’t seen in decades – Los Angeles Times

Anti-Semitic violence, fear nothing new – NWAOnline

ATLANTA — Amid a surge of bomb threats and vandalism at Jewish institutions nationwide, members of Atlanta’s Jewish community have felt a familiar wave of apprehension about what might come next.

In this Oct. 13, 1958, file photo, authorities investigate the scene of a bomb blast at The Temple on Peachtree Street in Atlanta. If the blast had oc…

Because all of that — and worse — has happened in the city before.

Six decades ago, during the turmoil of the Civil Rights era, 50 sticks of dynamite blasted a ragged hole in Atlanta’s largest synagogue. A generation earlier, in 1915, Jewish businessman Leo Frank was lynched during a wave of anti-Semitism. A variation on this story was the basis for the 1937 Claude Rains film, They Won’t Forget.

Some fear history is once again arcing toward the viperous climate that set the stage for the earlier violence.

“It’s heartbreaking to see the attacks and threats and desecration of Jewish cemeteries in recent days,” said playwright Jimmy Maize, whose play The Temple Bombing is on stage this month at Atlanta’s Alliance Theater. “I have to say that writing this play feels too much like history repeating itself.”

His play, which addresses anti-Semitism, fear and courage through the drama of the 1958 explosion, was inspired by a book by Atlanta author Melissa Fay Greene.

“We learned over several decades the power of hate speech,” Greene said. “It can lead to people being harmed and killed.”

Recently, more than 100 headstoneswere discovered toppled or damaged at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia. Jewish community centers and schools in several states also have been targets of recent bomb scares.

On March 3, federal officials said a 31-year-old man is a suspect in at least eight of the threats made against Jewish institutions nationwide, and a bomb threat to New York’s Anti-Defamation League.

Atlanta has played a prominent role in American Jewish life since the late 1800s. Jewish immigrants began some of its most successful businesses, according to the Institute of Southern Jewish Life.

Atlanta was at the forefront of the new, industrial South, and many of its factories were Jewish-owned, said Jeremy Katz, archives director at Atlanta’s William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum.

Jewish businessmen gained respect and became community leaders. But their success also led to anti-Semitism from Southerners who felt left behind by the changing economy, said Stuart Rockoff, the former historian for the Institute of Southern Jewish Life.

“There was this push and pull, and it was kind of a powder keg that ignited with the Leo Frank case,” Katz said. “Before the Frank case, Jews were fairly accepted in the community because social lines were drawn by color of skin rather than religion, so Jews really flourished in the South.”

Everything changed on a spring day in 1913, when 13-year-old factory worker Mary Phagan was found strangled in the cellar of Atlanta’s National Pencil Co. Frank, the factory’s manager, was arrested and put on trial. As newspaper articles inflamed anti-Semitic passions in and around Atlanta, he was convicted and sentenced to death.

Georgia Gov. John Slaton, convinced Frank was innocent, commuted his sentence to life in prison. In August 1915, a mob snatched Frank from the state prison in Milledgeville and drove him to Marietta, where Phagan had lived, and hanged him from an oak tree.

“The Leo Frank case showed that Jews were not immune from that type of violence and discrimination,” Rockoff said.

In the following years, many Jews didn’t speak of the Frank case.

But by the late 1940s, Rabbi Jacob Rothschild at The Temple in Atlanta had begun speaking out against racial injustice in Atlanta, said his son, William Rothschild. Some believe that made the synagogue a target for extremists.

The bomb exploded about 3:30 a.m. Oct. 12, 1958. A few hours later, during Sunday morning classes, “there would have been hundreds of children in the building,” said Peter Berg, now senior rabbi at The Temple. But the children hadn’t yet arrived, and no one was injured.

“I remember feeling emptiness,” recalls Carol Zaban Cooper of Atlanta, who was 14 when her synagogue was bombed, and went on to become active with the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta. “I felt hollow, numb.”

Alfred Uhry, author of the play and movie Driving Miss Daisy, attended The Temple as a child and had just moved to New York when it was bombed. He recalls the horror he felt after seeing a photo of the destruction in The New York Times.

“It showed a side of the building blown off, and I had gone to Sunday school there,” Uhry said.

A bombing suspect’s first trial ended with a hung jury and the second with an acquittal.

Atlanta Mayor William Hartsfield said “every political rabble-rouser is the godfather of these cross burners and dynamiters who sneak about in the dark and give a bad name to the South.”

Atlanta Constitution editor Ralph McGill called it a harvest of hate. One day after the blast he wrote, “It is the harvest of defiance of courts and the encouragement of citizens to defy law on the part of many Southern politicians.”

“To be sure, none said go bomb a Jewish temple or a school,” he added in the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial. “But let it be understood that when leadership in high places in any degree fails to support constituted authority, it opens the gate to all those who wish to take law into their own hands.”

Racial hatred put everyone in danger, McGill wrote.

“When the wolves of hate are loosed on one people, then no one is safe.”

Religion on 03/11/2017

Continued here:
Anti-Semitic violence, fear nothing new – NWAOnline

Tetzaveh: Hard Work – Arutz Sheva

Olive oil jar 8,000 years old

Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

The Reward A little girl complained to her father that her chores are too difficult. The father, a chef, invited her to the kitchen and put up three pots to boil. In the first he placed a potato, in the second an egg and in the third, a coffee bean. Twenty minutes later, he showed his daughter his handiwork. You see, said the father, hard work raises your temperature, but it all depends on how you react. The potato goes in hard, but comes out shriveled and soft. The egg goes in soft, but changes into something brittle and hard. The coffee is unique. It doesnt change. On the contrary, it changes the water to create something better.

The Talmud describes the painstaking process of producing oil for the Temples candelabra. Only the first drop of oil could be used from each olive because only the purest oil was permitted. However, oil used for the meal offerings did not need to be as pure. It was permissible to use the first drop, but not necessary. One was also permitted to use the second or third drop.[1]

Producing a full cup of oil from the first drop is hard work, but good people dont shy away from hard work. It is only through hard work that we find ourselves; that we discover who we really are. It is easier to take the soft path, but the challenging path is more rewarding. The hard path gives us a chance to make something better of ourselves. It allows us to become pure.

A man once asked G-d to tell him his purpose in life. G-d replied that his purpose was to push a mountain. After months of pushing the man complained that it was a fools errand, the mountain had yet to move. G-d explained, I never told you to move the mountain, I only told you to push it. Look at how much stronger you have grown in the past few months as you exercised your muscles and pushed the mountain.

Hard work is not a means to an end. Hard work is the end.

The Talmud teaches us not to believe someone, who claims to have worked hard to no avail. [2] Many have wondered why such a claim isnt believable. Isnt it possible to fail even if we work hard? Some explain that if you failed, you didnt work hard enough. Others say the reason is much simpler. Hard work is its own reward. If you have worked hard, you are already a success. Whether you achieved or failed, you have succeeded.

Runners know that tacking on an extra minute to the end of their run is harder than the entire run put together. Do you know how they know this? Because they have tried it, again and again. If it is so hard, why do they keep doing it? Because they know that this extra minute is worth more in character and muscle building than the entire run put together.

Means and End This raises a question. If hard work is self rewarding, why do we consider the workaholic syndrome unhealthy?

The answer is as direct as it is simple. When work is a means to an end, the hard work has no value in if the end can be achieved without hard work. If the purpose of work is to earn money and one can earn enough without excessively hard work, it is wiser to work less and spend more time with family. The inability to bring oneself to do that is indicative of an obsession or illness.

But hard work that is not a means, but an end to itself, is its own reward. When it comes to Torah and G-dliness, no amount of toil is excessive because the labor is not a means to an end, the toil is its own end. When it comes to earning a living, too much toil is excessive if you can make do with less.

This is the deeper reason for why only the first drop can be used for the candelabra, but that the oil for the meal offerings can be comprised of the second and third drops too. The candelabra represents Torah and Mitzvah and you cant have a connection with G-d until you have paired down your ego and that is achieved through hard work. The harder we work, the more we pair down our ego and the closer we get to G-d. There is therefore no limit on how much hard work is enough.

Meal offerings, which represent our earning capacity and economic abilities dont have to entail hard work. If we can make enough money without working hard, it does us no good to work hard. It is permissible to work hard if it is necessary, but it is unwise to work hard if it is unnecessary. Better to use the extra time for more important things.

Learning and Learning A student once told his teacher that he learned the entire Torah. The teacher congratulated the student, but asked a probing question. I understand that you learned the Torah, but what did you learn from the Torah? What did the Torah teach you?

One can master the entire Torah and fail to be mastered by it. Fail to turn into something better. This is because the student did not apply himself to his studies. He failed to probe the personally relevant meanings and find the self-help techniques embedded in each verse. When I was a child, my teacher told us that one should bend over the Talmud, not let the Talmud bend over him. Dont sit back and tilt the large book toward you. Sit forward and lean into the book.

Leaning into the book means that we mold ourselves to the Torah rather than mold the Torah to us. We humble ourselves and become the Torahs student. We seek to be mastered by the Torah rather than become its master. We work hard and apply ourselves and then the Torah will help us grow.

True Torah scholars are devoted to their studies. Nothing is more important to them. They constantly push themselves to study more, to apply themselves more. Each day a little more than yesterday because as it is with runners, so it is with Torahthe more you push yourself beyond your norm, the more personal barriers you will break and the more you will release your true potential.

We dont emerge from the hard work of Torah study hardened and brittle. We dont emerge from the hard work of Mitzvah observance, broken and soft. We emerge with joy and alacrity prepared to make this world a purer, holier and better place.[3]

[1] Babylonian Talmud,Menachos 86a & 86b.

[2] Babylonian Talmud, Megilah 6b.

[3] This essay is culled from commentary by LTorah Ulmoadim by Rabbi Yosef Zevin on Exodus 27:20.

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Tetzaveh: Hard Work – Arutz Sheva

A Torah for Thalia – Australian Jewish News

A TORAH is being written to honour Thalia Hakin, the 10-year-old Beth Rivkah student who was tragically killed when she was struck by a car in Melbournes Bourke Street tragedy in January.

The writing of the Torah began at the Shloshim service for Thalia, with Rabbi Eli Gutnick, the sofer (scribe) inscribing the first few lines of the new scroll.

Thalias father, Tony, had a letter written by the sofer on his behalf in Thalias honour, as well as many family members and friends.

Chabad McKinnon, where Thalia was a regular shul-goer, will be the beneficiary of the Torah, which will hopefully be completed in time for the first yahrzeit of Thalias death.

Thalia was one of six people killed on January 20 when a man drove his vehicle onto the footpath on Bourke Street in the city.

Her mother Nathalie and sister Maggie were also injured.

Donations towards the Torah start at only $18 for a letter.

To make a donation for the scroll, visitwww.hakintorah.com.

AJN STAFF

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A Torah for Thalia – Australian Jewish News

Purim and the Challenge of the Holocaust – Algemeiner

Esther and Mordechai writing the second letter of Purim. Oil on canvas, 1685. Photo: RISD Museum of Art, Rhode Island.

In themidrash on Mishlei, we read the following:

All of the festivals will be nullified in the future [the messianic age], but Purim will never be nullified.

This assertion seems to fly in the face of Jewish tradition, which states categorically that the Jewish festivals mentioned in the Torah, such as Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot will never cease to be celebrated.

March 9, 2017 8:24 am

Rabbi Baruch Halevi Epstein, in his famous commentary Torah Temimah on Megillat Esther (9:28), explains this contradictionin the following most original manner:

The miracle of Purim is very different from the miracles mentioned in the Torah. While the latter were overt miraclessuch as the ten plagues in Egypt, the splitting of the Red Sea, the revelation at Sinai and the falling of the man (manna) in the desertthe miracle of Purim was covert. Unlike with the miracles narrated in the Torah, no law of nature was ever violated in the Purim story, and the Jews were saved from the hands of Haman harasha (the evil Haman) by seemingly normal historical occurrences

Covert miracles will never cease to exist, explains the Torah Temimah. In fact, they take place every day. But overt miracles such as the splitting of the Red Sea have come to an end. In light of this, the midrash is not suggesting that the actual festivals mentioned in the Torah will be nullified in future days, since this would contradict Jewish belief. Rather, it is stating that the original reasons for celebrating the festivals, namely overt miracles, will have ceased.

So, one should read the midrash as follows: Overt miracles, which we celebrate on festivals mentioned in the Torah, will no longer occur. But covert miracles such as those celebrated on Purim will never end; they will continue to occur every day of the year. In other words, all the other festivals will still be celebrated to commemorate great historical events in Jewish history, so as to make them relevant and to teach us many lessons for our own lives. Purim, on the other hand, although rooted in a historical event, functions as a constant reminder that the Purim story never ended. We are still living it. The Megillah is open-ended; it was not and will never be completed. Covert miracles still happen.

Rabbi Yitzchak Hutner zl, in his celebrated work Pachad Yitzchak (volume on Purim, chapter 33), uses this idea to explain a highly unusual halachic stipulation related to Purim:During all Torah festivals, the congregation sings Hallel, the well-known, classic compilation of specific Psalms. These Psalms praise God for all the great miracles He performed for Israel in biblical times. Why, then, asks the Talmud, do we not sing Hallel on Purim? Is there not even more reason to sing these Psalms on the day when God performed the great miracle of rescuing Israel from the hands of Haman?

The Talmud (Masechet Megillah 14a) answers kriyata zu hallila the reading of Megillat Esther is in itself praise. When one reads the story of Esther, one actually fulfills the obligation of singing Hallel, because telling this story is the greatest praise to God for having saved the Jews.

Interestingly, one of the most celebrated commentators on the Talmud, Rabbi Menachem Meiri (1249-1315), ponders the need to say Hallel on Purim when one is unable to read or hear the Megillah. In this case, according to his opinion, one should indeed sing the psalm, since one must thank God for what happened. Rabbi Hutner, however, points out that no other authority agrees with his opinion.

Moreover, one often wonders why the story of Purim is still relevant at all after the Holocaust. Not even a hidden miracle was performed to save the Jews from the hands of Hitler, a greater enemy than Haman. Why continue to praise God for a hidden miracle when it seems that even hidden miracles came to an end with the Holocaust?

This question should be on the mind of every Jew who celebrates Purim, and it is not only the Holocaust that should raise this issue. The Spanish Inquisition; the many pogroms against the Jews; and the various forms of exterminating complete Jewish communities throughout all of Jewish history, in which Gods saving hand was absent, allbeg that very question. Shouldnt these events convince Jews to abolish Purim altogether? How can we continue celebrating Purim when six million Jews, collectively, did not see the hidden hand of God, and were left with no divine intervention? Is celebrating Purim not an affront to all those millions who were tortured and died under the most hideous circumstances?

Hundreds of personal stories describe how Jews risked their lives to rejoice in their Jewishness while facing the Nazis atrocities. In the extermination camps, peoplecelebrated Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Pesach and even Purimand they literally had to decide whether to sing Hallel after failed attempts to find a Megillah.

What was it that kept them going? Was it just wishful thinking? No. What they realized then, as never before, was the eternity and indestructibility of the Jews. Perpetuity is the very essence of our people. When Rabbi Moshe Friedman of Boyan, a towering personality and great Talmid Chacham in pre-war Poland, was brought to Auschwitz with a transport of deeply religious Jews during Pesach of 1943, he was asked to undress prior to the shower. He turned to the Oberscharfhrer, grasped the lapel of his Nazi jacket and said to him: Youthe most despicable murderers in the world, dont imagine for one moment that you will succeed in destroying the Jewish people. The Jewish nation will live forever. It will not vanish from the stage of history; instead, you will be erased and disappear.

It was the famous, slightly antisemitic historian Arnold Toynbee who, with great annoyance, alluded to what history has taught us: any nation that stands up against the Jews will ultimately disappear. Such was the fate of the ancient Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Persians and the Greeks, etc.

Jews have been an ever-dying people that never died. We live in spite of peril. Our refusal to surrender has turned our story into one long, unending Purim tale. To this day, a large part of the world does not know what to do with us. We make them feel uneasy because we represent something they cant put their finger on. Jews are sui generis.

More than anything else, it is the existence and survival of the state of Israel that irritates many. Perplexity has morphed into aversion. Where does this small nation, which does not comprise even one percent of the world population, have the chutzpah to play such a crucial role in science, technology and many other areas of human knowledge?

Yet what would the world do without Jews, who are responsible for so many inventions that are vital to the survival of modern society? Great progress and major breakthroughs in the world of medicine, such as the treatment of paralysis, depression, Alzheimers disease, etc., are Israeli accomplishments. What about Windows, voicemail and the most advanced anti-terror systems? All Israeli. Israel produces more scientific papers per capita than any other nation, and in proportion to its population has the largest number of start-up companies in the world. It is ranked second in the world for venture capital funds. And the list goes on.

Even if, God forbid, the state of Israel would not survive Iran the Haman of our day every Jew instinctively knows that the Jewish peoplewill still endure, even without their homeland, and will climb the ladder and surprise the world once again. Purim will never cease.

Which Jeweven secular or atheistdares to betray theJewish victims of persecutionby not celebrating Purim? That is the ultimate question that all Jews must ask themselves. Not to do so would be a tragic dereliction of duty.

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Purim and the Challenge of the Holocaust – Algemeiner

Shakespeare Center hosts anti-Semitism conversation – WHSV

STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) — Many showed up on Thursday night to the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton.

Rabbi Joe Blair of Staunton explained how Shakespeare’s play, ‘The Merchant of Venice, revolves around some of the anti-Semitism acts going on in the world today.

“That entire concept is not just something from the past, said Blair. “It’s something that’s current and live today and that we’re living with as it stands.”

Since January, there’s been more than 100 anti-Semitism incidents happening across the country.

Jeffrey Botwell, was one of many who came out Saturday, said it’s something communities really need to get a hold of.

“The anti-Semitism events that have been going on are just one small part of the animus among many people in this country towards people of color and different religious persuasion,” Botwell said.

While the conversation continues in Staunton, Rabbi Joe Blair hopes other communities join in as well.

“This is stuff that goes back to the bible and forward into our future I’m afraid,” Blair said. “And we all need to be active in responding to it.”

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Shakespeare Center hosts anti-Semitism conversation – WHSV

What Judaism Can Teach Us About Getting Older And Potty Humor – Forward

I never quite feel like Im the right age. My congregants consistently tell me that Im too young to be a rabbi.

When I watched the standup comedian Robert Klein began one of his sets with a song about colonoscopies (below), I also felt be a bit out of place. When the rest of the audience roared with laughter, I knew I fell squarely into the wrong demographic for the show. Sure enough, jokes about erectile dysfunction, enlarged prostates, and memory lapses commenced, all with a smattering of Yiddish. The audience of alter kakers (Yiddish for old farts) loved it. I got a few laughs out of the deal. My wife and our friends enjoyed laughing at my laughter.

At a wedding a couple of years ago, as I walked down the aisle between an endless number of white roses and tea lights, an older man in the crowd said, in a loud stage whisper, Thats the rabbi?! He looks more like a bar mitzvah boy! Along the same lines, nearly every week, the great aunt of the bar mitzvah boy comes up to tell me how young I am but that she nevertheless, enjoyed the service. Needless to say, Ive learned to take these sorts of comments in stride.

To a certain extent, for society to function properly, age does matter. The ancient rabbis taught that Jews progress through the years of our lives pursuing different goals at each step. In the Talmudic collection of proverbs and aphorisms called Ethics of the Fathers, the rabbis taught: Five years is the age for the study of Torah. Ten, for the study of Mishnah. Thirteen, for the obligation to observe the mitzvot (commandments). Fifteen, for the study of Talmud. Eighteen, for marriage. Twenty, to pursue [a livelihood]. Thirty, for strength. Forty, for understanding. Fifty, for counsel. Sixty, for wisdom. Seventy, for elderliness. Eighty, for power.. (Pirke Avot, 5:22) In other words, our personal goals and our role in society shifts as we age. Understanding our place in the community helps to ensure its continuity and proper function.

So, are we to conform to societys expectations and play the part that our age dictates? Or, should we behave and interact with the world according to how we feel on the inside, our mental age, if you will? I think that the answer is both and neither. Within each of us reside different personality traits, different philosophies, different modes of behavior, different approaches to life – different mental ages. Which of those traits – or ages – we express in any given situation should result from the meeting between who we are and the context in which we find ourselves. We may feel very casual and laid back on the inside. Nevertheless, we should not wear torn blue jeans and a sweatshirt to a funeral. On the other hand, when we meet new people we need to build our relationships based on who we are on the inside, not only on the formal rules of social etiquette. We are social creatures so we ought to express our true selves through the prism of any given social context.

Im going to finish up now because I know you all need to get home to pay the babysitters, Klein said to uproarious laughter from the audience, most of whom had not paid a babysitter in decades. We did, on the other hand, need to get home to pay the babysitter. Im glad that we saw Robert Klein on Saturday night. My friends and I will now be able to laugh about how out of place we were for years to come. Well laugh about it until – God willing – well be the alter kakers laughing about enlarged prostates and colonoscopies.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the authors own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

The Forward’s independent journalism depends on donations from readers like you.

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What Judaism Can Teach Us About Getting Older And Potty Humor – Forward

Can Purim and Chanukah expand appreciation of Jewish diversity? – Cleveland Jewish News

Purim is upon us complete with its radical invitation to engage in satirical hilarity that focus-es both on our enemies from the Esther narrative, and on our own tendencies to take ourselves a little too seriously. This story and its attendant religious practices deserve our reflection, but the story I want to address today is that of the Maccabees.

You might be wondering why, at Purim I would focus on the Chanukah story. This is not as strange a spiritual transplant as it might seem. There are quite a few connections between these stories, despite significant differences in their respective narrative arcs. Both deal with the theme of negotiating the dynamics between Jewish and gentile culture, and the challenge of figuring out how permeable the boundary between them should be. Both texts, and the holidays built around them, also deal with direct threats to Jewish existence.

Moreover, the rabbinic tradition codifies their connection by requiring recitation of the Al ha nissim prayer, which thanks God for acts of miraculous redemption, on both holidays. These connections inspired our congregation to select the Maccabees as this years defendants for our annual theatrical mock trial. We noticed that the challenges faced by the Maccabees, and the choices they made in response, raise important questions for us in the twenty-first century. This is especially true with respect to how we think about our relationship to the larger culture around us, and how we behave toward fellow Jews who make different choices than we do.

For American Jews, the Chanukah story has created a sometimes controversial Jewish center of gravity at a time of year when Christian cultures influence is pervasive. It has also been framed as the earliest example of a most cherished American value, the fight for religious free-dom. In Israel, the Chanukah story is seen as an early example of Jews willing to take destiny into their own hands, and for whom military prowess and bravery were at the forefront of their identity.

As powerful as these readings are, Ive long been aware that there is an ironic tension that rarely gets brought to the fore, between the religious orientation of the Maccabees, and that of the majority of contemporary Jews.

This tension revolves around the balance many of us choose to strike between our Jewish identities and our participation in the larger western culture of which the Maccabees would have strongly disapproved. Would their disapproval have moved them to threaten, or seek to harm fellow Jews who embrace elements of western culture that require the rejection of tradi-tional norms? Its difficult to say for certain; unfortunately, there is no difficulty in finding re-cent, disturbing examples of violence emanating from specific sectors of the traditional Jewish community against liberal Jews, whose value system includes the modern and western ethic of gender egalitarianism, and who desire to express that value in the context of their Jewish practice at a religious site that is sacred to the entire Jewish world.

There does not, however seem to be tension between different sectors of the Jewish communi-ty around the appropriate practice of Judaism in the cultural universe of the Purim story. Perhaps we would be wise to more consciously incorporate that implied spirit of diversity into our future Purim celebrations, as a healthy counterpoint to the more strident message emanating from the Chanukah narrative. Framed thusly, the connection between these two holidays could be recon-structed as embodying both a message of Jewish pride as well as asserting the right of all Jews to interpret and practice our collective tradition in a way that is meaningful and inspiring to each of us.

Rabbi Steve Segar is spiritual leader of Kol HaLev, Cleveland’s Reconstructionist Jewish Community, in Pepper Pike.

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Can Purim and Chanukah expand appreciation of Jewish diversity? – Cleveland Jewish News

In Atlanta, anti-Semitism is viewed through lens of history – Birmingham Times

By Jeff Martin

Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) Amid a surge of bomb threats and vandalism at Jewish institutions nationwide, members of Atlantas Jewish community have felt a familiar wave of apprehension about what may come next.

Because all of that, and worse, has happened in the city before.

Six decades ago, during the turmoil of the civil rights era, 50 sticks of dynamite blasted a ragged hole in Atlantas largest synagogue. A generation earlier, in 1915, Jewish businessman Leo Frank was lynched during a wave of anti-Semitism.

Some fear that history is once again arcing toward the viperous climate that set the stage for the earlier violence.

Its heartbreaking to see the attacks and threats and desecration of Jewish cemeteries in recent days, said playwright Jimmy Maize, whose play The Temple Bombing is on stage this month at Atlantas Alliance Theatre. I have to say that writing this play feels too much like history repeating itself.

His play, which addresses anti-Semitism, fear and courage through the drama of the 1958 explosion, was inspired by a book by Atlanta author Melissa Fay Greene.

We learned over several decades the power of hate speech, Greene said. It can lead to people being harmed and killed.

This past weekend, more than 100 headstones were discovered toppled or damaged at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia. In New York, a Rochester cemetery was targeted this week in the latest in a string of anti-Semitic incidents around the county. Cemetery officials said Thursday at least a dozen grave markers were desecrated.

Jewish community centers and schools in several states also have been targets of recent bomb scares.

On Friday, federal officials said a 31-year-old man is a suspect in at least eight of the threats made against Jewish institutions nationwide, and a bomb threat to New Yorks Anti-Defamation League.

Atlanta has played a prominent role in American Jewish life since the late 1800s. Jewish immigrants began some of its most successful businesses, according to the Institute of Southern Jewish Life.

Atlanta was at the forefront of the new, industrial South, and many of its factories were Jewish-owned, said Jeremy Katz, archives director at Atlantas William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum.

Jewish businessmen gained respect and became community leaders. But their success also led to anti-Semitism from Southerners who felt left behind by the changing economy, said Stuart Rockoff, the former historian for the Institute of Southern Jewish Life.

There was this push and pull, and it was kind of a powder keg that ignited with the Leo Frank case, Katz said. Before the Frank case, Jews were fairly accepted in the community because social lines were drawn by color of skin rather than religion, so Jews really flourished in the South.

Everything changed on a spring day in 1913, when 13-year-old factory worker Mary Phagan was found strangled in the cellar of Atlantas National Pencil Company. Frank, the factorys manager, was arrested and put on trial. As newspaper articles inflamed anti-Semitic passions in and around Atlanta, he was convicted and sentenced to death.

Georgia Gov. John Slaton, convinced Frank was innocent, commuted his sentence to life in prison. In August 1915, a mob snatched Frank from the state prison in Milledgeville and drove him to Marietta, where Phagan had lived, and hanged him from an oak tree.

The Leo Frank case showed that Jews were not immune from that type of violence and discrimination, Rockoff said.

In the following years, many Jews didnt speak of the Frank case.

But by the late 1940s, Rabbi Jacob Rothschild at The Temple in Atlanta had begun speaking out against racial injustice in Atlanta, said his son, William Rothschild. Some believe that made the synagogue a target for extremists.

The bomb exploded about 3:30 a.m. Oct. 12, 1958. A few hours later, during Sunday morning classes, there would have been hundreds of children in the building, said Peter Berg, now senior rabbi at The Temple. But the children hadnt yet arrived, and no one was injured.

I remember feeling emptiness, recalls Carol Zaban Cooper of Atlanta, who was 14 when her synagogue was bombed, and went on to become active with the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta. I felt hollow, numb.

Alfred Uhry, author of the play and movie Driving Miss Daisy, attended The Temple as a child and had just moved to New York when it was bombed. He recalls the horror of seeing a photo of the destruction in The New York Times.

It showed a side of the building blown off, and I had gone to Sunday school there, Uhry said.

A bombing suspects first trial ended with a hung jury and the second with an acquittal.

Atlanta Mayor William Hartsfield said every political rabble-rouser is the godfather of these cross burners and dynamiters who sneak about in the dark and give a bad name to the South.

Atlanta Constitution editor Ralph McGill called it a harvest of hate. One day after the blast he wrote, It is the harvest of defiance of courts and the encouragement of citizens to defy law on the part of many southern politicians.

To be sure, none said go bomb a Jewish temple or a school, he added in the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial. But let it be understood that when leadership in high places in any degree fails to support constituted authority, it opens the gate to all those who wish to take law into their own hands.

Racial hatred put everyone in danger, McGill wrote.

When the wolves of hate are loosed on one people, then no one is safe.

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In Atlanta, anti-Semitism is viewed through lens of history – Birmingham Times

A rich history marred by modern day anti-Semitism – Bulletin

As aCatholic institution that enrolls primarily students of Christian faiths 72.6 percent, according to official GU Census data not everyone is aware of the history of anti-Semitism and other forms of racism in this region. Just as many are not aware of the rich history of Jewish leaders in Spokane.

In Spokane, one conservative congregation of 556 members and a reform congregation of 170 members make up the majority of the local Jewish community, according to the 2010 U.S. Religion Census. The reform community, Congregation Emanu-El (CEE) rents space in conservative minded Temple Beth Shalom (TBS), Spokanes lone synagogue.

However, Spokanes Jewish community dates back to 1885 with Simon Berg, the first Jewish resident to build a store in Spokane Falls, and the dedication of Washingtons second synagogue just four days behind Seattle in 1982 Temple Emanu-El.

The list of Jewish community leaders who left their mark on Spokane is a long one. Albert Heller erected the first brick building in Spokane on Howard Street. Nathan Toklas had built what is now the Peyton Building downtown. Simon Oppenheimer brought back Dutch capital from Holland totalling $300,000 and used it to build a sawmill and a flour mill. He was was referred to as The Biggest Man in Spokane in the mid-1890s. And, Spokane dentist David C. Cowen served in the Washington State Legislature nearly consecutively from 1935 to 1965.

The darker history, on the other hand, has been attempted to be left in the past.

In the mid-70s a group called Aryan Nations inhabited North Idaho near Coeur Dalene. The group aligned itself with neo-Nazi, Christian Identity and Ku Klux Klan groups and predicated its racist and anti-Semitic beliefs on a misreading of Genesis. Their founder, Richard Butler, became an infamous face for white supremacy in America. The group didnt leave the area until it was bankrupted in 2000 by a lawsuit brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

A plot by white supremacists to firebomb TBS was foiled by the FBA in 1992, but ever since, security and a Spokane Police Department presence has become part of the daily life of the Jewish community in Spokane.

In October 2014, a swastika was painted on TBS the day of Yom Kippur service. It was later discovered to be a miseducated teenager, but it was reminiscent of the fear brought on by Aryan Nations, said Rabbi Elizabeth Goldstein, a GU religious studies professor and part-time rabbi at TBS and CEE.

However, the biggest scare according to Goldstein was the bomb threat on Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade route in 2011, an act of violence not targeting Jews specifically.

That really rocked Spokane, she said. If not defused it could have hurt many people.

Anti-Semitism today

Already this year there have been over 100 bomb threats against Jewish organizations in the U.S.

Recently, TBS held a solidarity service for the Jewish community in Whitefish, Montana, where a white supremacist group has targeted local Jews.

Weve had more solidarity services this past year than I have ever seen at synagogue, GU senior and TBS staff member Zina Zimmerman said. And, I dont know if thats just because Im older and Im recognizing them.

Many Spokane community members come to these services too, she said.

Zimmerman said she feels lucky that this wave of anti-Semitism hasnt reached GU, but she knows many on other campuses and Jewish GU students connected to violence.

Most recently, a Jewish community center in Mercer Island, Washington had to be evacuated due to a bomb threat and anti-Semitic graffiti in multiple locations in Seattles Ballard neighborhood.

I have friends whose relatives are in the Seattle cemetery that got vandalized, Zimmerman said.

On Sunday, TBS invited thousands to the synagogue for its 75th annual Kosher Dinner. Zimmerman said around 2,000 meals were served.

Because of recent safety concerns, there was heightened security around the event, Zimmerman said.

TBS Rabbi Tamar Malino spoke with SpokaneFAVS about the importance of the dinner before the event.

Its very real in a way that it hasnt been before, even when we had a swastika on the building, she said. For there to be bomb threats all across the country, and in Seattle, its very sobering.

Zimmerman said there have only been two incidents in her lifetime that have warranted major police involvement, but the uptick in anti-Semitism has the community on edge.

I feel very safe at temple 99 percent of the time, she said.

The vandalism in 2014 and whenever suspicious people attempt to enter the temple are the only things that cause her concern.

Despite this, the spiritual, humanistic nature of GU is why she feels safe moving forward, she said.

Goldstein said she wouldnt expect the club to stand by themselves if they took on an activism role.

It should be the whole community, she said.

Goldstein said she would work hard to get the Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities to stand with them.

She said SpokaneFavs Meet The Neighbors events where community members attend different houses of worship has helped educate the Spokane community.

However, this same type education isnt as prevalent on GUs campus with only the Reflection Room and Muslim Prayer Center in Crosby set apart as non-Christian places of worship.

Jared Brown is the head news editor. Follow him on Twitter: @jayrod_brown.

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A rich history marred by modern day anti-Semitism – Bulletin

Watch: Israeli forces uncover weapons smuggling ring in West Bank – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Security personnel dismantled a weapons smuggling cell after a six-month operation, the army said on Wednesday.

The joint IDF, Shin Bet, Police and Customs undertaking began in October after receiving intelligence from the Tax Authority about several packages sent from abroad to Nablus that included parts of weapons.

A nine-man cell in the city had been purchasing weapons and weapons parts online and having them shipped to Israel via Ashdod Port or Haifa Port, where they were then sent on to refugee camps in Nablus.

A senior IDF officer familiar with the operation said that there was nothing suspicious about the packages from the outside, leading him to believe that hundreds of weapon shipments likely reached their destinations before the smuggling ring was discovered.

The first cell member was arrested in December and handed over to the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) for questioning.

During Tuesdays overnight operation targeting the cells last weapons shop, which was in a wedding dress store, security personnel found 10 sights for sniper rifles, five pistol cartridges, 37 retaining clips, 62 gun grips, 12 laser sights, and more.

The owner of the store was arrested and transferred to the Shin Bet.

In the course of the operation, seven other cell members were arrested and four weapons including an M16 rifle and an M1 rifle, and hundreds of weapons parts were seized, as well as 130 bullets, 180 cartridges, 11 pistol cartridges, M16 parts ready for assembly, 200 small weapon parts, two weapon sights, several laser scopes for sniper rifles, binoculars, a hatchet and three tactical combat vests.

The senior officer said it is likely that more weapons will be sent via the mail.

Hamas is probably not behind the cell, he said. Hamas works differently, they use weapons that they know and the people they know and trust, he said, adding that nonetheless we deal with Hamas every day, in every way.

People in the West Bank know where to buy weapons, its a big problem, he said.

Security forces believe that most of shooting attacks that have occurred in Judea and Samaria and inside Green Line Israel were carried out with weapons produced in the West Bank, most commonly Karl Gustav type submachine guns.

Security forces, including the Shin Bet, IDF and police, have increased their efforts to uncover unofficial workshops producing illegal weapons, carrying out near-nightly raids in the West Bank, shutting down weapons factories and confiscating arms, greatly reducing the number of illegal weapons that could end up in the hands of attackers.

Due to this, the price of the most popular weapon of choice, the Karl Gustav, has tripled in the past year, from NIS 1,500 in January 2015 to NIS 4,500 in December 2016.

According to the senior officer, more than 50 gun-making workshops were shut down and over 500 illegal weapons seized in 2016, a significant increase from the 170 weapons seized in 2015.

At the rate we are seeing now, we will surpass [2016s] number of seized weapons in 2017, he said.

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Why Do American Jews Want Thousands of Jew Haters in America? – Townhall

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Posted: Mar 07, 2017 12:01 AM

According to a case report: “While the vehicle was in motion, the driver and a passenger shouted anti-Semitic slogans at the brothers that included ‘Dirty Jews, You’re going to die!’ … The vehicle forced the brothers to stop their car, and they were surrounded by several men … The men came out of a hookah cafe on to the side street … The alleged attackers surrounded the brothers, then kicked and punched them repeatedly while threatening that they would be murdered if they moved. One of the alleged attackers then sawed off the finger of one of the brothers.”

Attacks on Jews in France and elsewhere in Europe by Muslim immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa, or MENA, are so common that for the first time since World War II, Jews in France fear wearing a kippah or a Star of David in public. So many French Jews are leaving France that two years ago, then-Prime Minister Manuel Valls gave an impassioned speech pleading with French Jews to stay in France.

It has gotten so bad for Jews in Europe that The Atlantic, a liberal magazine, recently featured an article titled “Is It Time for the Jews to Leave Europe?”

In Sweden, attacks on Jews in Malmo, the country’s third largest city, are so common that Jews are leaving the city and the country.

Last year, the Jerusalem Post published an article about a Jewish couple that had lived in Sweden since the middle of World War II. Dan and Karla (not their real names) are Danish Jews who were smuggled into Sweden as children. Their gratitude for Sweden has been immense.

But they have now left their homeland, the country that saved their lives, to live in Spain. They lived in Malmo. In Dan’s words, the immense saturation of Jew hatred in the city was caused by “the adverse effects of accepting half-a-million immigrants from the Middle East, who plainly weren’t interesting in adopting Sweden’s values and Swedish culture. … The politicians, the media, the intellectuals … they all played their parts in pandering to this dangerous ideology and, sadly, it’s changing the fabric of Swedish society irreversibly.”

The Post continued, saying, “Karla, who’d sat passively, occasionally nodding in agreement at Dan’s analysis, then interrupted, saying, ‘If you disagree with the establishment, you’re immediately called a racist or fascist.’” (Sound familiar?)

The British newspaper The Telegraph recently reported: “Jewish people in Malmo have long complained of growing harassment in the city, where 43 per cent of the population have a non-Swedish background, with Iraqis, Lebanese and stateless Palestinians some of the largest groups. The Jewish community centre in the city is heavily fortified, with security doors and bollards on the outside pavement to prevent car bombs.”

An article in the left-wing HuffingtonPost reached a now-familiar conclusion, saying: “Migrants streaming into Europe from the Middle East are bringing with them virulent anti-Semitism which is erupting from Scandinavia to France to Germany. … While all of the incoming refugees and migrants, fleeing Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other Muslim lands, may not hold anti-Jewish views, an extremely large number do — simply as a result to being raised in places where anti-Jewish vitriol is poured out in TV, newspapers, schools and mosques. … ‘There is no future for Jews in Europe’ said the chief Rabbi of Brussels.”

Yet, despite all this Muslim-immigrant Jew hatred, more than a thousand rabbis have signed a petition to bring large numbers of MENA Muslims into America, and virtually all Jewish organizations outside of orthodoxy and the Zionist Organization of America have condemned President Trump’s administration for enacting even a temporary travel ban (one due entirely to security concerns) on immigrants and refugees from seven (of the world’s more than 50) Muslim-majority countries.

How is one to explain the widespread American Jewish support for bringing in a massive number of people, many of whom will bring in anti-Jew, anti-Israel and anti-West values?

First, they are staggeringly naive believing, for example, that marching at airports with signs that read “We love Muslims” will change those Muslims who hate Jews into Muslims who love Jews.

Second, never underestimate the power of feeling good about yourself that exists on the left (the self-esteem movement originated on the left). And it feels very good for these Jews to say: “Look, world. You abandoned us in the 1930s, but we’re better than you.”

And third, when American Jews abandoned traditional liberal and traditional Jewish values for leftist values, they became less Jewish, less American and more foolish.

Just ask the Jews of Europe.

Krauthammer: Rand Pauls Right, the GOP Plan Is ‘Obamacare Lite’

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Why Do American Jews Want Thousands of Jew Haters in America? – Townhall

Cheshire synagogue prepared as threats against Jewish community continue – Meriden Record-Journal

CHESHIRE Temple Beth David officials say they are prepared in the event a threat is made toward the synagogue.

Kim Math, the synagogues president, said threats and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries across the country have been frightening.

I dont remember ever in my lifetime seeing such a rash of antisemitic behavior, she said. When you grow up in religious school, youre taught about it, you learn about the Holocaust, different types of behaviors, different types of discrimination.

From this section: Annual Cheshire show draws train enthusiasts from around northeast

To actually see it first hand so intensely, its a little scary, she added.

Since early January, Jewish Community Centers and institutions around the country, including area centers in West Hartford and Woodbridge, have received more than 100 bomb threats in multiple waves. As recently as Tuesday, four centers and a day school in New York, Maryland, Florida, Wisconsin and Oregon received threats.

The Anti-Defamation League said it also received bomb threats at its offices in Boston, New York, Atlanta and Washington D.C. Tuesday. The organization has called on President Donald Trump and lawmakers to take action.

This is not normal. We will not be deterred or intimated, Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement.

Jewish cemeteries have also been vandalized. In February, about 150 headstones were damaged or tipped at a cemetery outside St. Louis. A similar incident also occurred at a cemetery in Philadelphia.

Math said the synagogue is prepared if a threat were to be called in. She declined to disclose specific steps the synagogue has taken.

We have resources were pulling from to ensure that we have adequate plans in case there is a credible threat made, she said.

Temple Beth David was established in 1968 and moved into its current building, 3 Main St., a short time later. The synagogue serves about 200 families.

Rabbi Ilene Bogosian said police notified the synagogue and increased patrols around the building after a threat was made in January against the Jewish Community Center of New Haven in Woodbridge. The community center also alerted other area synagogues as a precaution.

That was a very reassuring thing, Bogosian said.

Bogosian said the best way to combat threats and vandalism is to contact authorities.

The constant threat, its so disruptive of communities, she said. This is something of another dimension. Sometimes theres nothing much you can say, except call your local law enforcement and have them attend to the mater. I dont think these are people you can talk to.

Math said members of the synagogue feel safe despite the ongoing threats.

We feel fairly safe here, Math said.

blipiner@record-journal.com 203-317-2444 Twitter: @BryanLipiner

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Cheshire synagogue prepared as threats against Jewish community continue – Meriden Record-Journal

A Woman’s Place | The Huffington Post – Huffington Post

This is a very charming and quite a “feel good” film. It is about many things: a close-knit, earthy, easy-going, but pious Sephardic community in Jerusalem; delicious Sephardic foods that look so tasty the viewer wants to reach over and take something. The film is about loving wive and loving husbands–and about the collapse of the women’s balcony in their shul which destroys their Torah, plunges the Rabbi’s wife into a coma, and the Rabbi into madness.

Despite this catastrophe, the film is a comedy. And, this is not all that the film is about.

The film presents a clash between an Ashkenazi rabbi (Rabbi David)–a young, good-looking, but rather harsh zealot–and a group of vibrant, traditional, kind-hearted and perhaps overly idealized Sephardic women whose balcony is now gone. In the absence of their regular Rabbi Menashe, Rabbi David supervises the repairs; he constructs a small and crowded cage for the effervescent women, rather than their old, open, and spacious balcony.

With the money that the women have themselves raised for a new balcony, Rabbi David instead commissions a new Torah. Clearly, both are needed. He praises the women as the Torah–and thus, preaches that women do not need the Torah or Torah study. But he wants them to rebel against the traditions of their mothers and dress more modestly, and follow new religious rules at home.

Rabbi David has picked the wrong group of women to tyrannize. These women are quite happy with their religious and communal lives and do not wish to change them.

Rabbi David seems to exert an almost hypnotic control over their hapless husbands who are mourning their rabbi (whose hand they kiss when they see him) but who has temporarily lost his mind.

The battle is on. The women banish their husbands; they protest and demonstrate outside Rabbi David’s yeshiva. Without giving away the ending, let me say that the Sephardic women–and young love–win this battle.

The acting is superb (Abraham Celektar, Igal Naor, Evelin Hagoel, Aviv Alush, Assaf Ben Shimon), as is the music (Ahuva Ozeri), direction (Emil Ben Shimon), and cinematography. Menemsha Films distributes this film in the United States.

This is good, light entertainment for very troubled times.

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A Woman’s Place | The Huffington Post – Huffington Post

Sad, but not surprising – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Rabbi Yona Metzger. (photo credit:MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

On February 23, the Jerusalem District Court rejected former chief Ashkenazi rabbi Yonah Metzgers plea bargain and extended his prison sentence, for fraud and bribery, to four-and-a-half years.

Also, he will pay a fine of NIS 5 million for tax evasion. These crimes were committed while Metzger served as chief rabbi and the judge noted that Metzger should have been a model for exemplary behavior as a religious and spiritual leader. Instead, he joins too many Israeli political leaders as an example of corruption, criminal behavior, overreaching greed and arrogance.

Rabbi Metzger is the first former chief rabbi to go to prison. Sadly, I am not surprised as I served on the Commission to Appoint Dayanim as the Israel Bar Associations representative during Metzgers tenure as chief rabbi.

In December 2004, a year after he was elected chief rabbi, attorney-general Mani Mazuz (currently a Supreme Court justice) ordered a police investigation into complaints of fraud and bribery. In May 2005, the investigation was completed and it was recommended that Rabbi Metzger be charged. Immediately after the publication of the police recommendation, a petition was filed in the Supreme Court demanding Metzger withdraw from sitting as a dayan (religious court judge) in the Rabbinic Court of Appeals as well as from participation in the meetings of the Commission to Appoint Dayanim. In June 2005 Metzger agreed to cease work as a dayan and a member of the commission.

In April 2006, attorney-general Mazuz published a 40-page document summarizing his decision to close the case against Rabbi Metzger because of insufficient evidence.

However, Mazuz pointed out that Metzgers actions and failure to be truthful during the investigation raised serious questions about his suitability to serve in the prestigious office of chief rabbi. Mazuz concluded that Metzger was unfit morally and spiritually for the post and therefore should resign. Legislation creating the Chief Rabbinate did not provide for the removal of a sitting chief rabbi, but Mazuz argued that if Metzger refused to step down, the justice minister could convene the Commission to Appoint Dayanim to consider ending his role as a dayan.

Since Metzger indeed refused to resign, I found myself, alongside my colleagues on the commission, part of a jury tasked with determining whether Metzger was fit to serve as a dayan. I took my new role very seriously and spent many days reviewing the case records, including the police investigation and the attorney-generals recommendations.

While Rabbi Metzger did not appear before the commission to give testimony, his highly respected criminal lawyer, Prof. David Libai, appeared on his behalf. Since both Libai and I are graduates of the University of Chicago, I was particularly proud of his eloquent and masterful presentation. However, his responses to questions I raised were not convincing.

I found the prosecutors arguments far more powerful, especially in light of Metzgers behavior prior to being elected chief rabbi as well as afterwards. We were reminded that in the late 1990s, Metzger was a candidate for the position of chief rabbi of Tel Aviv. At that time several complaints as to his suitability were brought to the voting body and several Orthodox leaders testified. Written opinions by leading religious scholars argued that Metzger was unfit for the post. In 1998, thenchief rabbi Bakshi Doron and his colleagues found Metzgers responses to the complaints evasive and contradictory. Before completion of their investigation, however, Metzger sent a letter withdrawing his candidacy. Therefore the investigation was closed.

After Metzger was elected chief Ashkenazi rabbi of Israel in 2003, Rabbi Doron wrote the following: It never occurred to me that Metzger had the chutzpah to submit his candidacy to be elected chief rabbi of Israel after he agreed to withdraw his candidacy to the post of chief rabbi of Tel Aviv.

Apparently the questions I posed during the commissions hearings became known in the religious establishment and there was concern that I might vote to remove Rabbi Metzger. Leading rabbis, most of whom I respected for their scholarship and integrity, began to call me and argue that Metzger should not be removed under any circumstances.

When I replied that the evidence of his criminal behavior was compelling, they claimed that removing a chief rabbi would set a dangerous precedent. As an observant woman, mother, wife, grandmother, lawyer and Israeli citizen, I was shocked and saddened by the response of these spiritual leaders.

In February 2008, my colleagues on the commission voted to retain Metzger as a dayan. I wrote a dissenting opinion, arguing that he was morally, ethically and halachically unfit to serve.

In 2013, during the last year of his tenure, a new criminal investigation into his activities while serving as chief rabbi was begun. Criminal charges were brought against him and he pleaded guilty in January 2017.

This sad and shameful story raises several questions: Why was Metzger allowed to become a candidate for chief rabbi of Israel given his background? How and why was Metzger elected to the position of chief rabbi? It is no secret that selection of a chief rabbi is highly political, and there are those who claim Metzger was chosen by Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) leaders to weaken the position of chief rabbi. Whether that claim is true or not, it is clear that he has brought deep shame and public disdain on the office of the Chief Rabbinate. Perhaps the real question is: why does Israel need chief rabbis today? The author is a womens rights lawyer based in Jerusalem. Elected by the Israel Bar Association in December 2002 to be its representative on the Commission to Appoint Dayanim, she was the only woman on the commission at that time and was reelected to a second term in December 2005, serving until January, 2009.

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Las Vegas Jews march for peace following recent anti-Semitic acts – News3LV

LAS VEGAS (KSNV News3LV)

The march was as much an act of unity as it was a demonstration against hate. Nearly 200-members of the Las Vegas Jewish community walked and chanted, ‘No more hate!’, along a 2-mile stretch of Harmon Avenue, until finally arriving at the campus of UNLV.

“When we are not unified in condemnation of evil, the evil sprouts up in all sorts of forms,” said Rabbi Yitz Wyne of Young Israel Aish of Las Vegas. He said evil was evident last week when 20 Jewish Community Centers around the country, including Las Vegas, were targeted with bomb threats.

In Las Vegas, there have been other anti-Semitic acts in recent days, including hate messages spray-painted on a local high school, and near UNLV.

“One of my fraternity brothers found some graffiti with swastikas and the words, ‘Kill all Jews’ on them, right down the street from our fraternity house,” said Gil Hayon, President of the local Jewish Fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi.

Organizers said the march and rally served to encourage Jews to stay strong. The event, however, was not without at least one minor hiccup, some of the marchers say plastic cups with anti-Jew hate messages were left along the route.

“You know we have to make sure that everyone knows that it is intolerable to exhibit any form of bigotry or hatred. And it only happens by taking a strong stance when you can,” said Rabbi Wyne.

Rabbi Wyne believes ultimately a positive can arise from a negative, even something as deplorable as hate. The March came just as Jews get ready to celebrate the important holiday of Purim, which is a commemoration of when a plot to massacre Jews was defeated.

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Las Vegas Jews march for peace following recent anti-Semitic acts – News3LV