Rabbis weigh in: How should we respond to Bernie Madoff’s death? and What's My Line? - Jackie Gleason (Mar 8, 1953) and Thousands of Arriving Passengers Line Up for COVID-19 Tests at BGI AirportBy Hana Levi Julian and These Three Loopholes at Israel’s Airport Let Delta Variant Spread and Compromise Reached on Evyatar: Residents Leave, New Hesder Yeshiva Established By David Israel -and Shalom Pollock trip under the stars to see the stars on July 7 (next Wednesday)
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.
-"Adventures in Star Gazing", the night sky of Machtesh Ramon, nature's own planetarium.
On this tour, we welcome you to nature's own planetarium, the only Dark Sky Preserve in the Middle East, Machtesh Ramon, the Ramon Crater.
Join the Starman of Mitzpe Ramon ™ as he takes you on a guided tour of the heavens as you have never seen it before. From the dark skies of Machtesh Ramon, we will show you how to find constellations, identify bright stars, and experience the sky's wonders with our telescopes. See the star clouds of the Milky Way, observe planets, and discover celestial marvels. Recommended for ages 6 and up.
Date: July 7 Cost: 320 Meeting location: Inbal hotel 2:00 THIS IS A NEW TIME Return after midnight Bring a sweater and something to appease your bellies. We will also visit Tel Lachish and Moshav Lachish where we will see an amazing cactus garden. -------------------------- July 20 - a day in the Galil - Golan
Thousands of Arriving Passengers Line Up for COVID-19 Tests at BGI Airport
Thousands of travelers lined up for COVID-19 tests Monday at Ben Gurion International Airport after several planes landed at the airport simultaneously.
Yossi Fattal, president in the Inbound Tourism Bureau, told Israel's Kan Newspublic broadcaster, "The responsibility for everything that happens at Ben Gurion Airport must be transferred to the management of Ben Gurion Airport.
"They know better than any official in the Health Ministry how to management the movement well," he said.
Interior Minister and Yamina party co-chair Ayelet Shaked on Sunday proposed imposing a significant fine on Israeli travelers who return from overseas and violate their quarantine.
Under the plan, Israelis returning from abroad who fail to comply with a quarantine mandate would not have been allowed to leave Israel for an entire year — in addition to the current fine of NIS 5,000 imposed by the government on those who violate quarantine.
However, Shaked's plan was rejected during a meeting of the Coronavirus Cabinet on Sunday night.
According to the approved outline, Evyatar's residents will leave the place by the end of the week, all the homes will remain intact, and the defense ministry will establish a base for an IDF company on the grounds immediately.
Then, on Rosh Chodesh Elul, in about six weeks, a new Hesder yeshiva will be established on the site, which will employ some of the residents and provide housing to the students.
A Hesder yeshiva program combines advanced Talmudic studies with military service in the IDF, usually within a Religious Zionist framework.
Meanwhile, a directive will be issued to the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories to complete a land survey of the area within six months, and the land that will be cleared by the survey will be declared state land, on which a settlement will be established in coordination with the prime minister, the defense minister, the head of the Samaria regional council, and the Nahala movement.
The head of Nahala is Daniela Weiss, possibly the most authoritative voice within the settler movement, and if she is part of the plan, it is an expression of approval on the right for the Bennett government's move.
Alas, Otzma Yehudit chairman MK Itamar Ben-Gvir did not have it in him to congratulate Bennett and Shaked on their peaceful, not to say bloodless solution, so he responded like a life-long member of the opposition who lives in a world where the government can do no right: "Sure, they promise to examine the status of the land," Ben-Gvir reacted, "but the nature of the promises made by Bennett's cabinet members is well known, so how will we know this time whether it is a core promise or not? In any case, this is outline ludicrous, seeing as the Israeli government regulates thousands of Bedouin homes in the Negev, there's no reason why they shouldn't regulate the settlement of Evyatar."
Here is a proposal: If the Hesder yeshiva is established in Evyatar come Rosh Chodesh Elul, it might be nice to invite MK Ben-Gvir to give a shiur there on hakaras hatov-gratitude.
Ben-Gvir's colleague in the Religious Zionism faction MK Orit Strook was more magnanimous when she tweeted: "Congratulations to Ministers Shaked and Gantz who endeavored together to galvanize this agreement, and I call on the government not to succumb to pressure from coalition members on the left, and not cancel in any way the agreement with the settlers, which is the minimum required."
So, still no congratulations to Bennett, but at least some show of appreciation.
Yossi Dagan, head of the Samaria Regional Council, pointed out the outline includes both a military presence and a horizon for settlement, making it a strategic outline. Establishing settlements in the Land of Israel and the Samaria settlements at the heart of the state is a difficult national mission. The Land of Israel is paid for with pain, and neither side here has defeated the other. In the end, our main mission is to build the Land of Israel and maintain unity among the people of Israel with love for Israel."
According to Channel 12 News, the defense establishment estimated that the evacuation of the outpost would have cost at least NIS 10 million (roughly $3 million). That's due to the extent of the massive construction on the site and the need to evacuate at least 50 permanent buildings and dozens of families. The operation would have required paving access roads, recruiting heavy engineering equipment, and providing heavy security – an estimated 2,000 police, Border Guard officers, and IDF soldiers.
The assessment above was brought up at a preparatory meeting for the evacuation at the beginning of last week. The agreement on the outline brings closure to the Bennett-Lapid government's first major success. Incidentally, the outpost was supposed to be vacated under the Netanyahu government – but Bibi would be Bibi, and he kicked that can full of hot potatoes down the street to his successor.
Well, at this point it's advantage Bennett, assuming he keeps his word
On Wednesday, Bernie Madoff, made infamous by an enormous Ponzi scheme that caused devastation throughout the Jewish world, died in a federal prison at age 82.
While Jewish tradition puts serious emphasis on honoring the deceased, the death of someone like Madoff, who caused tremendous pain within the Jewish community, is an emotionally fraught challenge to that principle. We asked a group of rabbis to share their thoughts on how the Jewish community ought to reflect on Madoff's death. These are their responses.
Rabbi Shlomo Zuckier, McGill University
Upon seeing the news of Bernie Madoff's passing, one verse came immediately to mind (Yirmiyahu 17:11): "As a partridge hatches eggs she didn't lay, thus he who gains wealth by injustice; it shall leave him in the middle of his days, and his end will be shameful."
Madoff caused unspeakable suffering to so many, decimating people's life savings, leaving the elderly in poverty and crippling Jewish and other institutions.
That he persisted in this ultimate con job for decades, ruthlessly cultivating more and more victims, is horrific. That he exploited communal trust, utilizing his ill-gotten wealth to burnish his public image within the Jewish community, and using his position in turn to harm even more people, is unspeakable.
I think it is normally not proper to criticize public figures right when they pass, but Madoff's betrayal was so heinous that he qualifies for an exception.
He has already been judged by public opinion and in the courtroom. Now God will judge him.
Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, National Council of Jewish Women
We don't know if Bernie Madoff began to do the work of teshuvah — repentance and accountability — or began to do the work of trying to comprehend the harm that he caused and truly understand the lives he ruined. We do know that he could never truly make amends to them all. I hope that those that he victimized were able to rebuild and heal, both materially and emotionally, as much as possible. Our obligations as a Jewish community remains, as always, to care for one another, most especially those who are most vulnerable or socially marginalized, and to move through the world with integrity and mentschkeit.
Rabbi Daniel Pernick, Beth Am Temple, Pearl River, N.Y.
A rabbinic teaching asks "who is truly wealthy?" The response: "those content with their lot."
The death of Bernie Madoff reminds us that happiness is based on our attitude, not our bank account. Madoff enjoyed unimaginable wealth and prestige, but it wasn't enough for him. He was willing to risk all of his relationships and his possessions in the quest for more triumph and glory.
Bernie Madoff went from being a source of pride to the dictionary definition of a "shandeh" in the Jewish community. He reinforced negative stereotypes about Jews and money because he violated a foundational principle. As Hillel teaches in the Talmud "what is hateful to you, do not to any other person. That is the whole Torah…"
Madoff's actions caused enormous damage to his family, friends and associates. They bankrupted and disrupted charitable foundations, universities, sports teams and thousands of families.
And yet, Judaism teaches that we are all created in God's image. We can learn from both the saints and the sinners. Madoff reached the heights of the financial world, but he was felled by a weak moral and ethical foundation. By working to strengthen our spiritual core and avoiding the moral lapses of Madoff and others, we can transform their lives into a source of blessing.
Rabbi Benjamin Blech, Yeshiva University
When Simon Wiesenthal was in a concentration camp during World War II, a Nazi on his deathbed had Wiesenthal brought into his hospital room to act as his confessor. The Nazi, Karl, told Wiesenthal of the atrocities he committed against the Jews and asked for his forgiveness. Wiesenthal refused.
Not because of lack of compassion. Not because he chose to ignore the ideal of divine mercy or of granting "understanding" to a human sinner.
Wiesenthal understood a greater truth. It was not his right to forgive on behalf of the 6 million victims. The Talmud tells us that the Hebrew word domim has two meanings: money and blood. What Bernie Madoff did was not merely a financial crime; it literally destroyed lives and was a form of murder.
How dare people today, in the aftermath of the death of the architect of the biggest Ponzi scheme of all time, take it upon themselves to suggest that we ought to find it within our hearts not to speak ill of the dead, and to demonstrate "a divine sense of morality" by way of compassionate forgiveness?
Bernie Madoff's death in no way absolves him of his unconscionable acts of evil. For those gratefully not his victims, it is nothing less than unwarranted and misplaced compassion to express any sign of mourning for a man who to the very end never showed true contrition for his damnable legacy of evil.
Rabbi Shmuel Hain, YIOZ of North Riverdale/Yonkers and Daniel Jeremy Silver Fellow, Harvard University
When I heard about the death of Bernard Madoff, my mind went straight to Maimonides and his introductory comment to the "Laws Concerning Mourning." Maimonides explains his strange placement of these laws within the "Book of Judges" — a tract that deals with the structuring of society's central institutions — by stating he placed the laws there because "one does not mourn for those who have been put to death by order of the Court."
How does this seemingly technical link justify this placement?
For Maimonides, mourning is first and foremost a statement about the status and honor of the deceased, not a means for restoring the mourner's spirit. Through mourning, society expresses its regard for the deceased. Mourning, then, is a mechanism for constructing the basic social order, signifying the full membership of a person in the Jewish community.
That is why the prohibition on mourning an executed criminal is not a marginal detail that just happens to link these laws to the overall subject of the "Book of Judges." If mourning is primarily a means for recognizing the standing of the deceased, certain egregious sinners are not worthy of the recognition expressed through the mourning rituals.
I hope that Madoff's victims and loved ones overcome his passing in a healthy fashion. I also hope that it is clear that he is not to be mourned as a member of the Jewish community in good standing.
Rabbi Ben Greenfield, Greenpoint Shul
Should we rejoice at the downfall of the wicked? Depends: are you an angel or are you a victim?
The Talmud describes how, at the Splitting of the Sea, the Ministering Angels wished to sing in celebration before God. But the Holy One said to them, My handiwork — meaning the Egyptians — are drowning in the sea, and you would dare sing?!
This episode is frequently invoked to discourage gloating at our enemies' downfall. Suffering, even when "they deserve to suffer," is still tragic. God, if you will, does not sing at such moments.
But this Talmudic passage also contains a counter-teaching. Sure, God tells the angels not to sing, but God does not prevent the Jewish people bursting into song! Moshe, Miriam, and the entire people sing a rather elaborate Song at the Sea, with no Divine censure. Unlike the angels, the Israelites actually suffered under Pharoah's hand; it was their children who were drowned in the Nile. To invoke a grim example: must we expect a survivor of Dachau to feel emotionally neutral at the execution of those who imprisoned him?
Madoff and Pharoah are our people's two greatest pyramid schemers. Victims of their cruel plots deserve justice, and are fully in their right to cheer at the gift of that justice. But the Holy One Itself, is not singing. And in most cases, neither should we.
These Three Loopholes at Israel's Airport Let Delta Variant Spread
Lax enforcement, delayed COVID tests, electronic bracelets languishing in warehouses: Israel talks tough on unauthorized travel to high-risk countries, but the flights keep coming in
Almost a year and a half after the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the Israeli government has decided the time has come to appoint a supervisor for the main entrance to Israel – Ben-Gurion International Airport, which has turned out to be the country's Achilles' Heel.
At the outset of Sunday's cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced the appointment of Ronny Numa, the retired general who was the project manager for dealing with the coronavirus outbreak in the Haredi community, as the new COVID commissioner for Ben-Gurion Airport.
Bennett's decision came a week after the coronavirus testing system for arriving passengers broke down, letting hundreds of people into Israel untested. At the same time, the number of confirmed cases of COVID is rising by the day, and some of them have been found to have the delta variant of the virus, previously known as the Indian variant.
These are the three issues Numa will have to face on his first day on the job:
Israelis flouting travel ban on "red" countries
At the beginning of May, the previous government approved Health Ministry regulations banning travel by Israelis to a number of countries with especially high rates of coronavirus infection. So far, the government hasn't imposed any sanctions or enforced the rules against those who violated them.
to the regulations, an Israeli citizen may travel to one of the
countries on the "red" list only if they live there permanently, or if
they have approval from the exceptions committee of the Population and
Immigration Authority in the Interior Ministry. In the request for
approval from the committee, a person must note the reason for the trip
to the banned country – for example, for a humanitarian or life-saving
reason. But it is also possible to mark: "Other" and provide an
explanation and supporting documents for the request.
It seems the committee is only for show. On the list of countries today are Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, India, Mexico and Russia. There are no direct flights to most of these countries, so to reach them Israelis need to change planes in a third country, which is not on the "red" list, providing a loophole. The loophole works on the return, too: An Israeli can spend weeks in one of the banned countries, and when they return they can take a connecting flight through a third country and arrive in Israel without having to go into isolation.
But even for the countries Israelis can fly to directly, such as Russia, it seems there is no enforcement – and anyone can fly there without any scrutiny.
Data provided by the Population and Immigration Authority show that since the cabinet added Russia to the list of forbidden destinations on June 1, and through June 24, the exceptions committee has turned down 2,200 requests by Israelis to enter Russia – and approved only 557 requests.
Russia is also a connection destination for other countries, but even
if we take this into account, it is clear that not all of these
passengers continued on. Another indication of the persistent travel to
Russia is the two-to-three daily El Al and Aeroflot flights to Russia
and back. If the demand wasn't there, they would quickly be taken off
the schedule.- Advertisment -
The Health Ministry said: "If citizens travel to these countries through a connecting flight, this is of course an improper and illegal action that endangers them, their family and their community. Every one of us has personal responsibility. In addition, the issue of enforcement is in the hands of the Israel Police."
In response to a question from Haaretz concerning enforcing the regulations, the Population and Immigration Authority admitted that "there is no way to know where people are going to and from where they are coming." Most of the passengers passing through Ben-Gurion go through the border control points without any interaction with an inspector, as everything is done digitally.
Isolation orders delayed by bottleneck in airport testing
Passengers who are fully vaccinated and return from overseas are required to take a coronavirus test less than 72 hours before their flight and an additional test at the airport on landing. While unvaccinated arriving passengers who land in Israel are required to leave the airport directly into isolation, vaccinated passengers have no such restriction.
people are required to enter isolation only if the test they took at
the airport comes out positive. Until then, a long time can pass, often
more than 24 hours – during which they can spread the virus.
When the Omega company ran the coronavirus testing compound at the airport for incoming passengers, the system worked smoothly, and most people received their results within eight hours. In a highly criticized move, the Health Ministry decided to end its contract with Omega and two weeks ago brought in a new company, Femi Premium, to do the testing.
Omega used a lab it set up at the airport for its testing, because it understood that speedy results were critical. But things changed with the switch to Femi. Today, passengers sometimes receive their results only after 36 hours.
Unlike Omega, Femi doesn't have its own labs but uses the services of three labs approved by the Health Ministry. Two of these labs are located in the south in Be'er Sheva and Omer. In order to make money off its investment, Femi has to wait until enough coolers with enough test tubes are ready to send off for testing – and even then, the trip takes a long time, especially at rush hour.
From May 1 through June 16, 139 travelers who had been vaccinated entered Israel and tested positive for COVID at the airport. If the test results take days, another solution will need to be found to prevent vaccinated passengers from moving around freely before they're officially cleared.
No possibility of enforcing isolation without technological supervision
Arriving passengers who have not been vaccinated are required to enter isolation for two weeks immediately upon leaving the airport. Do they do it? According to police data concerning all the violations of isolation rules in the past two months, at least some of those who returned from overseas did not go into isolation. In May, the police issued 156 tickets for violating isolation requirements, while in April they issued 253 such fines – and another 5,880 warning tickets.
The new law on technological supervision of isolation was drafted months ago and was finally approved by the previous Knesset in March. The law gives the government the authority to require arriving passengers to wear an electronic monitor while they are in isolation; if they refuse, they will be sent to a hotel for a supervised isolation. Even though the law was passed by the Knesset, the cabinet hasn't yet moved to implement it. That is why for over three months after the bill was passed into law, people required to enter isolation do not wear the electronic monitors. For now, the enforcement relies on surprise visits by the police and inspectors.
About 10,000 electronic bracelets are waiting in the warehouse of SuperCom, the company that won the competitive bidding tender to supply the monitoring – and they are ready for immediate use. In addition, the company said it is able to manufacture another 1,000 new electronic bracelets a day, if needed. Now all that is left to do is implement the law in practice.