SOLDIERS OF IDF VS ARAB TERRORISTS

SOLDIERS OF IDF VS ARAB TERRORISTS

Monday, May 2, 2016

Shloshim of Rabbi A. Henoch Leibowitz zt"l Rosh Hayeshiva of Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim Los Angeles Shloshim Event for HaRav HaGaon A. Henoch Leibowitz ztl By Rabbi Arye D. Gordon

Shloshim of Rabbi A. Henoch Leibowitz zt"l
Rosh Hayeshiva of Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim
 
Los Angeles Shloshim Event for HaRav HaGaon A. Henoch Leibowitz ztl
By Rabbi Arye D. Gordon

On Wednesday night May 14th a gathering was held for the Shloshim of HaRav HaGaon Henoch Leibowitz ztl at Cong Shaarey Zedek in the San Fernando Valley, home to the Valley Torah High School and Beis Medrash Ner Aryeh, institutions led by and taught by talmidim of HaRav Henoch and the Chofetz Chaim Yeshivah.  Baale Batim of the Los Angeles community came from all parts of the city to remember this Gadol who touched their lives, some directly and others, indirectly. After davening Minchah, the evening began with the recitation of Tehillim lead by Rav Zvi Block, mara d'asra of Toras Hashem and Rav Shelaim Furst of Beis Medrash Ohr Simcha.

The first to speak was Rabbi Johnathan Rosenberg, mara d'asra of Shaarey Zedek. He  described the levayah for the Rosh Yeshivah that many could not attend; they came now to the sheloshim to connect with the Rosh Yeshiva. But with the loss of the Rosh Yeshivah who led the Yeshiva for over 65 years, Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim will no longer be the same. The Rosh Yeshivah  was a connection to Slabodka and to the Alte of Slabodka, zt”l. With the loss of Rav Henoch, that connection has been lost.
 
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Rabbi Jonathan Rosenberg, Morah D’asrah, Congregation Shaarei Tzedek
Rabbi Rosenberg addressed: the Shalsheles Hamesorah of Slabodkah
(photo credit Rabbi Aryeh Striks)
 
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Rabbi Baruch Cohen Esq., a prominent attorney and talmid of the Chofetz Chaim Yeshivah, was the M.C. for the evening. Rabbi Cohen expressed his feeling of closeness to the Rosh Yeshiva even after leaving the yeshiva and living so far away.
 
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Baruch C. Cohen, Esq., MC
(photo credit Rabbi Aryeh Striks)
 
MCGood evening. My name is Baruch Cohen, and I proudly learned in the Chofetz Chaim Bais Medrash for 6 years, from 1980-1985. I considered the RH to be my rebbi and would have torn kriah had I been at the Levayah, had I not been in transit to EY. And eventhough I am a trial attorney by profession, I have always taken the RH’s directives to heart, that no matter what I do in life, I must always remember that I’m also a Marbitz Torah and an ambassador of Torah values. This ideal has carried me throughout my professional career. It occurred to me that in all of my years of public speaking and as a trial attorney, I never had the privilege of speaking publicly before the RH. And tonight, well, this as close as I’ll ever get. And I want to personally thank the RH, for the time that he visited us in the hospital, and of the warm chizuk that he gave us. I was hurting something awful, and the RH came to give encouragement to his student. Chazal say that Yosef HaTzaddik prevailed in his great test, because a vision of his father Yaakov Avinu appeared before him at the decisive moment and gave him the strength to overcome temptation. Tonight, our speakers will give you 'the vision''of the face of a Godol BeYiroel, a portrait of the RH. I recently encountered an emotionally painful moment, where my reaction to the trauma would have impacted greatly on whether there would be Simcha or whether there would be sadness. People’s sensitivities were at play. I was fortunate, that at that nanosecond of indecision prior to my reaction, I asked myself: “What would the RH do if he were here?” And I believe that it is a tremendous zchus to the RH that I was able to invoke his holy image at that decisive moment and spare everyone from unspeakable Agmas Nefesh and emotional turmoil. In fact, my reaction, I believe, became a source of Simcha. Tonight’s Sheloshim is marked by the presence of the Rebbetzin, and of the RH Rabbi Akiva Grunblatt, and of the RH's secretary Shimon Ishal, and we thank you all for traveling from NY to be with us today. Everyone of our excellent speakers tonight, will touch upon different nuances of the greatness of the RH.
 
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Baruch Cohen He went on to introduced HaRav Akiva Grunblatt, one of the two  Roshei Yeshivah of Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim of Queens, NY, who had made the special trip to Los Angeles to take part in this gathering. He described how a Rebbi is such a crucial influence and how, when he is no longer with us, the loss of his influence has such tremendous impact.
 
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Rabbi Akiva Grunblatt, Rosh Yeshiva, Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim
Rabbi Grunblatt addressed: the RH’s great love for everyone and upon the RH’s genius in teaching his students
(photo credit Rabbi Aryeh Striks)
 
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Partial view of the crowd at Congregation Shaarei Tzedek in Valley Village, CA
listening to Rabbi Akiva Grunblatt, Rosh Yeshiva, Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim
(photo credit Rabbi Aryeh Striks)
 
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HaRav Yakov Krause, Director, Yeshivas Rav Isacsohn-Toras Emes Academy (Los Angeles) and mara d'asra of the Young Israel of Hancock Park, though not a talmid of Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim, quoted Chazal: "Chacham sh'mes hakol kerovov." When an adam gadol passes away, everyone is considered a relative. All must feel the loss of an adam gadol as if he is, in fact, a relative. Rav Krause added that many of his Rabbeim in Torah Vodaas considered the Rosh Yeshivah's father, Rav Dovid, their Rebbi. Many Rabbanim in Los Angeles were talmidim of the Yeshivah and represented the Rosh Yeshiva and Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim to the Los Angeles community in a most admirable manner.
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Rabbi Yaakov Krause, Morah D’asrah, YIHP, Menahel, Yeshiva Rav Isacsohn / Toras Emes Academy
Rabbi Krause addressed: how the impact of the RH and how the impact of his Talmidim were not limited to the Chofetz Chaim community. 
The RH’s influence on the Kehila of Los Angeles and about our Hakaras HaTov
(photo credit Rabbi Aryeh Striks)
 
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HaRav Yitzchok Summers, mara d'asra of Anshe Emes, was a talmid of the Yeshivah and also a ben bayis of the Rosh Yeshivah, zt"l. He told the olam about some of his personal experiences of living in the Rosh Yeshivah’s home for three years. He described how Harav Henoch was like a father to him in many, many ways. He described, in moving and sometimes emotional terms, how the Rosh Yeshivah had advised him and that he had served as a shomer for part of the day of his chasunah. He shared examples of the Rosh Yeshivah’s wisdom: What is the key to a successful marriage? Said the Rosh Yeshivah, "Hakaros hatov."
 
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Rabbi Yitzchok Summers, Morah D’asrah, Congregation Anshe Emes
The RH never physically fathered a child. Yet, he considered his Talmidim, his children.
Rabbi Summers thanked the Rebbetzin for all that she did for the Rosh Yeshivah, and addressed what it meant to be the RY's son
(photo credit Rabbi Aryeh Striks)
 
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Rabbi Yochanan Weiner, a Rosh Yeshivah of Beis Medrash Ner Aryeh and also a student of the Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim, told the olam how the influence of the Rosh Yeshivah molded him into the Rebbi he has become.
 
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Rabbi Yochonon Weiner, Rosh Yeshiva, Bais Medrash Ner Aryeh
When a Talmid of the RH becomes a Rebbi, all of the RH’s teachings come into play with incredible acuity and focus.
Ideas that the Talmid may have thought were irrelevant at the time, suddenly became relevant and meaningful once the mantle of leadership passed and the Talmid became a Rebbi and had students of his own. Rabbi Weiner addressed how the RY lived through the eyes of Chazal
(photo credit Rabbi Aryeh Striks)
 
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Rav Avrohom Stulberger, Dean of Valley Torah and Rosh Yeshivah of Beis Medrash Ner Aryeh, credits all that he is and all his accomplishments in fostering the growth and development of Valley Torah and Ner Aryeh, to the influence, guidance and direction of the Rosh Yeshivah.
 
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Rabbi Avrohom Stulburger, Rosh Yeshiva Valley Torah Center & Bais Medrash Ner Aryeh
Seeing Rabbi Stulberger interact with the RH, was a lesson, and a Mussar Shmuez, in and of itself, on how a Talmid must respect and love his Rebbi. And that respect cut both ways. RabbiStulberger’s constant invocation of the RH and his ideals made it seem that the RH was Rabbi Stulberger’s partner in the creation of VTHS and BMNA (even though the RH was not here in LA but on the other side of the country). So much of the RH can be seen in Rabbi Stulberger. So much of the RH’s sterling Middos and feinkeit, can be seen in his Talmid, Rabbi Stulberger. RabbiStulberger addressed his observations as to the RH’s ability to cloak his greatness and to appear so normal, making him accessible to everyone
(photo credit Rabbi Aryeh Striks)
 
Bilah HaMoves Lanetzach, Umacha Hashem Elokim Dimah Meyal Kol Ponim
May He swallow up death forever; may Hashem God wipe away tears from every face
(Isaiah 25:8)
 
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In speaking of the Rosh Yeshivah, Rabbi Schwartz of Chofetz Chaim said, “The rosh Yeshivah is irreplaceable. It’s the combination of his warm personality, his level of Torah erudition, and his ability to develop students. He also represented a connection to the previous generation of Gedolim.”  As the olam began to got up to leave, I was overcome with emotion. The realization set in: The Yeshivah world has lost another one of its Gedolim, Harav HaGaon Alter Henoch Leibowitz, zt”l. In truth, we hear cries of anguish and sadness from many communities around the world, recognition that we have experienced a loss that does not end with the yeshivah world alone.  There was a time when our bond to the precious previous  generation was like a shalsheles of barzel, a chain of steel: Gedolei Torah, Rabbanim, Rebbeim, Roshei Yeshiva, Dayanim. But the ranks are thinning. The chain is more like a collection of barely-connected strands. Or so it seems. But Harav HaGaon Alter Henoch Leibowitz, zt”l, was different. He managed to link his chain to thousands of talmidim and baale batim, each and everyone feeling that he had a special bond with the Rosh Yeshivah. He had been described as "one of the last great Roshei Yeshivah and baalei mussar of the previous generation."  HaRav HaGaon HenochLeibowitz, zt”l, was a Rosh Yeshivah whose influence extended beyond his talmidim and overflowed into the various Jewish communities around the world. The Los Angeles community, those who knew him and those who only knew of him, came to express their acknowledgement of the loss of one of our great Roshei Yeshivah, a Gadol whose influence touched so many people and so many communities. Yehi Zichro Baruch. By Rabbi Arye D. Gordon

 
Baruch

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Civil trial attorney Baruch C. Cohen meets Rabbi Yitz Hurwitz


For the longest time, I have been in awe of the the courage of Rabbi Yitzi & Rebbetzin Dina Hurwitz, the Shluchim of Chabad of Temcula, who are fighting ALS - Lou Gehrig's Disease. This Pesach at KMR in the Hilton of Lake Las Vegas, I had the privilege of meeting them. It was literally minutes before Pesach when Rebbetzin Dina gave me the green light to come over and meet Rabbi Yitzi. Entering their hotel room, I saw with my own eyes Rabbi Yitzi on his hospital bed. His eyes widened, taking me in, and when Dina introduced me, his eyes softened and his smile expanded across his face. Theree sentences into my talking to them, he eye-typed: "You have a powerful voice." After quick pleasantries, I had the merit of giving Yitzi a Birchas Kohein and a blessing for a Chag Kosher VeSameach. They are an extraordinary couple, who radiate love for each other and for their fellow Jews. Please donate generously to assist them in this gallant struggle. BCC

http://yitzihurwitz.blogspot.com/
https://hurwitzfamilyfund.com/Articles.html

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Remarkable Story of the Soon to be Constructed Wall on HarHazeisim, By Menachem Lubinsky

It was in late 2012 after a spate of rock attacks and vandalism by Arab youths on Har Hazeisim that the idea of building a wall to protect Har Hazeisim first came to the fore. My brother Avrohom who two years earlier helped found the International Committee for the Preservation of Har Hazeisim(ICPHH) sat with an enlarged map of the 2.3 square kilometer 3000-year old cemetery, pointing to some of the open areas in the cemetery where the Arab vandals flee to the communities nearby after committing the crimes. They include Silwan and Ras al Amud, just two of several Arab villages and towns that surround the historic cemetery where 150,000 Jews are buried. It was the first time that I thought about building a wall around the cemetery, like the walls that enclose Jewish cemeteries all over the world.
Artscroll Purim
On my next trip to Israel, I raised the possibility of a wall with officials of the Jerusalem Development Authority (JDA or “Harli” in Hebrew) who were responsible for executing projects on Har Hazeisim and Yerushalayim in general. It was the JDA, for example, that served as the operational arm for the light rail project on behalf of the Municipality and the government. I was not prepared for the answer: “A wall would not be aesthetically pleasing, according to the City architect, and besides it would be a message of surrender.” The idea of a wall was a non-starter, or so it seemed at the time.
Erdan with Menachem Lubinsky and Malcolm Hoenlein
Meanwhile the ICPHH had managed to successfully lobby for the installation of 136 surveillance cameras, a 24/7 underground monitoring room and the establishment of a police sub-station. But in late 2014 and then in 2015 there were a number of vicious attacks that shocked Jews everywhere. They included several acts of vandalism in the Colel Polin section, a mass destruction of graves in the Afghanistan section, and several attacks near the maarah where two Gerer Rebbes are buried (the Bais Yisrael and the Lev Simcha). There were several attempts to penetrate the steel door but in the end all the Arab thugs could do was attempt to burn down the door. I once again raised the idea of the wall and this time began an intensive lobbying effort in the Knesset and the government. The response was overwhelmingly positive, especially with the newly formed government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Particularly encouraging were the positions of the Ministry of Housing and Construction, under Minister Yoav Galant, which is responsible for security on Har Hazeisim, and Deputy Police Commissioner Moshe Bareket, who serves as a key advisor to the Minister for Internal Security Gilad Erdan. The police were particularly enthusiastic about the prospect of a wall, arguing that it would greatly enhance their ability to patrol and secure Har Hazeisim. The discussions about the wall subsequently took a number of twists and turns. For example, officials felt that it was not necessary to build a wall around the entire mountain. They pointed out that many areas were already walled in and that others faced terrain that was not accessible. In any case, they pointed out, not all areas of Har Hazeisim were prone to vandalism.
What seemed to emerge from the officials was a plan to build the wall at first around the Eastern section of Har Hazeisim that included the oft-targeted sections of Ger, Polin, Afghanistan and Taiman. The plan called for the construction of a 10 foot concrete wall followed by 10 feet of iron gates. The gates would be topped by security cameras where there are none now and by new lighting. The estimated cost was NIS 4.5 million.
One of the strongest allies for the wall was MK Dovid Amsalem (Likud) who in his first meeting as Chairman of the Knesset Interior Committee, showed extreme impatience with the police that the wall was not yet built. First Deputy Mayor Yosef Deutsch (Yahadut Hatorah) became a key ally in pushing for City Hall support. Malcolm Hoenlein, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Major American Jewish Organizations, and a key member of the ICPHH, raised the idea of the wall with the highest officials he had met and found support unanimous. MK Yitzchak (Buzi) Herzog, led the opposition support for the wall.
By early 2016, the idea of a wall, albeit initially in the Eastern section of HarHazeisim, seemed well on its way. The idea that I first raised in 2012 seemed to be finally becoming a reality. The police, who were in the last few months put in charge of the project, finalized their plans. Now it was amere question of making sure that the funds were transferred so that the work could begin. Rabbi Hillel Horowitz, Director of Jewish Cemeteries in Yerushalayim was of enormous help.
For the ICPHH, the construction of the wall was part of the next phase of securing Har Hazeisim. In the past six months, security had greatly improved with few incidents reported. Minister Erdan had kept his promise to the ICPHH and increased the police presence. A contingent of Border Police reinforced the police and the Ministry of Housing and Construction continued to offer armed escorts to visitors who requested it despite the much safer conditions on the mountain, for now. In addition, thanks to the efforts of Deputy Mayor Deutsch, a multi-million dollar Visitors Center and shul will soon be built. The Visitors Center will be financed through a grant from the government and funds to be raised by the ICPHH. Finally the ICPHH is planning to restore some of the 23,000 graves destroyed during the Jordanian occupation (1948-1967).
But despite the national consensus on the wall, there was still the issue of the funding. The ICPHH solicited the support of Eli Groner, the Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office, who pledged to do whatever he can to build the wall immediately. According to sources, the transfer is imminent and the work on the much awaited wall should begin within a few weeks. The idea that began with a shrug by officials and eventually turned into a national consensus is now only weeks away from becoming part of the future security and development of the coveted Har Hazeisim cemetery.
With a spate of knifings and other attacks in Yerushalayim and elsewhere it recalled the flooding of the Danube during the days of the saintly Chasam Sofer. It is said that when the tzaddik was asked how to stop the floods and the suffering of the Jews, he suggested checking the cemetery and indeed the wall was breeched. The 150,000neshomos on Har Hazeisim will certainly appreciate the wall and perhaps the eternal peace that they seek.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Rancho Mirage, CA Sefer Torah in memory of Hindy Cohen


Today I learned from Rabbi Shimon Posner, Chabad Shaliach of Rancho Mirage, CA, that Adina's Uncle Isaac and Tante Selma Friedman dedicated a Sefer Torah in memory of their parents Menachem Mendel and Faige Rochel Friedman, and in memory of Hindy. Attached is a picture of the Sefer Torah "Mantel" cover.  I am overwhelmed with appreciation that Hindy's Neshama is now connected to a 2nd Sefer Torah.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Broken Hearts - Shattered Luchos - Comments of Baruch Cohen in Observance of the 12th Yahrtzeit of Hindy Cohen

1. Avinu Malkeinu: the Shoes of the Danube 

Rabbi Moshe Weinberger, rav of the Aish Kodesh shul in Woodmere, Long Island, tells of a remarkable story:

A Chassid asked his Rebbe: there are two lines in the prayers that are said on the holiest day of the year Rosh Hashana - the  Avinu Malkeinu that seem to echo the same sentiment:

Avinu Malkeinu; Asei LeMaan Harugim Al Shem Kadshecha - our Father, our King, act for the sake of those who were murdered for Your Holy Name; 

followed by: 

Avinu Malkeinu; Asei Lemaan Tevuchim Al Yechudecha - our Father, our King, act for the sake of those slaughtered for your Oneness. 

What’s the difference between those who were Harugim Al Shem Kadshecha  ‘murdered for Your Holy Name’ and those who were Tevuchim Al Yechudecha ‘slaughtered for your Oneness?’

The Chassid answered: 

“I am a Holocaust survivor. I lived in a small shtetl in Budapest, Hungary where, on the night of January 8, 1945 the Nazi division known as the Hungarian Arrow Cross Militiaman marched into my town, rounded up all of the Jews, approximately 100 people, to the banks of the Danube. They lined us up, side by side, at the river’s edge of the Danube River not far from the Hungarian Parliament building. We were ordered to take off our shoes, and were to be shot at the edge of the water so that our bodies would fall into the icy river and get carried away. The Nazis pulled the shoestrings out of our shoes, and used them to tie our helpless hands together before we were shot.  They positioned us at the edge of the water, so that when one Jew would fall into the Danube, the dead body would pull the still-living victims with it. The killers faced their victims without mercy; the victims faced the killers without blindfolds. 

Then one of the Nazi commanders who was standing on the embankment of the river, shouted:  “Shoot!” For just a second, a very long second, nothing happened. Another Nazi then lifted his machine gun at us and began to shoot, starting from the right side, moving to the left. All of us Jews raised our voices at once and cried out to G-d the sentence from the Torah that Jews say when sanctifying their lives in God’s name: “Shema Yisroel Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Achad!” The ones on the right side of the line, were unable to complete the Shema and they only got mid-sentence “Shema Yisroel Hashem...”, while those on the left side of the line, managed to say all of the words of the Shema before falling into the river. The Danube river was red with blood that day. All the bodies, tied together by shoelaces or rope or fate, would either sink or float away down the river. If the Nazis noticed that some of us Jews were still alive, they used us for target practice. However, most of the Jews – especially the children – died immediately because the water was freezing cold. During that day of horror in the winter of 1945, the Danube was known as "the Jewish Cemetery."

“Rebbeh” the Chassid said: “I survived that bloody brutal massacre, I passed out for a second or two but the ice cold water of the Danube in December revived me instantly. I remember coming to my senses and clearly realizing what had happened. I was floating without splashing so that they wouldn’t shoot me in the water. Those Yidden on the right side who were killed instantly, were Harugim Al Shem Kadshecha they were murdered by mid-sentence Al Shem Kadshecha by the word: “Hashem” His holy name; while those on the left, who managed to finish the entire Shema all the way to the last word Echad, they were Tevuchim Al Yechudecha they were slaughtered after reciting the word “Echad” His oneness.” 

Today, “The Shoes on the Danube Bank” is a memorial in Budapest, Hungary, on the banks of the Danube River, there sit sixty pairs of old-fashioned shoes, the type we wore in the 1940s. There are women's shoes, there are men's shoes and there are children's shoes. They sit at the edge of the water, scattered and abandoned, as though their owners had just stepped out of them and left them there. 

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The Shoes on the Danube Bank is a memorial in Budapest, Hungary

Every Yom Tov that I daven in this shul, and ascend to Duchen, I and other Kohanim in this shul take off our shoes and leave them in a row up front, every time I see our shoes lined up, I’m reminded of the haunting scene of the Shoes of the Danube, and of those holy martyrs who were Harugim Al Shem Kadshecha  ‘murdered for Your Holy Name’ and those who were Tevuchim Al Yechudecha ‘slaughtered for your Oneness.

2. Broken

The Gemorah in Bava Basra 14a teaches us that: “Luchos Ve’shivrey Luchos Munachim Be’Aron”  the whole Luchos (the tablets) and the broken Luchos nestled inside the Aron Kodesh, the Ark of the Covenant.  

This seems strange. Why would Hashem place the broken tablets in the Kodesh Kodoshim? After all, these fragments were a constant reminder of the great moral failure of Klal Yisroel. 

In Parshas Eikev, we read that after Klal Yisroel created an Eigal HaZahav, the Golden Calf, Moshe Rabbeinu smashed the stone tablets created by Hashem, engraved with the Aseres Hadibros, the Ten Commandments. Moshe Rabbeinu, outraged by the sight of an Eigal HaZahav erected by Klal Yisroel as a deity, smashed the stone tablets. He apparently felt that Klal Yisroel was undeserving of them, and that it would be inappropriate to give them this Divine gift. 

On Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, the Kohein Godol would not perform the service with his usual golden garments, since gold was remotely reminiscent of the golden calf. Yet in this instance, throughout the entire year, the very symptom of the golden calf – the broken tablets – were stored in the Kodosh Kodoshim!

3. Broken Hearts; Shattered Luchos

The 16th century Kabbalistic work, Reshis Chochmah, teaches that the Ark is a symbol of the human heart. HaRav Eliyahu de Vidash of Tzfat: 

“The human heart is the Ark, thus a person’s heart must be full of Torah but simultaneously be a Broken Heart, a beaten heart. Only thus can it serve as a home for the Divine Presence. For She only dwells in broken vessels.”

The two sets of tablets in the Ark offer a striking metaphor. Namely, that brokenness and wholeness Luchos Ve’shivrey Luchos can coexist Munachim Be’Aron side by side, even in Judaism’s holiest spot – in the heart of the holy Ark.

People experience brokenness in many ways. One way that many of us experience despair and crushing pain is through the death of a loved one, especially when life is cut short. Those of us who have passed through the ‘valley of death’ and wept through the ‘valley of tears’ those of us who have lost loved ones, know that we forever carry ‘broken tablets’.  Shivrey Luchos. Loss forever remains a part of us. We carry the aching loss, and for some of us, we carry pain in our hearts and minds forever. The image of the broken tablets, unfortunately, offers an accurate representation of our lives and the life of the world around us. We carry our brokenness with us always.

After a painful loss, life continues, but now differently than before. We move through life now with two sets of tablets. Luchos Ve’shivrey Luchos. There are times of joy; there are very happy times. They are encased in the same box; Munachim Be’Aron in the same heart.

The bereaved, and especially those that have suffered painful loss, often live their life with two compartments within one heart – the whole and the broken, side by side

We yearn for our lives to be whole, to experience a sense of unity and one-ness, but more often than we care to admit, that experience is elusive, evasive, unattainable. The intact tablets, pristine in their perfection, convey an image of completeness and wholeness that is at odds with our fragmentary experience. The image of the broken tablets offers a more accurate representation of our lives and our world.

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4. Rising from the Ashes

Usually, we think of wholeness and brokenness as two diametrically opposed states of being. But that isn’t necessarily so. Sometimes brokenness leads to wholeness to the point that without the broken pieces, there could be no whole.

There are moments when Hashem desires that we connect to Him as wholesome people, with clarity and a sense of fullness; there are yet deeper moments when He desires that we find Him in the shattered experiences of our lives.

As Rabbi YY Jacobson said: 

“We hope and pray to always enjoy the “whole tablets,” but when we encounter the broken ones, we ought not to run from them or become dejected by them; with tenderness we ought to embrace them and bring them into our “holy of holies,” recalling the observation of the Kotzker Rebbe, "there is nothing more whole, than a broken heart."” 

What Moshe Rabbeinu accomplished with breaking the Luchos was the demonstration of the truth that holiness can be carved out from the very alienation of a person from Hashem. From the very turmoil of his or her psychological and spiritual brokenness, a new holiness can be discovered.
 
It is on this note that the Torah chooses to culminate its tribute to Moshe Rabbeinu’ life. In its eulogy for Moshe, the Torah chooses this episode of smashing the tablets as the highlight and climax of Moshe’s achievements. His greatest achievement? How about Yetzias Mitzrayim - his taking the Jews out of Egypt? Molding them into a people? Krias Yam Suf - the Splitting the Red Sea? Kabbalas HaTorah - the receiving the Torah from G-d and transmitting it to humanity? Shepherding them for forty years in a wilderness? Yet, the Torah chooses this tragic and devastating episode to capture the zenith of Moshe Rabbeinu’s life and as the theme with which to conclude the entire Torah, all five books of Moses?!

Perhaps the greatest achievement of Moshe Rabbeinu was his ability to show humanity how we can take our brokenness and turn it into a Kodesh Kodoshim.

The Sages teach that the Holy Ark “carried those who carried it.” When the priests “carried” the Ark, rather than feel its weight, the priests would feel energized and lifted up; the Ark miraculously “carried” them. So, too, our broken parts need not weigh us down. When we use our brokenness as a catalyst toward wholeness, our broken pieces lift us up and move us forward.

5. Turn to Nothing to Become Something

While it felt that my very being was dissolving after Hindy’s death, I realized at one point in time that I was undergoing a kind of alchemy, a transmutation of self, that may one day invite and include something much more powerful than the pain. Of course, I would prefer to be a more relaxed superficial person with my daughter alive than to be imbued with a profound sense of mission. But I came to realize that within suffering, lies a form of greatness. 

As Sherri Mandel, the author of “The Blessings of a Broken Heart” and of “Resilience”  wrote: 

“When we permit ourselves to enter the chaos, to stumble, to cry out, to surrender to our defenselessness, we may find that our pain leads us towards greater truths about our vulnerabilities, and our power in this world. Entering the chaos prepares us to receive a heightened clarity and wisdom as well as to engage in a more intimate relationship with Hashem.”

Dovid Hamelech’s Tehillim 126 is a psalm of hope; in it’s final lines, we recognize a deep connection between emptiness and formation. 

HaZorim BeDimah BeRinah Yiktzoru - Those who sow in tears will reap in song; 

HaLoch Yelech Uvacha Nosei Meshech Hazorah - Those who bear the measure of seed goes on his weeping; 

Bo Yavo BeRinah Nosei Alumosav - He shall surely come home with exultation, bearing his sheaves. 

When it feels like the earth that supported you has been irreparably overturned, there is a divine promise in Dovid Hamelech’s Tehillim that new seedlings will one day take root and grow. We are promised a harvest when it seems improbable, when we cannot imagine growth. 
Every seed has to disintegrate before it can grow into a fruit or vegetable. Every seed has to break apart to sprout. It has to surrender to the darkness of mystery in order to emerge. And therein lies the stunning truth of life, of grief, and of healing: the seed has to turn to nothing to become something. 

How do we cope with fear and pain of nothingness or of brokenness? By realizing that a crucial aspect of resilience is the ability to allow the darkness, to surrender, to pause in the chaos of pain, to suspend our routine, to wait, to receive. We have to learn to stop and allow the waves of pain to wash over us. Because once we are broken, then Hashem can be the Healer of the Broken Hearted as Dovid Hamelech calls the Rofei LiShburei Lev. 

We dwell in a crucible of doubt and imbalance, of emptiness and anguish. One has to undergo the process of decomposition in order to be reborn. “The things which hurt,” Benjamin Franklin wrote, “instruct.” What impedes us, can actually empower us. 

To be able to contain this truth requires deep humility, faith, and surrender. It’s almost impossible to believe that at the moment of destruction and dissolution, that rebirth is actually beginning. Yet it is said, that on Tisha Bav Moshiach is born. 

6. Chinese Zen Parable - CrackPots

A story is told about a man who owned two large pots. Each hung on the ends of a pole, which she carried every day on her shoulders to fill with water from the stream located at the end of the village. One of the pots was complete and always delivered a full portion of water; the other pot was cracked and arrived home each day only half full. Of course, the complete pot was proud of its accomplishments. It felt really good about itself. The poor cracked pot, on the other hand, was ashamed of its own imperfections; it was miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do. After years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, the humbled broken pot finally opened its heart to the woman at the stream.  "I hate myself,” the cracked pot cried, “I am so useless and valueless. What purpose does my existence have when each day I leak out half of my water? I am such a loser!” The man smiled and said: ”Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side? I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path.  Every day while we walk back from the stream, you have the opportunity to water them. "For years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate our home.  Without you being just the way you are, we would have never created this beauty together."

Inline image 4

This week, on Friday Rosh Chodesh Adar, we will commemorate the 12th Yahrtzeit of Hindy. We will never forget Hindy. 

We feel diminished and broken by her loss, for she was a beacon illuminating our family with a special light. I will continue to declare it every day, and especially on the day of her Yahrtzeit.

Hollywood screenwriter Robert Avrech, also a fellow bereaved parent, put it best, in describing his intense yearning for his deceased son Ariel’s Neshamah after years of bereavement - which I will apply and adapt to mine to Hindy’s: “Contrary to all logic, as time passes, our memories of Hindy have become more vivid. The images of every stage of her life are easier to evoke in all nuance and detail. This is a mixed blessing since it intensifies our longing for her smile, her steadfastness, her intelligence and kindness. Yet the enrichment of memory strengthens her role in our family as a luminous spirit, guiding us in the corporeal world. Her goodness, her modest piety are a constant reminder of what we should all strive for in our lives. Indeed, Hindy’s absence has been transformed into a deeply felt presence.”

We always think about her, but we continue on, with the “second set of Luchos” even after our first set was broken and shattered. When we feel that our “set of Luchos” are shattered, we need only open our hearts to receive Hashem’s gift of a “second set of Luchos,” the belief that joy can, and will, find a place in our lives again, with Luchos  that will never be broken.

Bilah HaMoves Lanetzach, Umacha Hashem Elokim Dimah Meyal Kol Ponim - May He swallow up death forever; may Hashem wipe away tears from every face (Isaiah 25:8) T'hei Nishmasa Tzrurah B'tzror Ha'chaim.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

His ‘Ahavas Yisroel Radar’ Was Always On

Baruch C. Cohen, Esq. with Rabbi Yehoshua Gordon, OBM.

Los Angeles attorney Baruch Cohen recalls the adventures of the California Valley's head Shliach Rabbi Josh Gordon OBM in court.
By Baruch C. Cohen, Esq.

As a civil trial attorney in the Hancock Park section of Los Angeles, with an emphasis on bankruptcy and Bais Din litigation, I had the great honor of representing Chabad of the Valley for the years, under the guidance of Rabbi Yehoshua Binyomin "Josh" Gordon, zt"l.

Back in 2005, Chabad of the Valley was unfortunately sued by a bankruptcy trustee in the Woodland Hills Bankruptcy Court in the Central District of California.

I was retained by Rabbi Gordon to defend against a lawsuit by creditors of a businessman who has given contributions to Chabad. The court appointed a chapter 7 trustee to recover those 'ill-gotten' contributions, claiming they belonged to the donor's creditors.

The lawsuit, if successful, would have resulted in an enormous financial loss to Chabad. During the litigation, the chapter 7 trustee's counsel took Rabbi Gordon's deposition in his Century City office, and I defended him there.

As part of the deposition, the trustee's counsel asked Rabbi Gordon foundational questions about Chabad, it's mission, its work, and the issue of the charitable donations in particular. Rabbi Gordon's answers were complete and accurate, giving the trustee a real appreciation for the great work of Chabad.

ON THE RABBI'S RADAR

During the break in the deposition, when we recessed, Rabbi Gordon pulled me to the side to get my impressions as to how he was testifying, and my strategies about our defense, when all of a sudden, out of nowhere, he changed the subject, and curiously asked me if I knew whether the trustee's counsel was Jewish.

I responded that I had no idea if he was Jewish, as the lawyer's name was not a recognizably Jewish name. "But why on earth, does that matter, as we're staring down the barrel of a litigation gun right now, getting closer and closer to trial, with the threat of a summary judgment motion about to be filed?"

Rabbi Gordon was not swayed by my answer and continued; and told me that during the deposition, while being questioned, he detected something "Jewish" in the way the interrogator was asking him follow-up questions about Chabad; and that his "Ahavas Yisroel Radar" was always "on" even in tense situations like this.

"I sensed his Yiddisheh Neshama. I could be wrong, but I don't think I am. I think he's a Yid" he told me. And on that note, Rabbi Gordon announced that our lunch will have to wait, as he needs to run and get something from his car that is parked in the subterranean parking structure.

I assumed that Rabbi Gordon was running to his car to bring me documents that would help us in our defense of this case. I waited for Rabbi Gordon to return in the building's cafeteria where I started eating my lunch by myself.

Rabbi Gordon returned with no documents, but rather a Tefillin bag and a twinkle in his eye, telling me: "If he's a Yid, I want to put Tefillin on him. Baruch, let me do this. I know what I'm doing. This is very important to me"

To which I responded: "Are you out of your mind? This is not the time or place for this. May I remind you that you're on the defensive here? Get off the Tefillin idea and let's get focused on the case...."

My arguments went nowhere, Rabbi Gordon took his Tefillin bag with him back up to the conference room when the deposition resumed.

OFF THE RECORD

During the last hour of the grueling deposition, while on the record, Rabbi Gordon politely asked the trustee's counsel how old he was and if he was Jewish.

"Excuse me? I'll ask the questions here, and you'll answer them" was his stern reply.

At which point, I put my head in my hands, fearing where this was going. Rabbi Gordon was undeterred: "Fine. I'll answer your questions, but can you please answer mine: are you Jewish?"

The trustee's counsel instructed the stenographer to go "off the record" so the conversation could continue.

Annoyed, the trustee's counsel responded that he was in his late 50's, and indeed was Jewish, but not observant like we were - and can we please go back on the record to resume the deposition?

Rabbi Gordon reaches for his Tefillin bag, explained what Tefillin is, and asked the lawyer if he had ever put one on before. The trustee's counsel was getting more and more irritated by Rabbi Gordon's line of questions, and didn't want to engage Rabbi Gordon about his heritage, and responded in a stern tone that he never put on Tefillin, insisting that we go back on the record, and resume the questioning.

Rabbi Gordon was undeterred. He was amping up: pushing the envelope, and asked the trustee if Rabbi Gordon could put Tefillin on him now, at the deposition. I could not kick Rabbi Gordon under the table to signal to him to stop (as I was convinced it would have been a waste of my time).

The trustee's tone was now forceful that the Jewish-Tefillin conversation has come to an end, he made it very clear that he didn't believe in whatever Rabbi Gordon was "shoveling" and he absolutely refused to participate in the Tefillin ceremony. At this point, the trustee was getting very upset and went back on the record and resumed and completed the deposition.

JUDGE'S QUESTION

Two months later, we were in court on the hearing on the contested motion for summary judgment brought by the trustee.

The judge's tentative ruling was intentionally vague as to who would win the summary judgment, and during the hearing, the judge asked Rabbi Gordon what the halacha was on whether creditors had the right to recover charitable contributions from the charity.

With no notes and no preparation, Rabbi Gordon rattled off a halachic analysis on the subject that would make any Talmid Chochom blush. It was absolutely brilliant, incredibly well organized and he cited several commentaries on the Shulchan Aruch, charting the Halachic development.

I was totally floored at his unrehearsed presentation to the judge, as I had no idea Rabbi Gordon had such a breadth of knowledge in the highly specialized area of the Choshen Mishpat dealing with complex monetary disputes.

The judge was very impressed, pleased and satisfied with Rabbi Gordon's impromptu presentation, returned to business, and encouraged the parties to go out into the hallway and try to settle this case before she is forced to rule on it, which we did.

CONDITION FOR SETTLEMENT

After hours of tense negotiations in the hallway of the courthouse, we were still miles apart - in terms of dollars - from settlement, when Rabbi Gordon grabbed my arm, winked at me and I saw that disturbing twinkle in his eye again.

He announced that he would accept the Trustee's final settlement demand on one condition: that after the settlement consummates and finalizes, that Rabbi Gordon would have the privilege of putting Tefillin on the Trustee's counsel; to which he agreed on the explicit condition that no cameras be present when he puts on Tefillin. And thus ending years of contested litigation over a handshake.

The settlement was finalized, monies were paid, and Rabbi Gordon subsequently went to the Trustee's office to close the deal - to put Tefillin on him for the 1st time in his life.

Rabbi Gordon explained to me later, how significant and important it was to him to put Tefillin on that Jewish lawyer from Century City. "Reb Baruch, the lawsuit seemed secondary to me at that moment. Believe it or not, it was insignificant. All that mattered to me right then and there, was to put Tefillin on my fellow Yid."

Had I not witnessed this myself, I probably would not have believed such a story. I realized that Rabbi Gordon's intuition was obviously correct and his "Ahavas Yisroel Radar" was properly calibrated.

Our professional relationship and friendship continued for many years. Rabbi Gordon became my learning chavrusa and a very dear friend. In my hour of loss, he dove into my soul with laser beam accuracy to console and comfort me during my aveilus. He knew what to say, and how to say it. His business ethics were beyond impeccable. He only feared God, and feared no man. He will be missed sorely.

In Court, With Rabbi Josh Gordon

Attorney Baruch C. Cohen and Rabbi Josh Gordon at the dinner of Bais Yaakov of Los Angeles

Los Angeles attorney Baruch Cohen recalls the adventures of the California Valley's head Shliach Rabbi Josh Gordon OBM in court.
By Baruch C. Cohen, Esq.

As a civil trial attorney in the Hancock Park section of Los Angeles, with an emphasis on bankruptcy and Bais Din litigation, I had the great honor of representing Chabad of the Valley for the years, under the guidance of Rabbi Yehoshua Binyomin "Josh" Gordon, zt"l.

Back in 2005, Chabad of the Valley was unfortunately sued by a bankruptcy trustee in the Woodland Hills Bankruptcy Court in the Central District of California.

I was retained by Rabbi Gordon to defend against a lawsuit by creditors of a businessman who has given contributions to Chabad. The court appointed a chapter 7 trustee to recover those 'ill-gotten' contributions, claiming they belonged to the donor's creditors.

The lawsuit, if successful, would have resulted in an enormous financial loss to Chabad. During the litigation, the chapter 7 trustee's counsel took Rabbi Gordon's deposition in his Century City office, and I defended him there.

As part of the deposition, the trustee's counsel asked Rabbi Gordon foundational questions about Chabad, it's mission, its work, and the issue of the charitable donations in particular. Rabbi Gordon's answers were complete and accurate, giving the trustee a real appreciation for the great work of Chabad.

ON THE RABBI'S RADAR

During the break in the deposition, when we recessed, Rabbi Gordon pulled me to the side to get my impressions as to how he was testifying, and my strategies about our defense, when all of a sudden, out of nowhere, he changed the subject, and curiously asked me if I knew whether the trustee's counsel was Jewish.

I responded that I had no idea if he was Jewish, as the lawyer's name was not a recognizably Jewish name. "But why on earth, does that matter, as we're staring down the barrel of a litigation gun right now, getting closer and closer to trial, with the threat of a summary judgment motion about to be filed?"

Rabbi Gordon was not swayed by my answer and continued; and told me that during the deposition, while being questioned, he detected something "Jewish" in the way the interrogator was asking him follow-up questions about Chabad; and that his "Ahavas Yisroel Radar" was always "on" even in tense situations like this.

"I sensed his Yiddisheh Neshama. I could be wrong, but I don't think I am. I think he's a Yid" he told me. And on that note, Rabbi Gordon announced that our lunch will have to wait, as he needs to run and get something from his car that is parked in the subterranean parking structure.

I assumed that Rabbi Gordon was running to his car to bring me documents that would help us in our defense of this case. I waited for Rabbi Gordon to return in the building's cafeteria where I started eating my lunch by myself.

Rabbi Gordon returned with no documents, but rather a Tefillin bag and a twinkle in his eye, telling me: "If he's a Yid, I want to put Tefillin on him. Baruch, let me do this. I know what I'm doing. This is very important to me"

To which I responded: "Are you out of your mind? This is not the time or place for this. May I remind you that you're on the defensive here? Get off the Tefillin idea and let's get focused on the case...."

My arguments went nowhere, Rabbi Gordon took his Tefillin bag with him back up to the conference room when the deposition resumed.

OFF THE RECORD

During the last hour of the grueling deposition, while on the record, Rabbi Gordon politely asked the trustee's counsel how old he was and if he was Jewish.

"Excuse me? I'll ask the questions here, and you'll answer them" was his stern reply.

At which point, I put my head in my hands, fearing where this was going. Rabbi Gordon was undeterred: "Fine. I'll answer your questions, but can you please answer mine: are you Jewish?"

The trustee's counsel instructed the stenographer to go "off the record" so the conversation could continue.

Annoyed, the trustee's counsel responded that he was in his late 50's, and indeed was Jewish, but not observant like we were - and can we please go back on the record to resume the deposition?

Rabbi Gordon reaches for his Tefillin bag, explained what Tefillin is, and asked the lawyer if he had ever put one on before. The trustee's counsel was getting more and more irritated by Rabbi Gordon's line of questions, and didn't want to engage Rabbi Gordon about his heritage, and responded in a stern tone that he never put on Tefillin, insisting that we go back on the record, and resume the questioning.

Rabbi Gordon was undeterred. He was amping up: pushing the envelope, and asked the trustee if Rabbi Gordon could put Tefillin on him now, at the deposition. I could not kick Rabbi Gordon under the table to signal to him to stop (as I was convinced it would have been a waste of my time).

The trustee's tone was now forceful that the Jewish-Tefillin conversation has come to an end, he made it very clear that he didn't believe in whatever Rabbi Gordon was "shoveling" and he absolutely refused to participate in the Tefillin ceremony. At this point, the trustee was getting very upset and went back on the record and resumed and completed the deposition.

JUDGE'S QUESTION

Two months later, we were in court on the hearing on the contested motion for summary judgment brought by the trustee.

The judge's tentative ruling was intentionally vague as to who would win the summary judgment, and during the hearing, the judge asked Rabbi Gordon what the halacha was on whether creditors had the right to recover charitable contributions from the charity.

With no notes and no preparation, Rabbi Gordon rattled off a halachic analysis on the subject that would make any Talmid Chochom blush. It was absolutely brilliant, incredibly well organized and he cited several commentaries on the Shulchan Aruch, charting the Halachic development.

I was totally floored at his unrehearsed presentation to the judge, as I had no idea Rabbi Gordon had such a breadth of knowledge in the highly specialized area of the Choshen Mishpat dealing with complex monetary disputes.

The judge was very impressed, pleased and satisfied with Rabbi Gordon's impromptu presentation, returned to business, and encouraged the parties to go out into the hallway and try to settle this case before she is forced to rule on it, which we did.

CONDITION FOR SETTLEMENT

After hours of tense negotiations in the hallway of the courthouse, we were still miles apart - in terms of dollars - from settlement, when Rabbi Gordon grabbed my arm, winked at me and I saw that disturbing twinkle in his eye again.

He announced that he would accept the Trustee's final settlement demand on one condition: that after the settlement consummates and finalizes, that Rabbi Gordon would have the privilege of putting Tefillin on the Trustee's counsel; to which he agreed on the explicit condition that no cameras be present when he puts on Tefillin. And thus ending years of contested litigation over a handshake.

The settlement was finalized, monies were paid, and Rabbi Gordon subsequently went to the Trustee's office to close the deal - to put Tefillin on him for the 1st time in his life.

Rabbi Gordon explained to me later, how significant and important it was to him to put Tefillin on that Jewish lawyer from Century City. "Reb Baruch, the lawsuit seemed secondary to me at that moment. Believe it or not, it was insignificant. All that mattered to me right then and there, was to put Tefillin on my fellow Yid."

Had I not witnessed this myself, I probably would not have believed such a story. I realized that Rabbi Gordon's intuition was obviously correct and his "Ahavas Yisroel Radar" was properly calibrated.

Our professional relationship and friendship continued for many years. Rabbi Gordon became my learning chavrusa and a very dear friend. In my hour of loss, he dove into my soul with laser beam accuracy to console and comfort me during my aveilus. He knew what to say, and how to say it. His business ethics were beyond impeccable. He only feared God, and feared no man. He will be missed sorely.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Saudi man drinking fresh Camel urine



http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=5eb_1455270446

Arab guy drinks camel urine, washes his face in it


Arab drinking camel urine

BCC meets Pepperdine Law School Professor Michael Avi Helfand

Professor Helfand is currently an associate professor at Pepperdine University School of Law, where he has taught Contracts, Arbitration Law, and seminars in Law and Religion as well as Multiculturalism and the Law. Professor Helfand serves as the associate director of the Diane and Guilford Glazer Institute for Jewish Studies at Pepperdine University as well a member of the faculty of the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution. In addition, he serves as both an arbitrator and consultant for the Beth Din of America.Professor Michael (Avi) Helfand is an expert on religious law and religious liberty. A frequent author and lecturer, his work considers how U.S. law treats religious law, custom and practice, focusing on the intersection of private law and religion in contexts such as religious arbitration, religious contracts and religious torts. His academic articles have appeared in numerous law journals, including the Yale Law Journal, New York University Law Review, Duke Law Journal, Minnesota Law Review, Boston Law Review and University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law Review. In addition, Professor Helfand often provides commentary on clashes between law and religion, writing for various public audience publications, including the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, the National Law Journal and the Forward as well as recently testifying before the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

BCC meets Rachelle Fraenkel...

Rachelle Sprecher Fraenkel was propelled to international recognition in the worst of circumstances – when her 16-year-old son Naftali was kidnapped and murdered along with two other teens, Eyal Yifrah and Gil-Ad Shaer, in June 2014.
Fraenkel became the most public voice of the families during the three weeks of intensive searching. She addressed prayer vigils and rallies, and told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva how the mothers just wanted to hug their sons again.
She was, and remains, a symbol of the period of unprecedented social unity, prayer and faith, a period that carried on into the rocket-racked days of Operation Protective Edge.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

OUTSTANDING! IRON DOME ALLIANCE: Fighting to Win for Israel; The time has come for a new strategy. The time has come for Israel to play to win.

ה' עז לעמו יתן; ה' יברך את־עמו בשלום 
G-d will give Strength to His People; G-d will bless His People with Peace

Attached is Fighting to Win, a piece that the Jewish Link of New Jersey was set to publish this week. It was submitted at the paper's request. The Link asked for a counterpoint from local AIPAC and NORPAC leaders to run side-by-side. Rather than argue the merits, these individuals chose to pressure the Link to censor Fighting to Win. The resulting campaign of threats and intimidation by AIPAC and NORPAC led the Link to pull the piece.

Fighting to Win appeared last week in the Los Angeles Jewish Home (p26) and is running this week in the 5 Towns Jewish Times (p1).

In light of BDS, the Iran Deal, and growing anti-Semitism, those who are concerned about the US-Israel relationship should read this piece and make their own decisions. 

And those who care more about standing for Israel than about protecting American Jewish organizations from criticism should be troubled by their censorship of a true pro-Israel movement.

We are in a critical election year. If you agree that it really does matter which party controls Congress and who sits in the White House - if you agree that it's high time for Israel's friends to go on the offensive - then click here to learn more about Iron Dome Alliance, the only national pro-Israel super PAC.

We welcome you to join us!

Jeff


-- 
Jeff Ballabon, Chairman, Iron Dome Alliance 
office: +1-703-879-3870
mobile: +1-917-207-0900
email: jb@b2strategic.com  

--------------

Fighting to Win: Revolutionizing Israel Advocacy

Jeff Ballabon & Bruce Abramson


The final year of the Obama Presidency has not begun well for Israel. Arab assassins earn greater international sympathy than do their Jewish victims. Iran gleefully violates even the modest obligations that Secretary Kerry negotiated, and receives
$100 billion or so to fund terrorism. The BDS movements scores labeling victories in the EU and the Obama Administration reinforces them. The UN Secretary General unleashes slanderous antiJIsrael bile into a receptive global public.

Meanwhile, with America’s focus on the election, the country’s leading proJIsrael activists again boast of unshakeable bipartisan support in Congress. Never mind that a sizable majority of Israel’s Democratic “friends” just agreed to fund Iran’s ability to exterminate the Jewish State. The proJIsrael establishment insists that their hard work keeps the “proJIsrael” position a rare point of consensus in a partisan town.

Decades of polling tell a different story. The difference between Democratic and Republican views of Israel is stark, longstanding, and growing. Almost 85% of Republicans express consistent warm support for Israel. Democrats’ more tepid proJ Israel sentiment routinely polls below 50%—and even that support skews old. Young Democrats overwhelmingly take pride in their antiJIsrael politics, exacerbating the dire situation on college campuses. Astoundingly, many American Jews who know from personal experience that fullJthroated support for Israel has become contentious accept the absurd fiction that Israel’s position in Washington remains secure no matter who is in charge. Even skeptics of the “bipartisan consensus” silliness have been persuaded that vast millions should be squandered on supporting Israel’s enemies’ campaigns because they might gain power (thus actually helping Israel’s enemies gain power) as though, despite all evidence to the contrary, such contributions somehow make them Israel’s friends rather than reward bad behavior.

This denial of the obvious has been killing Israel slowly. Israel’s alleged supporters in Washington claim exemption from the most basic rule of politics: While it is nice to have friends on both sides of the aisle, control of Congress and the White House is critical. Planned Parenthood, the NRA, the Sierra Club, and the Chamber of Commerce all know it. Each of these groups champions an agenda, fights for their beliefs, rewards proven friends, and punishes enemies.

America’s “proJIsrael” establishment stands apart; its neurotic need to claim as many “friends” and as few “enemies” as possible earns public lip service but private contempt. As last year’s vote on the ObamaJIran deal showed, Congress overflows with politicians eager to court wealthy Jews, spout proCIsrael platitudes,    and

cast easy votes. The moment that Israel requires a vote of conviction rather than convenience, however, they politely express regret and an intention to return as soon as the easy money resumes—because it always does.


Israel’s American supporters have confused themselves with the Israeli government. Israel is a small state surrounded by enemies seeking her destruction and the genocide of her citizens. Because Israel plays with razorJthin margins of error, risk aversion can be highly rational. The significant risks that Israel has incurred have almost all focused on securing friends and allies, rather than on securing victory. As  a foreign government dependent on the United States, Israeli diplomacy compels conciliatory statements about U.S. policy and the American leadership. American activists are under no compulsion to believe such statements. To the contrary, American supporters add maximum value when championing the tough truths that diplomacy puts beyond Israel’s reach. Yet rather than pushing to expand Israel’s political playing field, Israel’s leading advocates in Washington have instead become similarly risk averse, at times even allowing their own neuroses and extraneous political priorities to further constrain Israel’s options.

The system is broken and must change. Israel deserves advocates fully committed to the cause, not ones who use it to advance their other interests. And proJIsrael activists should behave more like the lobbyists for American interests they are, and less like supplicants for an embattled state. Israel remains popular with Americans; Iran and the Palestinian Authority do not. A proJIsrael lobby that played to win would articulate basic, immutable principles for which it would fight. It would pressure Israel’s neighbors to work with Israel, while removing pressure on Israel to take risks that compromise its security. It would stop pushing Washington and Jerusalem to reward Arab incitement and terror with a PLOJled state, and instead work overtime to ensure that antiJJewish terror works against Arab interests. It would innovate on policy and narrative, promoting truths and ideas that run counter to conventional wisdom, even if such innovations remain minority positions for the years that lobbyists often need to assemble winning coalitions.

Israel’s enemies understand this strategic imperative. Temple Denial sounded crazy when Arafat first floated the idea in 2000. By 2015, the New York Times detailed the “controversy” surrounding Jewish “claims” to the Temple Mount, and UNESCO tried to declare the Western Wall a Muslim holy site. BDS began with a coalition of radical fringe NGOs in 2005. By 2015, allegations of Israeli apartheid and genocide dominated discourse among American academics and European parliamentarians. ProJIsrael activists may boast about state legislatures adopting antiJBDS legislation, but the antiJIsrael forces framed the conversation. When the debate concerns singling out Israel as the subject of an international boycott, Israel has already lost.


Not too long ago, acceptance of a Palestinian state appeared radical and anathema to America’s interests and the pursuit of peace. Jimmy Carter—hardly a proJIsrael advocate—opposed it when he was President, arguing of the destabilization such a state would cause. Yitzchak Rabin, martyred in 1995 for his dovish politics, never wavered from his opposition to a Palestinian state. In 1998, five years into the Oslo process, Hillary Clinton spoke with tentative approval of a Palestinian state triggering a furious backlash; her husband’s White House issued a very blunt official repudiation. Yet over the past fifteen years, much of the world— including many Jews claiming to advocate for Israel—has severed this “solution” from the considerations of peace, security, Arab behavior, or Arab preparedness that were supposed to have justified it. By 2011, exJPresident Clinton had adopted his wife’s views; he publicly blamed Israel for the lack of peace and supported the Obama Administration’s attempts to reward Arab intransigence and distance the U.S. from Israel.

With foresight and boldness, nimble antiJIsrael forces have solidified the “Palestinian” claim while rendering contingent Israel’s legitimacy; Israel’s sluggish advocates lament that “the ship has sailed” while it is their own hands on the tiller. On any other issue, Washington lobbyists would have sounded alarm bells, informing their members and supporters of the animosity emanating from the White House. For the proJIsrael establishment, however, mobilizing pushJback is of far lesser importance than maintaining “access” to legislators who take meetings and attend parties but evaporate when needed.

Looking ahead, France has threatened to become the 137th country to recognize a State of Palestine. Might the Obama Administration follow suit? If the ship has sailed, why delay? If proJIsrael activists living in the safety of Washington do not stridently oppose the emergence of this new JewJhating terror state, who will? If America’s Jewish leadership fails to insist that the U.S. oppose antiJJewish terror as resolutely as it does terror in general, why shouldn’t American politicians join the global chorus labeling JewJkilling regrettable, but understandable?

Israel is losing on many fronts, and those claiming to be its greatest American advocates remain stuck playing defense. Yet the success of Yasser Arafat’s delegitimization of Jewish Jerusalem, Hillary Clinton’s implicit Palestinian State, and Barack Obama’s nuclear Iran prove that drastic shifts in both the terms of debate and U.S. policy are achievable—but only to those who think strategically, risk criticism, and act fearlessly. As Winston Churchill observed, the only way to avoid making enemies is to stand for nothing. To fight for Israel is to risk the enmity of Israel’s enemies, not to wish it away. Israel’s friends do not need money

to remain friendly, and Jewish money will never buy Israel the friendship of those who wish it ill.

The absence of policy innovation within the proJIsrael establishment is palpable. When Mahmoud Abbas proclaimed that the Oslo Accords no longer bind the PA, a strategic thinker might have suggested that Israel and the U.S are similarly unshackled—setting off a debate about two decades of rewards for Arab incitement and violence. The creation of a new Arab state, the limitations on Jewish life in Judea and Samaria, and even the PA itself would all come under a microscope. Ships deemed to have sailed would reenter port. The U.S. would pursue American interests with no sense of obligation to a terrorist organization. For once, Israel’s friends would frame the discussion. Just as Israel cannot win a debate about BDS, Israel cannot lose a debate about PA incitement. The only downside would be increased risk of criticism and condemnation from those who believe that supporting Israel should be easy, comfortable, and remunerative.

Such costs are hardly negatives when exchanged for greater benefits. A willingness to forego the illusion of lockstep bipartisanship in the name of strategic policy innovation would ignite a new era of proCIsrael activism. It would educate voters for whom Israel is a priority about the real differences between the parties, helping to empower the Republican leadership necessary to turn proJIsrael innovations into American policies, while reminding Democratic politicians that only those who truly support Israel deserve to reap the benefits of Israel’s support.

The time has come for a new strategy.


The time has come for Israel to play to win.

 Jeff Ballabon is Chairman and Bruce Abramson is VP and Director of Policy of the Iron Dome Alliance, America’s proDIsrael super PAC.