Ian Silverman, Rabbi

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 The Dreidel and Chanukah

According to Rabbi David Golinkin, the dreidel, or sevivon, is the most strongly linked symbol, next to the Chanukah lamp, for Jews at Chanukah. Apparently the dreidel is not an indigenous custom, but one that is modeled after other cultures. In 16th century England, Ireland and in central Europe, there were games called Totem, which also had spinning tops with gambling directions. T is Take All, H is Half, P is Put Down, and N is Nothing. How very ironic that a holiday with a message to hold tenaciously to one's laws and customs has as one of its main symbols one derived through imitation!

But this does not stop our rabbis from attributing other meanings to dreidels, after the fact. Some claim that the letters nun, gimmel, hey and shin stem from the miracle of Chanukah shortly after declaring Nes gadol Haya poh, or in the diaspora, Nes gadol Haya Sham–A great miracle happened here/there. The game of dreidel, it is claimed, was begun for the purpose of concealing Torah study, which Antiochus prohibited, and that the letters equal the numeric equivalent of 358, which is also the value of the word meshiah. Chanukah begins a time of messianic redemption. 

Finally, some claim the letters represent the kingdoms that Jews have “spun circles around” and vanquished. Nun, gimmel, hey and shin remind us N, Nebuchadnetzar=Babylon; H, Haman=Persia=Madai; G, Gog=Greece; and S, Seir=Rome.

But the following is the take-away that I like best. The dreidel is a representation of what we mean by the middle Chanukah candle-lighting blessing. Praise and bless God, who has given us miracles in those days and in this time. “This time” refers not to our era, but rather “human time” real time. the whole story of Chanukah is that the miracle is driven from below by the Maccabees in real time. The centripedal force of the spin is driven not by the little handle above, but rather the body below. Similarly, it was the assumption of actions below that drove the victory and the success over the Greeks. The weighty actions and decisions we make in our life, in our time, are what allows miracles to happen. “Actions below lead to stirring above,” say our sages. That is what the letters of the body of the dreidel are telling us.

May all of us enjoy Chanukah and our dreidels. And may they inspire us to weighty actions and decisions that drive our reality. And let us say, Amen.

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KEEP CURRENT WITH THE LATEST NEWS IN ISRAELI ADVOCACY, THE DAILY ALERT HERE.

An Israeli company has developed a means to evaluate the freshness of foods. Read about it HERE.

Israeli startup Zebra Medical Vision, offers an online software that can provide a second opinion on CT scans by analyzing the information and producing a medical report within 90% accuracy. Read about it HERE.

Film recommendation: Mekonen, the story of an Ethiopian Jew who makes peace with an emotional past and embraces his future in Israel, becoming a decorated officer in the IDF while remaining true to his African roots and culture.

Did you know that the first victim of 9-11 was an Israeli Special Forces Veteran who rushed the cockpit of American Airlines Flight 11 to stop the hijackers, but was murdered in his attempt to stop these al-Queda terrorists. Watch a quick video, HERE. 

Read about a small guitar workshop in Jaffa, creating the finest instruments, HERE.

A PhD student at Hebrew University has won an award for developing a test to detect Parkinson's Disease. Read about it HERE.

Three years after publishing an anti-Israel letter in the medical journal, The Lancet, the editor admits he has deep regrets and has dedicated the latest issue to highlighting health care in Israel. Read about it HERE.

Read an article by Chris Coons and Marco Rubio from the Wall Street Journal, "Every Senator Agrees the UN Must Change," HERE.

Israel's medical clowns- they cheer up sick kids, reduce anxiety, decrease pain, and alleviate depression. They are Jews, Christian Arabs, and others. Watch a YouTube video about them HERE.

Learn about the connection of Jews with Israel, the decades-long quest of Israel for peace with it's neighbors, the failure of Palestinian leadership to turn conflict into coexistence, and the contrast between the fate of Palestinian and Jewish refugees from the Arab-Israel conflict, HERE. 

Women of the IDF video

 

Rabbi Silverman's Suggested Sites to See

Rashida Tlaib is poised to become the first Muslim woman in Congress. Read about it HERE.

Bishop Gale Harris, of the Episcopal Diocese of Massechusetts, provided a fabricated narrative describing a Palestinian teenager being shot in the back by an Israeli soldoer, in order to convince the House of Bishops to vote in favor of a resolution safeguarding the rights of Palestinian children, without condemning the PA or Hamas. Read about it HERE.

Urge your representative to support the US-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act, authorizing $500 million in cooperative missile defense frunding for programs like Iron Dome, HERE.

Robert F. Kennedy's assasin was Sirhan Sirhan, a Palestinian. Yet his nationality is never mentioned. Read why, HERE.

The Senate introduced a bill last week mandating sanctions against members of foreign terrorist organizations responsible for the use of human shields. Urge your senators to cosponsor this act and thank those who have already done so, HERE.

Here is what you haven’t yet heard in the news media about Ahed Tamimi the girl who Israelis refer to as “Shirley Temper”– she's a victim of her family’s manipulation. And how many Palestinian children are being cynically manipulated by their parents teachers and leaders in a society of incitement. Read about HERE.

Watch the video of former Muslim Anti-Semite, HERE.

Sign a petition to call on the the US to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, HERE.

Extreme Judaism in Israel threatens to undermine the support of Jews around the world. Read about the work of Orthodox rabbi Seth Farber, who advocates for more religious inclusionism, from the New York TimesHERE.

Write your congresspersons to defund Islamic relief because of its ties to radical Islam and terrorism. Read why, HERE.

The New York Times last week reported about an article by late prominent American rabbi Arther Hertzberg, that David Ben Gurion was in vavor that all captured territories be returned. However, Ben Gurion actually wanted to keep much of the territory. Read about it HERE.

Israel has successfully saved 800 "White Helmet" Syrian Aid workers trapped in the war zone at the request of world leaders. Read about it HERE.

One wonders why Methodist, Eposcopalians and United Church prelates and laity groups aren't boycotting and sanctioning the Egyptian government for discriminatory regulations against Christians. Please read HERE.

Shurat HaDin, the Isreal Law Center, has obtained a lien on ships sized by the Israeli Navy. The ships will be sold off and proceeds given to victims of terror. Read the article HERE.

Why are ecologists silent over the Hamas kite fires? The Molotov cocktails and firebombs that have been launched into Israel have set aflame thousands of acres of farmland, forests and nature preserves. In addition to the destruction to land and animals, financial loss and stress on locals, particulate matter may boost cancer, vison problems and respiratory illness. Where is PETA, Greenpeace and other environmental activists? Read about it HERE.

An immigrant owner of a kosher cafe in LA was targeted by a local anti-Trump group and his mebership revoked from the City of Commerce for his support of Donald Trump and his anti-immigrant views. This is an example of the breakdown of civility in our country and encourages extremism and the complete breakdown of American society. Read the story HERE.

The new Jewish Nation-State Law, passed in a vote by the Knesset Weds, July 18, HERE. And if you were wondering, there is a Palestine Basic Law as well, HERE. While Israel has come under filre from several sources for tis move, the provisions do not infringe on citizen rights for Israelis or Arabs, or create individual privileges, and there is nothing at all undemocratic about it. Read an article defending the law HERE.

Read a fine arguement as to the real stumbling block to peace, HERE.

A NJ mother has sued her school district because her son was forced to watch Islamic conversion videos. Read about it HERE.

The way to fight BDS is to fight fire with fire and make BDS the pariah that it seeks to make of Israel. Read Evelyn Gordon's article in the Jewish News Syndicate, HERE.

Read an insightful article on new efforts, funded by Sheldon Adelson, to tackle campus bias against Israel in a non-partisan and effective way, HERE.

Palestinian security savagely beat Palestinian women journalists in recent days, yet these incidents weren't made public on the international stage. This follows a pattern of instances demonstrating how the PA mistreats women, verbally and physically. When people argue for a 2-state solution, they should consider that "brutal, authoritarian and deeply misogynistic regime" that would be formed alongside Israel, says Stephen Flatow, in his Jewish News Syndicate article, HERE.

Should the Hatikva be sung at Israeli University graduation programs, when some of the graduates are Israeli Arabs? Daniel Gordis argues that it absolutely should. Read why in his blog HERE.

An open letter to NY Democratic Primary winner Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez HERE.

South Africa is downgrading their dipomatic presence in Israel. Sign a petition to call on South Africa to maintain its Israeli ties HERE.

Israelis came together at Sapir College near the Gaza border to find creative solutions for the weaponized kites and balloons from harming the environment and people. Watch the video HERE.

The Palestinian mother of five murderers of Israelis has been highly honored by PA officials and Chairman Abbas, endorsing her as a role model. She has been awarded with over $1M in payments from the Palestinian Authority. Read about it HERE.

Read more evidence of growing anti-Semitism in New York City's public school system, HERE.

Watch a video explaining why anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism, HERE.

A bipartisan group of 4 House members have introduced new legislation that holds Palestinians accountable if they use US funds for disseminating inciteful educational materials in West Bank and Gaza schools run by the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA. Read more HERE.

A group of Arab-Germans attacked a Jewish teen in Berlin who was listening to Israeli music, saying "Berlin in ours now..." Read about it HERE.

Weigh in on a proposed ruling to clarify federal law regulating bump stocks HERE.

The work of JIMENA (Jews Indigenous to the mIddle East and North Africa) is vital in reclaming ancient artifacts and religious objects. Learn of their work HERE.

Israel has a heart and fixes hearts, HERE.

The Orthodox Union (OU) honored Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week. Posing in a picture with the AG give the sense that as long as the OU's intersts are met, they are behind his policies; and the OU's educational values are undermined. Read the story HERE.

Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis told the UN that the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) keeps its citizens in refugee camps as ammunition to claim a status for "right of return," even though many have obtained citizenship elsewhere, they include descendants of refugees, and that prolonging a population's refugee status indefintely is unlawful. Read about it HERE.

The Deir Yassin Massacre, which purportedly took place on April 9, 1948 when Israeli troops attacked the Palestinian village and killed 107 people, is a myth which unfortunately has shaped attitudes toward Israel today. Read about it HERE.

Hear directly from Arab-Israelis about the quality of their lives i na free and domocaratic Israel–very enlightening! HERE and HERE.

The most vociferous anti-immigrant voices are products of chain migration from failing countries from past generations. Read about the great-grandfather of Stephen Miller HERE.

A Palestinian family has been paid by Hamas to claim a Gaza baby was killed by Israeli tear gas, causing world-wide condemnation of Israel, when she in fact died of a blood disease. Read about it HERE.

Anti-Semitism is becoming pervasive in Chile's small Jewish community, HERE.

The anti-Israel group IfNotNow plans to infiltrate Jewish summer camps to train campers and counselors about the "occupation." How do you take action? Read HERE.

The USCJ has signed a letter condmemning the US Zero-Tolerance on Immigration Policy, HERE.

Read a complicated but excellent treatment of the complexity of anti-Zionist harassment on the college campuses HERE.

An Algerian blogger, who interviewed the Israeli Foreign Ministry's spokesperson for Arab-speaking media, was convicted for purportedly working with the Mossad in gathering foreign intelligence. Read about it HERE.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has apologized for naming Muslim reformer Maajid Nawaz in a "Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists." Read about the report HERE.

Canada's Ontario premier-elect will take action to ban the anti-Israel rally that takes place in Toronto each year. Read about it HERE.

Read the blog of a young Israeli with comments of American Jews on Israel's actions against Gaza rioting HERE.

The group IfNotNow, which encourages fellow Jews to be sympathetic to the Palestinian plight, has been tolerated by the Conservative Movement, which seeks to provide a balance on Israeli and Palestinian "narratives." But USCJ has now issued a statement saying that it does not welcome anti-Zionist or anti-Israel rhetoric. Read about it HERE. Former Ramah campers and IfNotNow members tell a different story. Read about it HERE.

The General-Secretary of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) Supreme Council in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim organization, appeared at the American Jewish Committee's Global Fourm in Jerusalem and stressed that religious people should embrace compassion and caring for people. Read about his inspirational words HERE.

The media is ignoring the extensive damage to crops and livelihood caused by the mass arson "fire kites" by Palestinians. Read about it HERE. See the damage in photos HERE.

Campus students should go on the offensive, rather than defensively and cerebrally defending Israel against BDS promoters and resolutions. Read this important article HERE.

Learn about the anti-Semitic behavior of Columbia University's Muslim professor Hamid Da Bashi HERE. anti-Semitic Professor Hamid DaBashi from Columbia University HERESign the petition to condemn and remove him HERE.

In Amsterdam, a courageous Michael Jacobs Jewish activist takes on the BDS movement. Read about him HERE.

Far-right Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz visited the Western Wall, unique to European leaders. Read about his visit to Israel HERE.

Jeffrey Herf, of Middle East Forum, argues to accept that the awful, lying, Donald Trump, who is wrong about most everything, is right about the Iran deal. Read Herf's justification HERE.

 

South African radio and television personality Gareth Cliff has come out on the side of Israelis, saying they have a right to protect themselves and their borders from Palestinians "hellbent on violence." Read about it HERE.

A Kuwaiti Arab of Palestinian descent says "enough with the incitement and shackles of hate! The Jews are not our enemy and they don't hate us– they desire peace." Watch the video HERE.

Watch a video showing that the primary cause of Plaestinian flight on the cusp of the War of Independence was that the Arab and Fedahin troppos ordered that they leave, framing it as temporary until the armies could destroy the fledgling State of Israel. See it HERE.

Get a better understanding of the Israel-Palestinian conflict by understanding the history of the region from the time of the 6-Day War. Read the blog by Ed Harris of the Times of Israel, HERE.

The Trump Administration is putting financial pression on Iran to desist from supporting terroriasm, human rights abuses and destabilizing activities. Read about it HERE.

Students at a Gaza preschool performed a mock hostage-taking of an Israeli solder for their graduation cerelmony. Read about it HERE.

The loss of all human life is a tragedy, and Judaism teaches that it is wrong to celebrate and dance even at the death of enemies. It is also misguided to mourn and ennoble them. Jewish parents were thus outraged when children at a New York public school were instructed to observe a moment of silence for Palestinians killed at the Gaza border. Read about it HERE.

Hebrew Union's Commencement Speaker, author Michael Chabon, demonized Israelis. Read about it HERE.

What lessons can we take from Rosanne's firing by ABC. HERE.

Hamas has plunged the Gaza Strip into poverty and despair, corruption and violence. Bring Hamas to justice at the Hague by signing a petition HERE.

Deir Yassin is a myth which describes the murder of 254 people in a Palestinian village by Israelis in 1948. Professor Eliezer Tauber of Bar-Ilan University debunks the massacre that never really happened HERE.

Linda Sarsour was put in her place by an israeli mother who called out Sarsour's lies in this video.

Students for Justice in Palestine at Stony Brook University have accused their chaplain of betraying the Palestinian people for his support of the campus Hillel. In response to an information table set up for Israel's 70th Independence Day, pro-Palestinian students chanted and held up anti-Zionism signs. Read about it HERE.

Please sign a petition requesting Food & Wine Magazine to stop supporting terrorism and violence against Jews. The magazine recently named an Oakland California Arab bakery to their list of 2018 Restaurants of the Year, painting it as a place where Jews and Arabs can come together to enjoy a meal in peace. Yet the restaurant has a wall-sized mural of a terrorist who has been convicted of two Jerusalem bombings that have killed Hebrew University students. It is irresponsible for this bakery to be chosen by the magazine. Sign the petition HERE. 

Beware of "social justice" trips to Israel. Currently, a goup of self-proclaimed social-justice advocates are touring Israel and the West Bank, but they are made up of anti-Israel members that promote BDS and are involved with efforts to delegitimize Israel. Read about it HERE. 

Our friend from neighboring Cold Spring Harbor congregation Kehillat Shalom, Judy Davis, writes in her latest blog for The Times of Israel of the media's unasked questions about the Gaza riots, HERE.

A bipartisan group of US lawmakers will be introducing legislation to define anti-Semitism in the American education system, the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act. Read about it HERE.

Watch a film showing the contrast between the spin and reality of the Gaza riots HERE.

We are experiencing a challenging time of "overlooking" and "mainstreaming" anit-semitism, HERE.

On campuses across the world, anti-Israel groups cover up flyers/notices advertising Jewish for Israel information. Watch a video highlighting this practice at Columbia University, HERE.

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Nashville will be hosting the Southern Poverty Law Center's co-founder for a discussion on hate speech. While the SPLC claims it fights hatred, it ignores anti-Semitic expressions of radical Islamists. Read the article HERE.

Israel's Prime Minister wishes the Islamic world a meaningful and successful Ramadan. Let's look to a day when Arab leaders do the same for Jews at Yom Kippur. Watch the video HERE.

Read a piece by Daniel Sugarman, who initially condemned Israel's actions in shooting Gazans rushing Israel's border. Learning that over 80% of those killed trying to breach the border were Hamas operatives, however, he acknowledges that the only viable option is to shoot at the people running at you with the stated aim of killing you and your family. In the light of day, he says, he cannot see how Israel could do anything different. Read his article HERE.

Listen to former Muslim extremeist Maajid Nawaz, who now stands up against radical Muslims, HERE.

Read an article by Alan Dershowitz: Why Does the Media Keep Encouraging Hamas Violence? citing the tactic employed by Hamas to deliberately provoke Israel into actions that result in deaths of Gazans for the anti-Israel headlines they produce. Read the article HERE. 

Instead of trying to destroy Israel, Palestinians should learn from their neighbor– their "miseries" are of their own making. Read Bret Stephens' Opinion Column from the New York Times HERE.

Read and article from The Forward that is perhaps the best, most concise summary of the core issue in the Palestinian conflict, HERE.

Link to a primer on what caused the Palestinian exodus in 1948 HERE.

American Indian Chief Joseph RiverWind recently visited Israel with his wife and noted the common passion of each for freedom and a willingness to fight for and defend their sovereignty. Read about it HERE.

Sign a peititon urging school presidents and chancellors nationwide to implement "The Equity Pledge," calling for equal treatment of all students on campus, HERE.

BDS calls for Israel's destruction, but the world ignores this. Watch this video.

Take a look at the Social Media Public Service Announcement put out by Hamas for the Nakba Day Riots, HERE.

Read the views of "Arabs with Israel" member Bassem Eid, who congratulates Israel on its 70th anniversary and promotes recognition of the State of Israel, HERE.

MIT's Israel program is an example of an American campus getting it right. Their cultural exchange and internship program will have a huge impact with capable and brilliant students in future years. HERE.

Fallout by Jewish women's groups from the Women's March continues as anti-Semitism seems to be emerging from the March leadership by Mallory and Sarsour. HERE. 

Hamas seeks the destruction of Israel and that is the aim of the latest demonstrations. The media forgets to mention this. Watch a video HERE

The Rhode Island Women's March has broken ties with the national Women's March, which continues to work with Tamika Mallory. Mallory is co-president of the March and has refused to denounce anti-Semitic statements made by Louis Farrakhan. Read abut it HERE.

Yet another cause for concern–the BDS 's new target is Israeli banks, HERE.

See a disturbing comparison of anti-Semitism from the Nazi era and how current BDS era HERE.

Read an excellent article by Yossi Klein HaLevi about how Israelis react to the international condemnation of their country for their tough military resonse to the Second Intifada and the attemps to breach Israel's borders HERE.

Mahmoud Abbas' incendiary speech, where he blamed the Jews for their own murder in the Holocaust and denied any Jewish connection to the Land of Israel, not only vindicated claims made by Netanuyahu over the years, but more importantly revealed that the Palestinians have no credibility as partners in establishing peace in the region. Even the New York Times seems to have shifted its consistent support of the Palestinian cause. Read about it HERE.

 

Watch and important video showing the proximity of Israeli families to the Gaza border and just what is at stake in allowing the border to be penetrated. For some reason this simple information is not made explicit in press coverage. HERE.

Read David Harris' blog in The Times of Israel, highlighting the stark differences between Hamas and Israel- and that while Hamas threatens and harasses Israel, it is only Israel's response that is under scrutiny, HERE.

Hear the REAL story behind Gaza's "peaceful" protests at the Israeli border HERE. Hamas is orchestrating the violence at the border in their latest effort to destroy Israel, yet Israel is taking all the blame. Read about it HERE. 
Read Hadassah National President Ellen Hershkin's letter to the Washington Post to urge for fair reporting on the situation in Gaza HERE.

Even the Palestinian Authority is accusing Hamas of sending children to their deaths in Gaza to grab headlines. Why doesn't the world nor the media believe these words from the mouths of Palestinians? And the irony: As Palestinians rolled burning tires toward the border, a Hamas spokesman is condemnins Israel for stopping the import of new tires to Gaza and now there is a tire shortage. Read about it HERE.

Although some argue that Jews are the alien population to Palestine, implanted by the British, in fact, Jews are the indigenous population in this area based on historical and genetic documentation. It is the Palestinians, however, who are there as a result of converts from those indigenous pre-modern Jews and Christians who submitted to Islam, Muslim invaders, and Arab immigrants. Read about it HERE. 

Learn the proper protocol to handle Palestinian activists on campuses as exemplified by Georgetown University HERE.

A video about all the wonderful aid Israel provides worldwide, that will bring a tear to your eyes HERE.

 

 

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