The War on the Israeli Home Front- by Yossi Klein Halevi

This piece by YOSSI KLEIN HALEVI appeared in today’s Wall Street Journal and is worth the read…

Nov. 18, 2014 7:03 p.m. ET
On the morning of Feb. 25, 1994, the Jewish holiday of Purim, Baruch Goldstein, a far-right activist living in the West Bank town of Kiryat Arba, entered the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and gunned down 29 Muslim men at prayer.

The horror within Israeli society was overwhelming and unequivocal. Speaking from the Knesset podium, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin excommunicated Goldstein from the people of Israel. The country’s two chief rabbis denounced the attack as a desecration of God’s name, the ultimate Jewish sin. The official publication of the West Bank settlement movement, Nekudah, denounced Goldstein, a settler, as a stain on its camp. Only a radical fringe sought to justify and explain the massacre as a response to Palestinian provocations.

Tuesday’s massacre by two Palestinian …

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Horror In Jerusalem

The news to which many of us awoke was nothing short of horrifying. Jews who came to the synagogue to worship in Jerusalem were murdered in cold blood as they prayed. All four men were killed simply because they were Jews.

Ours is a tradition that teaches the value of each and every life. Because of that, each death- particularly of an innocent person- is tragic. When the innocent murdered are members of our extended Jewish family, it becomes personal.

Our tradition teaches, “all members of the community of Israel are responsible for one another.” No matter how we may differ in our political views or religious observance, we are connected. And when one of us suffers, we all suffer. Today we all suffer. Today we all grieve.

Let us be clear. This was cold-blooded murder. It was not a crime perpetrated by crazed killers, but was an intentional act …

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Yom Kippur Morning Sermon – 5775

Yom Kippur AM 214 – 5775

This past July it was reported that ISIS had destroyed the Tomb of Jonah in Iraq. My surprise was not around the fact that ISIS would destroy a holy place… after all, one cannot expect a group that beheads people to respect sacred space. No, I was surprised because I didn’t even know there WAS a Tomb of Jonah. And I was only learning about it after it was gone.

Thanks to an online search and some study, I received a bit of an education. I learned that within present-day Mosul is the ancient Assyrian capital of Nineveh, where the Prophet Jonah preached.

This prompted me to go back and reread the Book of Jonah.

For those of you who do not recall the story:

God tells the prophet Jonah to go to the city of Ninevah and warn the people there that they …

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Yom Kippur Morning Sermon – 5775

This past July it was reported that ISIS had destroyed the Tomb of Jonah in Iraq. My surprise was not around the fact that ISIS would destroy a holy place… after all, one cannot expect a group that beheads people to respect sacred space. No, I was surprised because I didn’t even know there WAS a Tomb of Jonah. And I was only learning about it after it was gone.

Thanks to an online search and some study, I received a bit of an education. I learned that within present-day Mosul is the ancient Assyrian capital of Nineveh, where the Prophet Jonah preached.

This prompted me to go back and reread the Book of Jonah.

For those of you who do not recall the story:

God tells the prophet Jonah to go to the city of Ninevah and warn the people there that they need to change their evil ways …

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Rosh Hashannah Morning Sermon 2014 / 5775

“How I spent my summer vacation” By Daniel Cohen

That’s the title of this sermon.

Now, I don’t typically give my sermons titles, but this morning’s sermon is far from typical. It is, in fact, different from any sermon I have previously given here at TSTI.

As many of you know, I had the opportunity to spend part of July in Israel as a participant and co-leader of the very first rabbinic mission for progressive rabbis sponsored by AIPAC’S educational foundation. There were twenty of us on the trip, with Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox rabbis represented. The goal of the mission was to give us — all committed Zionists in our own right — a broader understanding of and appreciation for Israel’s complexities and challenges.

We arrived in Israel on Tuesday afternoon, claimed our luggage, got on the bus, and headed toward Jerusalem. As we left the airport, our tour …

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Erev Rosh Hashannah Sermon 2014 / 5775

When visionaries wanted to resurrect the Hebrew language after 2000 years, they faced a significant challenge. Taking a language that had only been used for study and prayer and trying to bring it back to life was no small task. So much had changed, and there were no words for many of the things that were now part of daily existence. For example… what should they call a train? How should they refer to ice cream? or a bicycle? or an omelet? or jelly?  None of these were items that had existed in Biblical or Rabbinic times.

As Eliezer ben Yehuda, one of the men responsible for the rebirth of the Hebrew language and perhaps the first person to speak Hebrew at home in almost 2000 years, wrote,

“If a language which has stopped being spoken… can return and be the spoken tongue of an individual for all necessities of …

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Sorry, Jon Stewart, there are opinions, and there are facts

Screenshot 2014-08-19 16.24.42

 

Jon Stewart had a rather amusing bit on his program last night. Each time he would mention the word “Israel” all of the “correspondents” on his show would pop up and begin yelling at him. When the yelling calmed down all but one of the commentators disappeared. After a pregnant pause the man looked at Stewart, scowled and, with disgust said “a self-hating Jew.” Then he too disappeared.

“Look,” Stewart opined after the bit had run its course, “obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”

I could not agree more.

At the same time, while there are indeed, “many strong opinions,” not all opinions are equally valid. And while I know it is not politically correct to say so, some opinions …

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As sirens sound, NJ visitors share resilient Israel’s anxiety

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July 16, 2014
Visiting Israel on a national Jewish federations mission, Maxine Murnick said she was disappointed when her group was discouraged from visiting Ofakim, in Israel’s beleaguered South.

“Can you imagine if somebody advised you against going to Millburn or Morris Plains?” she asked.

New Jersey residents visiting Israel during its current clash with Hamas got a close look at what it means to be in Israel when Hamas missiles pour in from Gaza, as air raid sirens sound frequently, and dashes to missile shelters interrupt the mundane activities of daily life.

 

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Murnick, campaign chair for the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, said the overwhelming impression she was left with was “the resiliency of the Israeli people, which is just something to behold.”

 

Murnick was one of several local leaders — including federation president Leslie Dannin Rosenthal and assistant executive vice president Jeffrey Korbman …

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