Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Navy ships and Rockefeller Museum available on line

The Joy of Giving to Others 

Whenever you help another person in any way, take pleasure and feel joy that you are fulfilling the commandment of "Love your neighbor."

It is especially important to express feelings of joy when giving charity to a poor person. In fact, showing displeasure when giving charity erases the merit of the giving!

Love Yehuda Lave

Even though this museum is right by the Jafa Gate, it was always my impression it wasn't too "Jew Friendly". Here at least we can visit online.

Archaeology   Rockefeller Archaeological Museum  
Rockefeller Archaeological Museum


The Rockefeller Archaeological Museum, situated in a magnificent white limestone edifice in East Jerusalem, houses the extraordinary collection of antiquities unearthed in excavations conducted in the country mainly during the time of the British Mandate (1919-1948). The Museum was opened in 1938. 

The Rockefeller Archaeological Museum contains thousands of artifacts arranged in chronological order, ranging from prehistoric times to the Ottoman period, including a 9,000-year old statue from Jericho, gold jewelry from the Bronze Age, and much more. The story of the Rockefeller Museum is told in a richly illustrated booklet, published in English, Hebrew, and Arabic.

New! 48 historical black-and-white photographs of archaeological sites which have recently been added to the permanent exhibition. The photographs document the pioneering archeologists' extensive work throughout the country in the first decades of the twentieth century.

Valley of the Caves, Carmel Mountain, 1940's, © photo Israel Antiquities Authority

West Meets East: The Story of the Rockefeller Museum

To the exhibition website:
West Meets East: The Story of the Rockefeller Museum > > >


Sun, Mon, Wed, Thurs 10 am - 3 pm
Sat 10 am - 2 pm
Closed on Tues, Fri, and holiday eves


The Museum is located at 27 Sultan Suleiman Street (just outside the Old City Wall, near Herod's Gate - a short ride from the Jerusalem Municipality)
Buses 1. 3,  and 51

Entrance is free of charge.
Parking is available only on Saturday.
Visitors are advised to wear warm clothing in the winter because the Museum is not heated.


Mailing Address
The Rockefeller Museum
c/o The Israel Museum
POB 71117
91710 Jerusalem 


Telephone for groups:



The archeological treasures in the Rockefeller Museum of Jerusalem can now be accessed online.
By: Jewish Press Staff
Published: September 9th, 2014

A "musicians'  stand" from the National Treasures Online site of the Rockefeller Museum of Jerusalem

A "musicians' stand" from the National Treasures Online site of the Rockefeller Museum of Jerusalem
Photo Credit: antiquities.org.il

Thousands of archeological artifacts presently stored in the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem will be made available online through a new initiative called the National Treasures Online project. This new project and the Rockefeller Museum Online project are just two online projects undertaken by the Israel Antiquities Authority. These new ones join the Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library, the National Archives and the Survey Maps online.

The National Treasures Online site includes objects from collections of the National Treasures, from prehistoric periods through to the Ottoman period. It currently includes 5,700 artifacts and is continuously updated.

Artifacts are arranged both according to the time period and according to the type of artifact, which is a huge gift for all but the most sophisticated observers. The information provided for each treasure is fairly extensive and includes the materials used, the dimensions of the object and where it was discovered.

The NTO project was launched with the financial assistance of David Rockefeller, son of John D. Rockefeller, JR, who established the museum. It marks the first time the entire collection on display of a museum in Israel is being photographed and made available online.

Having the hi-resolution images and accompanying information available to millions of people anywhere in the world is a huge boon to everyone interested in the archaeology and history of Israel.

How I wish Ambassador Oren would have replied to Bob Simon's bias against Israel.
How I wish Ambassador Oren would have replied to Bob Simon's bias against Israel.

by Shraga Simmons

The anti-Israel media crusade hit high gear this week as the CBS News program 60 Minutes aired a piece declaring that Christians are leaving the West Bank, and that somehow it's all Israel's fault. (Watch the video. Read the transcript.)

As someone who's spent years monitoring the media, this segment was, unfortunately, typical of what I'd come to expect from 60 Minutes – a report filled with distortion of facts, selective omission, and lack of context.

Yet what really struck me is the personal vendetta that reporter Bob Simon appears to have against Israel.

When Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the United States, got a tip that 60 Minutes was planning a distorted report, he phoned the head of CBS News to complain about what was shaping up to be "a hatchet job."

When Simon found out about this, he called in Oren for an interview. Then, with a contorted expression and a voice dripping with disdain, Simon publicly scolded Ambassador Oren:

60 Minutes: Mr. Ambassador, I've been doing this a long time. And I've received lots of reactions from just about everyone I've done stories about. But I've never gotten a reaction before from a story that hasn't been broadcast yet.

Oren was stuck in a hard place. He surely wanted to take off the gloves and duke it out with Simon. But as a diplomat, he had to offer this mild, diplomatic response:

Ambassador: Well, there's a first time for everything, Bob.

This got me thinking. Imagine how this interview would have played out, in a perfect world where the truth can be freely spoken. What if we replay the tape for my "imagined" version of this conversation, were Ambassador Oren able to say what he really wanted.

60 Minutes: Mr. Ambassador… I've never gotten a reaction before from a story that hasn't been broadcast yet.

Ambassador: Well, in this case it was totally justified, Bob. The record shows you to be a virulent critic of the State of Israel. Recall your 60 Minutes report from January 2009 – "Time Running Out for a Two-State Solution?" – in which you invoked the worst demonizing terms, suggesting that Israel practices "ethnic cleansing" and "apartheid."

60 Minutes: Surely you can't make a judgment based on a single example.

Ambassador: Actually, Bob, it's a pattern. Remember your December 2003 piece for 60 Minutes"The Fence" – where you falsely charged that the West Bank security barrier appropriates "large chunks of Palestinian land." We all know that the real figure is about 8%. And who can forget you gloating over the incident with 12-year-old Muhammad al-Dura, calling it "one of the most disastrous setbacks Israel has suffered in decades" ("The Crossroad," 60 Minutes, November 12, 2000).

60 Minutes: Let me guess – now you're going to extrapolate my reporting to discredit all of 60 Minutes.

Ambassador: I will let the record speak for itself. Just over a year ago Leslie Stahl's 60 Minutes piece on the City of David described Israel's legitimate search for archeological artifacts as "controversial," and termed teaching Jews about their historical roots in Jerusalem as "indoctrination."

And this pattern goes all the way back to the early days of 60 Minutes when Mike Wallace visited Syria. He reported that "life for Syria's Jews is better than it was in years past," and that assertions of mistreatment are mere "Zionist propaganda." ("Israel's Toughest Enemy," February 1975). Shortly thereafter, nearly every Syrian Jew fled the country in fear. A decade later, Wallace repeated his disinformation in reporting that Soviet Jews "live more or less satisfying lives." More than a million Soviet Jews disagreed and emigrated the first chance they had.

So yes, Bob, based on all the available information, I have good reason to believe that your upcoming segment will be "a hatchet job."

Note that Simon's actual conversation with Ambassador Oren did not deal with the accuracy of these facts, but rather focused exclusively on the personal insult that Simon felt upon learning of the complaint. This was a lame attempt to throw up a smokescreen, to divert attention from the real issue – Simon's biased reporting.

Just the Facts

Let's continue our make-believe conversation, imagining that Bob Simon sincerely does explore the topic of Christians in the West Bank.

60 Minutes: Ambassador Oren, surely you do not deny that the Christian population in the West Bank is weakening.

Ambassador: You're right about that, Bob. But let's examine who is to blame for this.

60 Minutes: Fair enough. Let's start by looking at how Christians are treated in the State of Israel. What can you tell us about that?

Ambassador: Statistics show that the Christian population in Israel was 34,000 in 1949, 73,000 in 1972, and 153,000 in 2008. Israel is the only country in the Middle East where the Christian population has increased since 1948 – having risen by more than 400 percent and continues to rise every year. Christians today are prominent in all aspects of Israeli life – serving in the Knesset, the Supreme Court, and in a variety of business and cultural roles.

The 60 Minutes report, however, made not a single mention of the growing Christian population in Israel.

Our imaginary conversation continues.

60 Minutes: To be fair we would have to compare how Christians are treated in a region governed solely by Muslims. The rest of the Middle East should provide a good benchmark.

Ambassador: Outside of Israel, the Middle East is characterized by widespread "de-Christianization." In recent years hundreds of thousands of Christians have fled Iraq, with 70 churches burned and nearly a thousand Christians killed in Baghdad alone. In Egypt, 200,000 Coptic Christians fled their homes last year after beatings and massacres by Muslim extremist mobs. Turkey, regarded as a moderate Islamic state, has seen its Christian population decline 100-fold in the last century. In Saudi Arabia, the practice of Christianity is plain illegal, and the highest Muslim authority in Saudi Arabia recently called for the demolition of all churches in the Middle East.

60 Minutes: Perhaps other Arab countries do not tell us specifically how Christians are treated by Palestinian Muslims. Let's look at an area administered totally by Palestinians – the Gaza Strip, from which Israel withdrew in 2005.

Ambassador: For starters, in 2007, the manager of Gaza's only Christian bookstore was kidnapped and murdered – shot in the head and stabbed multiple times. Palestinian gunmen also blew up the YMCA library in the Gaza Strip; two guards were kidnapped, the offices were looted and all 8,000 books were destroyed.

It comes as no surprise that following the Hamas takeover in 2006, the Christian population of Gaza fell by 64 percent – from 5,000 to less than 1,800 in 2010. When four masked gunmen tried to abduct a church employee in Gaza, a local Christian leader lamented how the incident is "aimed at sending a message to all the Christians here that we must leave. Radical Islamic groups are waging a campaign to get rid of us and no one seems to care."

At this point, things don't look so good for Bob Simon. Here's what I imagine happens next:

60 Minutes: Enough of this beating around the bush, Ambassador. Let's just go straight to the West Bank. Is it not true that Bethlehem, "the little town where Christ was born," is "an open air prison"? Is it not true that "Christians now make up only 18 percent of what was for centuries an overwhelmingly Christian town"? (Editor's note: the words in quotes were said by Simon in the actual 60 Minutes report.)

Ambassador: In Bethlehem, the Christian population began to drastically decline in 1995, the same year the Palestinian Authority assumed administrative control. The PA unilaterally annexed an additional 30,000 Muslims to Bethlehem and then redistricted the municipal boundaries – ensuring a Muslim majority in any future elections. In order to further freeze Christians out of the Palestinian political process, a 2007 Palestinian summit was intentionally held in Mecca, a city where Christians (and all non-Muslims, for that matter) are barred by law from entering.

Under Palestinian control, the de-Christianization of Bethlehem has been ruthless. A Greek Orthodox monastery next to the Church of the Nativity was confiscated and converted into the PA president's official residence. Bethlehem Christians were forced to shut down businesses after failing to pay "protection money" to local Muslims. This campaign took another nasty turn in 2006 when Bethlehem City Council member Hassan El-Masalmeh publicly advocated a discriminatory "dhimmi tax" on non-Muslim residents. Not surprisingly, Christians in Bethlehem and neighboring Beit Jala are fleeing in large numbers; after once comprising 60-70 percent of the city's population, they have now dwindled to 15 percent.

And let us not forget how, in 2002, a group of 128 armed Palestinians invaded Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity – holding 40 Christian clergy hostage, stealing gold objects from the monks and urinating on the church floor. Within a few years, the Palestinian takeover of the church had been all but erased from history; your 60 Minutes segment, Bob, makes zero mention of that appalling episode.

60 Minutes: I am planning to post an online-only segment of 60 Minutes focusing on Taybeh, the West Bank city know to be predominantly Christian.

Ambassador: Then surely you know about the horrific events that took place in Taybeh in 2005, when hundreds of Muslims screaming Allahu Akbar carried out a pogrom against Christians – setting dozens of homes and businesses on fire, looting valuables, and destroying Christian icons. And you surely know about the incident in 2009, Muslims attacked two Christian cemeteries in a West Bank village near Ramallah, desecrating 70 graves and decapitating a statue of the Virgin Mary.

60 Minutes: Okay, okay, enough already! But don't expect me to mention any of that in my on-air report. (He didn't.)

Simon's idea of "balanced reporting" was to interview six Palestinians and – aside from Oren – only one Israeli, a correspondent for the left-leaning Haaretz. Nor was any balance provided by the tens of millions of pro-Zionist Christians in America and around the world. All six Palestinians were critical of Israel; that's probably because Christian Arabs who speak up against their Muslim oppressors fear winding up on an Internet video, wearing a hood and surrounded by chainsaw-wielding jihadists.

Indeed, with skillful editing and a hand-picked cadre of anti-Israel activists, 60 Minutes contradicted every Israeli claim. When Michael Oren asserted the simple fact that Palestinian Muslims place "major duress" on Palestinian Christians, 60 Minutes cut to an interview with Zahi Khouri, a Palestinian businessman who owns the West Bank Coca-Cola franchise. "I've never heard that someone is leaving because of Islamic persecution," Khouri manages to say with a straight face – and Bob Simon lets it stand unchallenged.

Driving the Wedge

This all leaves us with the question of: Why? Even if Simon harbors some personal disdain for Israel, what would motivate 60 Minutes to present Israel's relationship with Palestinian Christians in such a negative light?

There is only one explanation: 60 Minutes is out to damage Israel's image in the Christian community.

In the face of anti-Israel attacks – whether in the form of U.N. censure or media condemnations – one of the strongest bastions of that support is America's evangelical Christian community. These Christians take seriously the biblical promise that the Holy Land belongs to the Jews as an everlasting possession. And when Israel is under siege, they act in accord with Isaiah's prophetic imperative: "For Zion's sake I will not keep silent; for Jerusalem's sake I will not remain quiet" (Isaiah 62:1) – promoting pro-Israel political views and donating untold millions of dollars toward pro-Israel causes.

So for those seeking to weaken support for Israel, a primary tactic is to drive a wedge between the Jewish state and the pro-Israel Christian community.

Bob Simon actually says as much. In speaking with Oren, Simon says: "Do you think the Israeli government ever thinks of the fact that if Christians aren't being treated well here, and America is an overwhelmingly Christian country, that this could have consequences?"

Yet watching 60 Minutes, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Israel is the Mideast's worst offender. It's all part of the media's efforts to drive a wedge between Israel and the Christian community, further demonizing Israel and eroding its support in the West.

The end of this story? 60 Minutes was flooded with complaints – from both private individuals and organization such as ADL. When the pro-Israel group Christians United for Israel (CUFI) notified its membership about the 60 Minutes piece, a CBS spokesman told the Washington Post that the complaints "number a few hundred." Internet logs, however, show that in one 24-hour period, CUFI members actually sent 29,602 email complaints.

In its efforts to demonize Israel, CBS has crossed another line. No longer are we talking merely about selective omission and lack of context. Now it is an outright denial of facts.

This is an outrage, a violation of the core trust between 60 Minutes and its 13 million viewers.

But there is something you can do. Contact 60 Minutes executives, expressing your disappointment at this gross violation of media objectivity. And as always, please keep you comments respectful.

Jeffrey Fager, Chairman of CBS News, Executive Producer of "60 Minutes"
Email: 60m@cbsnews.com
Phone: 212-975-2006

Bill Owens, Executive Editor of "60 Minutes"
Email: bowens@cbsnews.com
Phone: 212-975-7685

David and GoliathThis article is based on themes explored in David & Goliath: The Explosive Inside Story of Media Bias in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. With comprehensive research including 2,000 footnotes, David & Goliath is a gripping first-person narrative that goes behind the scenes to reveal the roots of media bias against Israel.

This article can be read on-line at: http://www.aish.com/jw/mo/60_Minutes_Hatchet_Job.html

Monday, September 29, 2014

For all you scientific types and what is our purpose by Shlomo Riskin

Just Say It

Imagine feeling uncomfortable about saying something important, valuable, or beneficial, even when you know it would be best to say it. You should tell yourself, "Just say it." Think of a role model who is able to "just say it" at the right time. It might help you to imagine being that person to get yourself to "just say it."

If you have a valid reason for not saying something, don't say it. If you feel that it would be wrong to say something, don't say it. If your words will cause unnecessary distress, don't say them.

Some people find it difficult to convey positive feedback and praise. They can say to themselves, "Just say it."

Some people are not as outgoing and outspoken as they would like to be. They should tell themselves, "Just say it."

The more you say what you should say, the easier it will become for you to "just say it."

Now take this email with a grain of salt.. Many of our great sages say that the best thing in life is silence and NOT TO SAY IT.. This email is directed at those that are too shy to say it when it is time to say it. I learned from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin that if you take anything to an extreme it is no longer true.

Love yehuda lave

You might want to save these equations  For all you scientific types out there---and the rest of us oddballs who like this stuff!  Enjoy!

Engineers' Conversion Table 
 1. Ratio of an igloo's circumference to its diameter = Eskimo Pi 
 2. 2000 pounds of Chinese soup = Won ton 
 3. 1 millionth of a mouthwash = 1 microscope 
 4. Time between slipping on a peel and smacking the pavement = 1 bananosecond 
 5. Weight an evangelist carries with God = 1 billigram 
 6. Time it takes to sail 220 yards at 1   nautical mile per hour = knotfurlong 
 7. 16.5 feet in the Twilight Zone = 1 rod sterling 
 8. Half of a large intestine = 1 semicolon 
 9. 1,000,000 aches = 1 megahurtz 
10. Basic unit of laryngitis = 1 hoarsepower 
11. Shortest distance between two jokes = a straight line 
12. 4536 graham crackers = 1 pound cake 
13. 1 million-million microphones = 1 megaphone   
14. 2 million bicycles = 2 megacycles 
15. 365.25 days = 1 unicycle 
16. 2000 mockingbirds = 2 kilomockingbirds 
17. 52 cards = 1 decacards 
18. 1 kilogram of fresh falling figs = 1 FigNewton 
19. 1000 milliliters of wet socks = 1 literhosen 
20. 1 millionth of a fish = 1 microfiche 
21. 1 trillion pins = 1 terrapin   
22. 10 rations = 1 decoration 
23. 100 rations = 1 C-ration 
24. 2 monograms = 1 diagram 
25. 4 nickels = 2 paradigms 
26. 2.4 statute miles of intravenous surgical tubing at Yale University Hospital = 1 IV League 
27. 100 Senators = Not 1 decision
Shabbat Shalom
hat is the essence of our faith, the purpose for which the Jewish people have been placed in the world? Fascinatingly enough, the answer is to be found within the central prayer of our Rosh Hashana liturgy: the three blessings, uniquely found within the Additional (Musaf) prayer of Rosh Hashana, of Malchuyot (kingship), Zichronot (remembrances)and Shofarot. These blessings are each punctuated by the sounds of the shofar and, according to the 14th century theologian Rabbi Yosef Albo as well as the 19th-century Franz Rosenzweig, contain the essence of our faith.
The first of these blessings, Malchuyot, begins with the more familiar Alenu prayer. This prayer teaches that the G-d whom we now accept as the one Lord of the Universe, the G-d of love, morality and peace, will eventually be accepted the entire world.
This axiom of our religion, this prophecy of the ultimate endgame, is especially comforting in the face of the dangerous global village in which we live, a global village in which the specter of nuclear proliferation looms.
This blessing affirms that it is the G-d of compassionate, righteousness and moral justice who will eventually emerge supreme over the totalitarian trinity of Nazi fascism, Stalinist Communism and Islamic fundamentalism. Our broken world will eventually be perfected under the Kingship of the G-d of

Amazing Grace's Eclectic Quotation Collection
*140,000 quotations, proverbs, by people of all philosophies, ages and cultures in 1600 categories.  CD-ROM  For more info. or free sample of one category, send a personal e-mail: gemcgar@comcast.net
 . . . Grace McGarvie . . .

 . . Plymouth,Mn.  55447 U.S.A.


Shabbat Shalom
hat is the essence of our faith, the purpose for which the Jewish people have been placed in the world? Fascinatingly enough, the answer is to be found within the central prayer of our Rosh Hashana liturgy: the three blessings, uniquely found within the Additional (Musaf) prayer of Rosh Hashana, of Malchuyot (kingship), Zichronot (remembrances)and Shofarot. These blessings are each punctuated by the sounds of the shofar and, according to the 14th century theologian Rabbi Yosef Albo as well as the 19th-century Franz Rosenzweig, contain the essence of our faith.
The first of these blessings, Malchuyot, begins with the more familiar Alenu prayer. This prayer teaches that the G-d whom we now accept as the one Lord of the Universe, the G-d of love, morality and peace, will eventually be accepted the entire world.
This axiom of our religion, this prophecy of the ultimate endgame, is especially comforting in the face of the dangerous global village in which we live, a global village in which the specter of nuclear proliferation looms.
This blessing affirms that it is the G-d of compassionate, righteousness and moral justice who will eventually emerge supreme over the totalitarian trinity of Nazi fascism, Stalinist Communism and Islamic fundamentalism. Our broken world will eventually be perfected under the Kingship of the G-d of righteousness; through the teachings of Abraham "all the families of the Earth will be blessed" (Gen.12:3) with a world of peace.
The second blessing, Zichronot, which is a Hebrew term for history, opens with: "You remember the activities from the beginning of the world, and you are mindful of the deeds [or the potential functions, from the Hebrew tafkid] of every creature from earliest times."
Here is a ringing declaration of faith in the process of history; the clear sense that historical time is on the side of humanity, and that individuals and nations have a unique role to play in the cumulative march of history toward redemption. Israel alone of the nations of the world enjoys a special relationship with G-d, a covenant which ensures its eternity and de?nes its mission as the messenger of ethical monotheism to all of humanity.
This blessing guarantees that there is an overarching purpose to history, which is not a cyclical, repetitive cycle leading nowhere, but rather a linear pathway leading to peace. Redemption will come about in the fullness of historic time as a result of the cumulative merits of all preceding generations.
How will we carry out our covenantal task of imparting our message to the world? This is told to us by the third blessing, Shofarot, which reminds us of the revelation at Sinai, the 613 commandments which G-d presented to Israel and the seven commandments of morality, centering around "Thou shalt not murder," which G-d presented to the world.
Maimonides, the great codifier of Jewish law, insists that just as G-d commanded Moses to bequeath 613 commandments to Israel, "similarly did He command Moses to coerce the nations of the world to accept the seven laws of morality" (Laws of Kings 8:10).
This is an immensely significant message, especially in our postmodern, relativistic, "everything goes" society, which denies any absolute concept of morality.
"Situation ethics" dominates our conventional wisdom, and the most heinous crime can become transformed into a sacred act "when seen from the perpetrator's point of view." (Hence a suicide bomber who murders innocent children is called a "freedom fighter.") Shofarot tells us that the Seven Laws of Morality which must be accepted by the nations are not options, but absolutes, since - especially in our global village - the lives of all humanity hang in the balance of their acceptance.
Hence the Rosh Hashana Musaf Amida teaches that the nation of Israel must and will teach fundamental morality, or ethical monotheism, to all the nations of the world. Only when this message is accepted, when "this Torah comes forth from Zion and the word of G-d from Jerusalem," only then will "nation not lift up sword against nation and humanity not learn war anymore"(Isaiah 2:4) and "everyone will sit under his vineyard and ?g tree and no one will have reason to fear" (Micah 4:4).
Each of these blessings is punctuated by the shofar sounding. After G-d's kingship we sound the shofar, the means by which the king in the ancient world was crowned. Take note: It is we, the Jewish people, who must bring G-d down into this world and crown Him.
After Zichronot, we sound the shofar as a reminder of the aborted sacrifice of Isaac in favor of the ram whose horns were caught in the thicket. Isaac, the future of the Jewish people, was slated for slaughter, but was set free.
The shofar sound after Zichronot reminds us that the Jews will continue to live despite exile and persecution.
We must live so that we may remain G-d's witnesses and "a light unto the nations of the world" (Isaiah 42:6).
Finally, we sound the shofar after Shofarot since the method by which we must reach out to the world is by teaching our Torah - a teaching revealed at Sinai amid the sounds of the shofar.
And it will ultimately be that when the Almighty Himself will sound the shofar that all of the dispersed will return to Israel, the Temple will be rebuilt and the nations will come to learn from us to beat their swords into plowshares and to live together in peace. © 2014 Ohr Torah Institutions & Rabbi S. Riskin

G-d willing I will be seeing Rabbi Riskin when he gives his Shabbat Shuva address tomorrow night at then
Great Synagogue at 8:00 P. M

Beautiful scenery:


Sunday, September 28, 2014

A survivor's tale and Antisemitism at the Met which is supported by Jews

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  Bring a Smile to Our Planet

Imagine how wonderful our planet would be if each person on it would greet everyone with a smile. That means that wherever you go you would be met with a smile. Be part of the "Bring a smile to our planet" project. To become a member of this project, you don't need to spend any money or fill out any forms. All you need to do is smile. Then watch the faces of those at whom you smile. Reinforce the smiles of others by telling them, "I appreciate your smiles," or, "You look great when you smile." By reinforcing this person's smiling, you will set in motion a chain of smiles. The recipients of this person's smiles will smile to more people, and those people will smile to even more people. You will be increasing the total amount of smiles on our planet. And that's something we need a lot more of.

Think of someone who doesn't smile very often. Then sensitively think of a way to bring a smile to that person's face in a way that will be appreciated.

Love Yehuda Lave

See the slide show below:

That defies reality and deifies the future...

Jews live, the Nazis were exterminated and Jewish children are the continuity of the covenant against all odds...

On another subject:
The Death of Klinghoffer Controversy

The Death of Klinghoffer Controversy

It is a disgrace that The New York Metropolitan Opera insists on performing this offensive, anti-Semitic work.

by Yvette Alt Miller

Lisa Klinghoffer and her sister Ilsa, like the rest of the world, had been glued to the news all that horrible, tense week nearly thirty years ago. "When our mother finally reached us, she struggled with having to tell us the news. But we already knew. Then she said 'your father was a hero…. Do your crying now girls, I have done mine…. Because when I get home, we have a lot of work to do.'"

On October 5, 1985, Palestinian terrorists boarded the Italian cruise ship the Achille Lauro, separated British and American passengers, then paid close attention to the Jewish-looking passengers in this English-speaking group. Among those selected were Leon and Marilyn Klinghoffer, who were taking a once-in-a-lifetime cruise to celebrate their 36th wedding anniversary. With them were several of their close friends; they vacationed together each summer on the New Jersey Shore.

The hijackers demanded the ship divert to Syria. When authorities there refused to allow it entry, the terrorists turned on Leon Klinghoffer. He was an easy target: a sickly 69 year who'd suffered two strokes and was confined to a wheelchair. The hijackers shot him point blank in the head, then flung his body, still in its wheelchair, into the sea.

Anti-Semitic Opera

The gruesome murder shocked the world. In England, the director Peter Sellars suggested commissioning an opera on the event. He turned to John Adams, a famous American composer, to convert the ghastly terror attack to music. Alice Goodman, an American Jew living in England, was commissioned to write the libretto, the opera's lyrics.

One of John Adams' goals, he later explained, was to teach Americans to look at terrorism in a whole new way. Americans, he felt, were so "desensitized by years of consuming the television news… they can't imagine a representation of a story like the Klinghoffer event being anything other than a cliché melodrama with 'evil' terrorists and 'innocent' victims." He hoped his new opera would fix that, teaching simplistic Americans to view terrorists as something other than "evil" or negative.

Adams and Alice Goodman decided on an opera that included Biblical stories, positioning the terrorism of the PLO against innocent Israelis and Jews as the continuation of epic struggles between good and evil through the ages. It was Goodman's idea to include choruses of Palestinians, explaining their motives in a musical move that echoes Bach's Passions, putting PLO members in the same position that Bach placed religious figures.

"I had no idea that the feelings would be that deeply personal," says John Adams of reactions to his work. He originally wanted to tackle the opera in a humorous way, he said, but ultimately toned done the comic elements. Alice Goodman did push to include one "comic" scene, portraying the Klinghoffer's friends and neighbor as grotesque buffoons when they hear of his murder, conforming to age-old anti-Semitic stereotypes. Ms. Goodman, who assured Adams that this was an accurate representation of American Jews, seems to have been going through a difficult time: midway through writing The Death of Klinghoffer, she converted to Christianity; today, she is a Church of England vicar.

It perverts the terrorist murder of our father and attempts to rationalize, legitimize and explain it.

When the opera debuted in Brussels in 1991, that scene in particular was excoriated as horribly anti-Semitic – even John Adams has acknowledged is seemed to make fun of American Jews and, by extension, the Klinghoffer family itself – and quickly erased from future productions. But more fundamental concerns remained. The opera opens with a disturbing, fabricated scene: a traumatized Arab girl is watching as Jews shoot, beat and chase Arab women and children from their homes, which sets the tone of moral equivalence that mars the opera. Jews are depicted as cheating the poor, despoiling virgins, breaking the law, and exploiting others for their own gain. Terrorists who murdered a helpless elderly Jew are portrayed as nuanced, even noble at times. At one point, PLO terrorists sing, "We are soldiers fighting a war, we are not criminals, we are not vandals, we are men of ideals."

When Ilsa and Lisa Klinghoffer watched the opera's American premier, they called it "appalling," explaining it "perverts the terrorist murder of our father and attempts to rationalize, legitimize and explain it."

Although Peter Sellars, the commissioning director, said he was disappointed the opera wasn't even more pro-Palestinian and anti-Jewish, opera companies around the world recognized it as an unbalanced, irresponsible work, and quickly backed away from the piece. After its 1991 performances, The Death of Klinghoffer wasn't performed again for the next ten years. In 2001, it enjoyed a modest revival; it was performed in Finland, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra planned to perform extracts at a concert later that year. But after the September 11 terror attacks, the Boston Symphony dropped the piece. A member of the chorus had lost her husband in the World Trade Center, the Orchestra explained, and the group felt it was impossible to ask her to participate in a work that rationalized terrorism.

The Met's Puzzling Decision

That The Death of Klinghoffer is considered too extreme to perform makes the Metropolitan Opera of New York's decision to include it in its upcoming season all the more puzzling. The Met's Director, Peter Gelb, acknowledges the goal of the opera is "to understand the hijackers and their motivations, and to look for humanity in the terrorists" as well as their victims, and has even acknowledged that doing so can legitimize Jew-hatred.

In addition to its live performances, the Met was planning to offer simulcasts in European cities. When the summer of 2014 saw huge displays in anti-Semitism flare throughout Europe, however, – four murdered in a Brussels Jewish museum, hundreds trapped in a Parisian synagogue by a violent mob, Jews openly beaten on the streets of Germany, and refused treatment from doctors and service in restaurants – the Met recognized conceded the opera might "stir up anti-Israel sentiments" and be "a vehicle to promote anti-Semitism," and cancelled the broadcasts.

The Met has no obligation to give a stage to justifications of terror.

The live performances, as of now, are scheduled to go ahead. Many have defended the Met's decision to put on the opera as one of freedom of speech. The New York Times spoke for many when it declared the opera "moving and nuanced in imagining a tragedy that gives voice to all sides." Yet freedom of speech is not absolute; the Met has no obligation to give a stage to justifications of terror. Imagine an opera rationalizing lynching in the Jim Crow south. It is hard to picture serious artists who would give voice to such a nauseating and unacceptable point of view.

When the Klinghoffers lost their father and husband, they leapt into action, channeling their energies to fight terrorism and raise the awareness of the threat of anti-Jewish hatred. "In the face of evil, in the aftermath of hate and terrorism our family's mission became clear… We were going to do whatever we could to put a human face to the deadly reality of terrorism. Within months, we (founded)… the Leon and Marilyn Klinghoffer Memorial Foundation – which was created by our late mother, and remains an essential part of our life's work today," Ilsa Klinghoffer explains.

We can all learn from the Klinghoffer's example and channel our concern into action. On Monday, September 22, a broad coalition of Jewish groups is protesting the Met's decision to stage the opera, assembling at their headquarters in New York's Lincoln Center. For those who are unable to attend, Peter Gelb, the Met Director, can be reached at Lincoln Center Plaza, New York, NY 10023, and at telephone (212) 362-6000. Let him know what you think. It could make a difference.

Published: September 20, 2014

The Leader's Call for Responsibility
Ha'azinu - 27 September, 2014 / 3 Tishrei, 5775

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When words take wing, they modulate into song. That is what they do here in Haazinu as Moses, with the angel of death already in sight, prepares to take leave of this life. Never before had he spoken with such passion. His language is vivid, even violent. He wants his final words never to be forgotten. In a sense he has been articulating this truth for forty years but never before with such emotion. This is what he says:
Give ear, O heavens, that I may speak,
Earth, hear the sayings of my mouth ...
The Rock, His acts are perfect,
For all his ways are just.
A faithful God without wrong,
Right and straight is He.
He is not corrupt; the defect is in his children,
A warped and twisted generation.
Is this the way you repay God,
Ungrateful, unwise people?
Is he not your father, your Master.
He made you and established you. (Deut. 32: 1-6)
Don't blame God when things go wrong. That is what Moses feels so passionately. Don't believe, he says, that God is there to serve us. We are here to serve Him and through Him be a blessing to the world. God is straight; it is we who are complex and self-deceiving. God is not there to relieve us of responsibility. It is God who is calling us to responsibility.

With these words Moses brings to closure the drama that began in the beginning with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. When they sinned, Adam blamed the woman, the woman blamed the serpent. So it was in the beginning and so it still is in the twenty-first century secular time.

The story of humanity has been for the most part a flight from responsibility. The culprits change. Only the sense of victimhood remains. It wasn't us. It was the politicians. Or the media. Or the bankers. Or our genes. Or our parents. Or the system, be it capitalism, communism or anything between. Most of all, it is the fault of the others, the ones not like us, infidels, sons of Satan, children of darkness, the unredeemed. The perpetrators of the greatest crime against humanity in all of history were convinced it wasn't them. They were "only obeying orders." When all else fails, blame God. And if you don't believe in God, blame the people who do. To be human is to seek to escape from responsibility.

That is what makes Judaism different. It is what made some people admire Jews and others hate them. For Judaism is God's call to human responsibility. From this call you can't hide, as Adam and Eve discovered when they tried, and you can't escape, as Jonah learnt in the belly of a fish.

What Moses was saying in his great farewell song can be paraphrased thus: "Beloved people, I have led you for forty years, and my time is coming to an end. For the last month, since I began these speeches, these Devarim, I have tried to tell you the most important things about your past and future. I beg you not to forget them."

"Your parents were slaves. God brought them and you to freedom. But that was negative freedom, chofesh. It meant that there was no-one to order you about. That kind of freedom is not inconsequential, for its absence tastes like unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Eat them once a year so you never forget where you came from and who brought you out."

"But don't think that chofesh alone can sustain a free society. When everyone is free to do what they like, the result is anarchy, not freedom. A free society requires cherut, the positive freedom that only comes when people internalise the habits of self-restraint so that my freedom is not bought at the expense of yours, or yours at the cost of mine."

"That is why I have taught you all these laws, judgments and statutes. None of them is arbitrary. None of them exists because God likes giving laws. God gave laws to the very structures of matter – laws that generated a vast, wondrous, almost unfathomable universe. If God were only interested in giving laws, He would have confined himself to the things that obey those laws, namely matter without mind and life-forms that know not liberty."

"The laws God gave me and I gave you exist not for God's sake but for ours. God gave us freedom – the most rare, precious, unfathomable thing of all other than life itself. But with freedom comes responsibility. That means that we must take the risk of action. God gave us the land but we must conquer it. God gave us the fields but we must plough, sow and reap them. God gave us bodies but we must tend and heal them. God is our father; He made us and established us. But parents cannot live their children's lives. They can only show them by instruction and love how to live."

"So when things go wrong, don't blame God. He is not corrupt; we are. He is straight; it is we who are sometimes warped and twisted." That is the Torah's ethic of responsibility. No higher estimate has ever been given of the human condition. No higher vocation was ever entrusted to mortal creatures of flesh and blood.

Judaism does not see human beings, as some religions do, as irretrievably corrupt, stained by original sin, incapable of good without God's grace. That is a form of faith but it is not ours. Nor do we see religion as a matter of blind submission to God's will. That too is a form of faith but not ours.

We do not see human beings, as the pagans did, as the playthings of capricious gods. Nor do we see them, as some scientists do, as mere matter, a gene's way of producing another gene, a collection of chemicals driven by electrical impulses in the brain, without any special dignity or sanctity, temporary residents in a universe devoid of meaning that came into existence for no reason and will one day, equally for no reason, cease to be.

We believe that we are God's image, free as He is free, creative as He is creative, on an infinitely smaller and more limited scale to be sure, but still we are the one point in all the echoing expanse of space where the universe becomes conscious of itself, the one life form capable of shaping its own destiny: choosing, therefore free, therefore responsible. Judaism is God's call to responsibility.

Which means: thou shalt not see thyself as a victim. Do not believe as the Greeks did that fate is blind and inexorable, that our fate once disclosed by the Delphic oracle, has already been sealed before we were born, that like Laius and Oedipus we are fated, however hard we try to escape the bonds of fate. That is a tragic view of the human condition. To some extent it was shared in different ways by Spinoza, Marx and Freud, the great triumvirate of Jews-by-descent who rejected Judaism and all its works.

Instead like Viktor Frankl, survivor of Auschwitz, and Aaron T. Beck, co-founder of cognitive behavioural therapy, we believe we are not defined by what happens to us but rather by how we respond to what happens to us. That itself is determined by how we interpret what happens to us. If we change the way we think – which we can, because of the plasticity of the brain – then we can change the way we feel and the way we act. Fate is never final. There may be such a thing as an evil decree, but penitence, prayer and charity can avert it. And what we cannot do alone we can do together, for we believe "it is not good for man to be alone."

So Jews developed a morality of guilt in place of what the Greeks had, a morality of shame. A morality of guilt makes a sharp distinction between the person and the act, between the sinner and the sin. Because we are not wholly defined by what we do, there is a core within us that remains intact – "My God, the soul you gave me is pure" – so that whatever wrong we may have done, we can repent and be forgiven. That creates a language of hope, the only force strong enough to defeat a culture of despair.

It is that power of hope, born whenever God's love and forgiveness gives rise to human freedom and responsibility, that has made Judaism the moral force it has always been to those who minds and hearts are open. But that hope, says Moses with a passion that still sears us whenever we tread it afresh, does not just happen. It has to be worked for and won. The only way it is achieved is by not blaming God. He is not corrupt. The defect is in us, His children. If we seek a better world, we must make it. God teaches us, inspires us, forgives us when we fail and lifts us when we fall, but we must make it. It is not what God does for us that transforms us; it is what we do for God.

The first humans lost paradise when they sought to hide from responsibility. We will only ever regain it if we accept responsibility and become a nation of leaders, each respecting and making space for those not like us. People do not like people who remind them of their responsibility. That is one of the reasons (not the only one, to be sure) for Judeophobia through the ages. But we are not defined by those who do not like us. To be a Jew is to be defined by the One who loves us.

The deepest mystery of all is not our faith in God but God's faith in us. May that faith sustain us as we heed the call to responsibility and take the risk of healing some of the needless wounds of an injured but still wondrous world.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Great Photos and just when you thought I wasn't looking

Discipline Builds Success

If a person has many faults in different areas and is confused about where to start, he should select one trait and work specifically on it. It takes self-discipline to correct a trait. To overcome a fault, your intellect must rule over your desires.

Once you've gone through the process once, this will help you correct many other traits.

Realize as well that all character traits are dependent on each other. If you correct one trait, this will automatically be a stepping stone to correcting other traits.

Love Yehuda Lave

Just when you thought I wasn't looking!


When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator,
and I wanted to paint another one.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you feed a stray cat,
and I thought it was good to be kind to animals.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you make my favorite cake just for me,
and I knew that little things are special things.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I heard you say a prayer,
and I believed there is a God I could always talk to.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I felt you kiss me good night,
and I felt loved.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw tears come from your eyes,
and I learned that sometimes things hurt,
but it's all right to cry.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw that you cared,
and I wanted to be everything that I could be.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I looked ... and wanted to say thanks
for all the things I saw
when you thought I wasn't looking.

When the shofar blows, it's an auspicious time to gain clarity on these life essentials:

  1. Prioritize: I have defined my mission and set clear, achievable goals.
  2. Focus: I am grounded, organized and free of distractions.
  3. Discipline: I maximize use of my time, to consistently act toward my goal.
  4. Objectivity: I have a system to ensure that my actions are straight, balanced and free of bias.
  5. Patience: I take pleasure in my achievements, calm in the knowledge that everything is a process.
  6. Integrity: Perhaps most important of all, I live with the credo that no gain is worthwhile if it comes at the expense of my core values.

The High Holidays are the time to push out of our comfort zones, to stand up and declare: "I accept full responsibility for my life." Shana tova.

 Fernando Aguilar's Amazing Shofar

How a community of Jews defied the Spanish Inquisition to listen to the Shofar.

On August 2, 1492, a young sailor named Christopher Columbus departed Spain. As his ships sailed out of Seville's harbor, he noted something curious: thousands of men, women and children were desperately cramming into boats and ships.

That day was the final deadline for all Jews to leave the Spanish kingdom. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella had recently conquered all of Spain and sought to make their new kingdom an entirely Christian nation. No Jews could remain. In desperation, thousands fled, taking only those possessions they could carry. Within days, the Jewish community of Spain, which had flourished for hundreds of years, was no more. Synagogues were shuttered. Jewish schools were closed. The abandoned houses of the fleeing Jews were taken over by their non-Jewish neighbors.

In the weeks and months that followed the expulsion of Jews from Spain, Jewish life seemed completely dead. Not all of Spain's Jews had fled when the fateful edict was pronounced. It was possible to remain in Spain but the conditions for doing so were dire: any Jew who hoped to remain in his home had to publicly embrace Christianity and renounce all Jewish observance.

Many Jews lived ostensibly Christian lives in public, but held on to Jewish observance in secret. On Friday nights, these secret Jews would shutter their windows so neighbors wouldn't see them light their Shabbos candles. Jewish housewives would bake their weekly challah loaves in hiding; their husbands would whisper the words of the Shabbos Kiddush.

These clandestine Jews knew their very lives were at stake, should a neighbor overhear their murmured Hebrew prayers, or a passer-by spy them enjoying a holiday meal. The Spanish Inquisition had begun years before, when a secret Passover Seder was reported taking place among secret Jews: any Jew suspected of clinging to his or her religion would be tortured into confessing, then burned at the stake. Thousands of Spanish Jews had already died in public executions this way. Public burnings of Jews became so frequent they even had a name, auto de fe, and attending these frequent spectacles became a popular national pastime.

Even though they had ostensibly embraced Christianity, the secret Jews of Spain were never trusted; neighbors and priests realized they continued to practice Judaism, and were always alert to any display of Jewish ritual. Spaniards called these Jews "marranos," a disparaging term that means "pigs," and many eagerly looked for any sign of Jewish practice could see them turned over to the Inquisition.

The Conductor in Barcelona

Yet in the city of Barcelona, a large group of secret Jews clung to their ancient traditions. It's impossible for us to know today exactly how many of Barcelona's Jews continued following their religion, but we do know from the following story, passed down from generation to generation, that it was a sizeable number.

Don Fernando Aguilar was a prominent Barcelona Jew. Conductor of the prestigious Royal Orchestra in that city, he was a man of distinction and enjoyed great wealth and prestige. When the edict banishing him and his coreligionists from Spain came, Don Aguilar decided to remain. He publicly embraced Christianity, but at the same time made a daring decision: in private, Don Aguilar, like so many Spanish Jews, would never renounce his faith. Even though it meant he could be arrested at any moment, Don Aguilar continued to live as a Jew.

When he came home each night, he kissed a mezuzah that he kept hidden in his floorboards. He was careful to eat only kosher food and observe the Jewish holidays. As the years went by, it became harder and harder to keep up his Jewish practice, but Don Aguilar – like the rest of Barcelona's Jews – did as much as he could. There was no synagogue in his city any more, but groups of Jews would meet in private, under pain of death, to whisper prayers. There were no Jewish schools in Spain any longer, but families did their best to give their children a Jewish education. Year after grinding year, the secret Jewish community continued, holding on to as many of the mitzvot as possible.

Some rituals, however, were nearly impossible to observe. One was listening to the Shofar. Each Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the secret Jews of Barcelona and elsewhere would gather to pray. On Rosh Hashanah they would eat a furtive festive meal together. On Yom Kippur, they would go about their business in public, never letting on that they were fasting. But blowing a Shofar out loud, let alone for the 100 blasts prescribed for each day of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, was impossible. Doing so would lead to immediate arrest, torture, and death.

The Shofar Symphony

Five long years after the expulsion of Spain's Jews, five years of practicing their religion in secret, of living a double life, Don Aguilar saw an opportunity. In 1497, he made a public announcement: on Sunday, the 5th of September, he would personally lead the Royal Orchestra of Barcelona in a brand-new concert of his own composition. The piece he'd written was unlike anything ever heard in Spain before. It was, he declared, to be a celebration of native peoples and their cultures. Every instrument ever invented around the world, no matter how far away, would be represented.

On the eve of the concert, the orchestra hall was filled. Some in the audience noticed that Don Aguilar was not wearing the gold cross he usually sported, but there was so much excitement about his unusual orchestral work, nobody paid much attention to this difference in his dress. Many of those in attendance were "marranos" but the fact that so many of these people came to the concert apparently didn't arouse anyone's suspicions. As the curtains parted, the concert began as planned.

Don Aguilar's music was interesting. True to his word, the audience heard from a wide range of instruments. There were bells and horns, stringed instruments and an array of different drums. Then, in the middle of the concert, a musician with the orchestra who was rumored by many to be a secret Jew took the stage. He was holding an unusual instrument: a ram's horn.

The musician put it to his lips, and began to blow. Tekiah, shevarim, teruah. Each note of the Rosh Hashanah Shofar service rang out throughout the hall, one hundred notes in all. Most of the audience appreciated it as a virtuoso performance of an unfamiliar instrument. But to the secret Jews in the audience, Don Aguilar's "music" gave them their first chance in years to hear fulfill the mitzvah of hearing the Shofar.

Sept. 5, 1497 was the first of Tishrei, 5258 – the night of Rosh Hashanah.

Little is known of Don Aguilar. Some say he was arrested soon after the concert and executed in secret, so that news of his exploits would not become public. Others maintain he lived to an old age, continuing to live a Jewish life.

All that is known is his amazing actions on Rosh Hashanah, over 500 years ago, when for one evening he allowed an entire secret Jewish community to fulfill the mitzvah of hearing the Shofar.

Primary source: Rabbi Eliyahu Ki-Tov, The Book of Our Heritage, and Rabbi Stewart Weiss' article in the Jerusalem Post. Note: no written documentation of this event exists; the name of Don Fernando Aguilar and the legend of his actions in September 1497 have been passed down through the centuries verbally. While it is impossible for us to verify the details of these events, generations of Jews have maintained that this amazing Rosh Hashanah "concert" took place.

Author Biography:

Yvette Alt Miller earned her B.A. at Harvard University. She completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Jewish Studies at Oxford University, and has a Ph.D. In International Relations from the London School of Economics. She lives with her family in Chicago, and has lectured internationally on Jewish topics. 


A young James' Flamingo, born on July 7 receives a nudge from an adult flamingo on Tuesday. The James' Flamingo, also known as the Puna Flamingo, is a South American flamingo. (July 29, 2008)

Rescued kitty