Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Eight things you should never say to your spouse and Chabad lawyer mediates between Inuit Tribes in Alaska

Identify Yourself as a Soul with a Body

A person who identifies himself with his soul will take good care of his body to keep it safe and healthy, but he will keep his main focus on nourishing his soul. A person who sees himself as being a soul, someone who has a body just for the duration of his stay on this planet, will tend to view other people as essentially being souls also. This will raise his view of others. He will automatically treat others with greater respect.

The more you see yourself as a soul with a body, the higher your self-image will be. Who am I? "I am a soul who is living in this world within my body."

When you don't know what to do, ask yourself, "What course of action would my soul want me to choose?"

Love Yehuda Lave

Bar Ilan University on a February winter afternoon--an open house at Bar Ilan University
Your video has been published at http://youtu.be/-lcZBRhEtqA

8 Things You Should Never Say to Your Spouse

Refraining from saying certain things is just as important as what we say.

by Sara Debbie Gutfreund

We didn't know the newlywed couple very well but friends of ours had asked us to invite them over. It took less than a minute of dinner table conversation to see that they weren't getting along very well.

When I asked them how they met, they immediately launched into an argument about it. That's not how it happened. Yes, it is. No it's not. You're wrong. I asked you to stop saying that to me all the time.

At first my husband and I just sat there in a state of mild shock and growing discomfort. Then I tried interrupting them: "Um, guys, it's okay. It doesn't really matter how you met. Do you want some rugelach maybe?"

They turned to look at me in surprise and then the husband said, as the wife simultaneously reached out for a chocolate rugelach: "No thanks, we're watching our weight." He then glared at his new wife as she ate.

"I think I'll go get some fruit for everyone," I said brightly.

"I'll help you," my husband said quickly, and we escaped to the kitchen to try to figure out what to do.

Sometimes a couple descends into this cycle of hostility and bickering because they don't know how to communicate with each other. Refraining from saying certain things is just as important as what we say. Here are the top eight things we should never say to our spouses.

  1. "What is wrong with you?" This is often said in moments of frustration, but instead of getting our spouses to recognize something they did wrong, this question implies that they are inherently flawed. It causes pain that can linger even after it is forgiven.

  2. "Forget it, I'll do it myself." This communicates to our spouses that we have no patience for them, doubt their competence and on top of that, want to make them feel badly about their failure to complete a task.

  3. "You never _____ or you always _____." The words never and always should be used only if they are accurate. He is 'always' a hundred percent of the time late? She 'never' appreciates him? Besides being imprecise, these words usually decrease a person's motivation to change and create additional resentment.

  4. "That's all you bought/did/made?" If you are dissatisfied with something your spouse did, take a step back. Consider how hard they worked on it and instead of attacking them, first appreciate what they did do by thanking them. Then you can explain that you had a different expectation and discuss how to handle the situation.

  5. "But you did the same thing." This is usually said when a spouse expresses that he was hurt by something, and instead of apologizing we go right into defense mode. And say things like "but that's what you do to me " or "you did the exact same thing." Even if it's true, it's not helpful or relevant. Apologize and move on.

  6. "Whatever." Some of us think that this expression conveys that we are flexible and laid back. But answering a spouse's question this way just basically says "I don't care about you or what you are asking me." Give a real answer and appreciate that you are being asked.

  7. "We never go anywhere or do anything." Besides the presence of the unhelpful "never" in this sentence, there is also implied blame. If you want to go somewhere or do something fun with your spouse then suggest some ideas and plan together. Don't place all the responsibility onto your spouse. It's not her or his job to entertain you.

  8. "Why can't you be more like ____?" Never compare your spouse to anyone else. This conveys the message: I wish I would have married someone else. Not only is this deeply hurtful, but it also erodes that basic sense of trust a marriage should have. No one else should be in your marriage besides the two of you. And we don't know even half of what is really happening in other people's homes; be careful what you wish for even if you are not expressing it out loud.

That newlywed couple who visited our home got divorced later that year. I wish I had known then how to help them, but I learned a crucial lesson: stop the cycle of disagreements before it gets out of control. Sometimes all it takes is one hurtful comment, repeated over and over, to destroy a relationship. And sometimes all it takes is one hurtful comment that we resolve not to say again to re-build.

Published: January 24, 2015

Chabad Lawyer Mediates Between Inuit Tribes in Alaska — and Keeps Kosher
Holding (Jewish) Court in the Great Polar Wilderness

"The problem is whale, seal, shellfish (obviously), even caribou — none of it's kosher," said tribal judge David Avraham Voluck, a man whose job entails puddle-jumping all over the state, sometimes to within 500 miles of Siberia. "But in Alaska, Baruch HaShem, there's always salmon and halibut."
This leads to the obvious question: How does a nice Jewish boy from the suburbs of Philadelphia wind up in such far-flung northern locales that during the summer he can't make Havdalah until the sun finally "sets" at 3 a.m.?
"That's a big question, with many threads," Voluck, 44, recently told me.
"So, there are two 'weird' things about David Voluck," he continued, laughing impishly, as is his habit. "Well, probably more than two, but two really weird things. First, I'm an observant Jew, which is not commonplace in Alaska. I'm also a tribal judge, the state's only non-Native tribal judge — at least that I know of."
Practicing in Alaska: Judge Voluck participates in a menorah lighting ceremony in Sitka.
Indeed, Voluck stands as one of the country's foremost authorities on the subject of Alaska Native tribal law — an author of "Alaska Natives and American Laws 2nd and 3rd Edition," he literally wrote the book on it (well, co-wrote). In addition to maintaining a small legal practice and an adjunct faculty position at Northwestern School of Law at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, Voluck currently presides over the Tlingit (pronounced "Clink-get") & Haida tribal court in southeast Alaska and the Aleut community tribal court of St. Paul in the Pribilof Islands. He has also worked with the Athabasca, Inupiat, Alutiiq and Yupik tribes and is currently helping to establish a tribal court on Kodiak Island.
Voluck, who has three children — Nechama Chaya, 11, Yehuda Dov Ber, 8, and Emunah Golda, 5 — splits his time between Sitka, Juneau, Seattle and any one of the many isolated communities dotting the Alaskan wilderness. (How isolated? Some Bush villages don't even have running water.)
"My family's based in Seattle," said Voluck, who has taken to helping his kids with homework via Skype and traveling with prayer books, candles and other essential Judaica in his carry-on. "But I fly around so much, I'm not sure I, myself, have a home base anymore. Good thing the Jews created such a mobile religion."
By chance Voluck's overcrowded schedule placed him in Juneau — the state capital, a city of about 30,000 in the Alaska Panhandle — long enough for me to invite him over for dinner one evening (salmon, rice and salad, nice and pareve, served on paper plates with plastic utensils). But first, we'd met for an after-hours peek at the Tlingit & Haida tribal court, located in the Tlingit & Haida Central Council's main headquarters, a small one-story house indistinct from all the others in the neighborhood except for the huge bronze statue of an Alaska Native veteran patrolling the yard.
The United States legal system is unique in that it encompasses three separate sovereigns: the federal government, the 50 individual states and each tribe within that state. In Alaska, "Indians" comprise nearly 15% of the total population, compared to 1.2% of the U.S. as a whole. In Bush Alaska that number can exceed 90%. And each tribe exists as its own nation.
Naturally, many different types of cases appear before Judge Voluck's bench. Alaska tribal courts enjoy what's known as "concurrent civil jurisdiction," involving civil cases that could conceivably be heard by state or federal courts. Here, tribal courts have no police force or jails — unlike some in the Lower 48 — but do offer diversion court for criminal cases and impose alternative sentencing for lesser offenses (such as underage drinking or disorderly conduct). This might entail education, mentorships, volunteer work or other community service — in some instances, Voluck's rulings have entailed chopping wood and shoveling snow.
"Alaska's tribal courts primarily focus on the family — guardianship, adoptions, custody, divorce and children-in-need-of-aid cases," he said. "After all, what is a tribe, really, but a large extended family?"
The Tlingit-Haida tribal court feels more like a meeting place than a courtroom, filled with soft light and Native artwork. What especially caught my eye: a collection of objects at the center of the conference table, arranged like some kind of aboriginal Seder plate.
"This room sees lots of very… let's call them intense situations," Voluck said when I asked about the centerpiece. Turns out it wasn't a tribal tradition, but Voluck's own idea.
"People find comfort in the familiar. So I laid out some objects culturally relevant to the people of Southeast Alaska: seaweed, cedar bark, sage, an eagle feather, a raven feather — you always need balance between Eagle and Raven," he said, referring to the two Tlingit "moieties," or "descent groups."
Okay, but what's that shiny horn that looks like a shofar?
"That's a shofar," he said, laughing. "You're supposed to blow it the whole month leading up to Rosh Hashanah. Come Elul, I like to blow my shofar here in the office randomly without warning, just to surprise the admin staff."
Later, after several helpings of salmon — "when I'm traveling, I eat a lot of P B & J; this is much better" — and a pre-bedtime shofar demo for my children, we retired to my home office, where Voluck resumed our conversation about his improbable life path.
"Like most Jewish stories, it starts with a king," he said, sipping from a glass of vodka.
This king, restless within the palace walls, sneaks through the gate dressed in peasant clothes and wanders way out into the countryside. He comes upon a shepherd playing the most hauntingly beautiful music he's ever heard. Mesmerized, the king sits and listens for hours until sunset forces him to return to the palace — but he can't get the music out of his head. No musician in the land can recreate it. The king lives out the remainder of his days driven by the mad pursuit of this music.
"It's definitely not a Disney ending," said Voluck. "But what does this story teach us? As Jewish people, our souls are on fire. We are that king's descendants. This shepherd's song is woven into our genetic memory. We spend our lives just as he did, desperately trying to hear it again."
Raised in a Conservative "but not terribly religious" household, Voluck graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1992, with a B.A. in sociology of religion, before studying environmental law at Lewis and Clark Law School. He soon threw himself headlong into environmentalism.
"There I was, demonstrating, hugging trees, chaining myself to bulldozers. But I could see I didn't have the same fire as everyone else. In other words, this wasn't the song I was looking for."
Then, a friend recruited him for a legal internship representing the Tlingit & Haida in Sitka. As the tribe's legal counsel, Voluck found he'd stumbled upon the human, cultural and spiritual side of environmentalism.
"Now, I started hearing the song," he said. "From then on, Indian law became my obsession."
Through his burgeoning relationship with Alaska Native populations, Voluck also began sensing parallels between their culture and his own. Every day, he told me, one tribal elder in particular would visit him, "and every day, he'd say the same thing: 'David, our culture, our language, our heritage is very important; you must help us.'"
"Around the same time, a spiritual old woman wanted to adopt me," Voluck continued. "Her son, also named David, had drowned in an accident and she felt I was his gilgul, his reincarnation. A few weeks before the adoption ceremony, the woman had a dream. In the dream, her son appeared before her and told her she couldn't give me a Tlingit name; I was from my own tribe."
Again, the elder's words echoed in Voluck's head: our culture, our language, our heritage is very important; you must help us.
"Here I was, fighting to preserve Alaska Native tradition — who was fighting for my people's tradition?" Voluck said.
Now he had a second obsession: reclaiming his own Jewish heritage.
Fueled by his growing devotion to the Lubavitcher hasidic movement, Voluck took a two-year sabbatical from law to attend the Rabbinical College of America, in Morristown, New Jersey, specializing in — what else? — Talmudic and Jewish legal studies.
When Voluck returned to Sitka — with a wife and young family in tow — to continue practicing Indian law, "they totally welcomed me back; the first day I walked in with the beard, the peyes, the kippah and nobody even blinked."
In a sense, the Voluck home in Sitka became a makeshift Southeast Alaskan Chabad — they were the only Hasidim for literally thousands of miles. They welcomed Jews (there are about 40 in Sitka, compared to 1,500 Natives) and non-Jews alike for Shabbat dinner and discussion groups. The Volucks once hosted Michael Chabon, who'd just written "The Yiddish Policeman's Union," in which Sitka plays a central role as the setting for a fictional Jewish homeland after World War II.
"They get that we're tribal, we get that they're tribal — that makes us all mishpokhe," he said of Alaska Natives. "But of course, there's a strange connection between Indians and Jews, and it goes way back."
In fact, Voluck explained, the earliest known advocate for Native American rights was a 16th-century Spanish historian, social reformer and Dominican friar named Bartolome de las Casas. De las Casas was also a converso, who, like many Jews, escaped the Inquisition by immigrating to the New World. Appalled at the conquistadors' harsh treatment of the indigenous peoples, de las Casas appealed extensively on their behalf to the royal court of Spain, eventually earning him the official title "Protector of the Indians."
Several centuries later, a legal scholar named Felix S. Cohen — "another Yid," as Voluck called him — wrote "The Handbook of Federal Indian Law," first published in 1941.
"It's the Bible of Indian law," said Voluck. "Go into any tribal lawyer's office and ask for a 'Cohen' and they'll know exactly what you mean."
Of course, you can't expect the residents of places where dog sleds are still used for transportation and "honey buckets" replace toilets to be equally well versed in their Cohen. Surely, Voluck's appearance provokes some sort of reaction?
"For one, I'm kind of a 'goofamapotamus,' so people tend to see that before the yarmulke or the tzitzit," he said. Admittedly, he also "tones down the down the garb" when he's in Alaska, but still dons the black hat and suit on Friday nights and Saturdays.
"Plus, remember, many of these villages were missionized by Russian Orthodox priests; I sort of look like those guys. In fact, a young man at a gas station once called me 'Father' and started confessing to me. I took his confession — what else was I going to do?"
And while practicing Judaism as a traveling circuit judge in one of the least inhabited regions on earth remains challenging, Voluck seems determined to continue what he considers his singular contribution to tikkun olam.
"Everywhere on earth, indigenous peoples are sustaining a massive assault on their survival," he said. "And if there's one group that's figured out how to weather massive assaults on their survival, it's the Jews."
Geoff Kirsch is a journalist and comedy writer based in Juneau, Alaska.

News Release
Chabad ACT hosts delegation of Rabbis in Canberra who met with the Australian Prime Minister
Senior Rabbis from across Australia travelled yesterday to the Nation's Capital to meet with The Prime Minister, the Honourable Tony Abbott MP.
The Rabbis, from the Organisation of Rabbis of Australasia, met with the Prime Minister in his office to discuss opportunities to build bridges between Government and the religious leadership of the Country.
President of ORA, Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant, thanked the Prime Minister personally, and offered the religious leadership's deep appreciation for his ongoing and unwavering support for Israel and the Australian Jewish Community.
Religious issues relevant to the Australian Rabbinate were discussed and a specially inscribed Menorah was presented to the Prime Minister on behalf of ORA.
Following the meeting a hearty lunch was held at the Chabad ACT HQ in Giralang at which discussions were held regarding contemporary Halachic issues facing the Australian Jewish community. The lunch was catered by 'Canberra Kosher' (which operates under the auspices of Chabad ACT).
Rabbi Shmueli Feldman, Chairman of Chabad ACT said "It was heartwarming to witness firsthand the friendship and respect which the Prime Minister afforded the Rabbis and by extension the communities which we represent. It was also a historic day to host such an esteemed gathering of Rabbis here in Canberra and to have a minyan of Rabbonim in our Shul." 
Rabbi's Group Photo with PM copy 2.jpg 
In the Rabbi's group picture with the Prime Minister from right to left: Rabbi Shmueli Feldman, Rabbi Yaakov Glasman, Rabbi Pinchus Feldman, Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant, Prime Minister The Honourable Tony Abbott MP, Rabbi Yehoram Ulman, Rabbi Moshe Gutnick, Rabbi Chaim Ingram and Rabbi Paul Lewin.
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The Minyan of Rabbis who attended the lunch from right to left: Rabbi Zalman Raskin, Rabbi Chaim Ingram, Rabbi Yaakov Glasman, Rabbi Shmueli Feldman, Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant, Rabbi Pinchus Feldman, Rabbi Yehoram Ulman, Rabbi Paul Lewin, Rabbi Moshe Gutnick, Rabbi Alon Meltzer,
Selfie with Prime Minister of Australia.jpg 
Rabbi Shmueli Feldman's post meeting 'selfie'
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Photo of meeting in the Prime Minister's Office 
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Rabbis Praying with the Prime Minister
 Rabbi's Group Photo Outside Parliament House copy 2.jpg
Rabbis Group Photo Outside Parliament House 
Photo credits; Sithu Tin-Aung.