Thinking About Chanah Before Rosh Hashana

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Rosh Hashanah Scrimshaw Alaska

This post below first appeared on Frum Follies in 2012

The approach of Rosh Hashanah makes me think of Chanah, barren like Sarah. Before she could glory in her triumph she was misjudged as a nobody by Eli, the cohen gadol (high priest). He mistook her unvoiced words for drunkenness when they were actually a prayer full of pain and power. But she triumphed and bore a son who would eventually eclipse Eli. Continue reading

My Jewish Ethos

From my archives. First posted 6/13/14.

I love being Jewish. Judaism becomes real when its ideals are lived. I have been privileged to see some real gedolim, living sifrei torah, whose conduct perfectly demonstrated the ideals of Judaism. Personally, they were anivim (modest people) but they were strong, very strong, when it came to fighting for what was right. Their piskei halachah (Jewish law rulings), other writings, and spoken utterances were clear and rooted in the truth, as best they could know it.

Yehuda Halevi ms- Cambridge Taylor-Schechter Geniza Collection

Yehuda Halevi (from Cairo Geniza)

My love of Judaism includes an appreciation for the deep investigation of the Talmud, the analytic clarity of Maimonides, the aching beauty of the poetry of Yehudah Halevi, the wittiness of Reb Yoelish (Satmar Rebbe, Joel Teitelbaum), the moral clarion calls of R. Michoel Ber Weissmandl, the grandeur of Abraham Isaac Kook’s vision, the staunch philosophical integrity and rabbinic brilliance of the Rav, Joseph Dov Soloveitchik, and of course, the many and varied beauties of the tanach (Hebrew biblical scriptures).

A new vulgar barbarism has invaded the Jewish community in which greed and the hunger for power with its flashing lights, Continue reading

The Heter for Gazing at a Woman

Melissa Mark-Viverito, Speaker of NYC City Council

Melissa Mark-Viverito, Speaker of NYC City Council

Check out these Haredi askanim gazing at a woman whose clothing is definitely not tznius.

Lest anyone cast aspersions or impute impure thoughts, let me hasten to explain. The woman in blue is Melissa Mark-Viverito, Speaker of the City Council for New York City.

Rest assured that the askanim did not see Continue reading

It Is Time for Israel and the US to Recognize the Armenian Genocide

April 24, 2014 is 99th anniversary of the beginning of the Armenian genocide perpetrated by the Turkish government during WW I. As it was unfolding, Henry Morgenthau, Sr., America’s ambassador in to the Ottoman Court, tried in vain to stop it. In his memoirs, Morgenthau later suggested that,

When the Turkish authorities gave the orders for these deportations, they were merely giving the death warrant to a whole race; they understood this well, and, in their conversations with me, they made no particular attempt to conceal the fact (Wikipedia).

The strategy was crude by Nazi standards but it was systematic and large scale. It involved deportation marches over hundreds of miles, allegedly for security reasons, which left most of the participants dead along the way with a toll estimated at over a million.

The term genocide was coined by Raphael Lemkin who first considered the problem before WWII in reaction to the Armenian massacres. Hitler was confident that he could pull off a genocide without international interference, because, as he said, “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” Continue reading

Five Members of Williamsburg Shomrim Indicted for Taj Patterson Assault

Below is the Brooklyn DA Press Release (4/23/14)

Taj Patterson

Taj Patterson

Kings County District Attorney Ken Thompson Announces the Indictment of Five Members of the Williamsburg Neighborhood Watch Patrol for Gang Assault

Victim Loses Sight in One Eye; Defendants Face Up to 25 Years in Prison

Brooklyn, NY.  Kings County District Attorney Kenneth P. Thompson today announced the indictment of five defendants for their participation in the brutal gang assault of Taj Patterson, a 23-year-old Fort Greene resident. The defendants, who are associated with the Williamsburg Safety Patrol Unit, a civilian neighborhood watch group, face multiple charges for allegedly beating Patterson in the early morning hours of December 1, 2013. The District Attorney said that a Kings County grand jury has indicted the following defendants: Pinchas Braver, 19; Joseph Freid, 25; Mayer Herskovic, 21; Aharon Hollander, 28; and Abraham Winkler, 39, for acting in concert to commit Gang Assault in the First Degree, and other related charges. If convicted, the defendants each face up to 25 years in prison.

“We simply cannot allow anyone walking on the streets of Brooklyn to be knocked to the ground, stomped and brutally beaten.  Our Continue reading

Klausenberger Rebbe BP Shmuel Dovid Halberstam

Antisemitism, Real and False

We Jews have very good and terrifying reasons to be sensitive to antisemitism. Which is why we save our ammunition for the real thing like the horrible shootings in Kansas City. The hateful bastard who murdered three people is despised by most Americans and the American public has rallied to our side in sympathy.

The day before Passover, a prominent Hasidic rabbi, Shmuel Dovid Halberstam, Sanz-Klausenburger Rebbe in Boro Park did the opposite as an excuse for stupid dangerous behavior. He and his hasidim were burning chometz when a fireman was doing his job and got punched. So much for Hakol kol Yaakov vihayidayim yidei Eisav. The fireman tried to get the Rebbe’s attention to protest being punched. The idiot Rebbe retorted, they also did this to us in Nazi Germany. It is pathetic that the son of a concentration camp survivor can’t tell the difference between a crematorium in Nazi Europe and law enforcement in Brooklyn. Like antibiotics that are over-used and become ineffective, the cry of antisemitism is in danger of being cheapened by scofflaws who play the religion card recklessly.

Klausenberger Rebbe BP Shmuel Dovid Halberstam

Surely, a way can be worked out to burn chometz with the cooperation of the fire department instead of instigating a cat and mouse game that endangers the public, wears out the fire department, and weakens our protection from real antisemitism.

Matchmaking Fail — Hitler and a Jewish Woman

The Forward reports that DNA tests of Eva Braun show Ashkenazi genes. Braun, Hitler’s girlfriend, married him in the last last days of the Nazi Third Reich, just before both of them committed suicide in their Berlin bunker.

I hope no one rushes in to debate her status under Jewish law. Hitler didn’t care about halachic criteria.

It’s hysterical that this idolizer of the Aryan race had a lousy nose for Jewish ancestry.

If Eva Braun really had Jewish ancestry, someone will Continue reading