Monday, August 3, 2020

The 800-Pound Gorilla of American Judaism By Vic Rosenthal and Jewish Federations Friend Farrakhan Fan Who Told Jews to “Go **** Themselves” and How Jews beat the Heat by David Kilimnick and The Spirit of the Law overrides what the law says on Paper and Ukraine to let in at least 5,000 Uman pilgrims

View in browser
The Spirit of the Law is really the law regardless of what the law reads

The Spirit of the Law is really the law regardless of what the law reads

We started last week to read the Book of Deuteronomy which begins with a travelogue. Moses describes the events which transpired during the 40 years of wandering in the desert and the preparation of the infrastructure necessary for settling in the Promised Land. This is a review of the portion of the Torah we just had in the closing of the book of BaMidbar (numbers) with the 42 stops during the desert.

After the travelogue, the first order of business that Moses instructs the people is the establishment of a judicial system. "Judge righteously between a man and his brother" (Deuteronomy 1;16)

How does one judge righteously?

"You shall not show partiality in judgment" (Deuteronomy 1;17). The intent is not to discriminate between the opposing sides but rather to listen to the arguments of each side without regard to whether one is wealthy or poor.

This is the basis of judging righteously.

However, there is something else that the judge must take into account. "Open your mouth for the mute, in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction." (Proverbs 31;8)

In other words, if the judge sees that one of the litigants is having difficulty in presenting his case, he must help him by asking leading questions. (Tractate Ketubot 36a)

We were just told that the fact that we should not judge the case based on whether one is wealthy or poor. Why should the Judge now help the side that can't provide its case properly with helping him?

On the one hand, the law demands impartiality while on the other hand, the spirit of the law tells the judge to "open the mouth of the mute". While it appears that the "spirit of the law" contradicts the law itself, in reality, one compliments the other and enables a truly righteous judgment. This is because the Judge has an assignment from G-d to give a fair judgment. If one side is mixed up, the Judge in the interest of fairness, wants to know both sides of the case. If there were not two sides, they probably would not be in the court in the first place. The Hebrew letter Peh represents the mouth. There are two Pehs to let us know the judge should open the mouth of the litigant to fairly present his case.

Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher, and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money, and spiritual engagement. Now also a Blogger on the Times of Israel. Look for my column

Love Yehuda Lave

Yehuda Lave, Spiritual Advisor and Counselor


The 800-Pound Gorilla of American Judaism

By Vic Rosenthal

Photo Credit: MAXPIXELS

Animal Herbivore Silver Back Primate Ape Gorilla

{Originally posted to the Abu Yehuda blog}

I won't write about Peter Beinart's latest obscene appropriation of Jewish concepts in the service of putting an end to the third Jewish commonwealth and returning the Jewish people to a condition of persecution and dispersal. He gets too much attention as it is. If you care, read this or this.


But I am interested in exploring where he and the Jewish audience that applauds him came from. What happened to the immigrant Jews like my grandparents, who put a few pennies in the pushka on Shabbat for the Jews trying to create a state? Their descendants go to college, join If Not Now, and say kaddish for Hamas terrorists. My grandmother would have kicked their butts around the block.

Much is written about the "gap" between American Jews and Israelis. Israelis wonder how American Jews can fail to understand the geopolitical insecurity that's a fundamental fact of life for them. Americans think that Israelis are arrogant and treat them as "not real Jews." There are several things that make communication difficult.

To start with, most non-Orthodox Jews in America have almost nothing in common with Jewish Israelis, religious or secular. Everything is different. Most Israeli Jews do compulsory military service and reserve duty, but few American Jews serve. Most American Jews go to university immediately after high school; Israelis wait until after their army service (and usually after several months or years of travelling). Israelis get married and have relatively numerous children; Americans often do neither.

Recent Israeli history includes numerous conflicts in which soldiers and reservists have been killed or seriously wounded; America's professional military insulates the rest of the society from their losses. Terrorism is an almost daily occurrence in Israel; at least as yet, America has experienced comparatively few incidents of terrorism. The last time artillery shells struck the American mainland was during the Civil War; the last rocket attack against Israeli towns was last week.

Israeli Jews, even secular ones, tend to know more about Judaism. Every child studies the bible in school. Biblical themes are found in popular culture. In America, religion is an aggressively private matter. Non-Orthodox American Jewish children may have some religious education in the very non-rigorous weekly lessons provided by Reform or Conservative congregations, if their parents are members. Israeli children are surrounded by Jewish history and customs. The fact that Hebrew is the mother tongue of most Israelis makes it much easier for them to obtain basic Jewish literacy.

I like to say that the Torah is a story about the three-way relationship between God, the Jewish people, and the land of Israel. But even an Israeli that does not believe in God can feel the connection with the land. Consider the atheist kibbutzniks who plowed during the day and wrote poems to Eretz Yisrael at night.

I believe that there is a reason that so many Jews of America have lost that connection.

In America, the largest denomination is the Reform movement, representing 35% of Americans who identify as Jews (another 30% have no denomination, 18% are Conservative, 10% Orthodox, and 6% "other"). The movement claims to have 1 million members and even more adherents in the US and Canada, although the membership has been dropping steadily in recent decades since its heyday in the mid-to-late 20th century.

The Reform Movement started in 19th century Germany, in part as an attempt to make it possible for Jews to enter the broader society and take advantage of the opportunities which they believed would become available as a result of the climate of relative tolerance that was sweeping Europe, while still maintaining their Jewish faith – or a version of it.

The early reformers did away with those parts of Jewish ritual that set Jews apart. They dressed like Germans, they ate like Germans, they worshiped (on Sunday) like Germans, and some even called themselves "Germans of the Mosaic Persuasion." As everyone knows, German Jew-hatred managed to overcome even this.

Reform Judaism took root in America for similar reasons. Although there were few civil laws that oppressed Jews, the strict rules of Orthodox Judaism prevented full participation in society. The founders of the Reform movement also believed, like the Germans, that much traditional Jewish ritual was superstitious and meaningless to modern Americans, who would not be rebuilding a Temple in Jerusalem. And, like the Germans of the Mosaic Persuasion, they did not want to be seen as foreigners. Indeed, the 1885 Pittsburgh Platform, the first manifesto of the Reform movement in America, explicitly stated that

We consider ourselves no longer a nation, but a religious community, and therefore expect neither a return to Palestine, nor a sacrificial worship under the sons of Aaron, nor the restoration of any of the laws concerning the Jewish state.

They believed that they would be able to fill the voids left by the elimination of the so-called "ritual commandments" like observance of kashrut and Shabbat by emphasizing the "ethical commandments" and the prophetic tradition, which they interpreted as a call for social justice.

The early Reform rabbis at least were well-grounded in the tradition that they were rejecting. But one of the advantages of Reform Judaism for many Americans was that it was easy*. You didn't have to find kosher meat, you could work on Shabbat if your boss wanted you to, and you didn't need to learn a foreign language. This is as true in the 21st century as it was in the 19th.

The Boomer generation was sent to Reform religious school by their first generation American parents who felt guilty for the fact that they had neglected the Judaism of their immigrant parents. They were not observant themselves, but they wanted their kids to be Jewish in some sense. The future rebels of the 1960s were bored out of their minds. They couldn't see how any of this stuff, these holidays when their parents would get all dressed up and drag them to interminable services that were simply meaningless, had any relevance to them.

Later they got religion of a different kind, throwing themselves into the civil rights or antiwar movements, or the various unfocused leftist causes of the 1960s. Most of them did not connect any of this to what they had ignored back in religious school.

The Reform movement, meanwhile, was having trouble. People were looking for spiritual content in their religion, and traditional Reform Judaism had squeezed it all out. Many Jewish seekers embraced Buddhism or other Eastern traditions. Nothing was less spiritual than repeating the prayers in the Union Prayer Book, written in archaic English, praising an abstract God over and over.

The Reform Movement flailed around, trying to recapture its public. It reintroduced some Hebrew into its services, invented new traditions, and most importantly, embraced its version of Tikkun Olam – understood as social justice action – as the centerpiece of Reform observance.

The emblem of Tikkun Olam was Rabbi Abraham Joshua Herschel walking arm-in-arm with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But as time went by, it became harder and harder to distinguish the specifically Jewish character of the "mitzvah" of Tikkun Olam from liberal politics – and then from more and more radical progressive ideology.

Unfortunately liberal and progressive politics isn't very friendly to Israel. At best, they want the Jewish state to make dangerous concessions to the Palestinians. Or they believe – like Peter Beinart – that a Jewish state is unnecessary, and in the name of justice should be replaced by some kind of binational state. At worst, they want Israel to disappear.

After the movement appointed Rabbi Rick Jacobs its president, the movement adopted the position that Jewish ethical principles call on them to "help" Israel become better, in spite of herself. Who would think that American Jews, who neither understand the situation in Israel's neighborhood nor will have to face the consequences of any mistakes, should have the right to dictate what Israel should do? But Jacobs has said over and over that his movement not only has the right, it has a duty to do so.

Not all anti-Israel Jews are Reform Jews. Some are Reconstructionists, some secular, some are atheists. Some hate all religion. And the Reform movement has not (yet) endorsed Beinart's binational state or followed Jewish Voice for Peace into the company of Haman and Amalek.

But it is the 800-pound gorilla of American Judaism, and its embrace of progressivism, with its component of intersectional support for the Palestinian Cause, that has legitimized anti-Zionism for all American Jews.

* I'm reminded of the early Jewish followers of Jesus, who found that they would have an easier time attracting former pagans to their group by dropping all that hard stuff.

Jewish Federations Friend Farrakhan Fan Who Told Jews to "Go **** Themselves"

By Daniel Greenfield - 22 Tammuz 5780 – July 14, 2020

Photo Credit: / Wikimedia Commons CC 4.0

Louis Farrakhan, Press Conference in Tehran, Iran - 13 February 2016.

{Reposted from the Sultan Knish blog"

It was powerful for me the way he spelled it out," Chelsea Handler said of Louis Farrakhan. "So whatever, you know, everybody can go f___ themselves."

Handler, a comedian pushing a new book, was responding to the backlash over her praise for the racist black supremacist leader on Instagram. The people complaining about her praise for the bigot were Jews. And the celebrity was telling critics, including Holocaust survivors, to go "f___ themselves."

Farrakhan had called Hitler a "great man", ranted about "Satanic Jews", and, more recently, claimed that Florida was suffering from the coronavirus because he had asked Allah to punish Cuban Jews.

In that same speech, he thanked Chelsea Handler for posting a clip of him on Instagram.

Handler decided to promote the antisemitic hate group leader to her 4 million followers as part of her newly woke brand which included a Netflix special, Hello, Privilege. It's Me, Chelsea, and her book, Life Will Be the Death of Me, from Penguin Random House. The theme of both the special and the book was Handler's journey from self-absorption to wokeness by ranting about how horrible white people are.

Farrakhan had been ranting about how horrible white people are since Chelsea was in kindergarten.

"I learned a lot from watching this powerful video," Handler had told her followers

The obnoxious celebrity was well aware of Farrakhan's antisemitism, and defended him, arguing that, "perhaps Farrakhan's anti-Semitic views took form during his own oppression."

While some celebrities have been cancelled for the smallest of missteps, there was no apparent sign that Penguin Random House or HBO Max, which will be airing a new standup special by Handler, were ending their relationship with the hateful celebrity. But perhaps something was happening behind the scenes because after telling Jews to "go f__ themselves", she finally apologized and deleted the video.

The apology was stiff and unconvincing, but it was enough for her book tour to go forward, not just at Penguin Random House, owned by Bertelsmann, the massive German media giant whose owner had donated to the SS, put out exciting fare such as, "The Christmas Book of the Hitler Youth", and benefited from Jewish slave labor during the Holocaust, but at Jewish federations around America.

After Handler touted an antisemitic bigot and told Jews who didn't like it to "go f___ themselves", the Miami Jewish Federation is touting a Zoom evening with Chelsea Handler to sell her new book.

The 39th Annual Berrin Family Jewish Book Festival features Chelsea and her book, courtesy of the Alper JCC in Miami, and the JCCs of Atlanta, Boulder, Dallas, Ft. Lauderdale, Indianapolis, Nashville, Memphis, and St. Louis, who have all taken Chelsea's advice and are "f____" themselves and their communities.

No word on whether they're also willing to help sell "The Christmas Book of the Hitler Youth".

Why exactly does Handler, who is descended from a German mother and Jewish father, whose grandfather was a Nazi soldier, and who once had her sidekick dress up as Hitler to celebrate Germany's World Cup victory, and then touted a bigot who admires Hitler, belong at a family Jewish book festival?

The answer is that the Jewish federations of nine major cities are telling Jews to "f___" themselves.

It's not just that politically correct antisemitism leads to very little in the way of a response from mainstream society, or even from the organizations that claim to represent local Jewish communities, but those same organizations actually help mainstream and reward the promoters of antisemitism.

Chelsea Handler knows perfectly well that she can promote Farrakhan or mock the Holocaust, and local Jewish federations will still eagerly line up to help her sell her books and make her even richer.

The Alper JCC claims that its mission is "providing programs and services that are rooted in and promote Jewish values, ethics and traditions". The Aaron Family JCC in Dallas claims that it wants an "environment defined by Jewish values and culture". The Marcus JCC in Atlanta claims that it's dedicated to "strengthening Jewish life" and creating "Jewish moments".

Which Jewish values does Chelsea Handler represent besides a suicidal embrace of leftist politics?

The only references to Jewishness in Life Will Be the Death of Me are negative or derogatory, and revolve around her Jewish father's response to the death of her brother. Even without the Farrakhan, Hitler, and Holocaust stuff, Handler would be the last person to be associated with Jewish values.

But so are the Jewish federations and JCCs that made the hateful decision to help her sell books.

The unwillingness of organizations with lots of J's and little Jewishness in them to take even the most basic of stands by cancelling an event with the granddaughter of a Nazi soldier who defended antisemitism and told Jews to "go f___ themselves" isn't cowardice: it's disinterest and contempt.

They don't care.

They didn't care during the Holocaust when millions of Jews were being killed. They didn't care when Islamic armies and terrorists spent generations trying to wipe out the Jews of Israel. They don't care about the big stuff, let alone the little stuff, like their celeb promoting a bigot who called Jews termites.

The vast infrastructure of the Jewish federations and the JCCs, the campus Hillels and the alphabet soup of national organizations, is a rotted mass of deadwood built long ago by people who at least had some distant sense that being Jewish mattered in some way. Built by German Jews, funded by deceased Jewish philanthropists, many of whom survived the Holocaust, they're now just a sinecure for full-time professional non-profit fundraisers with their "inspiring" clergy and their incubators for leftist activists.

They exist to cadge money from elderly Jews who think that funding a building or a book festival with their name on it at the local JCC will be a meaningful legacy, instead of a forum for a Farrakhan supporter, by filling their fundraising letters with mentions of Jewish values, ethics, meaning, and other things they can't define and don't believe in. What do they believe in? As little as Chelsea Handler does.

They believe that Black Lives Matter, that the planet is in danger, that whatever Israel did last week was wrong, and whatever else their intellectual cohort of social media lefties happens to believe this week.

They're as ignorant of what the Torah says as of the contours of the Martian mountains, but like the bigot they're eagerly hosting, they know how to jump on the bandwagon of the cultural moment. The problem with actual Jewish values is that they are as eternal as their Creator and don't fit into trends.

The cultural moment and its politics are momentary, filled with obvious contradictions when you try to apply them beyond the hashtags and the memes of the now. Jewish ethics and values might ask why antisemitism is acceptable, when racism isn't, but the cultural moment has no use for consistency.

To be eternally in the moment is to have neither values nor ethics, Jewish or otherwise, and no future.

The vast billion-dollar infrastructure of organizations that are Jewish in name only are as happy to put their membership lists at the disposal of Chelsea Handler and Bertelsmann, as of Black Lives Matter. They stand for nothing, except for whatever members of their cohort are standing for now, and they make no impact on the Jewish community, and have no future once the donors and the money run out.

Chelsea Handler, like many of the celebs these organizations promote, represents them all too well.

There are no children, no values, and no future, but right now the drinks are flowing and the money is coming in as long as you spew whatever garbage is in the cultural moment without thinking about it.

Chelsea Handler's book is titled, Life Will Be the Death of Me. The Jewish view of life is that of a gateway to eternity. That's why the Talmud comments on Ecclesiastes 9:5 by saying that good people are considered living even when dead, while evil people are deemed dead even while they're still alive.

Life and death don't exist in the present moment. It's not the now that matters, but the future eternity.

There are a great many organizations with the 'J' in them that are already dead because they chose to exist in the political moment without caring about the Jewish past or the Jewish future.

Featuring Chelsea Handler is their way of telling their donors and members to, "go f___ themselves".

How Jews Beat the Heat

Jul 18, 2020 | by David Kilimnick

How Jews Beat the Heat

Whatever you do, don't go for a picnic. Jews don't picnic.

It is a hot summer out there and I am here to help.

My whole life, as an American Jew, I have tried to figure out ways to stay out of the sun. Then, I moved to Israel and realized that I made my problem worse.

I am not a climatologist but from what I have read, for the foreseeable future, there will be summers. Thus, I traveled back to America to study the Jewish community's techniques for staying out of the sun. And now, as a pale Ashkenazi Jew, I bring you my findings.

The Baseball Hat Technique

Used by Jews to ward off anti-Semites, this kippah decoy also serves as a sun protection device. Truth be told, a baseball hat is a basically a yarmulke with a visor.

According to many, Hank Greenberg is the greatest Jewish hitter of all time. Who's to say Hank Aaron is not Jewish? This has nothing to do with our topic of the summer but it makes Jews feel good when we find out famous people are Jewish.

Huge Umbrellas Placement

Go to the beach and find shade. Almost impossible. This is why you need to find a huge umbrella. This way you can be at the beach and not have to experience the beach. It's the best of both worlds.

During the summer we use gigantic umbrellas, but in the fall it's back to small umbrellas. Don't make the same mistake I made by using a huge umbrella in the fall. The wind picked me up and carried me a few blocks until I cried out "shema yisrael" and I was miraculously dropped in my backyard.

Wide Brimmed Fedora

You want to wear a funky hat so you can look like Justin Timberlake at the beach? Sunburn. You want to look like your rabbi with a big black Borsalino fedora at the beach? No sunburn. It's as simple as that.

Wear a Mask

This is a new method I have seen Jews using the past few months, covering their mouth. This of course will protect your mouth from getting a sunburn. It's kind of like a ski mask, but without the North Face emblem. By the way, recently I learned that it's an American Jewish tradition to have all winter clothes with the North Face emblem.

Don't Picnic

I have never in my life witnessed a Jewish family out for a picnic. This is because picnicking is the easiest way to get a sunburn. You might as well hold the grill to your face. Jews wait to eat until we find the pizza shop; there is no sun in there.

The Don't Picnic technique might have developed because we like eating off tables, and not on bed sheets. Also, we Jews like chairs detached from tables, not attached to a bench. We need room when we sit. The foot hole to get your body into the picnic bench takes too much stretching and agility, and my family just doesn't have it.

Sunscreen Administration by Mothers

Sunscreen must be placed by mothers in enormous quantities. A good Jewish mother ensures that the white cream is visible everywhere on the body. Including under the hat. If your child looks like Casper the Friendly Ghost, the application has been a success.

Winter Clothes

I have seen many of my fellow Jews insist on wearing winter clothes during the summer. It's like natural sunscreen. You also look better in winter clothes. At least I do. Also, with a sweater you take off more weight in the sun by sweating. Another Jewish benefit – by wearing winter clothes in the summer you save money on having only one wardrobe.


Good Jews don't wear sunglasses. We squint.

Go Out at Night

Do everything during the evening and squint; the street lights can have a sunlike affect.

Stay up all night and pray at sunrise. Then go to sleep. It's like a European siesta but all day long, and let's face it, we Jews need the rest.

Summer Home Purchase

Our homes in the city don't provide enough shade. For this reason, many go to The Mountains and build a home. This is a little more expensive than the hat methods, but it does keep the sun out of the eyes. Three hundred thousand dollars to get yourself out of the sun for a month seems like a wise investment. Or you could just buy sunscreen.

Live in North America

This is a great way to stay out of the sun during the winter. This works well for Ashkenazi Jew until they reach seventy. Then they want sun all the time. That is when they move to Florida for the winter. Or if they are smart, Israel. Celebrating seasons in the wrong time, when your neighbors can't, gives you something to feel good about. When you reach seventy, you need people to look down on.

There's a famous story of the Jewish boy who goes to the beach with his parents and his mother yells, "Don't go in the water, it's cold, you'll catch pneumonia… Don't play in the sand, it will get in your eyes… Don't look at the sun, you'll squint." She then turns to a stranger, "What a nervous child." It is thanks to great Jewish parents like these that we can go through the summer and never have to experience the heat.

Ukraine to let in at least 5,000 Uman pilgrims for Rosh Hashanah, chief rabbi says

JULY 31, 2020 10:45 AM

Pilgrims to Uman celebrating at the grave of Rebbe Nachman, Sept. 7, 2013. (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)

(JTA) — The Ukrainian government has agreed to let at least 5,000 people attend the annual Rosh Hashanah pilgrimage in the city of Uman, Ukrainian Chief Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich said.

The quota may rise as high as 8,000, but the pilgrims will have to wear face masks in crowded places and refrain from gatherings of more than 30 people.

In previous years, about 30,000 pilgrims, mostly from Israel, have gathered for the Jewish new year in Uman, home to the burial place of Rabbi Nachman, an 18th-century luminary and founder of the Breslov Hasidic movement.

Testing for the virus at airports and mandatory installation of software on cellphones are also being considered to help keep the pilgrims safe, Bleich said. "But basically, the Ukrainian government is not putting a stop to it," he said.

Israeli health officials are "nervous" about what will happen when the pilgrims return, Bleich said.

Rosh Hashanah this year begins in the evening of Sept. 18.


See you Tomorrow, bli neder

We need Moshiach now

Love Yehuda Lave

Yehuda Lave, Spirtiual Advisor and Counselor

Jerusalem, Jerusalem

facebook twitter instagram

You received this email because you signed up on our website or made a purchase from us.