Anti-Semitism: Preparedness Can’t Be Blind

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Anti-Semitism: Preparedness Can’t Be Blind.”

As I’m standing there, I feel someone coming up behind me and then running into me. Of course, with anti-Semitic attacks prominent and growing, I may have been at a slightly higher state of alert, and I turn around ready for whatever or to give someone a few choice words…And then I see the cane from a blind person.


So even in these times, when there are gangs, drugs, violence, and anti-Semitism, and “we can’t be careful enough” (especially given our long, deep history of religious persecution), at the same time, we need to judge our fellow man favorably first and foremost, and still we must be prepared for, G-d forbid, the worst at any time.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

A Vision of Jewish Strength

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “A Vision of Jewish Strength.”

 

With the rebirth of the State of Israel came the rebirth of the Jew. No longer the Jew cowering in the face of pogroms, Inquisition, Crusades, persecution, expulsions, and the Holocaust. The new Jew, as epitomized by the brave men and women of IDF, would be remade in the image of Moses who led the Jews out of Egyptian slavery, and King David who vanquished our enemies in our land, as well as the Jews of Purim and Hanukah, who fought ever so valiantly and to victory against the great empires of Persia and Greece or for us, whoever rises against us as the modern day equivalent.


But as important to the new Jew as our physical survival is that of our spiritual wellbeing. The persecution of Jews over thousands of years was not just a physical attack, as horrible as it was, but also a spiritual, religious, and cultural one, where Jews were prohibited from learning Torah, worshiping, and practicing as Jews. Thus, the second point of criticality in having the State of Israel is that it provides for Jewish sovereignty and ensures “the Jew as actor, determiner of his or her own destiny.” The Jewish people to truly thrive must be able to express themselves through their own language and history, religiously and culturally, and practically through their own leadership and decision-making to forge their own future.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

‘Uncut Gems’ Cuts Deep

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Uncut Gems Cuts Deep.”

Yesterday, we went to see the new Adam Sandler movie, Uncut Gems….Ratner’s life is full of shlemazel of his own making. While he has a good wife, kids, and extended family (maybe with the exception of his loan shark uncle), a fancy-schmancy home in the suburbs with a newly renovated pool, his own jewelry business that even caters to some big-league sports players, and a shiksa girlfriend on the side (who seems to love him), Ratner is never satisfied or happy and is always pushing for more!


In the movie, Howard Ratner was driven by greed and made bad life choices, and to me, it was a shame that the he was portrayed as a Jew, which can feed the vicious cycle of discrimination and hatred that has often been anchored around money. With the vicious machete attack on Chanukah at a Rabbi’s house in Monsey this week (after a slew of other anti-Semitic incidents, including an attack on a student for wearing a yalmulke on the NYC Subway to beatings and tire slashings of Jews in Brooklyn), we are reminded that there is once again a resurgence of prejudice and hate against Jews, but also that it’s the light of Chanukah that “drives out the darkness,” and that money and materialism are a mere shabby substitute to finding true security and success whether you work in the dense NYC Diamond District or live in the sprawling suburbs of America.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Another Week, Another Anti-Semitic Attack

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Another Week, Another Anti-Semitic Attack.”

From The Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh to the Poway Synagogue shooting in California to the shooting at the kosher market in Jersey City this week. The latest shooting occurred literally just the day before President Trump issued an executive order at a White House Chanukah celebration to cover anti-Semitic acts under the civil rights laws that ban discrimination based on national origin. Yet, despite the Constitution and all the protective laws and orders on the books, we are getting to the point where it is starting to look and feel awfully like there is nowhere safe anymore if you are a Jew, even in this great land of freedom.


What anti-Semitism, G-d forbid, will the next week bring, and the week after that, and after that? This vile behavior coming from people that hate us just because we are Jews, because we are Jacob and not Esau. May our eyes be open to what is happening around us, and may Hashem have an abundance of mercy on us.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Operation Thunderbolt: Fighting Prejudice and Persecution

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “Operation Thunderbolt: Fighting Prejudice and Persecution.”

No people should suffer blatant prejudice and persecution and everyone should be “entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” These are part of the foundational values that America and Israel share. We stand as friends and allies for respecting and valuing human rights, always to be underscored by peace and security for our peoples. Isn’t it an amazing “coincidence” that the rescue in Entebbe occurred on America’s 200th anniversary, July 4, 1976!


The raid on Entebbe and the miraculous rescue of the hostages stands as an everlasting symbol of courage and triumph of good over evil. As we continue to work and pray for a genuine peace in the Middle East for all its inhabitants, we also must stand resolutely and say “Never Again.”

(Credit Photo: Government Press Office Israel via Flickr)

Faith Chases Out The Fear

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Faith Chases Out The Fear.

It’s interesting that faith and fear are incompatible and they cannot coexist. Where one is, the other is not. Just like the light chases away the darkness, so too does faith expel fear from our lives. When we believe that G-d is in charge of everything that happens, and that he loves us and ultimately wants what is good of us then what is there for us to fear?


No matter in what danger we find ourselves and no matter how scared we feel, we are not alone. The Master of the Universe is watching over us, waiting for us to raise our eyes to the heavens in faith, and to take a stand and do what’s right. If we do, then G-d will manifest himself to us and indeed “will carry, and will deliver” us.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Righting Wrongs To Sephardim

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Righting Wrongs To Sephardim.”

The initial waves of Aliyah beginning in 1882 were driven by the persecution and pogroms, and later the Holocaust, in Europe. Thus, Israeli society initially built up their institutions and power centers around these Ashkenazi pioneers. Immediately after 1948, when Sephardic refugees were expelled from the Arab countries en masse, Israel was overwhelmed with as immigration influx that virtually doubled the Jewish population in Israel in the first three years of its existence. Unfortunately, the newly arrived Sephardim were relegated to a substandard housing and economic situation, which then persisted for many decades.

In Jewish society, however, there is no room for ethnic discrimination and inequality, and the formation of a Sephardic political party in 1984 was a crucial milestone in Jewish social and economic justice. For almost 30 years, Shas was led by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the former Israel Chief Sephardic Rabbi and spiritual leader, and Shas has remained one of Israel’s top political parties.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)