Ian Silverman, Rabbi

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In our contemporary American milieu, we begin January as a new chapter, with a batch of resolutions for the New Year. Similarly, with the departure of our beloved Chazzan, we at ENJC are also beginning a new chapter. And, according to Jewish tradition, every day is an opportunity for a new chapter, a potential for teshuva–a return to the correct path and to good living. Even God starts a new chapter each day, as the siddur claims, Hamechadesh bechol Yom Maaseah beresheet–we are awestruck at our God who each day 'creates the world anew.' With this in mind, there are four resolutions we can adopt into our Jewish lives, based on major themes in the portions we read in each of our January Shabbats. Perhaps you will embrace all or some of these opportunities.


In Miketz, which we read on December 30th, Joseph is appointed vizier of Egypt and devises a way to save the Near East from drought and hunger. Through his foresight and vision, suffering is alleviated and lives are saved. Let’s resolve, this new year, to make certain to redouble our efforts in supporting major organizations like Mazon, and make a personal effort to combat hunger by working with HIHI and with Long Island Harvest soup kitchens and food pantries, so as to minimize hunger for those who live locally.


In Vayigash, read on January 7, Joseph recognizes the repentance and improvement in his brothers, and reveals that he is their long-lost brother and that they must stop beating themselves up for past wrongdoings against him. Similarly, in our lives, we may have run-ins and moments of disagreement that turn ugly. This year, can't we perhaps turn to a loved one and forgive? Can't we gain a new perspective and maturity for a feud for which we may not even remember its' origin? Years may go by and affection may grow colder. Instead, love and let live. Forgive and forget. Reveal your real face to family and friends–a face that seeks to embrace rather than to estrange.


In Vayechi, which we read on January 14, we see an acme of pure love in the behavior of one of Jacob's grandsons, Menasseh, when he receives a lesser blessing from his grandfather than his younger brother, Ephraim. Jacob crosses his arms and knowingly puts his right hand on the head of Ephraim, even though he is the younger, saying that the younger brother will be greater than the elder Menasseh. In fact, the entire book of Genesis is about the jealousy of brothers: Cain and Abel, Ishmael and Isaac, Jacob and Esau Joseph and his brothers.  But Menasseh isn't jealous. He is happy for his brother. That is why, on Friday night, we bless our sons to be like Menasseh and Ephraim. These brothers broke the cycle of envy. May we resolve this year to break our cycle of envy, and when we catch ourselves coveting the blessings of others, let's make sure to count the many that we have.


On January 21, we read from the portion of Shemoth. We are introduced to Moses, who runs away from Egypt as a fugitive, and assumes the role of a shepherd. Moses needs to be convinced that he can be so much more. Yet he resists his calling and his talents, not believing in himself. God puts a staff in his hand and says, "Just do it." Moses finds his stride, and boy does he. This might be a lesson for all of us who are perfectionists or are too hard on ourselves. This year don't talk yourself out of trying for a new level of achievement, a new skill, or a new hobby. Don't settle for the familiar. Bring it on. You may fail but you have to believe in yourself and make that effort. You, like Moses, might surprise yourself with your talents if you do!

 


Finally, on January 28 we learn about parashat Vaera. In it, we see the plagues brought on by God for the willful disregard of God’s creations by the Pharaoh in his decimation of crops, trees, earth, air and water. These days, we are also conscious of the plagues brought upon our air, water, soil, and crop through the poor policies of leaders of many nations. The rise of our coastal waters is now beginning in Florida. Coral and algae resources in our oceans are under threat. The stability of soil is compromised by erosion, and deforestation continues. It is no longer God plaguing the planet; it is humankind and our leadership. Let us be the Moses and Miriams of the world and say, "Let my planet go." The enslavement of exhaustible resources, such as fossil fuels, both soils the air we breathe and threatens the earth, mountains, and water through mining. Let's speak out to our leadership, “truth to power.” We have the whole world in our hands. Let's bequeath it intact to our grandchildren through the policies we demand of our leaders.


I know that New Year's Day resolutions are not a part of Jewish practice, but since we partake of American customs, let’s customize them in Jewish fashion. Let's help those who hunger more, forgive and embrace more, covet less, believe in ourselves a bit more, and protect natures bounty into the future. And to this, let us say Amen.

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Join us the movie The Forgotten Refugees, followed by a discussion with Dr. David Kazzaz, father of congregant Jeff Kazzaz, who was expelled from Iraq in the 1950s.


 

Chai Institute

Israel Items of Interest

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

An ad campaign proposed by Palestinians for London's underground subway stations depicting the peaceful Arab population before and bereavement after the establishment of Israel in 1948 has been rejected by the city of London. Read about it HERE.

According to experts, Israel and Saudi Arabia are praising Trump's new policy towards Iran, a sign that their shared concern is "nudging" Israel and much of the Arab world closer together. Read about it HERE.

November 2nd commemorates the history of the Balfour Declaration, when Lord Balfour announced the support for the establishment of a "national home for the Jewish people in what was then the Ottoman region of Palestine. Read the history HERE.

According to an ex-AP reporter, Journalists covering Israel have created a reality that doesn't match what's really happening. Read the explanation that came out of the Christian Media Summit HERE.

Read excerpts from the US Congressional Record of 1922, demonstrating the powerful sense of members of Congress for reestablising a Jewish national home in Palestine, HERE.

Read the Las Vegas shooting statement from the Rabbinical Assembly, HERE.

The American Jewish Historical Society, founded to study and preserve Jewish history, is now made up of anti-Israel activists due to its partnership with the JVP, Jewish Voice for Peace, and anti-Israel BDS hate group that defends anti-Semitism. Read about it HERE.
UCLA Professor David Myers, appointed CEO of the center this past summer says he loves Israel and denies that he is for the BDS movement. Read his defense HERE.

 

End the practice by the Palestinian Authority to provide cash to terrorists for injuring and killing Israelis and foreigners by supporting the Taylor Force Act, named after a US serviceman murdered in Tel Aviv, whose assasin's family benefits from PA terror payments. Urge Congress to end these payments HERE.

Watch a video showcasing the StandWithUs Center in Jerusalem HERE.

Although Canadian hate speech laws are more restrictive than those of the US, the courts in Canada did not cite an imam for his prayers to "destroy the accursed Jews." This comes despite Jewish communal support of Muslims after six worshippers were killed in a mosque. Read about it HERE.

Chelsea soccer star Alvaro Morata is tellling fans to stop chanting a song in his honor that contains anti-Semitic language- a principled stand that sets the right tone for all sport, HERE. 

Jews exiled from Iraq in the 1950s were forced to leave behind treasured items that were recovered by US troops in 2003 in a flooded Iraqi basement. The State Department is planning to return them to Iraq, but Senator Chuck Schumer is among a group of US lawmakers that have joined Jewish groups in lobbying to keep the archive in a location accessible to Iraqi Jews and their descendants- none of whom now live in Iraq. Read about it HERE.

A disturbing assessment of the present state of feminism by one of its pioneers, Phyllis Chesler, HERE.

The Rabbinical Assembly has issued a statement on the Las Vegas incident– HERE , as well as a statement on sensible gun control – HERE

Israel's Yad Vashem was redesigned and reconstructed in 1993, but the collusion between the the Germans and Arabs in their hatred of the Jews has been significantly downplayed from its emphasis in the former museum. Read about it HERE.

Jewish college kids confront aggressive and professional anti-Semitic efforts to transform campuses into Israel-hostile environments. Most Jewish students manage to remain unaffected by moving to the "sidelines" of the debate and "proceeding with life as students normally would." But this is a win for the anti-Israel campaign. Read why HERE.

Monday, September 25th, was "Hate Israel Day" for the UN Human Rights Council, a regular agenda item that targets the Jewish state. Surprisingly, an ex-Hamas Palestinian took the floor and challenged the Palestinian Authority, citing Israel as a false and convenient scapegoat for the suffering of the Palestinian people and selfish political interests of the PA. Read Mosab Hassan Yousef's words HERE. 

Learn how you can help, where you can drop off needed supplies, or make a donation toward the Relief and Recovery Effort for Puerto Rico, click HERE.

Watch an interview of Israel's former Ambassador to the UN, Ron Posor with Alan Dershowitz discussing certain UN agencies. The interview by Israeli television is laced with optimism at the appointment of former PM of Portugal Gutierrez as Secretary General, HERE.

Before three Israeli's could be buried following a Palestinian terrorist attack on September 26, Abbas' Fatah movement celebrated the killings on Facebook, calling the killer a martyr and promising to reward the family in shekels. Read about it HERE.
If you want the world to take real action to stop Palestinian terror join your voice to the 46,000 people who have signed The Israel Project petition HERE.

Support the Isreael Anti-Boycott Act, which protects US companies targeted by international boycotts against Israel and punishes those who comply with them. Read all about it HERE.

The U.S. State Department annual report applauds the Palestinian Authority for curbing violence, recognizing Israel, and pursuing an independent Palestinian state through peaceful means. Read about this fantasy HERE.

According to a Palestinian psychologist, women hijacking planes and murdering Israeli civilians are "wonderful acts of heroism." Unfortunately, these are the societal values of the Palestinian adversary. Learn about it HERE.

A pro-Palestinian Jewish group is urging young Jews to shun Birthright because, while Birthright offers free trips to Israel, Palestinian refugees are barred from returning to their homes. Read about it HERE.

Norway received a refund for a women's center they had funded, after learning that the woman it had been named for had led a terrorist attack in 1978. Does this signal a new beginning in Europe's attitude toward the Palestinian Authority? Find out HERE.

A charity organization called "Islamic Relief" received funding and notariety across the globe, but they have been tied to extreme violent anti-Semitism. Read about it HERE.

Find out what you can send to Houston to aid area Conservative shuls HERE.

Jewish critics accuse the Holocaust Museum of bystanderism for excusing the Obama administration in its response to war crimes committed by Bashar al-Assad in Syria and not taking action to prevent them. Read about it HERE.

The biggest threat to the continued existence of Israel comes from the propaganda campaign that rejects Israel's right to exist. Read the essay by Professor Gerald M. Steinberg of Bar Ilan University, HERE.

Israel's response to Hurricane Harvey is, again, "a light unto nations." Make a donation to the disaster relief through IsraAID HERE

In the run for Illinois governor, Jewish State Senator Daniel Biss dropped his running mate, Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, who was a supporter of the BDS movement. Read about it HERE.

Esther Meshoe, daugther of South African Parliamentarian Dr. Kenneth Meshoe, defends Israel a video, HERE.

Dealing with anti-Semitism is a larger problem that Charlottesville. Read David Harris's blog HERE.

While the Israeli government is embracing and financially supporting ultra-Orthodox policies, it is paying little attention to Masorti non-Orthodox Jewry. Masorti needs donations to deal with this funding disparity. Please consider a donation HERE.

Read a worthwhile essagy Palestinian Settler-Colonialism, by Dr. Alex Joffe, HERE

Donate to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund through the UJA Federation NY HERE.

Read the blog of Yehuda Kurtzer: Talking Nazis Personally (and Collectively), a well thought-out essay by a contemporary Jewish thinker that looks at Charlottesville from many angles of Jewish memory. This piece pleads that we work together rather than at cross purposes in our response, HERE.

Read Watching Charlottesville from Jerusalem, an excellent reflection by Daniel Gordis HERE.

Watch an animated video about how anti-Semitism has mutated over time, HERE.

Read The Truth Behind Bar Mitzvah Tears, by Wendy Jaffe. A reflection that says it all perfectly, 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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