Ari Fuld – an Ordinary Extraordinary American-Israeli Jewish Hero

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Yesterday Ari Fuld was knifed in the back at a mall by a snot-nosed teenage Palestinian terrorist.  Ari chased the terrorist and shot him. Both of them lay on the pavement. Ari sadly, father of four and supporter of thousands, succumbed to his wounds and was buried last night at 11pm.

Am Yisrael Chai! The state of Israel lives! in joy and fulfillment because we have many people like Ari Fuld,  – not just the IDF – our teenage citizen army – but ordinary citizens of all ages and everywhere, who continue every day to ensure our safety and to ensure that we all live in security with joy and fulfillment. One snot nosed teenager can’t take that away! I am in Jerusalem and I feel safer here in Jerusalem than in New York or Montreal or anywhere else in the world because here everybody watches out for everybody. Here is Ari Feld speaking about his commitment a few short months ago interviewed by the Jewish Journal in Los Angeles.

 

And Ari Fuld, our ordinary extraordinary hero, will be mourned by all of the State of Israel and by Jews and non-Jews all over the world who appreciate the value of every single life.

And i just saw this post in Breaking Israel News which gives an additional flavour and insight into Ari Fuld. If you read the next part of this post you may begin to understand how the  Torah/our Sacred-Word-of-G-d-Text influences how a Jew Lives his faith every day of his life. I quote:

That Ari Fuld, may his memory be for a blessing, whose name means lion, was a fierce advocate for Israel is well-known.

What might be less well-known is that he took time on Fridays, just before Shabbat, to teach the upcoming week’s Torah portion live on Facebook, often beside his beloved barbeque grill, in his beloved community of Efrat. Fuld taught Torah to thousands of Jews and Christians all over the world, while preparing food for his family’s Shabbat meals.

 

A Torah Tribute To Ari Fuld In His Own Words

 

 

 

Rosh Hashana: Jewish New Year: What it Means to Jews and to Non-Jews

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Rosh-Hashanah-pomagraniteRosh Hashana is an unusual holiday since it is both communal and personal. In one of his brief talks Rabbi Steinmetz explains that the only time a Jewish community is obligated to hire a Rabbi and organize public prayer is for Rosh Hashanah. And yet Jews are of all different stripes and persuasions. This was amusingly brought home to me by a humorous Rosh Hashana e-mail:

Shana Tova
Author Unknown

To modern, ultra & just plain Orthodox Jews, Charedi Jews, Misnagdim, Conservative, Conservadox, Reform & ConForm Jews, Reconstructionist,Gartel Jews, non-Gartel Jews, Jews with sheitels & without, Tichel Jews, Sheitel, tichel & hat Jews, converted Jews, adult & child Jews, Frum from birth Jews, Baalei Teshuva, Satmar, Agudah, black hat, kipa s’ruga, Mir, Munkacs, BelzBeta Yisrael, Bobov, Chaim Berlin, Y.U. Jews, payos in front of the ear Jews, payos in back of the ear Jews, kipa only in shul/ hat in shul/ no shul at all Jews, Mizrachi Jews, Jews by choice, Bathrobe on Friday night Jews, Likud Jews, Labor Jews, Meimad Jews, Ten Lost Tribes Jews, cardiac Jews, Irish Jews,Black Jews, White Jews, 3-day-a-year Jews, Rav Nachman Jews, Rav Shlomo Jews, Neturei Karta Jews, Hasidim, Telz, Lakewood & Ner Yisrael Jews, Chofetz Chaim Jews, zaftig Jews, skinny Jews, Fremeiners, Dinevers, Kook-ies, JTS, RJJ, HUC, HTC, MTJ, BMT Jews, Celebrity Jews, Generation X,Y & Z Jews, NCSY Jews, Solomon Schechter Jews, Chinuch Atzmai Jews, Fackenheim Jews, Yitz Greenberg Jews, Kahane Jews, Feminist Jews, Chauvinist Jews,egalitarian Jews, traditional Jews, Kaddish-zuger Jews, political Jews, intellectual Jews, ignorant Jews, tomato Jews & orange Jews, Shinui Jews, Shas Jews, Israeli Jews, American Jews, Persian Jews, Russian Jews, Galitzianers, Litvaks, Polacks, Birthright Jews, single Jews, married Jews, wish I was married Jews, Greener Jews,  Redder Jews, Scandinavian Jews, South of the Border Jews, Italian Jews, Bald Jews, Hairy Jews, Canadian Jews, Latino Jews, Ladino Jews, Jews in kapatas, Jews in T-shirts, Jews in sandals, Jews in gym shoes, Jews in cowboy boots, Hungarian Jews, Czech Jews, Jews on the Hungarian-Czech Border Jews, Ashkenazim, Sefardim, Yemenite Jews, Afrikaaner Jews, Romanian Jews, Zionists, non-Zionists, anti-Zionists, post-Zionists, Jews with an accent, Jews who speak perfect Midwestern English, Hebrew, Native American Jews, Anglo-Saxon Jews, French Jews, German Jews, Greek Jews, Indian Jews, Chinese Jews, Jews who like David Levy Jews , Wannabee Jews, Conspiracy Theory Jews,Japanese Jews, Shayna Panim Jews, Meesekite Jews, Closet Jews,Shnorrers, Baalei Tzedaka, Tzadikim, Baynonim, Rashaim, Chacham-Tam-Ayni Yodea Jews, Chevramen & Forbisseners, kvetching Jews, Guta Neshama Jews, Vizhnitzer, Ger, Gerer, Chabadnik, Kohenim, Levi’im, Yisraelim, Machers, Mavens, & Pashet Jews, Manchester, Melbourne, Jerusalem and Toronto Jews, EVERY KIND of Jew in this vast Universe.

Jews are argumentative and fractious and often divided, But on Rosh Hashanah we come together to pray for ourselves and for the community. The Jewish community is never an isolated community. We live and have lived in every corner of the world and we are an integral part of every conversation. This year, the world is divided indeed, from the Iran nuclear deal being debated in the US Congress as we speak, to the refugee crisis engulfing Europe and Canada, and the ongoing internecine Islamic wars in the Middle East, and Africa, it is hard to find one’s bearings as a Canadian, as a Jew, whether living in Israel or in the diaspora.

What is the glue that holds us Jews together? Rabbi Steinmetz spoke yesterday about the “Covenant or Contract – Brit in Hebrew” that Moses lays out for the Jewish people – the Sinaitic contract passed down by Moses at the mountain to the Israelites in the dessert.

The words of this brit, covenant or contract are quite beautiful: Chapter 29 v. 9 – 14 Deuteronomy reads as follows: “You are standing today all of you before the Lord your God: the heads of your tribes,d your elders, and your officers, all the men of Israel, 11your little ones, your wives, and the sojourner who is in your camp, from the one who chops your wood to the one who draws your water, 12so that you may enter into the sworn covenant of the Lord your God, which the Lord your God is making with you today, 13that he may establish you today as his people, and that he may be your God, as he promised you, and as he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. 14It is not with you alone that I am making this sworn covenant, 15but with whoever is standing here with us today before the Lord our God, and with whoever is not here with us today.”

Chapter 29 v. 9 – 14 Deuteronomy

Rabbi Steinmetz spoke about the startling declaration : “It is not with you alone that I am making this sworn covenant, but with whoever is standing here with us today before the Lord our God, and with whoever is not here with us today. ”

Those who are not here with us today” is generally interpreted to mean “all future generations” whose souls are also considered to have stood at Sinai.

Rabbis have asked the question, how can a contract be avowed for those who are not here with us today? And yet the Sinaitic covenant has been passed down and continues to be upheld by ongoing generations and communities. This Rabbi Steinmetz explains is the greater miracle than the question often posed “are Jews  disappearing in our time?” as posited by Pew statistics.

As many of you  know blowing of a ram’s horn or shofar is emblematic of Rosh Hashana.

I even wrote a blog about this not so long ago. Everything you wanted to know about the shofar but were afraid to ask.

Rabbi Asher Jacobsen in his communal class last Friday, spoke about a talmudic discussion about what kinds of shofars are permissible for the Rosh Hashanah services. For a horn to be kosher 1. it has to have the characteristic of self hollowing. (Apparently when a ram’s horn is soaked in water the matter inside the horn simply dissolves leaving a hollowed out instrument.) 2. Traditionally it is a Ram’s horn that is chosen and the ram is a kosher animal. The Talmud asks the question can we use the horn of an animal other than the ram? And what if the permissible horn is from an animal that is not kosher?

Apparently in the face of scarcity, all three are permissible i.e. 1, A ram’s horn, 2. A hollow horn from another kosher animal other than the ram and 3. a hollow horn from a non-kosher animal.

Rabbi Jacobsen  then quoted from a text that compares the three types of horn to three types of Jews: 1. The horn from a non-kosher animal is compared to the Jew who is a Jew only because of anti-semitism. He is defined by a negative outside world. And that world reminds him that he is Jewish. 2. The hollowed out horn from an animal other than the ram parallels the Jews who defines himself as a Jew due to history – legacy. 3. The kosher horn, the Ram’s horn reminds the Jew of the famous Abrahamic contest with G-d, the Binding of Jacob, where Abraham agrees to follow G-d’s word even to the extent of sacrificing his son and heir.  At the very last moment when Jacob is already bound to the altar, G-d calls out to Jacob, not to touch his son, but to sacrifice the ram caught in the bushes instead. As the Rabbi pointed out, this test is a very personal and private test. The binding of Jacob occurs on a lonely mountain top with no witnesses other than the two principals. And this represents the Jew who in spite of it all has accepted the covenant of Abraham and Moses at Sinai.

So why do we have so many divisions and how can we understand it?

David Nirenberg in a U. of Chicago Harper Talk, “Can History Help Us Think about religious conflicts.” brilliantly exposes the ambivalence and variability of theological interpretations of Islam, Christianity and Judaism, within their historical contexts from ancient times to the present. Listening to his talk which is an hour long offers true hope for peace among those of every religion. He points out brilliantly from various sources how in the present and in the past those who stick to their own and only their own interpretation can and have gone astray. And yet is able to assert “Holding onto faith while allowing for different versions of that faith: that’s the true art of any scholar.”

His is a powerful lesson for continuing to mine the wisdom of all of our ancient traditions with hope that one day, we may truly find a personal and a communal G-d that is one and the same that can unite us with all mankind.

May we all unite — without a fight! — and together ignite G-d’s great light.
May we see a sweet and blessed year together with a  true peace.

Shanah Tovah U’Metukah!
Hope you enjoyed this,
Love,

Just an addendum: Here is Rabbi Sacks explaining how the individual can follow his personal path via Rosh Hashanah related practise. Cultivating the Inner Self

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who Are the “Racists” Today?

“Racism”, “colonialism” “apartheid” these are the politically correct demons of our time. Never mind that these were the politically correct pro-social watchwords prior to World War Two and have lost any basis in fact in our own time. Or have they?

The worst thing you can call someone on most campuses of the US and Canada and even England and Europe is to be  “racist/pro-apartheid” or a “colonialist”.  These terms have also become hot buttons in the current American election that pits Donald Trump vs Hilary Clinton. The other hot button issue has become sexual morality but I will deal with that in a separate blog. The biggest trump card that the Hilary camp seems to have is the “Trump is a racist” card: and then there is the sexual mudslinging on both sides.

Here I want to bring your attention to several articles that I  have been reading over this period that address the issue of racism in an intellectually rigorous manner. And then I will ask you who are the true racists?

The first article that I wish to draw your attention to is one posted last month by The Gatestone Institute, International Policy Council:

  • This asymmetrical war, for the first time since the Holocaust and the wholesale slaughter of six million Jews, also recently shattered a German taboo. Apparently, for some Germans, the old bloodlust never went away — it merely slept. The teachers’ union in the city of Oldenburg just published an article in its September magazine calling for “a complete boycott of the Jewish State,” according to the Jerusalem Post, “the first call to boycott Israel or Jews from a German organized labor group since the Holocaust.” To its belated credit, on September 5, the Oldenburg teachers’ union apologized, labeling the boycott “a big mistake” and “anti-Semitic.”

And here is detailed the role of our current academic intelligentsia in all of this. I quote from the same article

  • They are also subjecting Israel’s academia to a “silent” neo-Nazi campaign from unprincipled universities: extend fewer invitations, reject more articles, and use the standards of the Third Reich Nuremberg Laws to exclude participation by Jews. Syracuse University just disinvited from a conference Simon Dotan, a Jewish professor from New York University and award-winning filmmaker, who was born in Romania, raised in Israel and is living in the US. Commentator Caroline Glick noted:
  • “Hamner’s decision had nothing to do with the quality of Dotan’s work. She admitted as much… Dotan was disinvited because he is Israeli and because the title of his film, The Settlers, does not make it immediately apparent whether he reviles the half million Israeli Jews who live in Judea and Samaria sufficiently.”

  • Others in the world of academia who have approved these neo-Nazi measures include the British historian Catherine Hall and, disgracefully, the severely disabled Stephen Hawking, who is able to speak thanks only to an Israeli voice device.
  • This academic boycott campaign began when Oren Yiftachel, a scholar at the Ben Gurion University, had an academic paper rejected by the journal Political Geography. The rejection came with a note informing him that the magazine could not accept a submission from “Israel,” and his paper was returned unopened. The publishing house St. Jerome Manchester, specializing in translations, refused to send academic volumes to the Bar Ilan University in Israel. The British magazine, Dance Europe, refused to publish an article about the Israeli choreographer Sally Anne Friedland; Richard Seaford declined to review a book for the Israeli magazine, Antiquity Scripta Classica Israelica. A professor of pathology at Oxford University, Andrew Wilkie, rejected an application by Amit Duvshani, a doctoral student at Tel Aviv University. Wilkie wrote in his rejection: “no way would I take on somebody who had served in the Israeli army.”

And now lets discuss “colonialism” from the same article”

  • The European Union signed an agreement with Morocco, which has a territorial dispute with Algeria, but nevertheless enshrined its right to exploit the resources of Western Sahara; no campaign was launched to protest it. And we have not heard any protests against Turkey for its occupation of Northern Cyprus or its wholesale imprisonment of dissidents, journalists or academics. No, the boycott policy is solely against the Jewish State, which boasts one of the highest levels of academic freedom, press freedom and equality under the law on the planet. They do this in the “3-D” ways noted by the true advocate of human rights, the Soviet dissident, Natan Sharansky, in his The Case For Democracy:
  • Double standard: targeting only Israel from among the 200 territorial disputes, from Tibet to Ukraine.
  • Demonization: comparing Israel’s actions to Nazis when it is really the people doing the comparing who should be compared to Nazis.
  • Delegitimization: denying the right of Israel to exist.

And on this same topic the article concludes:

  • The pre- or post-1967 lines are only an alibi for these new Nazis. Many consider Israel in its entirety illegal, immoral, or both — even though Jews have lived on that land for 3,000 years — part of it is even called Judea. Their appetite for accusing Jews of having the audacity to “occupy” their own historical, Biblical land only reveals their collusion the darkest lies of Islamic extremists, who are trying to destroy the indigenous Christian Copts in their native land of Egypt, and the indigenous Assyrian Christians whom we see being slaughtered throughout the Middle East. Should the French be accused of “occupying” Gaul? Just look at any map of “Palestine,” which blankets the entire state of Israel: to many Palestinians, all of Israel is a single giant settlement that has to be dismantled.
  • Instead of Israel, they would facilitate the creation of another Arab-Islamic state that will suppress freedom of expression for artists, journalists and writers; that will drive away Christians from their homes; that will stone to death homosexuals; that will torture inmates in prisons, that will put to death innocents simply for wishing to convert to Christianity; that will sentence anyone to flogging, prison or death who is even alleged to have said something someone might have found offensive to Islam; that will oblige women to wear veils and live apart; that will glorify terrorists; that will ban alcohol; that will arrest people for expressing unpopular opinions; that will encourage a new category of Muslim refugees: those who would gladly escape an oppressive and murderous regime.
  • These new Nazis serve up, instead of an argument, untrue and deceptive slogans such as “apartheid state”, “occupation”, “repressive”, “violator of international law” (which Israel meticulously is not). Their goal, like that of the original Nazis, is to manipulate people, and instill in them bias and hate against Israel, and just behind this subterfuge, against the Jews.
  • Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author

     

     

If you want to read more articles on this subject I refer you to these:

I ask you now “Who are the racists”? Are you one of them? Do you side with Obama, one of the first presidents to distance himself from  the American Israeli alliance, and his potential successor Hilary Clinton?

Do you support the the Israel Boycott and Divestment Movement on campuses commonly called “BDS” ?

Do you support Churches that support these anti-Israel policies?

Just wondering…Let me know what you think.

Abigail Hirsch, October 2016

Written from Israel where I am spending the month of Jewish Holidays from Rosh Hashanah through Sukkot. 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Klez Kanada August 2018

I am at Klez Kanada, one week- Jewish arts summer camp in the Laurentian mountains  and am posting videos that I have crated in previous years. Experience the exuberance and joy generated by this amazing gathering. It gets better and better.

 

Everything You Always Wanted to Know about the Shofar but Were Afraid to Ask

At this time of year you are probably getting used to hearing Happy New Year, Shana tova, and the words Rosh Hashanah bandied about and wondering what is this exactly. Rosh Hashana is a combination of penance and joy. It is hard to explain so I will share a short (2 1/2 min.) video I recently discovered that explains this weird holiday, and also contains the blowing of the shofar – the ram’s horn – which I will talk more about after the video.

Now you are probably wondering what is the meaning of the shofar? The shofar is a ram’s horn which is reminiscent of human vocal expression and is supposed to awaken us to do the work of self-evaluation and introspection regarding the world and our place in it during the month prior to Rosh Hashanah, and also integral to the High Holidays (Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur) services. And by the way it’s harder to get a sound out of it than it looks. (Yes I tried and failed). But here are some examples of people who succeeded.

The longest shofar blast.

And a totally new initiative, the shofar flash mob, groups who got together at different places in the world to blow shofar together.

And last but not least, here is an adorable video of my nieces and nephew wishing you all a happy Rosh Hashanah. Shana Tova!

 

 

Thoughts and Reflections on the Eve of Yom Kippur

A few short weeks ago on August 23rd, 2010 I attended and videotaped an amazing conference organized by CIJR (Canadian Institute for Jewish Research) here in Montreal.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Wiesenthal Center gave the lunchtime address. He started by commenting that in the face of intellectual giants who were presenting during the day such as Professor Wistrich of Hebrew University and Professor Small of Yale University, he did not feel compelled to exert himself on the intellectual plane. And so he shared three incidents which resonated powerfully with me, one of which I will share with you today, as it feels particularly apt on the eve of our annual Yom Kippur observation.

Rabbi Cooper shared that he has traveled extensively internationally, meeting with government officials, the Pope, and the public on issues of concern to the Jewish people. For example, he shared that he has traveled to Japan and many other countries to educate about the dissemination of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and to shut down its publication.

After one of these talks to a group of Japanese businessman, the Rabbi respectfully asked, “Are there any questions?” As Japanese audiences are known for their polite reticence, he was very surprised as one CEO stood up and said ‘Yes, Rabbi, I have a question. Rabbi Cooper, we understand now that Jews don’t get together to plot world conspiracies and financial domination in their synagogue, but can you tell us what do Jews do in synagogue? Do Jews pray?” This question stopped him in his tracks, and it stopped me in my tracks as well. I think of it especially now as we Jews begin our twenty-five hour annual stint of fasting and prayer. How do we explain what happened there?

How do you share a five thousand year tradition while standing on one leg?

For now I refer you to the following website of Beliefnet: for a hands-on explanation of the key elements of Yom Kippur as well as a description of the actual service. But on a deeper level, how does one share a five thousand year practice that has evolved with each generation continuing to maintain its loyalty both to the past and the future?

On September 10th, 2009, I participated in a webinar with Rabbi Yitz Greenberg on the prayer service of Yom Kippur. Rabbi Yitz Greenberg and Rabbi Kimmelman share how the ritual of the Yom Kippur prayer service is connected not only to the individual Jew but also to the community and all nations. He shows us how the prayers are carefully crafted to pray for peace not just for the individual but for all nations and all people in the universe, and to be realized under the rule of law, truth, and justice. And these are not mere empty words but also a prescription for achieving it.

The amazing thing about our tradition is that it has been evolving for five thousand years with loyalty to the past, the present, and hopes for the future.

The main refrain on Yom Kippur is “Tshuva, tefillah and tzedaka, maavirin et roah hagzera.” I say this in Hebrew transliteration because each word is multilayered, powerful, and significant and difficult to translate but I will attempt it. Tshuva, (return to our sources) tefillah (prayer) and tzedaka (doing just acts) can have the power to mollify evil outcomes.

To be continued… gmar tov: traditonal greeting at the end of Yom Kippur – May our prayers be fulfilled for good in the next year and within our lifetimes.

May we all pray together this Yom Kippur for the tshuva (improved behaviour) of every Jew, every human being, every government, and all peoples in the Universe. Even a slight improvement in each individual’s awareness and behavior can have a major impact on all of us.

Shana tova oometukah.

Wishing you a good and sweet year during this coming year.

Academics as Theologians: Judith Butler and Stephen Hawking

The internet wages war mainly via words and images. However words and ideologies are indeed important in understanding and in influencing the world. The Jewish Bible claims that G-d’s ideas and words preceded the creation of the world. “In the beginning there was the word” and indeed ideas do precede actions in a thinking world.

Judith Butler, a feminist, a philosopher, a professor of critical thinking who also happens to hold the Hannah Arendt Chair in Philosophy at the European Graduate School in Sass-Fee, Switzerland, – another point of irony for anyone who knows about the controversies that swirl around Hannah Arendt, who was also a Jewish and academically acclaimed, but very controversial  philosopher) is about to receive an honorary degree from McGill University in Montreal.

She has been criticized for supporting the BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Movement that was seeded at the notoriously anti-semitic first Durban UN Human rights conference,and which has become an international political arm of the Palestinian “electronic and political” intifada against Israel. BDS has become an industry solely focused on Israel and has spawned legal opposition groups. Here is how one of them Shurat Hadin describes the BDS movement:

“The Briefing: Israel, and the Jewish community at large, is beset by a dangerous international campaign utilizing new strategies to delegitimize the Jewish State. Unable to defeat the IDF militarily or weaken the population through persistent terrorism, the extremist groups, Islamic terrorists and their rogue regime allies have embarked upon a global effort to demonize and isolate Israel, casting it as a pariah state.The widespread Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and its utilization of Lawfare, is the main component of the “Durban Strategy” adopted by Israel’s opponents at the U.N.’s Human Rights Conference in 2001. Tactics like the Gaza Flotilla,  the effort overseas to indict IDF officers and elected officials for war crimes, blood libels in the media, the boycotting of Israeli academics, and the persistent debate over whether a Jewish State has a right to exist, are having a perilous impact on Israel’s security and diplomatic capabilities.  As the Anti-Defamation League has stated: “The BDS movement at its very core is anti-Semitic.”

Judith Butler has defended herself in a blog: “Judith Butler Responds to Attack”. Sadly, she exposes her lack of critical thinking in a long and wordy defense focusing on her “Jewish and ethical” background without any appreciation of the political and ideological war that she has been drawn into by her academic leftist convictions. At one point she states:

“…A few words are taken out of context, their meaning distorted, and they then come to label or, indeed, brand an individual. This happens to many people when they offer a critical view of Israel – they are branded as anti-Semites or even as Nazi collaborators; However she uses exactly the same tactic of devaluing the scholars who criticize her by saying: “SPME, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East is not, as The Jerusalem Post has reported, a large group of Jewish scholars in Germany, but an international organization with a base in Australia and California. They are a right-wing organization and so part of an intra-Jewish war.

Having attended one of the SPME conferences in Miami, I can assure her that the members of SPME are scholars of academia just as she is, not all Jewish by the way, and actually from all parts of the world including Germany. They have united to fight the spurious BDS movement which was ignited on campuses all over the world and has been embraced by left-wing academics such as herself.

I have written about anti-semitism, the anti-Jewish rhetoric and ideology, that is propagated by Islam in more than one post:

Jonathan Spyer on Obama’s Foreign Policy and Antisemitism: an unsexy subject.

However, today I read an editorial that reveals the Christian anti-Jewish “replacement theology” bias that I would have thought was by now obsolete in the Christian world.  By “replacement theology” I refer to the Christian doctrine that Judaism is an inferior religion that has no validity since it has been superseded by the birth of Christ and Christianity, the superior religion. We all owe Mordechai Ben Dat a debt of gratitude for reading and analyzing the 10 page treatise published by the Scottish Church (PDF), which few of us would ever read, and exposing its virulent outdated ideology in  Polemics as Theology. He writes, “The document titled ‘The Inheritance of Abraham? A Report on the ‘Promised Land,’ is a brazen attack on the Jewish state as well as on the Jewish religion.” If you have some time you will appreciate his insightful article.

In addition, we have recently witnessed the sad case of the atheist scientist, Stephen Hawking, refusing to attend a scientific conference in Israel, because he too supports  BDS, and boycotting Israel for “human rights abuses”.  As Allan Dershowitz astutely pointed out, Hawking has previously attended conferences in China and Iran without objecting to their human rights abuses. Allan Dershowitz writes:

“Yet Iran is a country that Stephen Hawking visited. He did not boycott that Islamic country. He limited his boycott to the democratic nation state of the Jewish people.
 
Not only did Steven Hawking visit China, he praised it effusively. Although Chinese universities are considerably better than Iran’s, there is no real freedom to criticize the government or the Communist Party. The people who brought us Tiananmen Square still hold positions of authority in China. Dissidents are persecuted. There is no semblance of fair trial. Censorship reigns.
 
Yet Stephen Hawking did not boycott China. He boycotted only Israel — the only country of these three with real academic freedom and the only country where people with disabilities are fully integrated, first-class citizens of society. In China, many disabled children are aborted due to the country’s one-child policy. In Iran many disabled people are kept hidden within families because of prevalent cultural taboos.
 
I am neither an academic or a scientist or a rabbi or a priest. All I can do is to share what I see and rely on the power of words and the internet to shine a light on these issues.
 
Author: Abigail Hirsch, MSW, social worker, filmmaker, blogger, journalist, citizen of the world:
 
Author’s note: This was first published four years ago on May 7, 2014. I am republishing it today because, sadly, this message is just as relevant today as it was then.
 

Why does the State of Israel observe the Jewish national day of mourning called Tisha’bAv every year?

Why does the State of Israel and the Jewish people all over the world, continue to observe the National Day of Mourning Tisha B’Av, which commemorates the destruction of the two temples and the Jewish peoples’ two  previous exiles from the land of Israel, when we now have a sovereign Jewish State in the land of Israel? Today happens to be Tisha B’Av, (the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av) and while normally I commemrate this day outside of the modern State of Israel, this year I am fortunate to be spending it in Jerusalem, Israel. In fact, I can tell you that this is no minor holiday,either in the diaspora or in Israel. Traditionally, the day decrees a full day of fasting and prayer that Jews have observed since the destruction of the First Temple (2500 years). In Israel and increasingly in the diaspora as well, there are not only synagogue rituals and readings but also public gatherings in synagogues, in Jewish institutions and parks, including talks and film screenings relevant to the subject. In Jerusalem, a film festival was dedicated to this theme at Beit Avichai in Jerusalem which I attended called “The Earth Trembles”. Contemporary Israeli films on contemporary social and political subjects were screened in the presenceof the producers and actors.

Recently Mahmoud Abbas made a speech announcing to the world that Israel has no indigenous rights in the Middle East, his Palestinian version of reality is based on a premise of left wing ideology, namely, that Jews in Israel have been and are part of a pattern of “settler colonialism”.  

  • Abbas: “The Egyptian thinker Abd al-Wahab al-Masri described the Zionist entity in this way: ‘The goal of Israel’s creation is to establish a colonial state that has no connection to Judaism’ – that is, it exploits the Jews to its end.”

Why is this significant? I quote from the article Palestinian Settler-Colonialism published by the Besa Center. 

  • One of the mainstays of the modern university is the idea of settler-colonialism. This argues that certain societies are birthed by settlers implanted in a foreign territory, either directly by or with the consent of an imperial power. These colonists then dominate and eradicate the indigenous population.  They develop bellicose cultures that eliminate the natives from historical, literary, and other narratives. Primary examples often cited are the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, South Africa and Israel.
  • Among the many concepts abused and perverted by the Palestinians, such as “settler clonialism”, “apartheid” accusations of Israeli “genocide” rank the highest for blatant audacity, and for twinned calumny and odiousness.

The observance of Tisha b’Av, a Jewish day of mourning or the last 2500 years is an elegant rebuttal to this argument. the second destruction of the Hebrew Temple in Jerusalem, occurred in 70 AD, 500 years before the birth of Mohammad and 2000 years before the modern university idea of “settler colonialism” was argued.

Ben Gurion the pioneer settler and first Prime Minister of the State of Israel that was declared following the UN vote regarding the establishment of the State of israel  expresses these ideas elegantly.

  • Ben-Gurion: “From a Jewish standpoint Zionism is not just a flight from persecution and restrictive laws, but primarily love of a homeland and a vision of the rise of a nation-state. Our Zionism is composed of a national ideology, a feeling of love for the land, an aspiration to political independence. And of a desire and a need to settle in the Land of Israel. Take away from Zionism the hundreds-years-long love for the ancestral homeland, take away from Zionism the political aspiration to independence – and Zionism is emptied of its content” (Bama’archa, vol. 2, p. 48).
  • Ben-Gurion: “Our right to the Land of Israel does not stem from the Mandate and the Balfour Declaration. It precedes those. The Bible is our mandate… I can state in the name of the Jewish People: The Bible is our mandate, the Bible that was written by us in our Hebrew language, and in this land itself, is our mandate. Our historical right has existed since our beginnings as the Jewish People, and the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate recognize and confirm that right” (testimony to the Peel Royal Commission, January 1937, Bama’archa, vol. 1, pp. 77-78).
  • “A homeland is not given as a gift and is not acquired by means of political rights and contracts. It is not purchased with gold and is not conquered by force, but is built with sweat. This homeland is a historical creation and a collective endeavor of a people, the fruit of its physical, spiritual, and moral labor down through the generations. … The Land of Israel will be ours not when the Turks, the English, or the next peace conference agrees to it, and it is undersigned in a diplomatic treaty – but when we, the Jews, build it. We will not attain the real, true, and lasting right to the land from others, but from our labor. For the Land of Israel to be ours, we must build it; the mission of our revival movement is the building of the land” (New York, September 1915, Mema’amad Le’am, p. 10).
     
Author: Abigail Hirsch, MSW, filmmaker, blogger, journalist, citizen of the world
 

Antisemitism: For the Curious

I have written many posts about antisemitism because it is so infuriating. Lies about Jews and Judaism and Israel spoken with authority, such that one is easily deceived.

Here is a brief history by Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and historian with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.that I am reprinting so that you can never say that you were not warned.

Antisemitism is a form of senseless irrational hatred towards Jews couched as truth. And that is the infuriating aspect of it that it is no longer politically incorrect to espouse antisemitic views, longstanding irrational hatreds against Jews.

What are these irrational ideas about Jews? Is it true that all blacks are lazy? Is it true that all Jews are rich? that Jews control the media and US foreign policy. That jews are treacherous and disloyal? That Jews kill Christian children to use their blood to make matzo on Passover? Many people in the world in the past and the present  espouse these beliefs about Jews.

If Jews are so rich and so powerful, how did Hitler manage to murder 6 million of them in such a short space of time?
and what is this obsession with Israel described as an immoral, apartheid driven genocidal entity?  Why did an obscure academic organization called the American Studies Association recently vote to endorse a resolution calling for a boycott of Israeli universities. The self-appointed moralists were purportedly outraged over the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians. Given academia’s past obsessions with the Jewish state, the targeting of Israel is not new. Yet why do the professors focus on Israel and not Saudi Arabia, which denies women the right to drive and only recently granted them the right to vote? Why not Russia, which has been accused of suppressing free speech, or India, which has passed retrograde anti-homosexual legislation? The hip poet Amiri Baraka (aka Everett LeRoi Jones) recently died. He was once poet laureate of New Jersey, held prestigious university posts and was canonized with awards — despite being a hateful anti-Semite.
After Sept. 11, 2001, Baraka wrote a poem that suggested Israel knew about the plan to attack the World Trade Center. One of his poems from the ‘60s included this unabashedly anti-Semitic passage: “Smile, jew. Dance, jew. Tell me you love me, jew … I got the extermination blues, jewboys. I got the hitler syndrome figured.” Yet that did not preclude The New York Times and National Public Radio from praising him after his death.
Trendy multicultural French comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala is known for his anti-Semitic provocations and for making a gesture that has been described as an inverted Nazi salute. He recently quipped of a Jewish journalist: “When I hear him talk, you see … I say to myself, gas chambers … a pity.” Auschwitz is now a joke? Not only do people talk of it as a joke, they say the Jews are using the Holocaust for personal gain, and even lying about its extent. Several years ago, David Irving,  an English historian was convicted of libel in an English court for publishing that there were no crematoria at Auschwitz and that the murder of  6 million by the Germans is greatly exaggerated. Sadly it was the Germans themselves who were so sure of the correctness of their hatred towards jews that they kept careful records of  their evil deeds.
Antisemitism has existed since ancient times because the Jews have always been different, adhering to their own peculiar laws, and always a minority among world powers such as Rome, Egypt and Persia.
As Christianity gained ascendance over Rome, the church was obsessed with negating Jewish theology and demonizing Jews. Mohammed also had to explain why Jews did not accept his prophesy. And so he compares them to apes and monkeys and antisemitism is used to fuel Arab hatred away from their despotic rulers.
Real life Jews and Israelis have multiple identities and multiple attitudes towards the state of Israel, towards the Jewish religion but the anti-Semites paint all Jews and Israel with the same negative brush. Oh and yes even some Jews agree with them. Even that does not make their mythical fantasies about Jews true.
What is true is that immediately after the Holocaust, it became politically incorrect to express antisemitic thoughts or ideas. Sadly since about 1995, it has become more and more fashionable and even politically correct to express hostility towards Israel, to question its right to exist, to smear it with a Nazi and genocidal apartheid label and we see the rise of antisemitic attacks on Jews and their property and their human rights to dignity.
We see these thoughts and ideas propagated on the internet and in books and films and Youtube videos and also in rising antisemitic attacks on Jews and their property, all over the world. It is this acting out that is most worrying.
We see the extent to which antisemitism has become politically correct in the responses to Harper’s visit to Israel in Canada in the Canadian papers. Many of them were shocked and disappointed by his support of Israel asking whether his stance was “balanced”. He is the only world leader who has grasped the insidious nature of the Arabs’ hatred of Jews, and how that is what is keeping a state of war alive between Israel and the Arab population: a hostility that Israel has been contending with since it inception during the war of  1948 and 1967 and the continuing violence against Israel which the Palestinians have not abjured. to this day.
It is hardly anti-Semitic to focus on problems between Israel and the Palestinians, or even to pressure the Israelis. It becomes so, however, when problems elsewhere are simply ignored, and Israel alone is singled out to be chastised. The record of the United nations vis a vis Israel amply demonstrates this. I have the statistic but I won’t bore you with them.
Has the United Nations ever focused on the 13 million Germans who were ethnically cleansed from Eastern Europe about the same time that thousands of Palestinians left what became Israel? Would the American Studies Association boycott Chinese universities over the absorption of Tibet?
Is the world really troubled about divided capitals such as Jerusalem? If so, why not an international conference on the Turkish occupation of a divided Nicosia on Cyprus?
Can’t Mr. Kerry use shuttle diplomacy to settle who owns all those disputed rocky islands that have led China and Japan to the brink of war?
Nazis and racists in our time, spearhead Jewish hatred, based on ancient crackpot defamations that date back to the Jewish Diaspora in Europe since the Roman destruction of Judea.
Victor Davis Hansen, a classicist and historian with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University writes in his blog “the cowardice of political antisemtism:
“ lately, anti-Semitism has become more a left-wing pathology. It is driven by the cheap multicultural trashing of the West. Jewish people here and abroad have become convenient targets for those angry with supposedly undeserved Western success and privilege.
Aside from the old envy, and racial and religious hatred, I think cowardice explains the new selective anti-Semitism. Mr. Kanye West would not dare slander radical Muslims, given the violence and threats against European cartoonists and filmmakers who have dared to create work perceived as insulting to Islam. The American Studies Association would not call for a boycott of Russia despite its endemic persecution of homosexuals. After all, Russian President Vladimir Putin is as unpredictable as Israeli politicians are forbearing.
Mr. Kerry is not rushing into Damascus to stop the bloodletting that has claimed far more lives than all the Palestinians lost in 70 years of conflict with Israel. Syrian President Bashar Assad, Shiite terrorists and al Qaeda would not listen politely to Mr. Kerry’s pontificating sermons.
The sort of anti-Semitism we see from buffoons such as Dieudonne M’bala M’bala is appalling, but the double standard to which Israel is held in matters of foreign policy by those who should know better is in many ways even more galling.”
What is to be done about it? We need to talk about it and expose it as we are doing here. Silence is aquiescence and we dare not be silent.  We know where that leads.

As Hemingway wrote;

Ask not for whom the bell tolls: it tolls for thee.
And don’t think this does not include you:
As martin NieMoller, a German pastor says:
First they came for the communists
And I did not speak out,
Because I was not a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
The they came for the Jews
But I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me
And there was no one left to speak for me.

by Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and historian with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jan/15/hanson-the-cowardice-of-the-new-anti-semitism/#ixzz2rkvMq5mn

And this was just published: It says the same truth, only more bluntly. Antisemitism is an “industry of lies” that are reported as truth.

industr

 
The Industry of Lies is about antisemitism today: one of the greatest frauds of recent decades – a fraud of historic, even epic, proportions. When almost half of all Europeans believe that Israel treats the Palestinians just like the Nazis treated the Jews, when leading politicians assert that the Arab-Israeli conflict is the central cause of violence in the world, and when prominent intellectuals argue that Israel is an apartheid state, the unfortunate reality is that the lies are winning.
 
As a result, Israel has become the devil incarnate in the eyes of many otherwise good and reasonable people – people who genuinely want to see peace but inadvertently contribute to the continuation of the Israeli-Arab conflict. The tragedy is that they are neither helping the Palestinians nor promoting agreement or reconciliation. Instead, they lend legitimacy to the most fallacious claims of the most extreme activists, thereby empowering radicals who have no interest in attaining peace.
 
Israel is not free from flaws. However, this book draws a clear distinction between legitimate criticism and the “industry of lies” that has emerged from two unlikely sources – the media and academia, undermining their reputations as bastions of truth and knowledge. Ben-Dror Yemini presents an in-depth analysis of the many inaccurate and malicious accusations leveled against Israel and refutes them one by one in this thought-provoking and well-researched volume that invites us to rethink the causes and consequences of the Israeli-Arab conflict.
     

Is Peace Possible Today?

Last week I attended the CIJR sponsored talk by Moshe Kedar in Montreal.

The title of the talk is Israel at 70. Prof. Kedar actually explains how Israel became Israel and then brings us up to date regarding the current state of Israel in the Middle East. His is an optimistic picture based on the ideas of a historian and an insider of the Israeli intelligence apparatus.

To skip the introduction start watching the video at 9:25 min.

And for those who wonder whether peace is worth fighting for and whether it is even possible, I offer this gift: A choir of thousands which got together in a huge stadium to sing together on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the declaration of the Independent State of Israel. The dividends of peace are available to all of us all over the world if we only cooperate together for the sake of peace: A stadium full of Israelis young and old singing together a hymn of gratitude – “All Kol Aileh” For all of these, the honey and the bee sting, the sweet and the bitter….The song actually has English subtitles – A prayer for Peace and its dividends.

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I am writing this one day after President Trump cancelled the JCPOA/Iran Nuclear Agreement. In spite of the intransigeance of Iran and the tragedies unfolding today in Syria, Sudan, Yemen and Gaza, I dare to believe and we must all continue to hope and pray and work for an umbrella of peace that will cover all the world speedily and in our time.

Author: Abigail Hirsch, MSW, filmmaker, blogger, journalist, citizen of the world

Cantor Moshe Kraus Speaks at Faith Temple and Shaftesbury High School in Winnipeg

 

Moshele de zinger cover

Pastor Rudy Fidel and his wife Gina were so impressed with Cantor Kraus’ memoir of his life experiences “Moshele: Der Zinger: How My Singing Saved My Life”, that they organized a week of events for Cantor Moshe Kraus and his wife to speak in Winnipeg. I accompanied them on this trip as part of my work to create a documentary featuring Cantor Kraus’ life story which has many twists and turns. On Wednesday, September 12, 2017, Cantor Moshe Kraus, age 95, spoke to a gym full of students at Shaftesbury Public High School. The event was followed and broadcast on the CBC evening news that same evening.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/holocaust-survivor-shares-story-with-students-at-shaftesbury-high-school-1.4286654

And here is the story which he shared with the students on that day.

On Sunday morning Cantor Kraus was welcomed at Pastor Rudy’s Church, Faith Temple.  by Pastor Rudy, Indian Chief Baird and Chief of Chiefs, Jerry Daniels, and a klezmer band.At 10:35 min. into the event seen below, Cantor Kraus shares another one of his many stories – this one about a Hungarian Bishop who came to visit him during the German occupation of Hungary during WWll…

Author: Abigail Hirsch, MSW, filmmaker, blogger, journalist, citizen of the world