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.

Israel Committee Events

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Programs
Sunday, October 22-
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.


 

Israel Items of Interest

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

Add your name to the petition by the Jewish Community Relations Council denouncing the demonstration in Charlottesville and hate in all of its manistations- New Yorkers Against Hate- please sign HERE.

Read the words of the congregation president of the Charlottesville, Virginia Beth Israel synagogue, Alan Zimmerman. Towns and communities should not allow these demonstrations, citing first amendment considerations, and instead ban them on grounds of disturbing the peace. Read the article HERE.

Mahmoud Abbas claims the Palestinians are descendents of the Canaanites in order to claim they were in the land before the Israelites. In fact, Arab tribes settling in Israel were of several lineages. Read about it HERE.

Watch a funny video on the Middle East conflict HERE.

Students in Newton, MA were being taught under a curriculum of anti-Jewish rhetoric, funded by Middle-Eastern and Islamic study groups supported by gifts from Saudi Arabia and Gulf Arab states. Luckily one child raised the alarm and parents went into action to stop it. But similar curriculums are being inserted into public school systems across the US. Read about it HERE.

Brandeis, America's only non-sectarian Jewish-sponsored college, offers a course on "Islamism," taught by a pro-Islamist bigoted professor. Read about it HERE.

Is the Anti-boycott act, now before Congress, and infringement on free speech? Read this Jerusalem Post article explaining why it is not, HERE.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has approved the Taylor Force Act will eliminates asistance to the Palestinian Authority if they continue to pay salaries to terrorists and their families. The bill will now move to the Senate floor. Contact your senators today and urge them to support his bill, HERE.

What's REALLY behind the debate over Metal Detectors on the Temple Mount? Watch a video and find out, HERE.

Read and excellent New York Times Opinion piece discussing the leaders of the Women's March, hailed by the Democratic Party and lauded by the media as inspiring and tranformative, who actually embrace some alarming, hatemongering and illiberal causes. Read the OpEd HERE.

Radical Islam exists not only in the Middle East and Europe, but it is here in the US as well. Read the words of a California Imam, HERE.

Read a wonderful gem by David Harris of AJC, entitled Stop Infantilizing the Palestinians, HERE. 

Sign a petition defending Israel and Jerusalem from efforts of the UN attacking Israel's sovereignty, HERE.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is calling out Jewish Voice for Peace, a left-wing, pro-BDS group, for their efforts to condemn Israel at every opportunity. Read about it HERE.

Rex Tillerson and the State Department are blaming Israel for the current unrest at the Kotel. Read about it HERE.

A Bar Mitzvah boy chose a Jimmy Kimmel theme. See how that turned out with a video, HERE.

There have been several clashes and many people injured over Temple Mount security efforts to defuse tensions, all initially begun by the brutal stabbing of 2 Israeli policemen by Israeli-Arab terrorists. Read the article from the Times of Israel HERE.

With controversy over Radiohead's upcoming show in Israel, an Arab-Israeli who will be performing with them has written an article in Newsweek urging them not to cancel, HERE.

Sign the petition from Mazon to maintain food programs in danger of being cut by the Trump Administration HERE. 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Israel, which was a great opportunity for public relations, technology and trade. Read about it HERE.

US senators are calling for a reduction in aid to the Palestinian Authority because the PA is violating the Taylor Force Act by providing payments to the families of Palestinian terrorists. Read about it HERE. The PA claims these payments are social welfare– Read why they aren't, HERE.

A review of the new book Kingdom of Olives and Ash, edited by Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman, consists of 26 essays which essentially condemn Israel. Read the review HERE.

After Palestinians killed 2 Israeli policemen in the Old City, Israeli officials closed off the area for security reasons. The grand mufti of Jerusalem, citing Israeli "agression" called on Muslims to flood the holy site. Read about it HERE.

Read how UNESCO supports terrorism and rejectionism HERE.

Sign a petition to stand up against Students for Justice in Palestine at Fordham University HERE.

Nassau Legislator Howard Kopel says that allowing Roger Waters of Pink Floyd to perform at the Nassau Coliseum would violate local law against Israeli discrimination. Watch the video HERE.

The mayor of London has taken action to ban the flag of Hezbollah. Watch two videos on this subject: Al Quds Day 2017, HERE; and Kay Wilson Speaks Out Against Al Quds Day, HERE.

Biased US high school textbooks are turning young Americans against Israel, according to research by several Jewish watch groups. Read about it HERE.

Read "Why Won't Abbas Accept 'Two States for Two Peoples'?" by Alan Dershowitz, articulating the core obstacle to the Two State Solution- Palestinian rejection of a Jewish state, HERE. 

Georgetown University in Qatar will install Ahmad S. Dallal as it's dean in September. Dallal, an avowed supporter of Hezbollah, previously served as the chair of the DC campus Islamic Studies Department, know as a cesspool of jihadi sympathizers. Read about it HERE.

Judea Pearl has written of the BDS movement's immorality in the The Jewish Journal, nailing the truth regarding its actual goal to dismantle the State of Israel and deny the Jewish right to self-determination, HERE.

In response to Israeli PM Netanyahu's decision to freeze the Kotel Agreement, Mercaz Olami President and former Rabbinical Assembly President, Rabbi Alan Silverstein, has published a piece in the Times of Israel, HERE.

Pink Floyd's Roger Waters is the de facto spokesman for the BDS campaign, disparaging Israel and including graphic anti-Semetic visuals in his concerts. He is now the subject of a boycott campaign and documentary film by award-winning filmmaker and New York Times author Ian Halpern. Read about it HERE. You can view a trailer of the film HERE.

For College Students: join SSI- Students Supporting Israel and help in their important work. Learn about it HERE.

UNESCO had declared the Tomb of the Jewish Patriarchs, the second holiest site to Jews, a "Palestinian World Heritage site." This is historical revisionism taking place under our noses and given international legitimacy. HERE. See also a well-stated NY Post article HERE.

Read a very worthwhile Times of Israel blog from Daniel Gordis on his perspective of the evolving Israel-Diaspora fault lines, HERE. 

The Palestinian Minister Sabri Saidam, in charge of revamping the Palestinian Authority's education system will be keeping the radical curriculum that teaches students to become martyrs, reject negotiations and embracde a continued war with Israel rather than using this opportunity to prepare PA children for peace. Read about it HERE. Read the executive summary by the Israel Research Review, concluding that PA schoolbooks call for the de-legitimization and demonization of Israel, and a call for violent struggle instead of peace-HERE.

Irish Hypocracy: Ireland separates Catholics and Protestants by over 50 "peace walls", yet the wall that separates Israel from Palestine is termed an "apartheid wall" in Ireland and negatively thought of as racist. Read about it HERE.

Organizers of Chicago's LGBT festival expelled marchers carrying the Star of David. Read about it HERE.

A group of 18 NFL Hall-of-Famers joined New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft on a trip to Israel that transformed their opinions of Kraft and of Israel, HERE.

Israel is the world's oldest victim of "false news," HERE.

Cold Spring Harbor's Judy Davis writes about the advantages of having Israel as an American partner in The Times of Israel, HERE.

Watch a video questioning the double standard when it comes to terrorism in Israel HERE.

Read an important article that rebuts the contention that the Holocaust is the reason the State of Israel exists, HERE.

As a Columbia University alumnus, Rabbi Silverman has written a letter to its president, Lee Bollinger, in protest of the "Nakba Project," an initiative of Columbia's Center for Palestine Studies and Adalah, and anti-Israel NGO. The project promotes extreme anti-Israel rhetoric and provides a platform for BDS-ers. Read about it HERE. 

Your tax dollars paid for an event in Congress, sponsored by Congressman Mark Pocan, with speakers that denied Israel's right to exit and called Israel's founding in 1948 a “catastrophe." Please sign your name to a petition that demands our leaders condemn this hate speech and to ensure that a congressional event like this will not happen again, HERE.

An Israeli rabbi settler who praised attacks on Arabs has been indicted for incitement. While it is troubling that rabbis have come to this, credit should be given to the the Israeli judicial system and mainstream Jewish scholars for disowning such thinking and indicting this rabbi. It would be significant if such legal mechanisms were applied to Palestinian society for similar incitement. Read about it 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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