Monday, 5 December 2016

Where has Liberalism gone?





           

                                                                 



Those of you who have known me for a while, know that I like to start many of my articles with a definition. That way, the readers and myself have some kind of an objective tool, a common denominator to  start a dialogue, a debate and an exchange.

I therefore decided to look up the term “Liberal” And “Liberalism.”
The Oxford dictionaries define the term “Liberal” as someone who is “willing to respect or accept behaviour or opinions different” to their own…”
The Free Dictionary defines “Liberalism” as “A political theory founded on the natural goodness of humans and the autonomy of the individual and favoring civil and political liberties,


Both definitions, randomly selected, instill in their readers, at least in me, a sense of elation. They infuse a feeling that the practice of this theory is a panacea to all that is wrong in this world, one that we should all embrace and espouse.

The opposite of Liberalism is Conservatism. According to the Oxford Dictinary, it is "Commitment to traditional values and ideas with opposition to change or innovation:". This , of course, implies intolerance, narrow-mindedness, and a host of other not so complimentary terms. I regard myself as conservative which based on the above encompasses nearly all the evil in the world.

And that is indeed what those who call themselves, liberals, the enlightened ones, would accuse us, “conservatives,” of being -  the compilations of all that is iniquitous in this world. They are the bleeding hearts, they are the inclusive ones. They are the all-encompassing ones, the broad-minded ones. In short, the sole holders of right solution.

Until you dare to differ from them.

The recent election season is a perfect example of that. Granted, both sides displayed some lack of mannerism when emotions took over. The ugly utterances by both sides, the hatred, the profanity and the ugly metaphors brought to the surface some unbearable behavioral patterns which in normal times would remain hidden in the dark creases of the human soul.

I guess as a Conservative, a member of the group of human kind that represents that which is all bad, I am ready and willing to take responsibility. After all, how can you expect the “root of all evil” to act against that which is innate to it?

But what about the “Liberals,” those who per the above definitions, are the epitome of all that is positive, noble, decent and principled? Where is their practice of the brotherhood of men, the practice of many basic liberties of all those who were born equal, including the freedom to choose?

I have been wondering, is it possible that there are as many forms of “liberalism” as there are declared liberals? Where has this noble concept that has guided mankind through some dark eras gone astray? Where have the genuine liberals, the guardians of some of the most noble ideas in our history gone?
Bring them back!                 

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Should we allow Globalization in its present form remain that way?











This article was written jointly by Roger Froikin and Bat-Zion Susskind -Sacks

“Globalization is here to stay.” This is the latest joint declaration of Obama and Merkel.
An objective dictionary definition of the term suggests that the term means “The process by which businesses or other organizations develop international influence or start operating on an international scale.” Apparently, a decent idea aimed at removing barriers, economic and cultural, between nations and bringing people and societies together. It has been suggested that it is, according to Jean Monnet, one of the European Union founders, a way to make war a thing of the past by creating co-dependency and cooperation. It has been experimented with in various forms for a long time.

Our question then is, has it proved successful? If Obama and Merkel mean that the process once begun cannot be stopped, maybe they have a point. But if they meant that “Globalization” is a process so important and so powerful so that it must ignore its negative consequences in the interest of some higher goal, they are wrong.

For Roger and myself and for many others, the term “Globalization” evokes the unavoidable association and recollection of the biblical story of Babylon. Babylon in turn, conjures anything that goes against G-d and humanity’s code of moral conduct. We have heard of the “harlot of Babylon,” the lascivious and immoral conduct of its inhabitants which, we believe is also hinted at on Leonard Cohen’s song “Dance Me to the End of Love,” where he says. “Let me feel you moving like they do in Babylon.” Babylon, as many know, is also the cradle of some of the pagan religions that sought to compete and destroy Judaism. What “Babylon” was, was a centralization of all power and influence in a small elite who saw it in their interest to squash all who dissented - cultures, religions, languages – all had either to be in the interests of those in control, or had to disappear. A world of diversity had to become a world of uniformity serving the new order imposed by those at the top - for the good of all. The problem then – and now, is that when uniformity is imposed, whose culture, whose rules, whose choices will be imposed on everyone for the benefit usually of those who are running the game or have access to those running the game.

The Biblical story of Babylon as recounted in Genesis, like the idea of modern day concept of globalization, was a counter reaction to certain realities that needed to be addressed. Prior to the Flood, per Chabbad.org, people “had been interested only in themselves; they thought of themselves as supermen and lived each one for himself alone; they used violence and force against their weaker neighbors, paying no attention to laws and rules.”

We witness the same phenomenon unfolding itself in front of us nowadays. Borders are crumbling, economies with different outlooks and different work ethics are forced to work together removing the rewards from the hardworking ones and benefiting the less ambitious ones. Individuals who are yearning for self-expression and practicing their rights for individualism are silenced and reduced to becoming mere sheep, all for the benefit of a global society. Individuality and the integrity of one’s own mind lost its inviolability. The ‘we’ has replaced the ‘I’ leaving us with neither being capable of guiding humanity anymore.


In theory, Globalization is fine. It has the potential of being more opportunity and a better life to everyone. In practice, it has been much less so historically. Somewhere, some place there is the golden mean, the course of combining the two, enhancing one’s ability for self-expression and directing it towards benefiting us all. And that “golden mean” can best be reached by encouraging free and fair trade, allowing market forces, not bureaucrats and making the decisions balanced by a moral approach that requires fairness to all.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

The Silence of the Donkeys











We are witnessing a sad phenomenon nowadays. The U.S. is divided almost in the same manner it was before and during the Civil War in the early 1860’s.

The difference is that, unlike then, nowadays, it is not about some painful and revolting issues such as slavery and inequality. This time, it is about exercising some healthy and democratic tenets, Freedom of choice and the freedom to practice that which is innate in every free and enlightened society. The right to vote for one’s choice is what I am referring to.

The American voting system was decreed by the forefathers of our Republic. It was so decreed that the candidate that gets most of the electorate votes, is the chosen candidate. Our great U.S. A. has voted like that for over two centuries.

Many of us have voiced our dissatisfaction with this system but have done little if anything to change it. I remember the contested elections during the Gore Bush season. I also remember that as an Al Gore voter, I was upset. However, I accepted the verdict and supported Bush in his efforts to ensure the well-being and safety of the American people.

I certainly did not think then of going out to riot, cause havoc and use violence to express my dissatisfaction with the results. I would not have contemplated it ever, not then, not now even if the Democratic candidate, whom I oppose, had won.

Moreover, I am very upset, to put it mildly, to see protesters burn our flag. The Star-Spangled-Banner is the flag of the great U.S.A. It is the symbol of everything anyone anywhere else in the world could ever dream of! It stands for freedom, equality, opportunity and rights. It is the subject of our National Anthem It is the symbol of the Land of the Brave and the Land of the Free. For me personally, it is the symbol of the power that liberated my parents from the Nazi death camps.

Yes, I know, some will be quick to correct me and point out that back in 1989, Supreme Court Judge Scalia  was the fifth and deciding voter (Texas vs. Johnson) that upheld the decision that flag burning is a form of expression. A year later, he also voted against a federal law that banned flag burning.

And that, too, is part of what the Star-Spangled banner stands for, freedom of expression and freedom to choose one’s own candidate and one’s own form of government and policies democratically and openly.

Sad that some Donkeys do not get it!

It is not the voters that I direct my anger at. They have a right to be unhappy and protest. It is the leaders that they voted for that I direct my criticism against.

They promised us that they will work to make America great. They promised us that they will be there for us.

Well, your humble servant is one of those us. And this humble servant would have hoped that those same leaders would continue to stand by their promise to make us great, to unify us, work together towards one common goal and make America great again.

Instead, they have chosen to remain silent, sit and watch American brothers and sisters fighting against each other, boycotting and slandering each other. Have they forgotten parts of our bloody history?

I am glad I am in the elephants’ camp. After all, they say that elephants have a long memory!

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Why I am a Trump supporter









I was once an immigrant, a newcomer to the U.S.A.

When I arrived there, I had very little possessions. I was a young woman who had nothing, average English skills, no status, no dynasty and certainly no connections. All I brought along with me was a strong ambition and big dreams.

America of then accepted me for who I was. It did not give me money or free gifts. All it offered me is its fertile ground of opportunity. "Come plant your seeds in me," it whispered to me, the seeds that are in you, it is here for you and all who yearn to grow and blossom. I will not do it for you, but I will offer you and all what is necessary to make it happen."

And I did!

In my first five years of living there, I achieved more than I did or could have achieved anywhere else in the world including my beloved Jewish Homeland, Yisrael.

I continued to work hard and America continued to be there for me. It remained with open arms and embraced my wish to grow and prosper.

It did not expect anything in return but Respect, Love and Loyalty.

That is the Great America that I miss. That is the Great America that I want back.
That is the Great America that only Donald Trump can give us back!



Saturday, 29 October 2016

Lost, misused and abused in translation









Translations have many positive facets. They bridge between cultures, peoples and societies. They can help enlighten us, educate us and enrich us.

Unfortunately, translations, when done by the wrong entities, some of whom may carry their own selfish agenda, can lead just to the opposite. The consequences can be detrimental, cause much strife and shed rivers of blood.
One such translation is what is known as the Septuagint (תרגום השבעים), an affair that went down in Jewish history as a sad and disastrous milestone. In fact, it was considered such a calamity that Jewish rabbis designated a special mourning day to commemorate it.

It all started in the third century B.C.E. with the Greek ruler, Ptolemy II Philadelphus, the king of Ptolemic Egypt. An educated man, Ptolemy wished to augment his library in Alexandria and commissioned seventy-two (six from each of the twelve tribes) scholars to translate the Torah and later the rest of the Tanach into Greek. This translation came to be known as “The Septuagint” (Seventy in Latin). The main reason for producing the translation was for the benefit of the many Jews who were scattered throughout the Greek Empire and who were beginning to lose their Hebrew language. The translation also gave many non - Jews an opportunity to have a glimpse at the Hebrew Scriptures. Apparently, a noble cause but, as you will soon learn, dear readers, a great reason for alarm.

The main concern of Jewish authorities regarding this translation or for that matter, any translation, was that it might pose danger to the Biblical message and word, the danger of being misunderstood or badly interpreted. Unfortunately for us, Jews, this has ended up being the case which in turn gave rise to much of the suffering that many of our people have endured throughout history and continue to endure until this very day.

To those of you wondering why I chose to write about this subject, let me just add that I have personal reasons for alerting my fellow Jews to the dangers that such mistranslations hold. As a teacher who lost at least one student to the unrelenting efforts of missionaries to convert Jews, I learned that the lurking spiritual thieves use such mistranslations to lure Jews into their midst. Uneducated Jews will fall an easy prey to them. Knowledge is power and a tool to ward off such efforts. The more our Jewish brethren know about their own history and the better they understand it, the less likely are they to become victims of treacherous efforts by the missionaries!

Let us move on to some examples of how our Tanach was mistranslated and the ensuing price, we Jews and Am Yisrael sustained as a result.

One example that comes to mind is the mistranslation of Leviticus 34, verse 29: "כי קרן עור פני משה" (Moshe’s skin was radiant). The Hebrew word for “radiate”קרן  , is the same as that for  “horn.” This mistaken translation is well illustrated in the famous sculpture of Moshe by Michelangelo which is displayed in Rome. One can hardly ignore the horns that were added to the gracious figure of Moshe holding the two tablets. That mistranslation not only affected Michelangelo’s creation, it was also a tool used by many anti-Semites through history to describe Jews and attributing to them monstrous traits. And who loves monsters?

Another example causing much controversy and a rift between Judaism and Christianity can be found in the Book of Isaiah Chapter 7 verse 14. There it says: “
לכן יתן אדני הוא לכם אות הנה העלמה הרה וילדת בן וקראת שמו עמנו אל” The same verse is conveniently translated as: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

Luckily, the Tanach was written in Hebrew and yours truly is proficient in that language. Isaiah does NOT use the word “virgin” in that verse in Hebrew. He uses the word  (almah) עלמה “maiden,” “an unmarried woman.” The Hebrew word for virgin is בתולה (betulah). If Isaiah had indeed intended to impress upon us that he was prophesying the immaculate conception would he not have used “betulah” instead of “almah?”

“But hey,” argue my devout Christian friends, “were not all maidens during Biblical era expected to be virgins?” A valid argument indeed, one would suggest. But do not rush to any conclusions, dear friends, not yet anyway. And this, by the way, is where many innocent ignorant Jews fall in the trap set by messianics and missionaries. Unfortunately for the missionaries who enter a debate with me on this verse in Isaiah, I always have the answer.

It is then that I enlist the help of a publication called  a “ Bible Concordance,”
a verbal index to the Bible. In it, one can find references to every word that appears in the Tanach. Since my contenders suggest that “a Biblical maiden has got to be a virgin,” I looked up the references to maiden. It appears in the Tanach seven times. The first one is in Genesis 24, verse 43  where Eliezer, the servant of Avraham describes Rivkah, the future wife of Yitzchak “מג הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי נִצָּב, עַל-עֵין הַמָּיִם; וְהָיָה הָעַלְמָה, הַיֹּצֵאת לִשְׁאֹב, וְאָמַרְתִּי אֵלֶיהָ, הַשְׁקִינִי-נָא מְעַט-מַיִם מִכַּדֵּךְ.  ("See, I am standing beside this spring. If a maiden comes out to draw water and I say to her, "Please let me drink a little water from your jar") .In that same chapter verse 17, Rivkah is described as a Virgin, betulah that no man knew (and we all know what “to know” in the Biblical sense means). “טז ""וְהַנַּעֲרָ, טֹבַת מַרְאֶה מְאֹד--בְּתוּלָה, וְאִישׁ לֹא יְדָעָהּ  (The woman was very beautiful, a virgin; no man had ever slept with her). So here is my question to you, dear missionaries, if indeed it was so obvious that almah, a young maiden is akin to betulah in Biblical times, why was there a need to reiterate it in the case of Rivkah? Evidently, it was not as obvious as you would like your poor uneducated Jewish victims to believe!

So how did the Hebrew word almah become virgin? Remember the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Tanach? That is where the answer lies. In Greek, the same word Parthenos means BOTH “maiden” and “virgin.” Isn’t it natural, therefore, that to make their case for the immaculate conception, early Christianity conveniently chose the word virgin instead of the original Hebrew word for maiden?

Finally, and I have used that example of mistranslation a few times, I have an issue with those who refer to my homeland as Israel (where the S is pronounced as a Z instead of Yisrael where the S is pronounced as it should be an S.

Israel (where S sounds like Z) when written in Hebrew עיברית (Ivrit) the language of Am Yisrael, the language of our heritage, is spelled as יזרעאל  which is how we spell the valley of Jezereel in the Northern part of Eretz Yisrael. That valley is ONLY one part of our Jewish Homeland. Additionally, it also means something totally different than what our forefathers intended for our state. It means in Hebrew, “G-d will sow”. The name Yisrael which is the correct English spelling of our Home has a totally different meaning.

The name “Yisrael, first appears in the Torah, in the Book of Bresheet (AKA Genesis in its Hellenistic translation) Chapter 32 verse 29 “
לֹא יַעֲקֹב יֵאָמֵר עוֹד שִׁמְךָ כִּי אִם-יִשְׂרָאֵל כִּי-שָׂרִיתָ עִם-אֱ-לֹהִים וְעִם-אֲנָשִׁים וַתּוּכָל  (No longer shall your name be Yaakov, but Yisrael because you fought with G-d and people).

Dear Jewish readers, Am Yisrael and those who claim to love us, do you realize the significant message that the name
יִשְׂרָאֵל  (Yisrael, where the S is pronounced like an S as it should be!) bears? Do you grasp the message of Hope, Strength and Promise that it holds? No longer shall your name be Yaakov, which in Hebrew means to follow, to walk in the footsteps of others. We shall no longer be followers, but rather leaders. We will lead our people and those who wish to follow our holy message that we carry for humanity. We shall do it against all odds. We shall face our challengers, our haters and adversaries and we shall win! We are the People of Eternity!

Am Yisrael Chai <3

·          

Sunday, 16 October 2016

The Hellenists among us






 The term "Hellenism" which literally means, "to speak Greek," or "make Greek," refers to ancient Greek rule and history and covers the period following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BCE and the rise of the Roman Empire. It ended in 31 BCE.

 To many, "Hellenism" denotes ancient Greek Culture and is mostly perceived as that period in history where Greek language, Culture, Literature, Art, Architecture, Science, Philosophy and Erudition prevailed. 

The Hellenistic period had deep influence on the Eastern Mediterranean area, which was under Greek rule for a long time. That, unfortunately, also included Eretz Yisrael.

I say, "unfortunately," because in many spheres, this cultural phenomenon had a lasting and devastating impact on Judaism and the thought process of our Jewish People, an impact that is felt until this very day.   In almost every way, Hellenism and Judaism were culturally diametrically opposed in terms of mankind’s place in the world, the role of personal responsibility, man’s relationship with G-d, and the concept of and role of hope.

The effects of Hellenism on the Jewish population were felt as early as the year 200BCE. At that time, there surfaced a group among the Jewish population called Mityavnim, meaning Hellenists. Its members, most of whom were those closest to the Greek rulers and eager to please them, adopted Greek culture and way of life, which was foreign to the Jewish one in almost every way. Their practice of it reached such a degree that, almost unvaryingly, it replaced their Jewish culture and Jewish identity. One example of the extent to which these individuals were willing to go in order to be accepted as Greeks or Hellenizers, relates to one of the most central practices in Judaism, circumcision. 

Ancient Greeks, as we all know, were great believers in practicing the art of nudity. That was demonstrated in sports, which were done in the nude.  Bathhouses in ancient Greece were popular and, likewise, were attended in the nude. Circumcision was not among their practices. Therefore, in order to avoid embarrassment and be accepted as an equal and "Good Greek," Hellenized Jews "underwent painful operations-at a time with minimum anesthetics-to restore their foreskin and appear Greek…" Naturally, those who were ignorant of Jewish life and tradition fell easy prey to Hellenism and some of its positive aspects. "Others, however, became vicious self- haters." Among the latter group, many detested their Jewish brethren and thus became willing collaborators, ones who were ready to help them in their attempts to eradicate Judaism in Eretz Yisrael and replace it with their "more enlightened pagan culture of theirs."  (http://www.jewishhistory.org/the-hell-in-hellenism/).  
Our Sages warned at the time about Hellenism invading Jewish thought, how it would pervert how Jews thought of themselves and of their own beliefs, how Hellenism was like a disease that would leave the Jewish People sick and how difficult it would be to rid ourselves of this sickness.

Now, let us fast forward into the present.



















If we replace ancient Greek and Hellenism with The New Israel Fund (NIF) and their agenda of a New Middle East, an agenda that is foreign to Jewish culture and traditions then we reach the unavoidable and unfortunate conclusion that history, in this case, Jewish history, repeats itself. For how else can one describe organizations such as "Breaking  Silence," or "B'Tzelem," both of which are funded and supported by (NIF) and other entities whose sole purpose is to remove the Jewish essence of Eretz Yisrael, but self- hating Jewish collaborators?  For people to so want to appease and conform to the beliefs and interests our their enemies is sick.

How else or what else can we call those who loathe and despise anything Jewish and in their efforts to blend with the "in" crowd are ready and willing to sacrifice their brethren, their Jewish core on the altars of modern day Hellenism?

But there is yet another kind of Hellenism, one that stems not from self- hatred but from misplaced gratitude to the non-Jewish supporters of the Jewish people and political Zionism (the movement established by Herzl at the end of the 19th century). That kind of Hellenism stems from the fear of losing that support of the world that is so void of love for Jews.
We should be happy and thankful for the support others show us.  Nothing is wrong with that.  Everyone wants and needs friends in this world.   But, here’s the interesting question.  “Friendship”, real friendship, means accepting us for what we are, respect for our traditions, our beliefs, our security, our rights.   Those who are really friends will not try to change us, not try to redefine us in ways alien to our traditions and beliefs, nor impose things on us for their own benefit.

There are, sadly, those Jews, however, who have adopted Hellenism, replacing Judaism and the noble concept of honest Jewish gratitude, out of some mistaken fear of losing friendship and needed support, and in the process seem willing to shed some underlying fundamental principles in our few millennia old Jewish tradition and leave them in the hands of those who are, for now, friends. Many of those who claim to be our sincere friends and sincerely love us, are rarely familiar, if at all, with what Judaism is all about, and through really no fault of their own try to define us, our beliefs, our traditions, in terms that are familiar to them and alien, to a degree, to what our tradition teaches us. 

We are not going to accuse people of having evil intent.  We don’t see evil in this.  We see misguided.  We see something akin to Stockholm syndrome.  Two Thousand Years of persecution and deprivation has an effect of making a people vulnerable to being liked, eager to seek approval, but let’s not fool ourselves.  Approval and being liked that comes from giving up what you are and copying those who you fear might not like you, is not acceptance. It is surrender.  

Surrender cannot be allowed to define the Jewish Future. Jews and Am Yisrael are here to stay regardless of what either group does or says.  How difficult our journey will be depends on how well we guard what we are and grow by our own beliefs and traditions as we alone can define them.  Regardless, our fate is known, sealed and proven. We are an eternal nation, no matter what!

Chag Sukkot Sameach to all of you.


Written jointly with Roger Froikin.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

An Open Letter to My Jewish People








Recently, I have seen many open Letters. “An Open Letter to an Anti-Semite,” “An Open Letter to BDS,” “An Open Letter to the World,” and even “An Open Letter to Hillary Clinton.” It is time to write an open letter to my Jewish People because in my world,  you come first.

As the Jewish New Year draws nearer and closer, I have been thinking and evaluating the past year and how, I believe, we, Jews and Am Yisrael, can make the future better and more rewarding for us.


“Ata Bechartanu Mikol Ha’amim,” (You chose us of all Nations) is a major tenet in our Jewish tradition. This choice carries a myriad of obligations for us, not just privileges - probably more of the former than the latter. Alas, we accepted this choice, G-d’s selection of us, before we even knew and understood what  it entailed. “Naaseh Venishma,” (We shall do and we shall hear) is what we vowed and affirmed at Mount Sinai.

We are still learning what it is we agreed to and adjusting ourselves to that commitment. After all, we are still a young Nation. After all, what is 4000 years of existence for a People that is eternal?

Recalling our vocation, our calling and our role in history, I can think of three main characteristics or traits that describe us.  Firstly, we were told that we will be dwelling alone.  Secondly, we were destined to be a Light to the Nations.  Lastly, we were also foretold that we shall not be reckoned with the other Nations.

Thus far, I believe, we have lived and continue to fulfill the first two parts of that destiny. The Jews and Am Yisrael have always been alone. That is becoming more and more the case with all the hatred directed towards us by many and their  ongoing efforts to further isolate us. Likewise, we have definitely been a Light unto the Nations. We have contributed immensely to world civilization in remarkable ways and have left our footprints in almost every field of human history.

It is the latter and third part of our core which we seem to have not yet mastered entirely. Why? I believe it is very much rooted in our inability to grasp and to accept the unquestionable reality that we are different. We have a different essence, a different spirit than others and certainly a different destiny. We are not better than others and we are not worse than them. We are just different. And who wants to be different? Who does not want to be accepted as equals among others? Who would not want to blend nicely and easily into one’s surroundings?

What is even more bothersome to me is that we expect strangers to understand us when it is not part of their makeup and culture to comprehend and appreciate the fiber of our Jewish soul. In their desperate efforts to grasp it, they try to define us in their own terms and in accordance with their culture and their values which in many cases are so foreign to ours. They try to compartmentalize us and shape us into an organism that will help them understand us. Some even do it with the best and most sincere intentions. However, by the time they are done defining us, they have created an entirely different entity, one that is so alien to what G-d has intended for us, Jews and Am Yisrael to be.

And worst of all, we allow them to continue to do that to us. Why? Because we fear that if we protest and stand up against their, in many cases, well - intended efforts to help us and support us, we might lose their friendship. Towards that end, we continue to give up our most cherished values and for what?

This Rosh Hashanah, I turn to you, my dear Jewish brothers and sisters, please reconnect with our history. Learn to remember who we are. Engrave our ancient templates, the reason for being chosen, on your Jewish substance.
Tie them as symbols on your heart and bind them on your brain. Betroth them and renew your covenant with them. That is the only way we will stay who we were meant to be. And we are here to stay. That, too, is part of our destiny.

Shana Tova

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Was it a drop of rain, or was it G-d’s tear?






I love my Jewish people. I feel their pain, I hurt their aches, I live their frustrations, I am angry with them when I have glimpses of their rebellious nature and I reprove them like I would a bad child who misbehaves. But then, I feel the urge, that need to take them by the hand and guide them back to the “Promised Land” They are all my brothers and sisters. They are my children and grandchildren.

No, it is not easy being Jewish. I do not envy G-d. To have chosen a nation that would fulfill His Divine command and mission must have been a hard task. For choosing us, Jews and Am  Yisrael, for that role,  we say “Thank you!” To continue to affix Himself with the same Nation that He has chosen despite their rebellious nature, their stubbornness and occasional defiance of Him is even harder. For His Love and His ongoing Blessings we say an even profounder “Thank you!”

Those of us who have had children know what I mean. We do not choose our children. We accept them with love and gratitude. Raising children is not easy. Yet, some of us do all we can to bring them up in the best possible way. We worry about them. We secretly cry their pain. We try to support them, guide them, reprove them and sometimes punish them. We pray for their well-being and success. We secretly hope that they will not fail themselves, us, and those who count on them. We shed a tear or two in the process and continue to hope for the best. No matter what, we still love them.

I asked myself this hot dry summer day, “Who does G-d pray to when His children disobey Him?”

He does not. He hurts. He soothes them. He hopes. He continues to love them and He cries.

I know because I just felt one of His tears.

Friday, 8 July 2016

Why I could never be a Socialist - Some Observations




                                                                           





“Mom,” my daughter asked me, one day, some fifteen ago, “are you a Capitalist or a Socialist?”

“Anyone who works hard for their money has got to be a Capitalist,” I answered without any hesitation.

We were living in New Zealand at the time. In fact, living there for as long as I did, is one experience that has been very instrumental in helping shape my views on the subject. Anyone who has ever visited New Zealand will surely agree with me that it is a Garden of Eden. Two small islands in the middle of the Pacific, still far from any threats as we know them in the Western world, no air force and few worries. The country is as close to the socialist dream as one could ever be. There are no homeless people in New Zealand (at least not when I resided there). The government takes good care of its citizens. Single parents are well cared for as are low income people. All are noble and high moral principles. The epitome of Socialism.

Make no mistake, I am all in favor of government social programs focused on supporting and helping those who are less fortunate in any society. Only cold hearted people would oppose such magnanimous values. I salute such governments.

I do, however, have a serious issue with socialism when it goes unchecked and turns into an abusive tool by those who­­ benefit from it. Eventually, I believe, it becomes a boomerang.  And that is what I, unfortunately, witnessed during much of the ten years that I lived there.

One example that comes to mind is the benefits awarded to single mothers. Watching many high school dropouts electing to get pregnant for the sole purpose of being a single mother so that they do not have to work, have an easier life while receiving government benefits and monies, sometimes more than any job could offer, perplexed me then. In the interest of continuing this life of convenience, they repeat the same when their child has reached that age when the mothers are no longer qualified for single motherhood benefits. They simply get pregnant again, sometimes, or rather most of the time, by a man who may never be part of the child’s future life. That cycle will then repeat itself until that mother reaches the age of retirement when she is eligible for government superannuation. And there are more examples of abusive practices directed at swindling and conning a system originally set with the best intentions for all.

Yes, I am aware that generalizations are always dangerous but I have witnessed many cases, enough to have formed the views that I hold.

Why, or what has prompted me to discuss the subject and particularly as it pertains to New Zealand, now? Very simple. I see a similar trend in Norway, another beautiful country that prides itself of great social values, a country which I have been visiting frequently lately.

Here, too, I see many single mothers, some choosing to live out of wedlock with their partners, the fathers of their children, again, for the purpose of squeezing as much as possible out of the government so that they do not have to work. I speak to people who claim to be unfit for physical work, yet engage in jobs that are much more demanding while being paid monies that are never declared.

Simple logic dictates that in order to be able to maintain socialism, one would need money, a lot of money or what we all know as capital. If so many live off a state and live well, we should stop and ask, who pays for it? How long can a country no matter how endowed it is, sustain and survive such practices or rather such antics by many of its citizens?


Saturday, 2 July 2016

אנא מכם, אל תצפו ממני....






                                                                                   








עיני קהות מראות בעוד גלי הדמעות מציפים אותן. ליבי מדמם ונפשי בוכה. הצעקות המחרישות אוזניים של מהותי היהודית מסרבות לשכוך.

אני צופה בנפילת קורבנות הרשע . הם לבנים, כהים, צהובים. הם נוצרים מוסלמים והנדואים. הם עליזים הם רגילים. הם דתיים והם אתאיסטים. הם צעירים והם זקנים. הרשע אינו מבחין בצבע, אמונה או גיל. הוא הורס כל אשר וכל מי שעומד בדרכו להצלתו ולהתגשמות הנבואות המזעזעות שלו.

אולם, בארבעת חדרי ליבי היהודי, יש מקום לאבלם, לאובדנם ולכאבם של בני עמי היהודים. מדוע? משום שכפי שחזרתי והדגשתי בעבר, אם לא אני, מעטים מאוד ,אם בכלל, יעשו זאת.

אינני עומדת לבקש ממך או להתחנן בפניך, עולם יקר, להצטרף לאבלי. מעולם לא עשית זאת ולעולם לא תעשה זאת. אם אי פעם פעלת בנושא זה הרי שהיה זה אך ורק לסייע ולהמשיך לסייע בסלילת הדרך והסרת המכשולים העלולים לחסום את השביל בפני אלו אשר שואפים להפוף את עמי למוצר ניכחד בהיסטורית האנושות.

אנא, אל תצפה ממני להצטרף אליך בעוד סופר את מתיך, לאורך אותו שביל אשר עליו עמלת קשות לתכנן עבורנו. אינני יכולה, פשוט אינני יכולה. אני עדיין מתאבלת על מיליוני בני עמי אשר מתו באש המזבחות אשר אתם ואבותיכם הקמתם ביזע במאמציכם לטהר את העולם  מקללה ושמה "יהודים."

הדמעות אשר אנוכי מזילה עוזרות לכבות אש זו. למרבה הצער, אינך חדל מלהבטיח כי האש תמשיך לבעור ולגבורה יותר מאשר הדמעות אשר עיני המתייבשות מסוגלות לייצר.

אז אנא ממך, אל תפצה שאצטרף לכאב. הצלקות של כאבי דוחות, תודות למאמציכם, את תהליך ההחלמה מצערינו הרב. אין לי פנאי ואין ביכולתי  להשתתף בכאבך. הקהת את רגישותי לסיבלך. הטעם המר של התרופה אשר האכלת את עמי הרעילה אותנו. היא אכזבה אותך. הפכנו להיות אדישים לה. למרבה הצער היא הפכה אותנו לאשר הינכם-חסרי רגשות.

מעשיך והתנהגותך הנאלחת, הכריחו אותנו להמציא תרופה משל עצמנו. אפילו שם יש לה, "עמנו היהודי הינו בראש מעינינו!" אנו דואגים למענו בראש ובראשונה. אם אויבינו המשותף, אותה מפלצת אשר ילדתם, האכלתם וטיפחתם מותירה את קורבנותיה היהודים לצד אלו שלכם, אנו נתאבל עליהם קודם. אנו נזכור ונזכיר אותם לפני שנעשה זאת לקורבנותיכם.

אנא, אל תצפו מאיתנו לנהוג אחרת

Please do not expect me.....




                                                                           


My eyes are blurry as the waves of tears are flooding them. My heart is bleeding and my soul is crying. The deafening shrieks of my Jewish essence refuse to fade.

I watch the falling victims of evil all around me. They are white, black, yellow. They are Christians, Muslims, Hindus. They are gay, they are straight. They are religious and they are atheists. They are young and they are old. Evil sees no color, no creed and no age. It smites anything and anyone who stands in its way towards its own redemption towards the fulfillments of its revolting prophecies.
The four chambers of my Jewish heart, however, have room to mourn and hurt the pain, the loss of only my people. Why? Because, as I repeated time and again, if I don’t, very few others, if any, will.

I am not going to beg you, plead with you, dear world, to join me on the journey of my bereavement. You never did, you never will. If anything, you only helped and continue to help pave the way and remove the roadblocks that hamper the path for those who target us, those who wish to turn us into an extinct specimen in the history of mankind.
Please do not expect me to join you when you mourn and count your dead strewn on the very same trail that you have toiled so hard to devise for us. I cannot, I simply cannot. I am still mourning millions of my people who died in the fires of the altars of history, alters that you and your ancestors sweated so hard to erect in their efforts to purge this world of a plague called “Jews.”

The tears I shed help extinguish those fires. Unfortunately, you never tire to ensure there are more fires than the gashes which my drying eyes could ever yield.

So please, do not expect me to join you in your pain. The scars of my ache reject, much with your unrelenting support, the healing process of my own agony. I have no time, no ability to share yours. You have numbed my sensitivity to your suffering. The bitter taste of the medicine you have been feeding my people has intoxicated us. It has failed you.  We have become indifferent to it. Unfortunately, it has made us like you, oblivious.

Your antics have forced many of us to produce our own medicine. We even have a name for it, “Our Jewish people come first!” We care for Jews first. If our common enemy, the monster you have given birth to, fed and nurtured, leaves our Jewish victims next to yours, we will mourn ours first. We will remember and commemorate ours before we do yours.


Please do not expect us to do otherwise. 






Wednesday, 29 June 2016

That Precious Moment



                                                                         


Have you ever experienced a moment towards which you are looking forward, that moment in which you are being cloaked by that very unique feeling over and over again? It is the moment where you sense the wave of adrenaline welling in you, refusing to subside no matter how much you try to control it.  I am talking about a moment that you never tire of, one that you have lived and relived many a times, one that reunites you with that which is central to your life, to who you are and what you are.

Yesterday, Moshe and I relived such a moment. We both had another reminder, not that we ever forgot, of the centrality of Yerushalayim in our beautiful Jewish tradition.

Moshe and I attended a Jewish wedding here in Oslo. Our hearts were fluttering with joy as we were witnessing another Jewish couple entering the marriage covenant according to the “religion of Moshe and Yisrael….” Our Hope is still alive, we both thought, and it’s a few millennia old core is still throbbing!

The wedding took place in an Orthodox synagogue. Naturally, we had to sit apart from each other. Separated physically, yes, but not spiritually, historically and culturally from that which unites us so solidly with a tradition that has brought us thus far.

As the rabbi was going through the various steps of the ceremony, the blessings and reading the Ketubah (Marriage certificate written in Aramaic), we were both, independently of each other waiting patiently for that approaching moment.  We were looking forward to that one moment, one moment that bears great significance to us and should, in our view, likewise be of great meaning to all Jews wherever they are.

That moment did not linger. Unaware of each other’s moves, we both got up from our seats and started to make our way towards the Bimah where the Chuppah was slowly but surely peaking towards that which we had been waiting for, that which our ancient Jewish Zionist essence seeks to reassure and re-affirm over and over again.

I stood there very close to the Bimah as my Jewish soul was cleansing itself in anticipation and preparation to bear witness to the oath, to the pledge which has kept our People’s Spirit alive and invigorated.


Suddenly, I raised my head and glanced over the isle to the men’s section. There stood Moshe waiting, like me, for that precious moment. “Now read this please,” the rabbi instructed the groom. I could feel my eyes welling, the lump in my throat growing as Moshe’s eyes were locked with mine and our lips joined the groom’s as we vowed in unison,
אם-אשכחך ירושלים--    תשכח ימיני.  תדבק-לשוני, לחיכי--    אם-לא אזכרכי:
אם-לא אעלה, את-ירושלים--    על, ראש שמחתי.
 ( If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
    let my right hand forget its skill!
Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth,
    if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
    above my highest joy!)



As long as one pair of lips utters these words and renews this vow, this oath to Yerushalayim, our Hope is not lost. Am Yisrael Chai!


Thursday, 23 June 2016

The fragility of the gift of Life







                                                                 



Unlike Hebrew, English has two words to express the idea “providence” ( (גורל They are “fate” and “destiny.” One of my English students once asked me if there is a difference between the two. I suppose there is.
Fate, I believe, is controlled by forces that reside outside of us. These powerful dynamisms lay beyond our control and determine when we enter this world and when we leave it. They also govern certain events in our life. Destiny, on the other hand, is the powerful force that rests within us, one which allows us control our choices, regulate and shape them and our life’s trials as optimally as we can. It is the valve that can help us achieve the most out of the gift our lives.

And Life is a gift,
not to be taken for granted. It is a gift to be valued and to be enjoyed. Even our wonderful Jewish tradition teaches us to be grateful for that. It is for that reason that a Jew is commanded to repeat daily the following blessing upon waking up in the morning: “מודה אני לפניך מלך חי וקיים, שהחזרת בי נשמתי בחמלה, רבה אמונתך.” (Modeh Ani Lefanecha Melech Chai Vekayom Shehechezarta Bi Nishmati
Bechemla Raba Emunatecha
I offer thanks to You,living and eternal King, for You have mercifully restored my soul within me; Your faithfulness is great.)

Every day, we are retold of the need to be thankful for it. Every day, we collect indications that tomorrow is never guaranteed, never promised. A few days ago, we commemorated the untimely death of Channah Sharvit of blessed memory, Moshe’s late wife. Stories of unfortunate deaths which cross our life’s path are a constant reminder of the need to celebrate life and highlight those beautiful moments that no money can buy.

Last night, Moshe and I had, yet, another aide-memoire of this very essential calling. This one came in the form of a movie entitled, “Me Before You.” It was a loud wake - up call about the uncertainties that are strewn around every corner of our life’s journey. And there are so many of those.
The movie recounts the life of a young man whose existence has changed overnight following a serious accident that befell him. From a vivacious, talented and successful fellow, he became wheelchair bound and dependent on others. He lost his joi de vivre and any hope for a fulfilling future. A beautiful young care giver walks into his life and toils hard to fill it with exciting and rewarding experiences. Although the young man regains some of his joys of life, he eventually chooses to end his life but not before he bequeaths upon his caregiver the legacy which he himself was deprived of. His tragedy became her learning curve and the fulfillment of his wish for her and others.

That movie brought to mind another movie which I had seen years ago. It is called “The Eighth Day.” The story is about a workaholic businessman who spent hours over hours in the office. He neglected his wife and two beautiful daughters only to see his family falling apart. After separating from his wife, the man met a young man with down syndrome by the name of George. George was a simple man but he had the most important slices of life. He had love, he had joy and he had hope. He taught his friend these values. Eventually, the man was reunited with his family and lived happily ever after. In time, George passed away. As the angels were carrying his soul to heaven, a voice read the first chapter of Breesheet (Genesis), the story of creation. There was one extra verse added to it, though. It said, “And on the seventh Day G-d rested. He looked at His creation and asked Himself, ‘What is missing in my world?’”

“So, on the Eighth Day,” the voice continues, “He created George.”

G-d created a George for each and every one of us. Let us internalize his lesson. Let us take our destiny in our own hands and enjoy the gift we are each given by Fate. Let us celebrate it and bask in its glory. One day, Fate will take it back.


Saturday, 18 June 2016

When it comes to Jews and Yisrael, “Open Season” is always there










Borrowed from the hunting domain where the term “Open Season” means  “a period when it is legal to kill or catch game or fish protected at other times by law,” it has also come to suggest a time when someone or something is openly attacked or criticized by many and often for no reason.

Yes, I know, some here will go up in arms and cry, “here they come again waving the ‘victim card,’ the Jews are at it again, Yisraelis are at it again!”

Well, dear readers, if you look closer, or at least try to look closer, you will see that it is not a “victim card” we are waving at you, rather, it is the “reality card!” Nowadays, when it comes to Yisrael, it has become indeed an “Open Season,” mostly by those who wish to bring an end to it and, sometimes, even by those who claim to be sympathizers and friends.

I am appalled anew each time that I see, read and witness clichés being thrown, used, abused and misused when it comes to Yisrael. Let us take for example the term “Apartheid” How many parrot the term irresponsibly when they barely know what it really means and what it stands for?

In anticipation of such ignorance, I always supply myself with a very basic definition of the term. I have used it numerous times to educate those who are in dire need for it. The definition of “Apartheid” that I carry around with me is very basic. It is derived from www.oxforddictionaries.com.It states that “Apartheid” is "(In South Africa) a policy or system of segregation or discrimination on grounds of race"
I challenge our listeners to find one but one such policy or law in the Yisraeli system, one that separates Jewish Yisraelis from other Yisraelis. I urge them to point at any decree that discriminates against anyone based on color, creed, religion or race.
They all remain speechless!

Does it stop them?

I could go on and name other examples of unjustified and baseless attacks against the Jewish state. The venomous kool-aide that many innocent and ignorant victims have been drinking is very potent. Seems that the antidote for it has yet to be invented.

It is not only foes, however, that Yisrael and Yisraelis seem to be open to criticism and attacks to. There are those well-wishers who, out of belief that they only mean well, criticize us, attack us and drag our name through the mud.

Let me indulge you with some illustrations.

Two weeks ago, there was a terror attack in the heart of Tel Aviv. A Christian friend who claims to be a dear friend of Yisrael and the Jewish people, suggested that it was a form of punishment for Tel Aviv holding a gay pride parade a few days earlier. Oh really?  To that we can only say, "we will be damned if we do and damned if we don't."

And then, of course, there are friends who love us so dearly that they feel they can define us, tell us who we are and what we should be. They use terminology coined by Hellenistic heathens who had forced their lexicon upon us, dictated to us what to do, how we should do it and when. Yes, these friends only mean well, we are certain, but should we try to defy their efforts, take our destiny into our own hands and shape it, that is when their true colors come out.


Christian missionaries are a perfect example for that. Of course they will claim they do not attack us. Of course they will claim that they only want to help us. Of course they feel that if they trespass our boundaries and put deceitful leaflets into our mailboxes, they only mean well. After all, their sole wish is to turn us into "complete Jews."

Time to close the season, dear foes and friends. If there is a law protecting animals against hunting, there should be one defending Jews in Eretz Yisrael and the world over. The time when Jews were treated as merely another species in the Animal Kingdom is over. The Ghetto Jew is dead. Yisrael, should create laws to protect its Jewish citizens. Everyone else here seems to be already protected!